Revelation 4:5

lightnings, thunderings, and voices
These portend the magnificence and glory of the Father and bring reverent fear to those who experience them, as when God revealed Himself to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex. Ex. 19:16-18; Heb. Heb. 12:18-21) and to Ezekiel (Eze. Eze. 1:13). In this book, thunder attends moments of great significance and impending judgment (Rev. Rev. 8:5+; Rev. 10:3+; Rev. 11:19+; Rev. 16:17-18+; Rev. 19:6+ cf. Ex. Ex. 9:23-34; 1S. 1S. 2:10; 1S. 7:10; 1S. 1S. 12:17-18; 2S. 2S. 22:14; Ps. Ps. 18:13; Ps. 104:7). “This is the faint rumbling of the judgment that shall come forth against mankind out of Christ, against the empire of Satan, and the farthest worlds of the universe. Now there is a premonition of judgment, but soon worlds shall perish.”1 “These demonstrate that the throne is one of judgment, and that wrath is about to proceed from it.”2

The voices may be those of the “seven thunders” whose utterance John is told not to record (Rev. Rev. 10:3-4+). “ ‘The thunderings express God’s threats against the ungodly: there are voices in the thunders (Rev. Rev. 10:3+), that is, not only does He threaten generally, but also predicts special judgments’ [Grotius].”3

seven lamps
These lamps are said to be the seven Spirits of God which are burning before the throne. See commentary on Revelation 1:4. These are not the “seven lampstands” which are the churches (Rev. Rev. 1:12+, Rev. 1:20+), but represent the Holy Spirit Who is the source of light (illumination) and Who empowers the seven lampstands. Their continual burning is an indication of judgment (Mtt. Mat. 3:11) and zeal (Acts Acts 2:3), for nothing escapes the penetrating witness of the Holy Spirit (Gen. Gen. 15:17; Rev. Rev. 3:1+; Rev. 5:6+). The lamps are associated with lightnings and thunderings and are burning as an indication of the time of judgment which follows.

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch.” (Mal. Mal. 4:1)

See Trouble Ahead.


1 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 92.

2 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 102.

3 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 4:5.

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