Celestial and Earthly Events

Wonders and Signs – Part 3

Amos 1:1-8, Zechariah 14:5, Earthquakes – some are definitely natural

Acts 16:16-26, Earthquakes – some seem to be miraculous

Matthew 28:1-8, Earthquakes – some seem to be miraculous

Revelation 11:9-19, 16:17-20, Earthquakes – some are symbols in a vision


Mark 3:13-19, 9:36-40; Luke 9:51-56, Jesus nicknamed two hot-headed young men the “Sons of Thunder”


The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to ...

Psalms 148:1-14, Let all created things praise the LORD!


More Wonders and Signs

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Amos 1:1-8, Zechariah 14:5, Earthquakes – some are definitely natural (10/23/2017)

Not everything that happens is a sign or wonder. Sometimes an earthquake is just an earthquake, like the one that happened during the reign of King Uzziah. It was notable enough that two different prophets refer to it, one to date his ministry and one as an example of fearsome events. Neither prophet suggests that the earthquake was any sort of sign from God.


Acts 16:16-26, Earthquakes – some seem to be miraculous (10/24/2017)

The earthquake that freed Paul and Silas has some peculiar features. It shook the building to its foundations and opened the doors, but apparently none of the walls fell down and crushed the prisoners. It shook the chains off the prisoners, apparently without breaking any bones. Unlike the earthquake of King Uzziah’s time, this one seems to be a wonder, or miraculous event.


Matthew 28:1-8, Earthquakes – some seem to be miraculous (10/25/2017)

Here’s another peculiar earthquake. It was strong enough to frighten the guards and make them fall down, but apparently it didn’t do much to the women or disturb the inside of the tomb. There’s no suggestion that it was felt anywhere except near the tomb. It’s another wonder, or miracle.


Revelation 11:9-19, 16:17-20, Earthquakes – some are symbols in a vision (10/26/2017)

Some biblical earthquakes are natural, some are miraculous, and some are symbols in a vision. Harley Swiggum, author of the Bethel Series, said that we teachers were on our own when we got to the lesson on Revelation. “There were 653 interpretations of Revelation,” he said, “and I wasn’t going to add a 654th one.” I can assure you that the earthquakes in John’s vision are symbols of something. As to what they are symbols of, you are on your own.


Mark 3:13-19, 9:36-40; Luke 9:51-56, Jesus nicknamed two hot-headed young men the “Sons of Thunder” (11/1/2017)

Jesus gave nicknames to some of his disciples. James and John he called the “Sons of Thunder,” which the CEV translates “Thunderbolts.” You can understand why Jesus did this. They took it upon themselves to forbid anyone outside their own little group to act in the name of Jesus. They wanted to call fire down on anyone who rejected Jesus. Hmm. How many of us should be called the “sons of thunder”?


Psalms 18:1-13, Weather reports are rare in the Bible, but the voice or presence of God is frequently compared to Earthquakes, Thunder, and Volcanoes (10/27/2017)

In pre-industrial times, an earthquake was about the most powerful event you could experience, and a thunderclap was about the loudest sound you would hear. Volcanic eruptions, although less common, are sometimes even more powerful and louder. It isn’t surprising that David compares the awesome voice of the LORD to earthquakes, thunder, and volcanoes.


Isaiah 29:1-8, The voice or presence of God is frequently compared to Earthquakes and Thunder (10/30/2017)

The prophets almost always deliver a mixed message. On the one hand, God only sends prophets to people who are in trouble, so there’s usually bad news. On the other hand, God always gives another chance to anyone who repents, so there’s usually a promise of ultimate good news. The people of Judah, symbolized by Jerusalem, have been misbehaving and are in trouble (vss. 1-3). Nevertheless, if they repent (vs. 4), God will rescue them (vss. 5-8). I especially like the contrast between the whisper that we cry out and the earthquake with which God responds. God is always listening for the faintest sound of repentance.


Exodus 19:1-19, The voice or presence of God is frequently compared to Earthquakes, Thunder, and Volcanoes (10/31/2017)

There are volcanoes in the Middle East, so the Israelites could have known about them, either by seeing one or by hearing about them from somebody else. Scholarly opinions differ (as usual) about whether Mt. Sinai can be identified with one of these volcanoes, or indeed which mountain really is the Mt. Sinai of Moses. There are also differences of opinion about whether the flaming fire had to do with the shaking mountain (lava) or the thunderstorm (lightning).

Fortunately, where the mountain is and whether there was an earthquake, a storm, or a volcano isn’t the point of the scripture. The point is that the LORD God spoke to Moses, who served as an intermediary between God and the people. The voice and presence of God were awesome, frightening, and dangerous, and Moses’ position as the only person who could endure them without dying served as his credentials.


Isaiah 30:27-33, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to Hail (11/2/2017)

My husband remembers standing in the living room and looking out at hailstones the size of softballs pounding big dents into his car. The storm broke windows, damaged buildings, destroyed crops, and killed cattle. The most common description of God in the Bible is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” “Slow to anger” doesn’t mean that God never gets angry, however. Isaiah says that God’s anger will be destructive, like fire or hailstones. We should repent now while God is still being patient with us.


Exodus 9:13-26, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to Hail, although more often hail is something caused by the LORD (11/3/2017)

We all know about the ten plagues of Egypt; one of them was a terrible hailstorm. God was not in the storm; God is not compared to the storm. God sent the storm as a sign of his power (vs. 14). Take special note of vs. 19. God is talking to Pharaoh (through Moses) and gives him fair warning of the destruction to come. Pharaoh and the Egyptians have adequate time to take precautions, and some of them do that. Others don’t. God has spent considerable effort – through the Law, the prophets, and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles – to warn us about the bad things that will happen to us if we ignore him and his instructions. Some of us pay attention; some don’t. Let’s you and I be among those who pay attention.


Matthew 24:23-27, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to Lightning (11/6/2017)

In some places, children like to go outside and play in the rain. That’s not such a good idea here in New Mexico, because in most cases rain is accompanied by flash floods and lightning. Lightning is unmistakable; no one is ever confused by a street light or an airplane. In the same way, the coming of the Christ will be unmistakable; you won’t need to be informed by anyone else, because you will see him for yourself.


Psalms 97:1-12, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to Lightning (11/7/2017)

The entire Bible is written to tell us about God, but only three verses declare what God is. 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 state unequivocally, “God is love.” 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light.” (Of course, a few verses say unhelpfully that “God is God” or “God is one,” or that “God is an everlasting rock” or “a consuming fire,” which are clearly metaphorical.) So anyway. Given that God is light, we shouldn’t be surprised that his presence is compared to lightning.


Revelation 21:15-27, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to the Sun (11/8/2017)

I live in a city that is truly beautiful at night from the air or the surrounding hills: the air is clear, and the edges of the city are sharply defined and surrounded by dark countryside. The city looks like a layer of diamonds spread out on black velvet. The reason is simple. Every building, every street, every vehicle is a point of light! In his vision, John sees the city of God, in which every building, every street, and every person is a point of reflection for the light of the Lord God and his Lamb.


Matthew 17:1-8, The voice or presence of God is sometimes compared to the Sun (11/9/2017)

In his transfiguration, Jesus’ face “shone like the sun,” and Mark’s gospel [9:6] says specifically that Peter and the other disciples were terrified by the light and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, before the voice spoke to them. It’s no wonder that they were afraid, because one thing we all heard many times before the recent eclipse was, “Don’t look directly at the sun!”


Psalms 148:1-14, Let all created things praise the LORD! (11/10/2017)

The sun, moon, and stars; the fire, hail, and whirlwind; all the signs and wonders – these are wondrous to behold, but our God is not in them. Our God sometimes uses them to remind us of his majesty, to symbolize covenants, or to mark special events, but all of them were created by the LORD, whose majesty is above earth and heaven. Praise the LORD!

More Wonders and Signs
Wonders and Signs – Part 1
Wonders and Signs – Part 2
Wonders and Signs – Part 3

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