One of the most surprising things I learned about God through studying the bible for all these 15 years is that while God is a merciful and loving God who forgives and extends grace to his people, He is also a vengeful God who exerts his judgment in different ways. Lightning presents as one form of punishment by God, but then I am also learning that lightning is one of the many symbols in the bible that mean a lot more. And so, what does lightning symbolize in the bible?
Lightning, as mentioned in the bible in Psalms 77:18, represents God’s glorious majesty, His presence, and his firm judgment against all who rebel against His will, Kingdom, and ways. In literal terms, lightning could also symbolize God’s sovereignty and swift power.
In this article, I’ll share more about the meaning of lightning; some of the bible mentions the meaning and relevance of lightning and its spiritual meanings. So, keep reading to learn all about the symbolism of lightning.
Is lightning mentioned in the bible?
Yes, lightning is mentioned in the Bible, where it’s used to describe God’s mighty presence and swift power poetically.
Lightning is mentioned in Psalm 97:4, where it’s suggested that there would be lightning from the heavens, lighting up the world while also scaring the people when they see the light. Here, it’s believed that lightning represents God’s might and sovereignty over all His creation. This is also described in Job 37:3, where lightning represents God’s power and might over the earth.
Is lightning a sign from God?
Lightning is believed to be a sign to God’s people by God about His presence, which is majestic. It is also believed to be a sign of God’s power, and it’s deemed a way through which God communicates to man or announces His presence. Poetically, lightning is considered a sign of God’s power and presence.
Lightning could also be a sign that reminds people to be rightfully respectful of God and also a way through which people are in awe of God’s sheer power over all of His creation.
Additionally, lightning is considered a sign of God’s righteous judgment or wrath against sinners or His enemies. So, while lightning represents God’s presence, it is also a reminder of his wrath – not just his Love or His Goodness, Mercy, and Grace.
What is the meaning of lightning in the bible?
The use of lighting in the bible is symbolic and carries different meanings based on the different contexts that lightning is used in the bible. Below are some of the meanings associated with lightning in the bible.
Lightning represents God’s majesty, as mentioned in Exodus 19:16-18 and Psalm 97:2-4. Exodus 24:17, Revelation 11:19, Revelation 4:5, and Revelation 8:5. These verses mention lightning as a symbol of God’s presence, might, and sovereignty over all creations.
In Exodus 19:16, it is implied that the camp where the Israelites trembled when God showed himself to His people in the form of lightning, thunder, and a thick cloud. This is believed to represent the mighty power of the Lord.
Sign of Goodness of God
While lightning is believed to have been used by God to demonstrate His might and power, or in other instances, the wrath of God, it could also mean something good (1 John 1:5), thanks to the fact that lightning is associated with light, which is a good sign. Light is the first thing that the bible suggests God created in Genesis 1:3; it’s a manifestation of God’s divine operation, particularly in a world full of chaos and darkness. Light is believed to symbolize life, salvation, and the divine presence of God almighty – Psalm 56:13, Isaiah 9:2, and Exodus 10:23.
Light of the World and God as Light
On the same breath, lightning – as is light – is considered a symbol of God (The God of Light) and his Goodness, specifically as an antithesis to all evil associated with darkness. Different biblical authors believe that light represents an understanding of God as the ultimate symbol of Good, just as light is. It (and light) could, therefore, be a symbol of the one Holy (True) God, His Presence and His Favor rather than God’s wrath or harsh judgment – Psalm 27:1, 2 Corinthians 4:6, and Isaiah 9:2.
5 symbolic meaning of lightning in the bible
In the bible, lighting can be seen as symbolic of several things, as outlined here.
Lightning is considered an important symbol representing the presence of God. Exodus 19:11 implied that it was God’s desire for Him to be seen by not just Moses but all the people of Israel that had been rescued from Egypt, rather than a select number of people, as had been the case earlier. In this event, lightning was symbolic of God’s presence, His immediate Power, and His ambiguity. Exodus 19:16 also suggests that God used lightning to demonstrate His presence. This is further demonstrated in Job 37:3, Psalm 97:4, and Jeremiah 10:13. All these bible verses further suggest that through lightning, the people were in awe of God, and the lightning also made them rightfully respectful of the power of God and His reign over creation.
God’s Wrath Against Enemies
While God is the perfect source of love and goodness as He gives His people His Grace and Mercy, he is also an angry God who judges the sinful. It’s implied in Psalm 7:11 and Psalm 50:6 that God is the righteous judge who rules over all things and that e is the Supreme Ruler of all things on earth, and he brings his Wrath over his enemies.
To do this, God uses lightning literally and symbolically to bring His Wrath on enemies, and in these occasions, lightning is regarded as a weapon used by God to punish or judge His enemies. 2 Samuel 22:13-15, Psalm 144:6, and Ezekiel 21:28 suggest that God used lightning to punish all sinners and the people that didn’t believe in him. It is also believed to symbolize or reflect God’s judgment against all the people that rebel against God’s Kingdom willfully.
Sign of Jesus’ Second Coming
It is also considered a symbol of Jesus’ second coming, where it’s believed that Jesus will return not as a shepherd but as The Son of God, revealed in His Heavenly Glory, and that He’d come down, ready to judge all people. It’s believed that during Christ’s second coming, the event will be unannounced, just as the lightning strike is, but the visibility of the lightning in the West will represent his presence. Matthew 24:27.
It’s believed that lightning represents the suddenness that Christ came back on earth and the fact that Jesus came back at a time that isn’t known to anyone, not even God. Matthew 24:36.
God’s Glorious Majesty
While the bible generally describes God in different ways, one of the things that stands out about God’s mighty power and presence is how it’s suggested that God presents Himself in the form of lightning. In this regard, it is considered a symbol of God’s glory and majesty, not just in His presence but also in all He does. Revelation 4:5 mentions flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder to refer to God’s might and majesty.
God’s Swift, Powerful, and Visible Judgment Against Rebellion
Lightning could also symbolize God’s might and His swift action in how He strikes down evil or Satan. It’s suggested in Luke 10:18-19 that God used his power to strike down Satan, who fell from heaven as lighting. It’s further suggested that the disciples of Jesus were shocked and expressed their shock to Christ, having witnessed how even the most powerful demons fled when God’s/ Jesus’s Holy name was mentioned.
In these verses, it is believed that lightning represented God’s powerful, swift, and prominent judgment against Satan or Satan’s rebellion when he was in heaven. So, lightning could be regarded as God’s judgment and His Decree against the devil/ Lucifer.
Bible verses about lightning
Job 36:30-32 – This verse demonstrates God’s use of lightning to demonstrate and pass judgment on his creation and the sinful.
Psalm 78:48 – This verse is about God’s punishment that is unleashed on people directly or indirectly in the form of lightning bolts.
Matthew 24:27 – In this verse, lightning is used to symbolize one of the signs of the end times and also the Second Coming of His son, Jesus Christ.
Luke 17:24 – In this verse, believers are warned about Christ’s Second Coming, the fact that Christ will come to man at an unknown time, and that lighting is one of the signs of Christ’s second coming.
Revelation 4:5 – This bible verse describes God’s awesome and majestic presence and the fact that this is one of the figures of God’s presence and what believers can expect him to look like.
Exodus 19:16 – Here, God’s presence is symbolized by lightning and thunder.
Psalm 135:7 – This verse describes God’s might, power, and sovereignty.
Nahum 1:3-6 – Lightning is mentioned in these Bible verses to represent God’s wrath and power over His creation and his Awful majesty against sinners.
Exodus 9:23-24 – These verses demonstrate God’s power in bringing judgment to all who act against his will, and lighting is regarded as one of the forms through which God punishes wrongdoers.
Job 38:24 – These verses demonstrate God’s power over earth and His reign on all of the earth and all creation.
The symbolic meaning of lightning in different cultures
Cultures of the world hold different beliefs about lightning and what a bolt of lightning may mean. Most cultures and belief systems believe that lightning could be a symbol of power, strength, a sign of sudden events, a sign of clarity, boldness, and truthfulness, and also, it could be the thing that charges up one’s energy.
Different cultures also consider lightning to be a sign of different things. In this section, I’ll share more about the meaning of lightning in different cultures.
Native American Cultures
According to the Native Americans, a bolt of lightning is considered a symbol of a powerful connection between the spiritual realm and the physical world. They believe that as a result of the impact and power of lightning, people can develop a deeper intimate connection with God or the Divine if only they open themselves up and allow God to reign over their lives.
They also believed that because lightning is often associated with rainbows appearing after storms, lighting and thunderstorms represented the Voice of God. The natives believed that lightning was a supreme or celestial sparkle that brightened the world. They also associated lightning with the honesty and morality because of the pure and flashing nature of lightning. As a result, individuals struck by lightning were regarded as liars or wayward.
According to the Ancient Greeks, lighting symbolizes power, life, and change. While some people think of these as myths, they are not, as they represent actual meaningful things associated with lightning. In ancient Greece, it was believed that bolts of lightning were sent down to the people by Zeus as punishment for all the people that displeased him. Zeus is also the God that controlled the rest of the Greek gods, and as the highest God for the Greeks, Zeus was represented by lightning. Therefore, Lighting was regarded as God’s powerful sword, so the places where lightning struck down were considered holy or sacred.
The Hindu also believed that lightning was more than a natural occurrence. One of their gods, Lord Indra, is the custodian of the rain, clouds, stork, and lightning. They believed that whenever there was a lightning bolt in the sky, it represented truth and wisdom among the people.
Lightning was considered an eye-opener that taught people the importance of awareness and self-realization.
In Norse Mythology, Odin and his son Thor are believed to have been connected to the symbolism of lightning. Odin’s spear was believed to be the embodiment of lightning, while Thor controlled both lightning and thunder.
The ancient Romans, like the Greeks, also believed that lightning was connected to their God, in this case, Jupiter. They believed that Jupiter was the God of lightning.
The ancient Balkans believed that lightning was a way through which their god, Perkons, disciplined the people for wrongdoing or going against his ways. It’s believed that Perkons held an ax that produced lightning and thunder to punish and discipline men, other gods, and evil spirits. The ancient Balkans also believed that the oak tree was Perkons sacred tree because of how frequently oak trees were struck by lightning.
Ancient Celtic Culture
The ancient Celts believed that only chosen people would be struck by lightning and that when this happened, these individuals attained the power of lightning, either in this world or in the next. They believed that the control over lightning bestowed after the lightning struck would always be with the person struck, regardless of the state the individual would be in after getting struck. Individuals who died would have the power in the afterlife, while those that survived were regarded as men chosen by the gods. The Celts also held in high regard places that lightning struck, and they deemed them sacred grounds.
Ancient Mesopotamians/ Babylonians
The people of ancient Mesopotamia believed that the their god of thunderstorms, Marduk, held a thunderbolt and a bow which he used to punish the people by striking them with lightning.
According to the ancient Chinese, Lei Gong or Lei Shen is the Chinese god of thunder/ lightning. The ancient Chinese believed that Lei Gong carried a drum and a mallet, that produced thunder and lightning bolts to punish the people that wasted food. They also regarded lighting as a sign of fertility because of the belief that lightning made the clouds more powerful and led to more rain.
The ancient Japanese culture worshipped the Japanese god of thunderstorms and lightning called Raijin. The Buddhists, Shintoists, and Daoists also believed in the god Raijin, and they believed that this god of thunder with a monstrous appearance was responsible for bountiful harvests and abundance.
Superstitious meanings of lightning
It’s believed that a bolt of lightning carries a spiritual meaning, representing the connection between knowledge and light. A strike of lightning is believed to bring awakening to the individual, and it may get them out of a state of ignorance by allowing them to see the clear and undeniable truth about life or one’s circumstances.
According to superstition, being struck by lightning is an omen that is believed to bring a sense of awakening, allowing the individual to reflect on the things that they may be ignorant or unaware of. Lightning is also considered a sign for someone to make more solid efforts in informing themselves about different topics in life. So, lighting could be a sign for someone to use their intellect, meditate, reflect, and use their intuition to improve themselves.
Sign of Divine Intervention
Some people believe that lightning is a sign of God’s divine intervention, and a lightning strike represents being in direct communication with the gods. The Incas, Catequil, and the Zeus of Greece all believed that someone struck by lightning was lucky because it meant that they’d been chosen or honored to receive a message from heaven.
Lighting is believed to be a form of punishment by God. This punishment is in the form of a lightning strike or lightning strikes that hit people because of wrongdoing. It is also believed that the lightning strikes mean that the gods are angry with a certain individual or people, and so, they are struck by lightning as a form of punishment. The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed that Zeus, their god, controlled lightning, and he’d strike when angry with his people.
Lightning is considered a symbol of destruction, and this could be because of the Old Norse belief that the god of thunder, Thor, would wield his hammer and it could be accompanied by lightning and thunder, but also a great deal of destruction. This was considered a way through which Thor expressed his control and superiority over other gods.
What does it mean to be struck by lightning?
Spiritually, being struck by lightning, as suggested in Romans 12:20, means that the struck person is blessed. The lightning strike is considered a literal sign of a blessing, good, or something desirable.
So, while the idea of getting struck by lightning is scary and the effects undesirable, getting struck by lightning isn’t bad. It could mean that you’ll be safe from harm or even death when faced with a challenging situation.
What does it mean to dream about lightning?
Depending on your belief system, a dream about lightning may haunt you or force you to interrogate your life or actions. However, it’s believed that dreaming about lightning could be a message from God about self-introspection. It could be a sign to choose a path to stick to and to believe in God.
The dream may also mean that God is displeased with you, but you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself – you only need to be willing to work on yourself.
A dream about being struck by lightning is believed to represent a connection to different realms, people, or dimensions. A lightning strike could be a message from the divine; often a warning about the direction you could be taking or the decision you are about to make. Therefore, lightning striking someone in their dreams could be the universe stopping them from pursuing a certain path.
Is lightning a sign of good luck?
Lighting is generally regarded as a positive sign, although there are instances where lightning bolts bring a great deal of hurt and damage, and in these circumstances, lightning may not be that great. Also, getting struck by lightning, though painful or even fatal, is a sign of communication from the divine or spiritual realm. In the Bible, it represents God’s presence and might, His Wrath and judgment. it’s also considered a sign of divine intervention, fertility, boldness, truthfulness, clarity, strength, and power.
However, with the positive and negative aspects of lightning in mind, it could be seen as a symbol of good luck or bad luck.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.