“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
- Luke 10:16-20
Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
- Habakkuk 3:11-13
Then the Lord will appear over them;
his arrow will flash like lightning.
The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet;
he will march in the storms of the south,
and the Lord Almighty will shield them.
They will destroy
and overcome with slingstones.
They will drink and roar as with wine;
they will be full like a bowl
used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.
The Lord their God will save his people on that day
as a shepherd saves his flock.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
How attractive and beautiful they will be!
Grain will make the young men thrive,
and new wine the young women.
- Zechariah 9:14-17
The featured photo is not real. I once had software that could produce random skyscrapers and lightning bolts. I created this scene for my computer’s background image, one of many.
According to reports, there are 44 lightning flashes every second on average when considering the entire earth. Recently, it was confirmed that on October 31, 2018, a single lightning flash in Brazil traveled over 440 miles, roughly the distance from Boston to Washington, DC. The strike of longest duration was in 2019 in Argentina, nearly 17 seconds. Those records had been held by Oklahoma in the US for distance and France for the longest duration. But these new records more than double the old records. Is lightning intensity growing stronger?
If lightning intensity is growing stronger, could this be one of those signs from the skies that Jesus talked about? There is lightning mentioned in both Habakkuk and Zechariah regarding the coming of the Messiah. I really do not think this is a sign that the end is coming within my lifetime, but we need to be prepared daily.
Yet, for people in central Africa, southern Asia from India out into the Pacific past Indonesia, many locations in South America, and in the southeastern USA, especially Florida, lightning is a common occurrence.
I can remember a time in my life when lightning was rare. In the late 70s, I was in the US Army in West Germany. We planned our return trip to the US carefully. We took a weekend trip to Antwerp, Belgium, dropping the boys off in the Netherlands with my wife’s cousins for babysitting. We parked one of our cars in Ghent, Belgium, drove into Antwerp, dropped our new car off with a shipping company, and then returned to Ghent by train. So, when we arrived months later in New Jersey, we took a bus to the Newark airport and then a taxi to a shipping company lot in Elizabeth, NJ.
Having had only a couple of hours of sleep the night before, we set out on our drive to Mississippi and Texas to visit family. My wife had returned for two weeks in the US for a wedding, but I had been in Germany for three years (minus 15 days), defending our country from communism – what the liberals among us are now embracing, just with a different colored bow on the package.
As we drove along, we saw storm clouds developing ahead and to our right. As we got closer to the clouds, there was a series of lightning strikes and the accompanying thunder. My wife exclaimed from fear. She mentioned that we might need to stop early. It would not be safe to drive in a bad storm, especially with so little sleep.
But I nearly had a tear or two form in my eyes. But I hid it well since a Captain in the Army should not be seen crying. What overcame my consciousness was that I was home. I was HOME. There may have been lightning in Germany during the three years that I was there, but it was so rare that I failed to remember it. And being rare, I would have remembered it.
I had always been fascinated with lightning, but in my youth, lightning demanded to have a captive audience. When I grew up, television came into your home by means of an antenna. The antenna made a good lightning rod. The only problem was the lightning destroyed the television if the television was still hooked to the antenna. Of course, the house could catch on fire, so why worry about the television at that point? So, the rule was to unplug the antenna at the first strike of lightning and then wait 30 minutes after the last strike of lightning to watch television again. Thus, especially at night, we would turn off the lights and watch the storm pass, and “oooh” and “aah” at God’s fireworks.
I once had lightning damage after finally getting cable TV. The cable company refused to accept responsibility in that they had lightning arrestors at each home and since they had not had to replace the sacrificial arrestors, the damage to the VCR and television in our home was a home strike, not through the cable. I suggested that the lightning strike was so strong that it melted the arrestor so that it bridged over the gap. Why would everyone in our neighborhood have fried televisions due to a single lightning strike at one single house, except for the two families that still used antennas? They still refused to pay for the new TV and VCR, but I got free cable for three months, as long as I did not tell my neighbors. I did not tell many of them… Hey, you only needed to tell one.
The night of that lightning strike, I was playing softball a few blocks away from the house, for a team made up of people that I worked with. As the storm hit, we took refuge in the dugout. The single lightning strike scared us all as it was dangerously close and we were not well protected. The next three or four strikes were estimated to be about 15 miles away. We did not know it at the time, but one of our team’s players, huddled in the dugout with the rest of us, had just heard the lightning strike that burned down his home, fifteen miles away. By the time that the storm had passed, and he went home, it was too late.
Cloud to cloud lightning can provide a fascinating light show, but lightning can be destructive. It can also be deadly. The saying goes “If thunder roars, go indoors.”
But, when thunder roars, we might need to remember that lightning just might precede the return of Jesus. If lightning strikes, we should pray for safety for those beneath the strike and pray that we are ready for Christ to come again.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.