“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. 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? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because 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. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 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.” 1 Kings 19:9-18
Elijah’s time on Mt Horeb is ending, but first God has a lesson for the prophet. As we recall, Elijah has seemingly run off to My Horeb and had a bit of a pity party. He has complained to God that he has served him faithfully, yet everybody else has been killed off, he is alone, and they want to kill Elijah also. God commands Elijah to leave his cave and stand by on the mountain waiting. Clearly, he is to be waiting for the Lord to make Himself known. First, a strong wind roars by, which was strong enough to break rocks into pieces; yet, God was not in that wind. Then there was an earthquake; yet, God was not in the earthquake. Finally, there was a fire; yet, God was not in the fire either. Where was God?
Finally, there was nothing but a still small voice. Some translations call it a low whisper, or a quiet whisper. This, Elijah heard. Then, God spoke again, and asked the prophet the same question as before; Elijah replied with the same answer as before. We know Elijah heard, because our scripture tells us, “when he heard it.” We also can infer Elijah was now listening, because no other words were exchanged other than further instructions from God to Elijah concerning what he was to do next. He was to appoint a new king of Syria, a new King for Israel, and finally his own successor in the ministry, Elisha. How ordinary! It almost seems anticlimactic that after all the ruckus that God showed up in a quiet whisper, and Elijah listened.
That’s clearly the point of this. God has certainly spoken in dramatic ways. He at times spoke through whirlwinds and earthquakes; He displayed His presence through pillars of flame and cloud. Yet, He certainly is not restricted to dramatic ways of speaking. Elijah had learned this lesson during his time by the brook being fed by a raven, and during his time with the widow woman; that lesson was that God is in the daily and the ordinary; maybe Elijah needed that lesson after all of the drama and excitement he had been part of. God is not just in the big and dramatic; He is in the normal and mundane as well. I think Elijah needed a reminder of the presence of God in the daily, normal and mundane.
Again, this is something anybody doing a work for God could bear in mind. We may be called to do something huge like contending with the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel; if He does, He will be with us then. On the other hand, we may not be called to anything big (in our minds,) at all. We may be called to a simple life of being a good Christian. Friends, He is with us then also. If we are waiting for God to appear in the grandiose, we may not hear the still small voice; we may actually miss the “big” calling….because we are too busy looking for it!