August 10 - A Whisper

Monday, August 10, 2009

August 10 - 1 Kings 19:1-18 - A Whisper

It's one thing to read the story of the challenge between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Their god did not burn up the sacrifice and the Lord not only burnt up the sacrifice that Elijah placed before him, but the water soaked wood, the stones and the water in a huge trench around the sacrifice. After this incredible show of power, the Lord then brought rain to a land destroyed by drought. (1 Kings 18:16-46)

However, all of this power did not go well with Ahab's mistress - Jezebel. She was furious and threatened Elijah with his life. Poor Elijah. He was terrified. Now this is the stuff that makes me realize just how silly we all are. The Lord demonstrated His incredible power in ways that could leave no doubt, yet Elijah still didn't know how to trust Him with his measly little life. Sound familiar? Oh, it does to me. What fools we humans are when we don't realize the actual source of our power.

Exhausted from running, Elijah rests under a broom tree. He's done. As he lay down to sleep in the shade of the tree, he tells that Lord that he might as well be dead, he's had enough. But, you know what? The Lord cares for us in amazing ways. An angel showed up to feed him and give him something to drink. The angel showed up a second time. This time, Elijah was told that he needed to eat because the journey ahead would be too much. (1 Kings 19:5-7)

The Lord didn't waste time with pity or trying to placate Elijah in his misery. He just met Elijah's needs and prepared him for the next part of the journey. Forty days and nights Elijah traveled to reach Horeb, the mountain of God (also known as Mount Sinai - the same place that Moses spent 40 days after receiving the Ten Commandments). When he got there, he crawled into a cave, probably just a crevice, to spend the night. (1 Kings 19:8-9a)

Notice the words of 1 Kings 19:9b. "And the word of the Lord came to him." I keep finding more and more references to the Word of the Lord as I traverse the Old Testament. Yes, this is Jesus Christ, who showed up to deal with Elijah.

"What are you doing here, Elijah?" he asks. Elijah's response is fairly pitiful. "I've been zealous for the Lord. The Israelites broke the covenant, your altars and killed prophets. I'm all that is left and now they are trying to kill me." (1 Kings 19:10)

When the Lord told him to stand on the mountain to wait for the presence of the Lord to pass by, Elijah obeyed. A great wind shattered the rocks, an earthquake occurred, a fire burned. But the Lord was not in the overwhelming power of those natural events.

The Lord came to Elijah in a gentle whisper and asked again, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Now, with all of this power surrounding me, I'm not sure I would have continued to whine, but Elijah repeated the words he had said earlier to Jesus.

Again, the Lord did not placate him in his misery or allow him to feel sorry for himself. These words in 1 Kings 19:15-18 are a renewed call to ministry. "Go back the way you came." Elijah had to return to the places that had terrified him because there were people that were ready to follow the Lord. He was not allowed to wallow in his terror, but was forced to follow the call of God.

It is never about us. It is always about the power of God in us.