In 1 Kgs. 19 the record tells us about Elijah’s flight from Jezebel after he had defeated the 400 prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:20-40). Elijah fled to Horeb, the mountain of God, in Sinai. There he hid in a cave waiting to see what might happen. In vs. 9-12 the scripture tells us that God told Elijah to stand on the mountain before Him, and God passed by. In v. 11 a strong wind tore the mountain, but God was not in the strong wind. Then, an earthquake shook the mountain, but God was not in the earthquake. In v. 12 a fire swept over the mountain, but again God was not in the fire.
After these three dramatic events, the scripture says, “and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing” (NASB). The English Standard Version (ESV) says, ” a low whisper.” The KJV says, “a still small voice.” When Elijah heard this, he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave and God spoke to him. God commanded Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Aram, Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha as prophet in his place (1 Kgs. 19:15, 16).
This incident illustrates an interesting aspect of God’s character that defies the human expectations about Him. Humans are awed by magnificent and powerful displays. We expect people of wealth or influence or authority to always appear with the trappings of their wealth or power on display. This visible manifestation of their power adds credibility to whatever they may say. So it is also with God. We expect Him to reveal His will to us in a way that moves us like a scene in an epic film. If He doesn’t, we’re a little disappointed.
Our fascination with the dramatic often causes us to miss God’s message for us. We’re so busy looking for an earth-shattering, soul-stirring experience that we don’t hear Him when He speaks to us calmly and quietly through His word. Like Elijah, we’re expecting to see God in the wind, earthquake, and fire, and all the while He is whispering in our ear by means of the scriptures.
The essentials of what we must do to inherit eternal life, and how we are to worship and work in the church are revealed to us in a low whisper, to borrow the phrase from the ESV version of 1 Kgs. 19:12. God speaks calmly and quietly, telling us to believe in His Son and to be immersed for the forgiveness of our sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). God softly tells us to worship Him in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24), singing and making melody with our hearts (Eph. 5:19). He tells us to treat others the way we would have them treat us (Mt. 7:12), and He tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15).
These “whispers” don’t shake the earth beneath our feet. Consequently some people don’t give them any notice. Instead they substitute the cacophony of man-made doctrines and practices that characterize the modern denominational world. In all the noise and emotion-stirring demonstrations of modern worship, we forget Psa. 46:10, which says, “Cease striving (or, be still), and know that I am God.” In 1 Tim. 2:2 Paul said we are to pray for kings and all in authority, “so we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” At least part of the reason for this exhortation is so we may hear the low whisper of God in His word.
Let’s stop trying to make God in the image we think He should have. Let’s turn off all the noise and racket of man-made devices and doctrines that drown out the low whisper of God. Let’s create some quiet time with God’s word so we may know His will and do what He has commanded us.