and the triple bolts that hit three skyscrapers simultaneously in Chicago the other day:
and last night's hit on the Parthenon in Greece:
the caption doesn't help matters any: "Hammer of Zeus: A flash of lightning illuminates the sky over the 2,500-year-old Ancient Parthenon temple, at the Acropolis hill during a heavy rainfall in Athens early this morning."
"Hammer of Zeus" indeed. The article below talks about lightning's power, and it is a powerful phenomenon on earth, more powerful than hurricanes and tornadoes, because of the contained energy inside a bolt. And to think, "He covers His hands with the lightning, And commands it to strike the mark." (Job 36:32)
"A Striking Presence"
"It's five times hotter than the surface of the sun, and it travels about 93,000 miles per second. Perhaps surprising to some, lightning is the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S. - exceeded only by floods. Right now is the most dangerous time, as June and July often have the highest frequency of lightning-related deaths, according to data from the National Weather Service."
Here is a chart of fatalities thus far in 2010 from the National Weather Service. It may seem counter-intuitive, but seeking safety from lighting outdoors you are better off in the open, rather than under a tree. One of the ten deaths so far this year was a gentleman in Indiana sheltering under a tree. And it goes without saying that if you are on a golf course, dispense with metal clubs or gardening tools. Squatting on the balls of your feet is best, because it minimizes your contact with the ground and reduces your height. This link brings you to other outdoor risk reduction tips.
The Tribulation ends with lightning. At the last bowl the angel pours out the bowl containing lightning, thunder, rumblings, and a tremendous earthquake.
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. (Rev 16:17-18)Lightning accompanied the giving of the Ten Commandments...
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20: 18-19)
This speaks to something that is missing today: listening. God is and was and always will be the same. Lightning is used as a description of His appearance. He also sends lightning as a sign, as in the Exodus passage, and the people understand it. They acknowledge it as a sign of His awesome and fear-inducing presence and beg to have Moses speak for God to them instead of enduring the holy and incredible voice themselves. We don't listen to Him in that way any more in this day and age. One reason, of course, is that we have the Holy Spirit in us, and we have the bible to listen to. But He still speaks to the lost in these ancient ways, and declared it so:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)A "bolt from the blue" means no one expects lighting when there is blue sky. It is a complete surprise. At least it was to this man, who was outside, there was no thunder and no rain, yet a bolt from the blue hit his arm as he worked on a fence. The earliest citation of this phrase is Thomas Carlyle, in The French Revolution, 1837:
"Arrestment, sudden reality as a bolt out of the Blue, has hit strange victims."
Cinematic depictions of lighting bolts notwithstanding, when you see lightning, see God's power. I hope that when you see lightning, the suddenness of the knowledge of God's presence on earth and His power to love hits you and hits you hard. But also see within that power, an infinite love. He loves you, He knows you, and He wants you.