January 30, 2014
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 (19:12).
Scene 1: Elijah is on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16-39). The prophet has declared a test. He and the prophets of Baal will each erect an altar and call to their respective gods. The one who sets the altar on fire will be revealed as the one true God (v.24).
The prophets of Baal holler to their god all day, even slashing themselves with knives to get his attention. But the altar stands untouched (vv.28-29). Then Elijah drenches his altar with water and calls on the Lord. Soon fire falls from heaven and burns the soaking altar to a cinder. The people fall prostrate in awe (vv.38-39).
Scene 2: Elijah is on Mount Sinai, this time alone (19:1-13). He’s told to get ready for an appearance from God. A powerful wind rushes past, splintering rocks and shaking the mountain. Surely this is God! But it’s not (v.11). An earthquake comes next and then a fire (as on Mount Carmel), but God is in neither. Then, as things grow quiet, Elijah hears a gentle whisper. He covers his face in awe (vv.12-13).
One man, one God and two very different spiritual experiences. I think this story has a lot to say to us today. Some of us seek God through dramatic wonders. We like large gatherings with loud worship and we call on God to work miracles every Sunday. If Sunday comes and a miracle doesn’t occur, some ‘wonders’ people question why God didn’t ‘show up’.
Others of us like quietness and order. Our spirituality emphasises the hearing of God’s gentle whisper. When a wonder comes, some ‘whispers’ people get suspicious, or they dismiss the miraculous altogether.
But Elijah encountered God in both wonders and whispers. A balanced spirituality for us means being open to both. —Sheridan Voysey
Read Luke 5:16-26 to see Jesus seeking the Father’s whispers (v.16) and then enacting the Father’s wonders.
Are you more prone to seek God’s wonders or whispers? Why is it important to acknowledge both?