The lightning bolts of the Bible are destructive only to error and its adherents. Those whose souls are protected by the lightning rods of God’s truth are safe, and can shout and sing while the lightning leaps and the cyclones of Pentecostal purity and power sweep the earth.
We live in the electric age in both the material and spiritual worlds. Light, heat and motion have been drawn from electricity until old customs and appliances have been revolutionized. From the Pentecostal dynamo there has also burst forth into the spiritual world, light and love and power which is causing multitudes to rush from the old candlelit stage-coaches of forms and ceremonies and dry creeds and crooked experiences into the brilliantly lighted, swiftly propelled cars of full salvation, which, by divine power, are bearing their inmates triumphantly on and up from “glory unto glory.”
They startle. Lightning bolts startle by their vividness, intensity and death-dealing power. In all ages the lightning which has fallen from Pentecostal skies has startled the nations. The prayer of the writer is that these bolts may startle and awaken all who are not securely building on the Rock which no storms can shake.
They hit. Lightning bolts always hit somewhere. Sheet-lightning entertains by its beauty and by the fact that it is just “playing at lightning,” but lightning bolts always hit. God never sends them in either world for amusement. At Pentecost they hit the crucifiers of Jesus, and they have continued to fall with gleeful fury upon Pharisees and hypocrites ever since.
They awaken. The thunder which is born of the bolt is a mighty awakening agency. So the life and power and zeal which follow from one person who, like Paul, Wesley, or Finney, has become a lightning bolt of Pentecostal power, often awaken thousands from the sleep of sin and lead them into the kingdom of God.
They reveal surrounding objects. Their vivid light banishes darkness and reveals every enemy lurking beneath its shadows. The prowling wolf, the cowardly assassin, the treacherous pitfall, as well as the place of safety, is seen under its searching light. In the dark night of sin, formality, worldliness and error in which the “church” is befogged, Pentecostal lightning bolts make surprising and often terrifying revelations. They show lost men where they are and warn them of spiritual foes, and reveal Him who only is able to save.
They frighten. People fear their fury. They dread being hit. Yet a God of infinite love creates them, and continues to hurl them where He sees that they should fall. Just so, people fear spiritual lightning. The opposition to ministers who are charged with it is from this source. People who have not Pentecostal protection fear Pentecostal bolts and the storm-centers of Pentecostal ministers, from which they often leap.
They are no respecters of persons. They fall in defiance of color, clime, creed, and social, political or ecclesiastical position, dealing death and doom wherever God sees fit to send them, asking no leave, making no apologies. In like manner, Pentecostal bolts fall wherever shams and sin are found, and give light and comfort to all who, irrespective of names and creeds, love to see error die.
They shock people. This is a sure sign that they fall near where they live. Scribes and Pharisees were fearfully “shocked” when this kind of lightning first fell and formalists and worldlings and hypocrites are always thus affected by it, while God’s true children
“Can brave the wildest storms
With His glory to the soul;
And can shout amid the tempest,
‘Praise the Lord!’”
It is a department of celestial fireworks with which God entertains His children, and others are apprised of their real spiritual character by the way it affects them.
Sometimes they kill. When they do, we do not blame them or the God who sends them, but say, “He doeth all things well.” Thus they leaped upon Achan, Ananias and Sapphira, to the alarm of evil-doers and the defense of God’s people, and thus they sometimes fall upon like characters today, with similar results.
They attract attention. Lightning bolts attract public attention. The thunder which follows vibrates far and near. So with spiritual bolts. The howls of people who are hit often reverberate through a whole city, and, by the aid of the sounding-boards of the press, through an entire nation. It was these that filled Jerusalem with an uproar in the days of Jesus, and which are to thus fill modern Jerusalem as they leap again with like precision and fury upon the children of those whom they thus destroyed.
They are unpopular. Lightning bolts are unpopular. People, as a rule, dread them. They awaken and startle and kill in such a way as to be a source of alarm, yet they are a part of God’s plan, and have a mission which no other force can fill. The lightning bolt phase of Christianity is just as unpopular for similar reasons, yet none the less needed. The bolts leap from the great storm cloud of divine truth, which has its source in God’s Word.
They never apologize. No matter who is hit, or how many, or how terribly people are “shocked” or criticized, they never take anything back. For the bolts of divine truth which leap from the Word of God, there can be no apologies, no matter how severely and by whom criticized.
They appear cruel. Their work often seems cruel and destructive. Such to limited human sight it may seem. But such, tried by God’s standard, it never is. For in both the physical and spiritual world no bolts leap but from the bosom of infinite love.
They are sudden. “Quick as lightning.” In a similar way the truth leaps upon its foes, until they perceive they are “in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity”; or, Ananias-like, are quickly summoned to a higher court than earth’s; or are, like Pharaoh’s hosts, suddenly drowned in some Red Sea, while those whom they seek to crush sing paeans of victory upon its shores; or, like the antediluvian world, see their folly when too late, and sink beneath their sins.
They are unchangeable. They are just the same now as in the days of Adam, of Moses, and of the primitive church. So with the electric current of Pentecostal truth. The same wires that gave light, and heat, and motion to the salvation cars, in which patriarchs, prophets and apostles sped triumphantly to the skies, will bear their children of this age to the same pearly portals. The bolts which fell on false prophets, and people, and Pharisaical hypocrites of old, leap with kindred fury upon their followers today.
They appear sacrilegious. They often strike churches, and sometimes kill preachers. Indeed, the tall steeples of many modern temples invite them. Sham churches and preachers in a similar way draw down bolts of burning rebuke and exposure from Pentecostal skies. No false plea of sacred place and office can keep them off. No place is sacred where God is disobeyed and insulted, and no man is sacred who profanes his office by betraying sacred trusts. Such places and such ministers are, and ever have been, subjects of divine Lightning Bolts.
Protection provided. There is perfect protection from them. A person perfectly insulated is as safe from lightning in a storm as in the sunshine. Lightning rods of a sham profession have been tried in vain for this purpose, as they draw the lightning instead of diverting it, but all who are insulated from the world by a Holy Ghost experience, fear no bolts from either above or below. If you get “shocked” or killed it will be because you are not properly insulated.
They herald refreshing showers. These showers banish drought, refresh nature, and are a precious, heaven-sent boon. So with the showers of salvation which attend the lightning bolts of power. They turn Saharas of formality into blooming gardens of Christian experience and activity, banish the malaria of worldliness and sin, making the spiritual atmosphere fresh and healthful and laden with the beauty and fragrance of heaven.
Martin Wells Knapp