The Still Small Voice
1 Kings 19:12 “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
When we think of God’s power, we think of miracles from the Bible:
The sun standing still (Joshua 10:12-14)
or time going backward as a sign for the healing of king Hezekiah. (2 Kings 20:8-11).
Indeed, there was power there….
But, when God’s power is usually seen, it is thru His Word.
(He stressed this , at the first:
Genesis 1:3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
He did not have to speak; all He had to do was will it.
But He did speak, to show the value He places on His Word.)
To stress the real Power of His Voice, we would do back to a cave and a hiding Prophet.
1 Kings 19:9 “And he (Elijah) came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
Indeed, What was Elijah doing in that cave? How did he come to this?
Elijah was a man of Gilead, who was distressed at the low spiritual state of Israel. They were worshipping idols, and killing those who worshipped God. Yes, things were very low.
So he began to pray. God had told Israel that if they worshipped other gods , then He would withhold the rain. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17).
Elijah prayed God would withhold rain, to get Israel’s attention…..so they would turn back to God.
James 5:17 ” Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”
For six months Elijah prayed for God to withhold the rain, and He did.
Then Elijah was told to go to Ahab, king of Israel and tell him:
1 Kings 17:1 ” And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
This might seem the wrong way to go about it….for Ahab did not believe in God…he had completely become an idol worshipper.
But someone coming and saying , in effect, “The true God of Israel is listening to my prayers,….And He is going to stop the rain, all the rain and dew; until I pray again.”
That got Ahab’s attention!
Elijah was told to go and hide…for Ahab would try and kill him. He did try. But God hid him….till:
After 3 years, Israel was in famine….cattle, crops, everything withering,
Elijah was told (1 Kings 18:1). “….Go, show thyself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”
How would he do that? Through Elijah’s prayer…but first, Elijah wanted to showed Ahab and all the Israelites,…..the power of God,…..when you obey Him.
So , he set up a “contest” between the priests of the idol, and him.
1 Kings 18:19 “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred which eat at Jezebel’s table.”
It was a simple contest :
1 Kings 18:23-24 “Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.”
So the prophets of Baal began:
1 Kings 18:26 “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that heard. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.”
Notice, “No voice, nor any that heard”. Tricks and show…..but no reality.
So now it was Elijah’s turn.
Remember Elijah began this, by praying that God would withhold rain, so Israel would be awakened to their sin of idolatry and come back to God.
But how would they be awakened?
By a mighty demonstration of God’s Power?
For even under famine, the people had not turned back to God.
Called to the work of making everyone know that God was not pleased with Israel’s sin.
This he did when he went to Ahab.
Everyone knew that he had gone before the king and declared “No rain or dew” till he said.
And there had been no dew or rain for 3 years!
What were the means to Awaken the hearts to God’s demands for His people?
How were they to “hear” for themselves, and return to Him?
Well, it is through His Word spoken to our hearts…..
After three years of drought and famine; Elijah was told to go back and God would send rain.
God puts HIs people through a measured chastening….It was time to send rain. He would send it through Elijah’s prayer, but…….
As for the “contest”, I believe Elijah thought (as most of us would),…..if the people could just see some mighty work, that only God could do, then that would believe.
God’s people would know….once for all–that God was God….and return to Him.
(Remember the people are standing around, watching as the priests of the idol fail…..and now their attention is turned to Elijah)
1 Kings 18:30-35 ” And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
And Elijah took twelve stones, ….And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
And he said, Do it a second time. And they did….And he said, Do it a third time. And they did it the third time.
And water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.”
(Where did he get the water? Mt. Carmel is about a few miles from the Mediterranean Sea)
He made the Altar so wet it could never burn….except by the Power of God.
Listen to the Prayer of Elijah:
1Kings 18:37-39 “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know a that thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back.
The the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.”
Two things to notice:
Elijah did not pray for rain, here.
And the people said “the Lord, he is the God”…….not our God.
The fire came down! First the burnt sacrifice was consumed, which meant God heard Elijah, and honored him before the king and the people.
Then the wood,
Then the stones of the altar, itself
Then the very dust on the ground where the altar sat.
And licked up the water in the trench.
Then the prophets and priests of Baal were slain!
This was a mighty demonstration; so….
Everything is set in order, right?
But what did it do for King Ahab, or the people?
Where was the rain?
It came, and at Elijah’s prayer, but who was noticing , then?
1 Kings 18:42-45 “So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
And said to his servant, Go up now , look toward the sea. And he went up and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand……..And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”
The fire falling was a mighty answer to prayer, but the people’s hearts were not turned back to God.
They might have been shown the true God…….
But I believe, that to turn their hearts back , required Elijah to preach God’s Word to the people that he had prayed for,…..till their hearts said The Lord is our God…..
…..people hearing for themselves God’s requirements on their own lives….
…..comes through preaching, and teaching God’s Word, and prayers.
(We can know God is able, without ever knowing God is able for me. That is the problem here; God was real now, They had to believe in His power…but they did not believe in Him for their lives)
Then what did this mighty demonstration do for Elijah? For Ahab? For the people?
For Ahab there was no change in his heart.
1 Kings 19:1 ” And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.”
He ran home and told Jezebel; nothing changed in his life.
For the people? Some say that the worship of Baal was never the same. And the servants of God we’re not brutally killed as before.
But most did not turn back to God, even though they knew He was “The God.”
And for Elijah? That is the saddest situation of all.
Having done such a Mighty Demonstration of God’s Power….
Since the rain was given in answer to his prayer….he thought:
Surely everything is over with….Israel will now worship The Lord God , and Elijah could go and relax.
Everything was fixed…they were God’s People again. Right?
God enables His servants….there was ample power at Elijah’s disposal.
But……God requires His servants to see the job done; and Elijah thought the job was over with.
But it wasn’t:
1 Kings 19:2 “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time”
Now as God’s Servants, we should expect trials, and enemies in this world.
But Elijah was thrown off guard, by thinking that the work was done, that he and God had won. There would be no opposition.
But, again, that was not the case.
1 Kings 19:3 “And when he saw that , he arose, and went for his life,….”
After such a mighty demonstration,….then running for his life.
Now , I would not judge Elijah….I have been tricked up myself, thinking things were not what they actually were.
And thinking that if I could just somehow show God’s Power, too, things would be different.
What we need to come to is God’s Word, and Voice.
What was it that began Elijah’s ministry?
The Word of God spoken to Moses so many years before…a promise that God surely would; and did, bring to pass by his seeking it.
And what caused Elijah to return , to pray for rain, after three years….God’s Word to him.
So now let us consider a lesson that God used to teach His runaway prophet. (For He was not done with him, though he had run away.)
1 Kings 19:9-10 “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life , to take it away. “
Maybe he actually thought he was the only one left. A sure sign that no one seemed to stand with him. And here he was hiding inside the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13 “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by , and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And behold, there came a voice unto him and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
God’s Word and Voice began his ministry; and here God teaches His prophet a lesson about His Voice in comparison to Mighty Demonstrations of Power.
God calls Elijah to come out of hiding, after showing him He was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire….but it is His Voice that brings out His real servants to Himself.
Here God gives his runaway servant some instructions, and Elijah just goes and does it. No need for anything else.
And what else does God show him? The prophet who said “I only am left”?
1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
There were seven thousand of God’s servants, throughout Israel.
The important thing here, is: Having heard the Word of the Lord again, Elijah just goes and does it.
There is no fear, no hesitation, he just does what he is told.
This is true power…God’s Voice speaking to us…..and us doing what He says.
He can do what He promises,…….and He can take care of us, through it all.