(1 Kings 16:29 – 19:18)
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:13)
The word of the Lord came to Elijah in a cave atop Mount Horeb, calling the prophet out into His presence. There was “a great and powerful wind” that “tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks”, an earthquake, and a fire (19:11). The Bible tells us that God was not in these awesome displays of nature’s force, but that He came to Elijah in the gentle whisper that followed them.
The prophet, standing at the mouth of the cave with his cloak over his face, replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty…” (19:14)
Elijah had done everything that God commanded. He bore the bad news of a coming drought, God’s judgement upon His people for their idolatry, to Israel’s unfaithful king Ahab. Then he waited, first in a ravine, fed by ravens, then in the heart of idol worship, Zarapheth of Sidon, fed by a starving widow.
Elijah trusted God, and the woman’s “jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry” (17:16).
“After a long time,” finally, God commanded Elijah to act, and he did (18:1). They would face off, The Lord vs. Baal, Elijah against the 450 false prophets of Baal.
“Answer me, O Lord, answer me,” Elijah prayed, “so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (18:37)
In short order “the fire of the Lord fell” on Mount Carmel, God’s people fell prostrate before Him, and the prophets of Baal fell by the sword in the Kishon Valley (18:38). Elijah prayed and it rained, the drought was ended! In God’s power he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot.
God’s dramatic demonstration of His sovereign power should have turned the tide. But amazingly, Queen Jezebel was not impressed. She threatened the prophet and Elijah fled in fear.
“I have had enough, Lord… take my life”, he prayed, under the broom tree (19:4).
Elijah had been zealous for The Lord, had done everything God commanded, and he must have expected to see results – rock splitting, earth quaking, fire burning results in the hearts of men.
But God made his presence known to Elijah in the whisper, beyond the desert, alone on the mountain. And from there he instructed the prophet in what he would need to do next.
Reading Elijah’s story reminds me of what we, as Christians, must do.
Continue to trust in God’s larger plan (how much more we have seen of it than Elijah!). Do what The Lord has commanded us to do, and go where He sends us. Wait. Hold on when the earth shakes. Know that His voice will come – it always comes – a quiet whisper, comforting and strengthening us, and sending us out yet again.