He enters a cave and God comes to him and asks in v9, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Listen to Elijah’s response. v10–
10 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.” 11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Every person who is a born again Christian desires to live a life of obedience to Christ and have an intimacy with Christ that is personal and real. After a track record like Elijah’s, you would think God would come to him in the wind, in the earthquake or in the fire, in the spectacular. Because God has been working in spectacular ways in and through his life from day one. But at the end, God doesn’t come in a wind, or an earthquake, or fire. He doesn’t come in the spectacular. He comes in a whisper.
We have to recognize that Elijah is not complaining, God, where are you? Or, God, I can’t hear you? God sent an angel to care for him. God also came through a word to ask why Elijah was wallowing in a cave. So Elijah knew, God was with him. God being there or not being there was not the issue.
Even after hearing God’s response, Elijah doesn’t snap out of the funk that he’s in. v13 – he stood at the mouth of the cave and again God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah’s response is exactly the same as the first time he answered God. v14–
14 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.”
Let’s unpack what Elijah is saying. Lord, I have been very zealous for your name. I’ve preached repentance. I’ve obeyed you. I’ve stood up when people opposed you. I’ve given up everything to do what you asked me to do. So God, tell me, why is Jezebel after me? I’ve been zealous. After all I’ve done, am I not entitled for some protection? Killing 450 prophets of Baal, isn’t that enough to crush the enemy? Why are they still coming after me? I’m entitled for some victory, some celebration, some relief, give me a break at least.
Isn’t this how we think? Lord, I’ve been zealous all these years. How did my life end up like this? Why did I work so hard if in the end my life is going to be endangered? He wants to give up. Can you identify? Lord, I’ve been going to church and serving all these years and why is this happening in my life?
Elijah has reached his low point. I am encouraged that God doesn’t rip Elijah. He had every right to. Where is your faith? Have you forgotten how I have protected and sustained you all these years? Have you forgotten my grace that has carried you through?
Elijah had grown accustomed to a spiritual life punctuated on a regular basis with spectacular events. Ravens dropping off food. The widow’s flour and oil multiplying miraculously. A dead son being raised to life. Fire coming down from heaven to consume an altar before 450 prophets of Baal and a watching audience. The spectacular had become the norm for Elijah.
So what does God communicate to Elijah? I am not the God of the spectacular, though I can do things in spectacular ways if I so choose. But don’t look for me in the big events, the hurricane wind, the earthquake, the fire. Look for me instead in the whisper. I am the God of the everyday. The God who always whispers to those He loves.
A whisper can be heard when you are very near someone and you have shut out all other noises, all other worries, all other influences, and it is just you and that person in close proximity. A whisper is a secret between you and God. It conveys intimacy and aloneness with God.
Every person will come to a point in their life where they hit a low point – and you will find yourself in a situation that is too hard. You find yourself alone and discouraged. And at that lowest point when you and I admit to God that we can’t handle it, we will discover the gentleness and grace of God. He provides a solution. What the solution? A few chapters later in 2 Kings 2, God takes Elijah to be with himself. The solution is always God himself.
After all is said and done, after all the ups and downs, after striving to obey God and struggling for intimacy with Christ, it will come down to me and God, you and God alone at the mountain. Listening for his whisper to me reminding me that I am His child, that it is time to wrap up and come home to be with Him.
Sometimes to hear God, we have to get ourselves to a place of solitude where all the other distractions are left behind. All the ministry, all the conversations, all the things that make up the noise around us have to be silenced first.
Be encouraged. When you reach that low point, thankfully, we have a gracious God whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.