The sound that a lion makes is called its roar; and it is extremely loud. It is one of the loudest sounds that any animal makes. In fact, it is sometimes possible to hear a lionís roar from several miles (or several kilometres) away. Because lions are such fierce and powerful animals, it is a frightening sound to hear.
The lionís roar is a low sound, and therefore similar to thunder. Thunder is the noise that follows lightning in a storm; of course, it is even louder. Job 37:4-5 and Psalm 29:3 compare thunder to the voice of God. In John 12:28-29, God spoke from heaven; however, the people present thought that they had heard thunder, or the voice of an angel (a special servant of God).
Here, the roar was actually the voice of a powerful angel; the reply came from the 7 thunders. We do not know who, or what, the 7 thunders are. The number 7 in the Book of Revelation often means something that is complete or perfect. Perhaps therefore, the sound of perfect thunder can only be the voice of God himself. However, we cannot be sure.
Normal thunder is just a noise, but the 7 thunders actually spoke words. John intended to write down those words; Godís command in verse 4 stopped him. So, of course, we do not know what those words were. John needed to know them; perhaps they gave him the confidence to complete his book. Everyone else must wait until the proper time when God will declare publicly the words of the 7 thunders.
Clearly, a message that God sends in such a powerful and impressive manner must be extremely important.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.