In this passage of 1 Kings, the author is trying to show us the character of God and how he relates to us. In verses 1-9, Elijah has reached his breaking point. He is fleeing from Jezebel, and is ready to give up and die. He prays for the Lord to end his life, but instead God sends an angel to provide the things Elijah needs to keep going. God sends provision for him not only once, but twice.
He doesn't stop when Elijah is full. He feeds him again and allows him to rest so that he can have the strength to go where God is calling him. The author shows us how God is our perfect provider, supplying the exact things we need at the right time, not just to fill us, but to fill us to abundance.
In verses 10-18, God reveals to Elijah that he speaks, and that he is gentle. As Elijah obeys God's command to stand before him on the Mount Sinai (the same mountain where Moses was in God's presence, and where the Israelites bowed before the power of God), powerful acts of nature appear before him. Windstorms, earthquakes, and fire all pass before him on the mountain, but the author tells us that those were not God. Instead, God's voice came in "the sound of a gentle whisper."
The Bible shows us that it's not always in the loudest, most explosive moments that God shows up, but in the moments where we are still and quiet, ready to hear a simple whisper.
Finally, in verses 19-21, Elijah goes to anoint Elisha, the man God had told him was his replacement as prophet. Where Elijah had previously felt alone and abandoned, without help, God sent him someone who could act as his assistant and then carry on the work he had begun. Elisha, working on a large farm, most likely had a steady position that made him well off financially. By choosing to accept the mantle Elijah placed on his shoulders, Elisha was declaring that God was worth the risk and loss of financial security.
The story of Elijah applies to us because I think we've experienced each of these feelings at least once. We've had moments when we felt like we were at the end of our rope-- at rock bottom-- and the Lord wants us to know who he is to us in those times. He doesn't wait for us to fix ourselves, to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. Instead, he comes in close, dignifying our emotions and restoring our souls. He is a nurturer and provider, giving us the things we need to get to the places he is calling us. He isn't frustrated by our need-- he is a father who loves to give good gifts to his children.
We've also probably experienced doubt as to whether or not we hear God's voice. We often have incorrect expectations on what he sounds like-- a thundering boom or an angry shout. Instead, in John 10, Jesus tells us, "The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him." We are God's sheep and we can hear his voice, and it becomes easier and easier to hear when we know what it sounds like. It isn't in the windstorm, or the earthquake, or the fire. It is still. It is small. It is gentle.
When we know his voice, we can truly commune with God--we can speak to him, and we can hear him respond. A real relationship is a back and forth. Knowing God's voice creates intimacy between the creator and his created, the Father and his children. He is the God who deeply desires to come close to us.Following God is risky business, but when we know who he is, we can know that he is worth it every time.
Who has God shown himself to be to you? What aspects of his nature and character are easy for you to understand, and what parts of him are tougher to relate to?
Spend time in prayer this week asking the Lord to show more aspects of himself to you. Spend time listening to his voice, and if you aren't sure what he sounds like or what kinds of things he says, spend time in the Word. Having a deep understanding of the Word of God will help distinguish his voice from all the other voices we hear in our day to day. Set a reasonable goal to spend time in the word this week, and make space to hear the Lord's still, small voice.
My prayer for you is that as you dig into the Word, God will reveal who he is to you in a unique, individualized, personal way. That you will begin to hear his voice on a regular basis, and that you will reach new levels of closeness and intimacy with your Father. That in every moment--good or bad, high or low--God will come in close as your comforter, protector, and restorer.
Author | Erin Gilleland