Hearing the Still Small Voice

After Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Jezebel threatened to kill him on sight (1 Kings 19:2).  So Elijah high tailed it out of Israel, ran down to Mt. Sinai, and camped out in a cave.  There God said to Elijah, “What are you doing here?”  Elijah replied that Jezebel was trying to kill him and so he thought it best to get out of Dodge.  God responded with three demonstrations of power.  First God sent a wind so great that it tore the rocks off the side of the mountain.  Second, God caused an earthquake to come and shake the mountain.  Finally, God made a fire.  Each of these items contained great power and fury.  However, the text says: “The LORD was not in the wind.” “The LORD was not in the earthquake.”  “The LORD was not in the fire.”  There was, however, a fourth phenomena after the fire, “a still small voice.”

There are some who would turn this passage into some kind of mystical text and suggest that we must listen for some kind of supernatural “still small voice” of God during meditation or prayer.  Those who seek to understand it in that way simply reveal their subjective predispositions toward Bible interpretation.  In contrast, what God is teaching Elijah is that God’s power is not in some great event such a wind, earthquake, or fire, but in the simple spoken word, the still small voice.

Elijah’s efforts at preaching and teaching God’s message to the largely apostate nation of Israel were feeble compared with the great power wielded by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.  But Elijah had something that they did not have: the truth of God’s word.  That truth is more powerful than any physical phenomena because it has the capability to change the hearts and lives of men.  It isn’t in the great manifestations of power that God does his greatest work, but in the small but free movements of the human heart that is taught His truth.

When seeing natural disasters and calamities that occur around us, many today will be quick to point out “God’s judgment.”  It certainly is not beyond God’s power to so judge and God has executed justice in these ways upon some wicked people.  There is no proof, however, that God so judges today, though many seem to desire such a display from Him.  Such desires are misguided.  They are misguided because they focus on the outward and physical instead of the inward and spiritual.  They are misguided because they lend to characterizing God as a capricious, malevolent, and punitive dictator.  Such desires are also inconsistent with the nature and message of God’s greatest revelation, His Son, Jesus (John 1:18).

In the message of the cross, we do not find a vengeful and vindictive God, but One who is forgiving, compassionate and loving toward those who so act as His enemies.  You won’t find this message proclaimed with boisterous and noisy phenomena of magnificent proportions, but with the still small voice of God’s people as they seek to live that message in their lives on a daily basis.  It is also proclaimed in the still small voice of those who lift up His message in the pulpits and classrooms across our nation.  It may be a still small voice, but it is the voice that God has chosen for His message to be spread today (Matthew 28:19).

God’s greatest accomplishments come when individual people hear that still small voice – His word – and change accordingly.  That is not the boisterous and radical change that is fomented upon us by the change agents in the world today who would create political unrest, societal upheaval, and economic instability in order to foster their version of “the gospel.”  Those individuals substitute the wisdom of men for the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).  What is that power?  It is the gospel (Romans 1:16-17) and it provides for us all of the righteousness we need – in its own still small way—as individuals to transform the world.

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

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