Rev. Justin Smidstra, pastor of First PRC in Holland, Michigan

When the dark storm clouds roll in, the lightning flickers, and the thunder rumbles, it is a sound like no other. Thunder evokes awe and fear. Rightly so, for every thunder clap resounds with raw, untamed power, reminding man how small and powerless he is and how mighty God is. Unlike our everyday speech, the Bible never says it thunders, but that God thunders. “The God of glory thundereth” (Ps. 29:3). “The Lord also thundered in the heavens” (Ps. 18:13). Thunder is no natural phenomenon occurring by itself; thunder is God’s creature that does His bidding. God has decreed the lighting’s arc and the thunder’s rumble (Job 28:26). God rules the lighting and the thunder and sends them forth at His command (Job 38:25, 35). In the thunder, God speaks. Thunder is the voice of God, one of the majestic utterances of His general revelation (Ps. 19:2). The psalmist exclaims “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). How loudly the thunder declares His glory! Every thunderstorm is a booming anthem of creation’s praise to God. When you hear the “voice of thunder in the heavens” and see the “lightnings lighten the world” (Ps. 77:18), it is “the Highest” who gives “His voice” (Ps. 18:13). As Elihu proclaimed: “God thundereth marvelously with His voice,” and the Lord “thundereth with the voice of his excellency.” Indeed, we must agree: “great things doeth He, which we cannot comprehend” (Job 37:4-5).

In the thunder God shows us something of His great power and incomprehensible majesty. “But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). The deep waters “hasted away” when they heard “the voice of thy thunder,” the voice of the God who made them (Ps. 104:7).

The thunder speaks of the holiness of God. When God came down on Mount Sinai to speak with Israel, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount,” such that “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Ex. 19:16). God is the holy Judge. Thunder pictures His judgment. From God’s throne “proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices” (Rev. 4:5). Every rumble of thunder presages the coming Day of the Lord. In thunder, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). Upon Egypt “the Lord sent thunder and hail” (Ex. 9:23). The adversaries of the Lord shall perish, for “out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth” (I Sam. 2:10). When the Philistines attacked Israel at Mizpeh, Samuel offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and “the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them” (I Sam. 7:10). Let no man think he may sin with impunity, for God declares: “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder” (Is. 29:6). On the great and terrible day of the Lord, when the vials of God’s wrath are poured out, there shall be “voices, and thunders, and lightnings” (Rev. 16:18). But the church will rejoice, for in the day of trouble, God shall deliver them; indeed, “in the secret place of thunder,” He shall answer their cries (Ps. 81:7).

Therefore, Christian reader, when the thunder rumbles on a stormy day, take a moment, pause, listen with the ears of faith, and ponder what you hear: the God of glory thundereth (Ps. 29:3)! The voice of the Lord resounding in the thunder speaks to us. Thunder calls us to worship! Stand in awe before the Lord, and give to God the glory due unto His name (Ps. 29:2). Tremble in godly fear, and bend the knee before the high and lofty One, the God who “thundereth marvelously with His voice” (Job 37:5). When the thunder rumbles, let us humble ourselves before God. Let us trust in Him, and the power of His Word. “Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?” (Job 40:9). Tremble before Him. Tremble in reverential fear, but not in dread terror. For the Lord does not thunder against you, believing Christian. The lamb Samuel offered, turning the Lord’s thunder upon the Philistines (I Sam. 7:10), was but a picture of the Lamb of God who has turned the thunder of divine judgment away from you. Jesus Christ! Jesus came to bear the curse of the law, the thunder of God’s judgment. At Calvary, the Lord of hosts visited Jesus with thunder (Is. 29:6). The storm clouds shrouded the crucified Christ in deepest darkness, and the seven thunders of God’s holy wrath raged against Him, until the storm was spent and your sins were gone, washed away in the blood of Christ. The God of glory thundered against Christ your Savior (Ps. 29:3), therefore now “the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Ps. 29:11). This is the good news of the gospel! The Almighty God “thundereth marvelously” in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Shall we not praise Him? The word thunder first appears in the Bible as a plague (Ex. 9:23). But the last time the word appears it describes praise. Revelation 19:6 describes the voice of the great multitude around the throne of God “as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” The thunderous chorus of the redeemed Bride of the Lamb! Already now, let us join our voices with that chorus of praise.