There is no sound sweeter to a human heart than the still small whisper of God.
Just ask Elijah.
Isn’t it those times when we are most exhausted, most exasperated, most frustrated that we desperately need to hear God the most?
After confronting Jezebel and Ahab for years, Elijah made a public display of them, putting to death the prophets of Baal and showing God to be the One True God. And as if that were not enough, immediately afterward, Elijah prayed and brought the rains he swore three and a half years before would fail to appear through a terrible time of drought. After two such amazing victories, one would think Elijah would be throwing a party or holding a feast to celebrate. After all, God displayed His unquenchable power and publicly vindicated him.
Isn’t it after victory when the roars from the enemy pierce our hearts the loudest?
Instead of celebrating, Elijah ran for his life into the desert at yet another threat from the mouth of the evil Jezebel, and praying, said to God, “I have had enough, LORD (1 Kings 19:4 NIV).” He despaired of his situation to the point of asking God for death.
Maybe you’ve been there…
We’ve all been there…
“I have had enough, LORD.” It seems the temptation of an early grave would be a welcomed relief from the pain in whatever form it may have taken when it trespassed into this beautiful life God gave you.
But God did not speak to Elijah in that moment. Instead, God deferred to a ministering angel first who revived Elijah with bread and water, and isn’t that what we all need first? The Bread of Life, the Living Water? The basics? The angel said to Elijah, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you (1 Kings 19:7).” And at times it very much is. Too much. The angel revived and fed our weary hero prophet. Heroes get weary sometimes too.
You would think God would show up here. After all, Elijah is revived and alert and ready to hear from the LORD. But instead, Elijah traveled forty days and nights into the desert. The number forty speaks of trials and testing, and the reference to a desert unmistakably represents the dry times, times of lacking. Wouldn’t it be convenient for God to show up on the scene here with a chariot and some horses or something? Make this trip a little faster? Get through this desert with a little less up close and personal exposure? Twenty is a nice number, how about let’s cut this suffering in half? But there is something about pushing through the desert for forty days that changes the heart of a God-seeker and primes one’s spirit to fully receive.
He is worth pursuing. His voice is worth the pushing, the waiting, and the completing of the difficult.
“Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her (Hosea 2:14).”
After all, He is always the One Who called us first…
Elijah endured this desert trek because his destination was the mountain of God, the place of meeting, the place of drawing closer, the place of elevation where he could get a new perspective on the desert valley of yesterday.
“And the word of the LORD came to him…(1 Kings 19:9).”
A word from the LORD changes everything.
“’What are you doing here, Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19:9).”
And we all ask that question sometimes. What am I doing here?! How did I end up… here?
Elijah proceeded to give God his resume, his Top Ten list of why he was most qualified to receive some help already! And God responds with an invitation, “Come out and stand in the presence of the LORD… I am about to pass by.”
And that’s what hearing God is really all about: finding and abiding in His presence.
God gave Elijah specific instructions: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD (1 Kings 19:11).” Elijah had slept in a cave on the side of the mountain overnight. And Scripture tells us that three things happened after this invitation and instruction from God. A powerful wind came that tore and shattered. Then an earthquake that shook. Then fire that burned.
We’ve all felt that way at some point in life… shattered and torn… shaken… burned… but God was not in any of those. God IS not in any of those.
Afterward came a gentle whisper. “When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak up over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave (1 Kings 19:13 ).” Elijah knew what was God and what was not. And it was only at the sound of his LORD’s voice that he went out to meet with God.
“My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely (Song of Songs 2:14).”
A second time God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:13)” and what can anyone answer except the same answer as before? And so Elijah did. The always-present omniscient God of the universe asked the same question twice, and like two cookies of an Oreo with the sweet filling in the middle, God met with Elijah between these two questions. Elijah’s answer didn’t change after meeting with God, his circumstances were still the same as they had been the last time God asked. But I believe even this mighty prophet hero of old needed to hear it again after he met with God. Because meeting with God always helps us see our circumstances in a whole new light, the light of God that outshines, outlasts, and overpowers any problem we are facing, even the ones we despair of to the point of asking for death.
What God says next is amazing, “Go back the way you came.” Go back into your circumstances, into your life, into the impossible, and take what He’s done on the mountain with you. Take the new perspective, the new confidence, and the refreshing presence of Almighty God with you, because He won’t ask you to go back without Him. God also gave Elijah specific new instructions. God told Elijah to anoint a new king over Israel. God empowered Elijah with the authority to dethrone the very king and his queen, who had pursued him, persecuted him, threatened him, scared him, and desired to kill him, and to replace them with someone else. Elijah went back with a check-mate and the ability to bring ultimate victory and relief for himself! God promised to raze the land of those who had turned their backs on Him through this new king and another new king over Aram, and to save for Himself a remnant that had never bowed the knee to Baal, who had never given him their praise. He saved for Himself the faithful.
Elijah had two victories. The angel revived him two times. God asked him the same question twice. And Elijah anointed two new kings. Then came the anointing of Elisha, his successor who carried a double portion anointing of Elijah’s amazing Spirit power. Like Job, there is a double blessing that comes after the trial.
Look for it…
…for the whispers on the mountain.
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