So, when we left off in I Kings 19:9, Elijah was dwelling in the cave at Mr. Horeb having been strengthened by the angel for his forty day journey.
“Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Three points to see first: First, Mt. Horeb is another name for Mt. Sinai where God appeared to Moses. God is speaking to Elijah in the place where he demonstrated His power, and to remind Elijah of His covenant with His chosen people. Second, Mt. Horeb is only about a 14 day journey; God had a lesson to teach Elijah in the journey, reminding him of his ability to sustain him in his wilderness experiences. Third, and most obvious – God knows why Elijah is there. God is a God of relationships; He wants to communicate (commune) with us. He is dealing gently with Elijah’s emotional frailty. He is a loving Father who is always teaching us through his Words.
Verse 10: He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
That is what put him under that bush to begin with.
Verse 11 to 13: So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by!
And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind.
And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Notice how God again shows his magnificent power on this mountain. He breaks pieces from the hillside – massive boulders tumbling down. Then he passes in fire – like Moses and the burning bush, once again He uses fire to show his magnificent power and recall to Elijah the story of Moses and His covenant promise. However, we read, “The LORD was not in fire.”
“…the sound of a gentle blowing…”
Elijah heard the gentle blowing and he covered his face in his mantle (his prophets cloak) and went out to the entrance of the cave. He covered his face to reverently and fearfully approach God, and stepped out in faith to meet him.
This is how life is most often for us. We want to hear God in the earthquake and the fire. We want an audible voice to tell us where we should go and what we should do. (And sometimes I hear those who boldly profess God told them to do many things that never come to pass in their zeal for the prophetic) The reality is, God speaks to us in a small still voice after we step out to meet Him in fearful reverence of His will for our lives.
Starting up a ministry has been, and is, a fearful step of faith, before an awesome God. It has been painful, hard work, lonely, frustrating, and wonderfully joyous at times. It has been amusing when people have questioned if Dave found a job yet, and when they heard he is still unemployed responded, “Praise God, you are meant to be in ministry full time!” Amusing because we are still fully self -supporting; our donations have yet to meet even one months “bills” related to building a ministry. It is our step of faith like Elijah and our constant waiting on a gentle blowing.
The God again inquires, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
(Do you ever ask one of your children a question more than once because you want them through self reasoning to come to their own conclusions? )
Verses 14 to 15: Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Notice that Elijah does not mention the 450 prophets of Baal that had been killed; he only mentions that he alone is left and sought after. Yes, he was the only prophet left, but God had certainly shown him he was not alone. Yet, God spoke to him gently, not in the earthquake or fire, but in the gentle blowing. God had just shown his power and glory, and yet it appears Elijah still felt the same way about himself – completely alone.
Verses 15 to 16, The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
After this awesome meeting with God; after 40 days of travel and reminders of the Covenant promises; after earthquakes and fires and an encounter with the Almighty, Elijah is returning, “on your way to the wilderness.”
This is a reminder that even after we step out in faith to meet God; even after we hear the still small voice speak to us, God will often require us to go back through the wilderness to insure that we have the personal maturity and perseverance that is needed to meet the challenges of following Him. What should make us thing we are ever mature enough that God would not continually test us through strength training. We are God’s athletes, forever having to build our muscles of endurance, holiness, faith, and Christ-like love.
It is also a reminder of restoration. God gives Elijah three things to do, and one of them is to anoint Elisha in his place. Elisha was to become a devoted follower and companion to Elijah. Elijah was not alone. God is the One who created us for intimate fellowship, with Him, and with each other.
Where is your wilderness now? Are you 40 days on a journey that you thought would take 2 weeks like we are? Are you listening in the earthquake or the fire and jumping in, instead of waiting for the gentle blowing? Are you fleeing from the enemy or hiding in a cave? Maybe you are huddled under a tree just waiting to die, feeling completely alone?
No matter where you are – the God of Moses and Elijah, is building muscles of endurance, and reminding you of His covenant promises.