Editorial: Whispers & Thunders

Age brings with it hearing difficulties. The whispers exchanged between those who are “challenged” in their hearing can often be amusing, since they are audible to many others. The true whisper, however, is so inaudible, that concentration and attentiveness are needed to hear what is being said.

In contrast, loud peals of thunder are heard without any need for amplification by all except those totally deaf. The intensity and volume of the thunderclaps overwhelm and awe us by their sheer magnitude.

Hidden, like a gem amongst the verbiage which is part of the debate, discourse, and diatribes found in the book of Job, is a verse which takes up this contrast: the whisper and the thunder. Job’s three erstwhile friends have been dunning him with the knowledge which they had of God and His ways. Their theology was “retribution theology.” Job was getting what he deserved and would be wise to confess his hidden sins.

Job has been countering by showing the superficial, inconsistent, and hollow grasp they had of divine ways. In chapters 26 to 31, Job answers Bildad’s third round of condemnation. The eloquence and beauty of these chapters, along with their pathos and ethics, is almost unrivaled anywhere else in Scripture, or in literature in general.

In Job 26:14, Job says, “What a whisper is heard of Him; but the thunder of His power, who can understand?” (Newberry). Job is saying that what we know of God now, as compared to what can be known of Him in His totality, is similar to comparing a whisper to a thunder clap! What an amazing comparison.

We spend our lives in the pursuit of the knowledge of God. This is the goal of eternal life, as the Lord Jesus said in John 17. There is nothing else worth knowing apart from this knowledge. Yet the most our thimble-sized souls can contain is likened to a whisper, just a faint, brief, hardly audible expression of all that He is. Only a whisper, yet it thrills our souls when we discover a fresh gleam, or when, with freshness, we plumb a deeper depth to His ways which may have thrilled us before. Each discovery whets our appetite to know Him better.

But what will eternity be like? Will our “spiritual ears” be able to comprehend the thunder of His person? When we begin to enter into the reality of the awesomeness of the God Who not only redeemed us, but Who became Man and endured the shame of the cross so that He might have us,  what will it be like?

If eternal life is to “know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3), then we shall never fathom, even after eternal ages, the full decibel reading of the thunder clap! There will always be some aspect, some depth left to be explored and to thrill the believer. The whispers are thrilling; but the  thunder will be awesome and overwhelming!