Chapter 6

Thunder and Lightning

From the booklet Unveiled at Last: The Royal Book of Revelation
By Gerald Flurry

The Bible refers to new revelation as thunder and lightning. There’s a good reason for that: Thunder and lightning get our attention. We’ve probably all been jolted by a blast of thunder from a storm or startled and mesmerized by a streak of lightning. Spiritual thunder and lightning from God should have a similar effect.

We are in the midst of a great spiritual storm inside God’s own Church. Also, the greatest physical storm ever is about to strike the Earth. Because of the massive confusion in God’s Church, God makes His presence known through intense thunder and lightning (spiritually speaking). There will be more thunder and lightning in a short span of time. But spiritual thunder and lightning mean nothing if you are spiritually blind and deaf. However, it is still thunder and lightning! How abundantly God has blessed us with new revelation.

God uses His thunderous revelation to get our attention. When He has something important to say, we need to be tuned in to Him. If we’re not, we have some serious problems. As we get more focused on God’s thunder, all of the messages will be more important to us.

God’s Throne

Look again at the mighty source of this thunder. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven [God’s throne], and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats [or thrones] I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Revelation 4:1-5).

Here we have lightnings and thunderings—a symbol of spiritual lightning and thunder, or revelation—coming from the throne. God’s very elect see the lightning and hear the thunder! Revelation doesn’t come from man—it comes from God’s throne.

And there are seven lamps before God’s throne, which are typed by seven Church eras—each one had God’s lamp. God thunders His revelation through His very elect which have the lamp on this Earth! Meditate on that inspiring truth: Having a part in this Work makes you very important to God. There is only one lamp on the Earth today.

Malachi’s Message

“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices” (Revelation 10:1-3).

Think about the seven thunders of Malachi’s Message, or the little book. That book describes a tragedy within God’s Church of proportions hard to fathom. It is thunder of eternal judgment—so many people are going to lose their eternal lives. That is a thunderous message!

So this thunder represents new revelation—new revelation that could save God’s people, His own Church, from the Great Tribulation and eternal death. Only God’s Church is being judged today (1 Peter 4:17). The stakes for God’s people are eternal life or death. That’s important thunder! It will enable so many of them to repent in the Great Tribulation. How else would they know what to repent of? I believe almost all of the Laodiceans would have lost everything forever, if not for what the pcg is doing to get this message out.

What an important message it is—to your family, your loved ones, the Laodicean members in the other churches. What an honor for us to have the message that thunders to them!

The biggest danger we face is being ho-hum about this thunder and lightning, because we receive so much of it and have received so much in the past under Herbert Armstrong.

Thunder at Horeb

In Exodus 19, Israel was receiving some revelation. Not all of it was new, but some was. God states, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:4-6). Israel was to be a kingdom of priests. This is what the Israelites rebelled against. Today, the Church of God is a kingdom of priests—spiritually.

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (verse 16). God wants us to tremble before His Word. Spiritual thunder and lightning should have such an impact on us. “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly” (verses 17-18).

God was giving Israel the Ten Commandments in codified form. Now what was He trying to achieve with the accompanying thunder and the lightning? He was trying to get those people to realize that this was not from a man, but from the great Creator of mankind! Spiritually, new revelation today should have a much greater impact on our lives than physical thunder and lightning. Why? Because it has eternal consequences!

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19). God was getting their attention.

Feast of Ingathering

Exodus 23 includes the statutes, which were part of the covenant that God was making with Israel. It discusses the feast of ingathering (verse 16), depicting when the Israelites would have gathered in all the world if they had listened to God. But they rebelled.

God brings us to the Feast of Tabernacles with spiritual thunder and lightning to prepare to do what Israel failed to do—gather in all the world! That’s why we attend the Feast, as kings and priests in embryo—a kingdom of priests. I hope we never get tired of hearing that.

Statistics reveal that 25,000 people die of malnutrition and starvation daily. At the Feast of Tabernacles we eat the best foods—things we can’t necessarily afford at other times. Why? As kings and priests, very soon we will permanently remove starvation from this Earth. And not just physical starvation, but spiritual as well.

Almost all who come to this Church from the Laodicean Church have said they were starving spiritually. And so they were. But we in this Church are certainly not starving spiritually. That’s because we are attuned to God’s thunder, and we allow God to get our attention with His inspiring messages.

Remember the Law

Think of what has happened in the past. Moses led Israel, then Joshua followed him—two great leaders. But within one generation after Joshua died, Israel had lost the Feast of Tabernacles. Not once in the book of Judges did Israel keep the Feast. That could leave us rather incredulous, except that we have seen with our own eyes what the Laodiceans have done today—and they have God’s Holy Spirit! Some of them already have lost the Feast of Tabernacles, to their great shame.

God instructs us to remember. “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb [Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:4-6).

God is hearkening us back to Mount Sinai and the thunder and lightning. He is pointing us to the law and government He gave in the presence of Moses. He’s saying, Remember the law. That’s what the end-time Elijah revealed to us through God’s inspiration. What thunder and lightning Mr. Armstrong delivered from God!

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong kept the Feast of Tabernacles alone for seven years. The Sardis Church had already lost the truth about God’s holy days. When Mr. Armstrong presented it to the Sardis leaders, they laughed contemptuously at him. Then he and his wife kept it for seven more years without even understanding why. Not until 1945 did he learn that it was a type of the Millennium. You and I understand that because God revealed it to him.

There is a great lesson in that. God revealed the purpose of the Feast only after Mr. Armstrong stepped out on faith. He would not have revealed WHY, had not Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong stepped out on faith and obeyed God’s command.

That is how God leads us to grow in faith! When we see that God commands something, we just do it, regardless of how little we understand.

You can understand why so many people are not in the Philadelphia Church of God when you understand that principle. Mr. Armstrong began the Philadelphia era in 1933 with 19 members. That’s a small number. In 1989 the pcg began with 12 members. But regardless of the numbers, Mr. Armstrong began, and we began, with a lot of thunder and lightning. We had revelation from God. That is everything. If you don’t have revelation, God is not with you. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings—whether it’s 12, 19, 900, 10,000 or whatever. If Jesus Christ is there and you have thunder and lightning, stay with Christ. Numbers are irrelevant. Men of stature are irrelevant.

The Philadelphians can see Christ in a small Feast of Tabernacles. They can see Christ in a small work. They can see Christ in a little book that’s accompanied by thunder—seven thunderbolts from God. That is what’s important. That is what sets them apart.

Don’t follow men. Those who haven’t quite learned that lesson soon depart if they don’t learn it. We do not follow men. We follow the God who reveals His truths to us, the God who gives us that thunder and lightning.

End-Time Elijah

“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? [That is, just before the return of Christ.] And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:10‑11). That’s a lot of thunder and lightning! This man restored all things. A great abundance of revelation. There was more spiritual thunder and lightning then than any time ever on this Earth. That is because God gives a fuller understanding just before Christ returns. This is talking about spiritual understanding of God’s law and God’s government—His master plan.

Herbert W. Armstrong restored all things for God. That was our spiritual Mount Sinai! God’s very elect tremble before that message. When we hear the thunder, we tremble. We are all under government. I’ve never changed one judgment that Mr. Armstrong made about the law and the statutes. I’m under government. We all are.

All that lightning and thunder was there, and yet look at this prophecy in verses 12 and 13: “But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” The disciples knew, but there were a lot of others who didn’t know. They didn’t even know that John the Baptist was a type of Elijah. They didn’t know he was that first-century Elijah. All that thunder and lightning—and they still didn’t get it!

All of the lukewarm, rebellious Laodiceans will tell you they don’t believe Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the Elijah office and restored all things. They don’t get it because they refuse to understand. What an indescribable shame!

One evangelist said that he would wait and let Christ show him who the end-time Elijah is. So Christ is going to show him the hard way, if that is what it takes.

Come and See

The Jews were taken captive in 585 b.c. When they were later sent back to their land, they rebuilt the temple and they had a Feast of Tabernacles unlike any they had celebrated in 900 years. Ezra was there with them, and he told them to prepare their hearts to seek the law, or the commandments of Exodus 20. They continued keeping the statutes—the holy days of God—after they had established the law. To have great Feasts of Tabernacles, we have to individually establish God’s law and government in our lives as Ezra did.

If you look in Nehemiah, these Jews actually wept when God revealed the law to them. But look what it took to bring them to that state. They had to go into captivity. Then, once they came back and God revealed His law again and gave them all that thunder and lightning, this time they all cried like little children.

Here is the point we need to learn deeply. Let’s learn the law God has given us in good times. The only way we’ll get into God’s Kingdom is to learn to seek God’s law and government. We can either find it the easy way or the hard way. If you think this is a hard way, look at the Great Tribulation: There will never be a time of suffering like it. But it’s the only way God can get the rebellious Laodiceans—and only 50 percent of them at that—to seek and love the law of God. Also, it is the only way God can get the attention of the nations of Israel.

If we keep the law the way we should, we will have great Feasts of Tabernacles. But if we begin to resist it and fight against it, we won’t. We may even have terrible Feasts of Tabernacles. That’s the way it works.

How difficult it is for some people to get this message. I hope and pray to God we don’t have to return from captivity before we learn this thunderous message! There is really no reason why we should.

This law was revealed to Mr. Armstrong with much lightning and thunder. It has already been revealed, and all we have to do is seek it, love it and be thankful to God for it.

God makes an appeal to us in Revelation 6: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see” (verse 1). This physical thunder is a symbol of spiritual thunder. So here one of the seals was opened and that was accompanied by thunder. This new revelation was accompanied by thunder just like Malachi’s Message was. Spiritual thunder accompanies revelation, and it really represents new revelation.

But in this appeal, notice God says, I want you to come and see. When God opens a seal or opens up understanding to our minds and gives us revelation, He’s saying to us, Come and see! He’s appealing to His people, saying, If there is revelation, WHERE IS IT COMING FROM? Not from a man. Come and see—the excitement is in the heavens.

True revelation comes from God and no place else. That’s why He tells us to look at the spiritual thunder and lightning. This is something beyond the realm of men.

God is preparing His king-priests now. Look how much thunder and lightning of revelation we’ve had in the Philadelphia era under Mr. Armstrong and now in the pcg. We’re receiving so much revelation! It’s possible we could be lulled to sleep by getting so much.

There has been no more exciting time ever in man’s history than this time we live in today. We are honored to be the final group before Jesus Christ returns to this Earth and begins to use us as His king-priests. That’s what we are: God’s royalty. That’s reality.

God appeals to us, at the Feast of Tabernacles, to come and see. But 95 percent of God’s people don’t come and see because of their own pride. They have been deceived. They simply won’t come.

God only appeals. He says, When I reveal something, or open a seal, or give revelation, come and SEE and you’ll have all of the excitement of God there. Nothing will ever change that. This is the truth of God. This is revelation from God. Most of God’s people have gone to sleep spiritually, but we must not.

The great falling away of God’s people is, of itself, a terrifying, thunderous warning to each one of us!

Don’t botch that magnificent moment that you have to be with Jesus Christ at His Feast of Tabernacles. Understand where revelation comes from. Certainly not from men. Jesus Christ will continue to give us new revelation. He is giving us thunder and lightning—and He wants us to be moved by it.

We need to be so thankful to God for receiving the old and new revelation like nobody has ever received it in the history of man. Be thankful! Rejoice! Come and see what God has given us in the form of new revelation! Thunder is going to keep coming and coming and coming until we’re sitting on that throne with God.

Continue Reading: Chapter 7: The Message of the Lion of Judah