The Bible And Electrifying Encounters With God

It happens when you least expect it. Open a car door. Reach out to a friend. Then ZAP! This is static electricity. And some people even have a greater electric shock when they are hit by lightning. It also isn’t new, as we see it in the Torah.
Baltic amber, chashmal
Baltic amber, chashmal
In the 1700s, scientists experimented with “static” electricity, but Benjamin Franklin took it a step further with his kite experiment, proving that lightning was a form of electricity.
That was just over 250 years ago, but in the Bible going back to the story of Moses 3,300 years ago, the Israelite’s often encountered God’s electricity in the form of lightning as well as mini-lightning bolts (static electricity).
Static electricity produces a spark
Static electricity produces a spark
Let’s take a fascinating look at how the Hebrew writers of the Bible described their electrical encounters with God and how the Creator of the universe used His command of lightning.
“Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?” Job 37:14–15 (KJV)
Chashmal Envelops the Body of God
Today in modern Hebrew and in the Bible, the word for lightning is בָּרָק – barak.
the lightning of His cloud to shine
the lightning of His cloud to shine
In the Bible, another Hebrew word חַשְׁמַל – chashmal only referred to the gemstone amber, which can be a fiery red color (as in the image above) as well as green, yellow, black, or a rare blue.
More than its striking appearance, amber has a very unique property: it can produce static electricity. The Prophet Ezekiel likely knew about this “electrical” phenomenon of amber but had no scientific way to understand it.
So, when he described God’s form as bright, glowing amber in the following passage, he may have been thinking about the sparks that static electricity produces in addition to its fiery colors.
In his vision of God’s throne, Ezekiel wrote:
“And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.” Ezekiel 1:26–27 (KJV)
Jewish commentators, such as Rashi say that we should not ponder this verse. However the Rabbis agree that it is speaking about God Himself, and His body is described as chashmal.
When light shines through amber, it indeed looks like fire or like “glowing metal” (as some Bible translations write it). But perhaps, Ezekiel saw mini-lightning bolts fly out His body as well.
Chashmal Becomes Modern Electricity
Before God re-established Israel in 1948, He also resurrected the Hebrew language, since the Jewish People had been scattered throughout the world for 2,000 years.
In the late 1800s, God used a religious Jewish man by the name of Eliezer Ben Yehuda to re-establish the Hebrew language. He was born in Lithuania (under the Russian empire) and moved to Jerusalem in 1881.
At that time, no one spoke Hebrew in daily life in Israel. Hebrew was viewed as the Holy language, only to be used for praying and synagogue worship.
Instead, the people spoke the languages from their home countries, mainly Yiddish. But God put in Eliezer’s heart to rebirth Hebrew as the spoken, read, and written language of Israel.
He forced his family to speak only Hebrew in their home, and his son was the first child in approximately 2000 years who spoke solely Hebrew.
Ben Yehuda created the first Israeli Hebrew newspaper and the first modern Hebrew dictionary.
His efforts were quite prophetic, as the Prophet Zephaniah wrote in chapter 3 verse 9: “For then I will restore to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord.”
Eliezer, had to create many new words which were not found in the Bible, such as “electricity” which was discovered by Benjamin Franklin only about 100 years earlier. He chose the word chashmal.
Why did Eliezer choose that word?
When the Hebrew Scriptures were first translated into Greek about 2,100 years ago, the Hebrew word chashmal became the Greek word elektron.
Still, it only had the meaning of amber, and seems to be related to the Phoenician word elēkrŏn, meaning “shining light.”
In the 17th century, two English scientists (William Gilbert and Sir Thomas Browne) were trying to better understand the static electricity that amber produces.
Gilbert called it electrikus, meaning like amber. Browne later changed the word to electricity, and the rest is history.
One of the most notable poets of the 19th century Jewish Enlightenment, Judah Leib Gordon, helped popularize this new word when he wrote:
“The light, the heat, the steam, and the electricity (hash-ma-LA), all nature’s forces are the angels above.” He explained in his footnote: “by hash-ma-LA, I mean the natural force that is electritzitat, since the Greek translation of hash-MAL is ‘elektrika.’”
Lightning Illuminates the Power of God
Lightning is the most powerful of all forces. It races toward earth at 200,000 mph (322,000 km/h) and has enough power in one bolt to light up a house for 30 years.
Throughout the Bible, it is understood that lightning and all natural phenomenon are at the command of the God of Israel.
And at key moments in Israel’s history, God has appeared in the midst of lightning or hurled it to earth to prove that He is Master of the universe and there is no other.
“With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.” Job 36:32 (KJV)
For instance, in the seventh plague against Egypt, God sent hail and lightning, the worst storm Egypt ever had. This proved the God of Israel’s supremacy over the Egyptian gods of rain, thunder, and lightning.
Those who feared the Lord and brought their livestock and families inside were saved. (Exodus 9:13–35)
Perhaps they thought like Elihu in the Book of Job, who said:
“At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place. Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.” Job 37:1–3 (KJV)
Even though God possesses the power to destroy the entire earth with a wave of His hand, He deserves great reverence for using that authority righteously and justly.
In fact, the righteous have appealed to God, asking Him to use His immense omnipotence to defeat their enemies, as when David pleaded:

Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.Psalm 144:5–6 (KJV)

So, even though God’s authority over lightning rightly invokes fear and trembling, it also commands reverence, honor, glory, and praise of Him who is righteous, just, and holy, holy, holy.
Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies
Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies
In the Book of Revelation is one of God’s final appearances on His throne. The Apostle John sees God in the midst of “flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder” with angels about and 24 elders seated around Him.
When the angels called out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” the elders cast down their crowns, bowed in worship, saying:
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.Revelation 4:8–11 (KJV)
When God manifested in the form of a man, Yeshua (Jesus), His glory also manifested in a way that would invoke fear and reverence, glory and honor.
Lightning Accompanies Messiah
At times, as Yeshua’s Jewish disciples lived with Him, they got to see a piece of God’s glorious presence. This is how they described it:
On the Mount of Transfiguration, “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.” Matthew 28:3 (KJV)
And “as He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke 9:29
Very soon (since many signs indicate that we are in the last days) this is how the Son of Man, Messiah Yeshua, will appear to the entire world when He returns:
“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:27; Luke 17:24
Messiah Yeshua is coming soon, very soon!

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