The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." 1 Kings 19:11-18
Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal in a contest at Mount Carmel that proved once and for all that Elijah’s God was the One True God. The people of Israel were in rebellion and were ruled by an ungodly king, Ahab. The prophets of Baal were put to death. Good was victorious over evil that day. But, Elijah didn’t receive a victor’s crown. He got a death threat instead. Queen Jezebel was an ardent worshipper of Baal.
Elijah ran for his life, and then in a moment of exhaustion and panic, he was ready to end it all. He wasn’t suicidal. He just longed to receive his reward in Heaven sooner rather than later.
After some rest and nutrition, or as Brenda Blankenship put it on Mother’s Day, “Take a nap and eat a snack,” Elijah managed a 40 day journey to Horeb. He found a cave and took a nap.
Elijah desperately needed to hear from God. Following God’s will resulted in a death threat. If we were in Elijah’s shoes, at this point, we would probably be wondering if we had misunderstood something along the way. It would seem that obeying God would lead to a more positive result. Unfortunately, God has never given us that guarantee.
God instructs Elijah to step out of his cave and wait. Elijah witnesses gale force winds that tear the mountains apart and shatter rocks. You have to wonder if Elijah is thinking “Yay God!” or “Oh Crap!” But, God wasn’t in the wind. The wind subsides, then the earth begins to move. But, God wasn’t in the earthquake. Then, fire appeared. Wind, earthquakes and fire -- do you think Elijah was in California?
God wasn’t present in any of these phenomena. Elijah needed for God to show up in a mighty way. But as soon as Elijah began to hum, “I feel like something good is about to happen…” the storm would subside. Maybe he was hoping that Ahab’s army would go the route of Pharaoh’s army and just disappear from the face of the earth.
God wasn’t in the dramatic moments. God didn’t speak through special effects. God didn’t come across as the great and power Oz. He didn’t need to.
Elijah heard a gentle whisper. That was God. God didn’t need to demonstrate the power of His presence. God’s presence is powerful. God’s whisper is powerful.
God directed Elijah to what would happen next and revealed a portion of His plan. Elijah would retire. Another would take up the mantle.
God doesn’t need volume. God doesn’t need special effects. God simply needs a listen ear that will listen to His voice.