Gods, Imagery and Theophany
Associating God with observable, awe-inspiring natural phenomena
People in ancient times attempted to identify their gods with impressive, natural forces such as storms, lightning or quakes. They saw their gods as has having more than super-human power therefore witnessed them as all powerful, natural phenomena or threatening animals of prey. Canaan was a land of tempests, so their gods were represented by storm gods. Storm gods were portrayed in religious iconography as riding on the backs of beasts with spears or other weapons of war in their hands. The god of Israel also appears in storms. In fact, the Old Testament fleshes out the concept of God controlling the storms!
Yahweh, who is omnipresent filling the earth, appears in the world as a physical, divine presence who presents Himself at different times in different locations. An appearance of God is what is referred to as a “theophany.”
Seeing God in a storm is thought to either suggest Him coming to save us or to judge us as referred to in; (Dt 4:33-35, Mic 1:3 and Hab 3:3-15.) Theophany is only for the briefest moment since God’s true terrifying glory cannot be endured by humans. God appeared in the Sinai desert to the people of Israel when He made covenant with them and they became His people (Ex 20:16-19).
When this world comes to an end God will return to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, mounted on a white stallion, riding on the clouds with the trumpet blast judging all living and dead (Mt 24:30-31, 1 Th4:16-17; Rev 1:7). This imagery of God and His awesome power is how we mortals attempt to put an identifiable image or face to an incredible, very real God! And, He is our God, and we are His people. Thank you Father God.