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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Thunder

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Thunder, the noise due to the disturbance of the air by the discharge of electricity, was regarded throughout the ancient world as supernatural. One of the elements of a theophany was ‘the voice that shook the earth’ (Hebrews 12:26), words reminiscent of Psalms 46:5 and of the manifestation on Sinai (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:18). ‘The thunder to the feeling of the ancients is the most important part of the storm, seeming to be the commanding voice, the terrifying exclamation of Jahwé’ (H. A. von Ewald, Commentary on the Psalms, Eng. translation , i. [London, 1880] 94). Thunder is one of the most impressive categories of the Book of Revelation. Like the seven stars, churches, seals, trumpets, and bowls, the seven thunders ‘form a complete portion of the apocalyptic machinery’ (H. Alford, The Greek Testament, iv.5 [London, 1875], on Revelation 10:3-4). To the prophet’s imagination, thunder is now a celestial warning to wicked men, now a majestic chorus in praise of God. When an angel casts a censer filled with fire upon the earth, and another pours his bowl upon the air, there are lightnings and thunders (Revelation 8:5; Revelation 16:18). When the lost Ark of the Covenant is restored to its place, the thunders of Sinai are again heard (Revelation 11:19). To conscience-stricken men it always appeared that lightnings and thunders proceeded from the very throne of God (Revelation 4:5); and even a modern poet says that ‘if He thunders by law, the thunder is still His voice.’ But thunder does not always suggest terrible things to the apocalyptist. His ear catches the echoes of thunder-music in heaven. The voice of harpers harping with their harps is as the voice of a great thunder (Revelation 14:2); and the voice of a great multitude is as the voice of mighty thunders, saying Hallelujah (Revelation 19:6).

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Thunder'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/thunder.html. 1906-1918.

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