This week, we will be wrapping up our series “Finding Your Way Again” with a brief summary of the topics we’ve been discussing in this worship series on discernment. To catch up on messages you missed, visit our YouTube Channel. You can always catch up using our app: download by texting “medfordapp” to 833/700-2226.
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, how he had killed all Baal’s prophets with the sword. 2 Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with this message: “May the gods do whatever they want to me if by this time tomorrow I haven’t made your life like the life of one of them.”
3 Elijah was terrified. He got up and ran for his life. He arrived at Beer-sheba in Judah and left his assistant there. 4 He himself went farther on into the desert a day’s journey. He finally sat down under a solitary broom bush. He longed for his own death: “It’s more than enough, Lord! Take my life because I’m no better than my ancestors.” 5 He lay down and slept under the solitary broom bush.
Then suddenly a messenger tapped him and said to him, “Get up! Eat something!” 6 Elijah opened his eyes and saw flatbread baked on glowing coals and a jar of water right by his head. He ate and drank, and then went back to sleep. 7 The Lord’s messenger returned a second time and tapped him. “Get up!” the messenger said. “Eat something, because you have a difficult road ahead of you.” 8 Elijah got up, ate and drank, and went refreshed by that food for forty days and nights until he arrived at Horeb, God’s mountain. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord’s word came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
14 He said, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back through the desert to Damascus and anoint Hazael as king of Aram. 16 Also anoint Jehu, Nimshi’s son, as king of Israel; and anoint Elisha from Abel-meholah, Shaphat’s son, to succeed you as prophet. 17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill. Whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I have preserved those who remain in Israel, totaling seven thousand—all those whose knees haven’t bowed down to Baal and whose mouths haven’t kissed him.”
God speaks most loudly in silence.
Usually when we talk about seeking silence, we focus on tuning out the noise of the world around us: TV personalities shouting over one another, the comments section on Facebook, the constant din of advertising trying to draw us in. All of those things DO contribute to our inability to hear God’s voice.
We speak less often about the fact that so much of the noise doesn’t come from without, but within. Usually, the hardest thing to do is to silence the voices in our own heads!
This famous story about the prophet Elijah illustrates the point. In this passage, Elijah finds himself on the run, hunted by Queen Jezebel for fighting against the prophets of her god, Baal.
There are at least two things tormenting Elijah’s mind. First is his obvious fear for his life and his concern that Jezebel will make good on her threat to kill him. The second is the sense that he is completely alone and without support.
It is difficult to hear God from a place of fear. Fear usually sends our minds into overdrive in order to find a way out of trouble. We turn the situation over and over again, considering all the ways things could go wrong, blaming ourselves for having gotten into this mess in the first place, and worried about what might happen next. In those cases, God often can’t get through to us except through dramatic action – a breakthrough that upends the situation. God HAS to be loud, because there’s simply no silence within for us to hear.
It’s also difficult to hear God when we feel alone. How often have you fallen victim to “poor me” syndrome? That’s what Elijah is feeling here. Whenever you begin to feel this, take some time to question it, because it’s simply not true. You’re NOT in this by yourself. You’re NOT the only one. Over and over again, God pushes Elijah to reflect on how God has been with him. Behind the question “why are you here?” you can almost hear God whispering: “Hey! Didn’t I feed you in the wilderness?” “Hey! Didn’t I just grant you this great victory over the false prophets?” “My FAITHFULNESS is why you’re here!”
But Elijah would hear none of it. He would hear none of it until God slapped him in the face with an windstorm, an earthquake, and a fire. Only then did the voices in Elijah’s head grow quiet enough for him to listen for God in the silence.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What do you do to quiet the voices in your head long enough for God to speak into your heart?
Prayer: Dear God, when all we can hear is our own fear, our own anxiety, and our own self-critique, help us make room to listen for your voice. Remind us how you’ve seen us through hard times in the past. And help us to trust you for our future. In Jesus’ name, amen.