August 16, 1994
In recent storms, lightning turned night almost to day, thunder shook the walls, and the wind even got our attention. Insurance companies describe those storms and their aftermath as “acts of God,” but, while God’s power may be illustrated by thunder and wind, it is not the only way He gets our attention.
Disasters usually bring God to mind though. Some raise an angry fist and shout at Him, “why me.” Others close their hands in prayer, even pull a dusty Bible off the shelf, and turn to Him for help. They are hoping He will somehow speak reassuringly.
Elijah, an Old Testament prophet and godly man, suffered what he thought was a disaster, then listened for God’s reassuring voice in a storm. To his surprise, he heard Him in another way.
Elijah had been divinely sent to confront the wickedness of King Ahab, his treacherous wife Jezebel, and a few hundred false prophets who promoted idol worship. After a spectacular encounter, the prophets met their death. Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah: “May the gods deal with me ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like of one of them.”
Elijah He ran for his life. After covering considerable distance, he collapsed under a tree. God took care of his physical needs but Elijah was still extremely anxious. He traveled even farther and spent a night in a cave. Then God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
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.”
At that, God told him to stand on the mountain in His presence and He would pass by. When Elijah obeyed, a powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks, but the Bible says, “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.”
Finally, after this display of power, God did speak—in a gentle whisper. Elijah heard it and covered his face. God quietly told him, “Go back and anoint a new king.” He also addressed his fears: “I reserved seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
God reassured Elijah that he was not battling evil all by himself, but the story makes another point. In his state of anxiety, Elijah was so wrapped up in himself and his concerns that God had to use a spectacular demonstration of power to get his attention, some so-called “acts of God.” In them, Elijah discovered what many of God’s children also discover: God’s voice is not loud like thunder, earth-shaking like a quake, or flashy like lightning or fire. Instead, He speaks in a “a still small voice,” a whisper.
That “whisper” can be heard, if we, like Elijah, turn toward Him and willingly listen.