Recommended reading: 1 Kings 17, 18 & 19
For me, Elijah is one of the most fascinating people in the Bible. He was a prophet of God and God performed many miracles through him. In 1 Kings 17 you can read about three of them. He called for a drought that did not end until he proclaimed it to end. He saved the life of a woman and her family by having her food sources miraculously multiply. When this same woman’s son died, Elijah called out to God and the child came back to life. In 1 Kings 18 he calls down fire from heaven to consume not only the meat that had been placed on an altar as a sacrifice, but the fire also consumed all the water that had been poured out on the meat and wood and was running full in a trench around the altar, along with the very altar stones and the dust as well. In that same chapter he prays for rain to come, ending the drought and it did. As King Ahab was fleeing through the heavy downpour in his chariot, Elijah took off running and outran the king’s chariot for 20 miles. In 2 Kings 1 he called down fire from heaven that killed 100 men. In 2 Kings 2 he struck the Jordan river with his cloak and it divided so that he crossed across it on dry ground.
Now you would think that a man that embodied the presence of God so strongly would be full of strength and courage. However, after the incident with the fire consuming the sacrifice, he had ordered that the 450 prophets of the false god Baal be slaughtered. When Queen Jezebel heard of this she sent word to Elijah that she was going to kill him for what he had done. So, did he call out to God for a miracle that would save his life? No, he did not. 1 Kings 19:3-4 says “Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’” [Emphasis mine]
But we have to remember – he was still just a man – and subject to all the emotions that we can feel and express. It seems to me that he was quite possibly just bone weary – physically and emotionally worn out from all that was happening. During times such as that any of us can become irrational in our thoughts. He not only felt fear and just wanted it all to end, but he also seemed to fall into a pity party.
In chapter 18 we are told about Obadiah – a man that was in charge of King Ahab’s palace, but was a devoted follower of the Lord. He was so devoted to the Lord he shared with Elijah how he had hid 100 of God’s prophets from Queen Jezebel when she ordered that all the prophets of God be murdered. Yet what did Elijah say when he encountered God on Mt. Sinai? Chapter 19:9b-10 says “But the Lord said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 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.’” [Emphasis mine]
Why would he have said that, knowing what Obadiah had done? I would guess that he likely felt very frustrated. Where were those other 100 prophets while he alone was standing up to the 450 prophets of Baal? I imagine he did feel like he was the last man standing.
Then 19:11-13a says “‘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.” [Emphasis mine]
It does not say what was spoken in that gentle whisper, and it does not say that the Lord was not in the whisper – so one would assume He was. But, whatever that whisper was, it seemed to have Elijah wanting to hide his face from the Lord. Then amazingly enough when the Lord asked him the same question a second time, “‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” He repeated the same thing about how he had served the Lord, what the other people had done and how he was the only one left. Wow!
However, credit has to go out to Elijah, because the Lord then instructs him on what He wants him to do and he simply does it. He puts aside his fears, his frustrations, his self-pity and simply moves on to do the Lord’s will. He went on to anoint two men to be kings and anointed Elisha to be his replacement.
I probably did not dig long enough to find the answer, so I do not know how long Elijah mentored Elisha before he departed, but he made certain that Elisha was fully capable of stepping into his shoes. Elisha had asked Elijah to give him a double share of his spirit. I read that Elijah had performed 16 miracles that were recorded but then Elisha performed 32 miracles that were recorded. It seems he did indeed get that double share of Elijah’s spirit.
I have shared all of that information to get to this point. In our world today, we have a lot of noise going on around us. We have “the wind, the earthquake, the fire” – all so distracting. Satan makes sure to do whatever he can in order to keep us from hearing that whisper from God. He spreads panic, fear and disobedience. We have to learn to do better by tuning out all that noise so that we can hear that sweet gentle whisper.
I love The Passion Translation of Psalm 16:7 – “The way you counsel me makes me praise you more, for your whispers in the night give me wisdom, showing me what to do next.” I can just picture Jesus sitting on the side of my bed while I sleep, whispering to me His wisdom and directions.
The things that are shared with us in those evening whispers can apparently be of importance because in Matthew 10:27 (NLT) Jesus says this to his apostles: “What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!’”
As Christians, we have THE Good News to share with the world. We must learn to be bold and speak it out. There are so many that need to hear it – so many that need to meet our Lord. People need to move past their fears, frustrations and self-pity. We all need to learn to appreciate the blessings that are all around us. We need to learn to speak and pray against the evil that tries to permeate our world. We need to tune out the noise and listen for that gentle whisper.
Written by Karran Martin
September 10, 2021