“Elijah, strengthened by the food and water God provided him, traveled forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night” (I Kings 19:8b-9a, NLT).
Elijah crawled into the darkest hole he could find, and yet he wasn’t alone. God met him right where he was. And He’ll do the same for you or me.
“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” (I Kings 19:9b-10).
Whether or not the people’s repentance had been shallow and short-lived, we can only guess. But Elijah definitely felt like the whole world was out to get him.
A little boy was scared to be left alone. His mom tucked him into bed and told him, “Don’t be afraid. God is right here with you.” The little boy responded, “Yeah, but I need somebody with skin on ‘em.” The God of the Universe was speaking to Elijah, but just like that frightened little boy, Elijah felt alone with no other people sticking by him. God was going to teach Elijah a lesson.
“‘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” (I Kings 19:11-13a).
All the hoopla we sometimes see with TV evangelists and even in our own churches doesn’t necessarily mean that God is in the house - there's a huge word in that for somebody. All those mighty displays of power on the mountain and yet the Bible plainly tells us that “the Lord was not in” them. He had merely “passed by.” Not stopped. Not joined in. But “passed by.”
When he did stop to talk with Elijah, how did He manifest Himself? As a “gentle whisper.” Sometimes we have to get away from the clamor and confusion of daily life to hear the Lord above the noise of our routine activities. Elijah didn’t end up alone by accident. He ended up in the very place where God could meet him and reach him.
“Then the Lord told him, ‘Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as My prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (I Kings 19:15-18). (NOTE: Aram is Syria.)
“Go back the way you came.” Repentance. Stop running FROM God and turn TO Him. Elijah ran away, but God went with him. And He gave him a renewed sense of purpose. “Anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel.” Here was a joyful bit of news: Ahab, and with him, Jezebel, were about to be removed.
Elijah’s pity party put all his focus on himself. The Lord’s response turned Elijah’s focus to God’s purpose.
“If you have felt hopeless, hold on! Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose.” (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates