“‘Go out and stand before Me on the mountain,’ the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NLT)
I wonder if Elijah was surprised by the way in which God spoke. If we look for God only in the sensational, we will miss the gentle whisper of His voice. Elijah was literally hiding in a cave, depressed, and on the run for his life. He had just come off of one of the mightiest miracles in his life. It was one of those mountain-top experiences where God showed up in a huge way and sent fire down from Heaven. Elijah stood alone, against hundreds of false prophets, to call a nation back to God. It was awesome, and you can read about it in 1 Kings 18. You would think he was invincible after that but, soon, the King’s wife puts Elijah’s name on the top of the nations most wanted list, dead or alive! It was enough to put him over the edge, and he ran. Mistreatment and misunderstanding can do that. Elijah had enough. He was licking his wounds, thinking that he was the only one left who served God. Look where it got him.
I’m impressed by the way God dealt with this prophet and, especially, by the way He spoke with him. It teaches us how to hear the voice of God. Rather than scolding Elijah, God puts on quite a display that would draw Elijah out of his cave of depression and redirect his ministry with power and purpose. How did God speak to him? His voice wasn’t in the mighty windstorm that hit the mountain and blasted the rocks apart. It wasn’t in the earthquake or, even, the fire. God spoke with the sound of a gentle whisper that asked Elijah a simple question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Had God spoken in the other means, Elijah may have been too afraid to respond. It was the divine whisper that drew him out of the cave and enabled him to pour his heart out to God. The Bible says,
“When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
With a gentle whisper, God was able to speak to Elijah in a way he felt safe to respond. Have you ever heard the divine whisper of God? It could be a gentle prompting that directs you or a question that causes you to seek a deeper understanding from His Word. Instead of seeking some sensational experience, begin to listen for the still, small voice of God speaking to your heart.