Thunder of Revelation
Given By: "Glenn D. Blank" On Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hashem uses thunder and lightning to command our attention when He is about to make revelations, not just to one person at a time, but to large numbers of people, or nations.  Shofar blasts enter in, too. 

In other words, God has something important to say, listen up! 

The way you respond could determine whether you should be terrified and thrilled. Amen?

Thunder is a theme running throughout Scripture, and especially in the book of Revelation. I've been teaching about Revelation all month, so today I am continuing on this theme. But before we look at thunder in Revelation, let's look back at the foundational passage about thunder in revelation-the theophany par excellence, at Sinai.

Exodus 19:16, "On the morning of the third day, there was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain. Then a shofar blast sounded so loudly that all the people in the camp trembled."

After reminding the children of Israel that He had brought them out of Egypt as if on eagles' wings to Himself, Hashem declares that they will now be His own people, a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. 

Then he instructs them to prepare for the revelation of Himself and His word for three days. On the morning of the third day, on the morning of the third day-does that remind anyone of another supernatural event that happened on the morning of the third day?  Eternity breaking through.

On the third day, thunder and lightning came in a thick cloud, and then the enormous shofar blast.

A purpose of the thunder and lightning shaking the mountain and the people below was surely to command their attention, so they would have no doubt that God Himself was appearing to them, revealing His commandments to them and His covenant with them-so they would never forget. 

The loud and sudden sounds stimulate different emotional responses in different people.  I was talking to my daughter about how she responds to thunder.  Does it frighten her?  She said, no, she likes it.  It's beautiful.  Loud noises don't bother her-after all, she likes loud music.

I commented, but you don't like when Daddy shouts at you, do you?  No, she confirmed. Nor would she like if God were hollering at her.  So thunder's effect depends on how one perceives it.

For some, it's terrifying, because they're not ready, suddenly surprised; or they're expecting judgment. But to others, the thunder is awesome and beautiful, because they are ready; and they know that the Holy One has come to express his lovingkindness and grace to us-and to make us holy as He is holy.

At Sinai, anyone who wasn't ready would have been frightened as the ground shook and the heavens exploded and then a humungous siren-like wail cried out from the mountain peak shrouded in a cloud. Moses and anyone longing for Hashem heard the thunder as an invitation to draw nearer, into intimacy.

For three days they had abstained from intimacy, making themselves as pure as they could. Hashem had promised to make them His own possession among all peoples and a holy nation. Exodus 19:9, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever."

Immediately after the theophany in the thunder, Hashem wanted them to draw near. Exodus 19:17, "Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain." Could anyone there, and who knew that God was there, ever forget that experience?

From then on, thunder has been associated with God's revelations-as when He appeared to Job, or to David in the Psalms, or to the prophets with their warnings to the nations, or when the people witnessed the glory of God upon Messiah Yeshua His Son.

Now let's turn to thunder in Revelation.  There are seven passages involving thunder-something about sevens.. We'll come back to that.  The first of our seven thunders is: Revelation 4:5, "And out from the throne come flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder-and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." The lightning and thunder reveal the glorious authority of God over all things.

If all this sound and fury were exploding before you, or you could either be terrified, or thrilled. It depends on whether you know the One on the throne, doesn't it? Here's how He appears in Revelation 4:3, "And the One who was seated was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance."

Ladies and gentlemen-He's beautiful!  With a throne of precious stones, and a rainbow encircling Him, He must be gorgeous! But to appreciate His glory, you must trust Him. Amen?

Revelation 6:1, the second thunder: "Then I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, "Come!" The Lamb-who was the Passover lamb, who meekly gave up His life blood, so that death would pass over us-now appears as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, standing in the midst of the throne (Rev 5:5-6). The Lamb alone is worthy and He alone has the authority to open the seven seals on the scroll. Amen?

To the 24 zakenim surrounding the throne, the opening of the seals speaks of the Lamb's glory. But to the people on the earth, defying God and scorning the blood of the Lamb, the opening of the seals brings terror and tribulation.  Again, it depends on your perspective, doesn't it?

When one of the four living creative speaks with a voice like thunder, are you terrified or thrilled?

You'll know for sure, if you have put your trust in the blood of the Lamb. Amen?

Revelation 8:4-5, "The smoke of the incense-the prayers of the kedoshim-rose before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the incense burner and filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth; there were clashes of thunder and rumblings and flashes of lightning and earthquakes."

This scene takes place with the opening of the seventh seal, when "there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." Such a dramatic silence: when a leader asks for a moment of silence, it is solemn, but when the Lamb requires a half hour of silence, the suspense is stunning.  And then, an angel throws something on the ground and there is an explosion of thunder, lightning and earthquakes!

The angel comes to offer incense, as in the Temple of God, to worship before the throne of God. The incense represents the prayers of the holy people, before the throne. If you have ever wondered if God has heard your prayers, consider that He may be storing up for such a time as this! The true prayers of the kedoshim or saints rise before God until reaching a tipping point.

And then seven angels begin to sound seven shofars.

Revelation 10:3-4, the fourth thunder: "When he cried out, the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders had spoken, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said. Do not write it down!" By now you should be wondering about all these sevens in Revelation: seven torches, seven Spirits, seven seals, seven shofars, and now seven thunders. 

Seven, as you may know, is symbolic of the completeness or fullness of God, filling up the universe and also fulfilling His purpose and promises.

The seven torches represent the seven communities of God, whom the Lamb addresses in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  Once they were local communities in Asia Minor.  

But from an eternal perspective, these seven communities represent the complete body of Messiah, in all times and places. The seven seals and seven shofars are plagues of judgment upon humanity, stubbornly rejecting God, just as Pharaoh and the Egyptians had done. From a human, temporal perspective, they come in a sequence of increasing destruction and terror.

But from God's eternal perspective, they are all manifestations of one flow from heaven, all at once calling each and every person to repent and turn back to God.

The seven Spirits refer to different characteristics of Messiah- found in Isaiah 11:2-

    The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him-

    a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

    a Spirit of counsel and strength,

    a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

These are not seven distinct Spirits, but a sevenfold anointing on the Messiah, the anointed one.

Similarly, the seven thunders do proclaim seven messages, but together are all a sevenfold thunder. We also hear them in Psalm 29:3-9, which describe the thunderous voice of Hashem seven times: "The voice of the LORD is above the waters. The God of glory thunders-the LORD, above vast waters, the voice of the LORD in power, the voice of the LORD in splendor. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion, like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the woodlands bare. In His Temple all cry, 'Glory!'"

Whatever the seven thunders of Revelation said, it must have been awesome and glorious. Amen?

But we are not told what they said: John is told not to seal it up, not to write it down. Some things must not be revealed until the right time. So in Daniel 12:4, the angel said, "But you, Daniel, keep the words secret, and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will range far and wide and knowledge will increase."

Why would God want to keep some things about the future a secret?

Because much about the future depends on the choices that we make.

In Revelation and other apocalyptic literature, God has sketched the outline of things that must happen. Messiah will come again!  And before He does, the heavens will thunder and the earth will shudder, and every single human being must choose whom He will serve. Whatever the content of their message, we do know that seven thunders are the sounds of eternity breaking through upon earth.  The time of final decision and judgment has come! 

Is this your final answer?  Are you sure?  But first, did you hear the question?

The question is: will you put your trust in the blood of Messiah, the Passover Lamb, to atone for your sins, and cleanse your conscience for ever and ever?

Revelation 11:19, the fifth thunder: "Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in His Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail." Just as we heard the thunders at the beginning at the end of the seven seals, so we hear them at the beginning and the end of the seven shofars. Here, they accompany the revelation of the eternal Temple.

Again, from an earthly perspective, its appearance is terrifying, with an earthquake and plaguelike hail. But from an eternal perspective, its appearance is thrilling, with the promise of the covenant.

Then the seventh shofar announces two things at once, as the 24 zakenim declare in Rev. 11:18, "The nations were enraged, but Your wrath has come and the time for the dead to be judged- to reward Your servants, the prophets and kedoshim, and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy the destroyers of the earth."

Again, two messages are pronounced at once-what you will hear then depends on your perspective:

1) It summons the kedoshim from their graves and the living kedoshim from the earth up to meet Messiah for their reward and the wedding of the Lamb.

2) It sets in motion the wrath of God upon the world spirit of Babylon and the nations who have tied themselves to this spirit.

Which message would you rather hear?

Revelation 14:2, the sixth thunder: "And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and the booming of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like harpists playing on their harps." Remember what Abby told me about why she likes thunder? Though to some thunder may seem terrifying-especially to those who fear judgment-to others it is beautiful-"like harpists playing on their harps" -the loveliness of God.

When eternity rips through the curtain of existence, will it be ghastly or gorgeous to you? It all depends on whether you trust the One who is the Prize of existence and the Prince of eternity.

Revelation 16:17-18, the seventh thunder: "The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came out of the Temple from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and a great earthquake-such as never happened since mankind has been on the earth, so mighty was the quake."

The last thunders crash with the pouring of the last of the seven bowls of wrath upon the earth. These wraths are the worst of the plagues of judgment-worse than anything poured out upon Egypt. Revelation is Exodus to the extreme: extreme plagues; extreme hardening of extreme Pharaonic hearts; extreme terror; extreme thrill; extreme liberation of God's own people on extreme eagle's wings; extreme going out from this world into an extreme, promised land to come.

Which do you choose?  OK, what about the people you know, in your family, in your neighborhood? There is a message in the thunder: this terrible world is coming to an end soon. Before it does, everyone must turn away from the corruption of Babylon, and turn toward purity of Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world-before He takes away this world. Amen?

The worship team may come forward.

Let's pray..