Today we turn to the next person in our quick journey through the Old Testament.
Remember his story? The Lord sent him to preach against the evil King Ahab and his uber-wicked wife Jezebel.
During the ultimate stand-off, Elijah went against Baal’s prophets. Simple test: I’ll make an altar to my God. You make an altar to your god. We’ll pray. The god who sets the altar on fire wins. You go first.
Baal’s guys “get their crazy on” with shouting, flailing, even cutting themselves. Nothing.
Elijah seems to enjoy this, but we won’t get into his tauntings. Next he instructs his priests to douse God’s altar in water—three times! And then he simply prays.
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:38
Awesome victory, right? You bet. After that he led the people to defeat all Baal’s prophets.
But it made Jezebel really mad. She vowed to kill Elijah, and then the weirdest thing happened … he freaked out.
A twist! I didn’t expect him to fall apart, did you? He was so strong. Such faith and confidence. But with the great victory still ringing in the land, he ran despairing into the desert.
He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. 1 Kings 19: 3-5 NIV
How much do I love this part! Isn’t it gracious of God to reveal the vulnerability of one of his greatest prophets?
I’ve experienced God’s great interventions in my life. I’ve seen him transform the hardest sinners. He rescued me over and over again and replaced my anxiety with peace. He even brought me back to my family after a cardiac arrest threatened to steal my life. Yet even though I’ve experienced all his faithful provisions, sometimes I, too, crawl under my covers and plead for relief.
God doesn’t leave me alone in my depressed mode, and he didn’t forget his prophet either.
As Elijah lingered rolled up in a ball, God said, “Hey, what are you doing?”
Elijah lets loose his frustration. “God, I’ve done everything YOU told me to do! Now they’re trying to kill me!” He blames God for his troubles. Sounds like Adam doesn’t he? “The woman YOU gave me…”
How does God respond?
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. 1 Kings 19:11
We’ve seen mountains before. It’s often where God meets with his people. It’s like God’ saying, “Come to my office, Elijah. I need to talk to you about your performance.” Gulp.
Elijah obediently travels to the mountain. I wonder if he was terrified. He knows how fearfully holy God is. He doesn’t take the Almighty lightly. It turns out he has good reason to fear, because when he gets to the mount, what greets him?
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. 1 Kings 19:11-12
Oh man! We’ve seen wind and earthquakes and fire before—at Mt.Sinai. But at that time, when God gave the law, his presence was in those mighty explosions of glory. And it was so intense that the people couldn’t even touch the mountain or they would die.
If I were Elijah, I’d be shaking. God’s presence can be fearful—his power, his consuming fire, his holiness.
But God wasn’t bringing the law to Elijah. After the display of power, how did our Lord appear to his prophet?
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12
A gentle whisper.
He doesn’t crush Elijah. He doesn’t even reprimand him. He whispers, like a tender father.
Jesus came in a gentle whisper too, didn’t he?
And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:7
Our great and glorious king could’ve come in gushing wind, earthquakes, and fire, but not this time. His mission—though earth-shattering—wore a servant’s cloak. He whispers onto the scene …
as an infant
to sleep in a manger
with the cows and pigs
to poor parents
What amazing love is this? Like the Christmas hymn says, “Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor all for love’s sake becamest poor.”
Christmas is an intensely busy time! Take a moment to slow down and hear his loving voice whispering to you through His Word today.
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:18-19 ESV
Remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.
Shine your light: What has God spoken to you through his Word today? I’d love to hear and I know it will encourage others also.