Following the victory at Mt. Carmel Elijah has ran from Jezebel, in fear of losing his life; then, prays for God to take his life. Depression, fear, and doubt has crept into the man of God’s life. However, as I can look at this and see it God is by no means silent with Elijah.
God sends an angel and provides food and water for him (1 Kings 19:5-8), and then, he goes for forty days and nights in the strength of that bread and water. Now, only God can give a man the physical energy and strength to make that type of journey with no other physical bread or water. Moses did it on Mt. Sinai, evidently twice at least (Exodus 24:18; 34:28).
The LORD led Elijah to Mt. Horeb called the Mount of God, which is Mt. Sinai where Moses had been with God.
Elijah was in need of a learning experience, as many of us are at times. We are pretty given to believing that God only moves dramatically, and visibly, and always powerfully; but that is not always so. God will move in His own way and His own time; and it may not be through answering by fire.
The man of God, the prophet came to a cave, and he made his lodging there. That is when the word of the LORD came to him again,
“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said unto him, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And He said, ‘Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.’ And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake 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: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:9-12 (KJV)
Maybe, after the victory Elijah was expecting God to remove Ahab and Jezebel from the kingdom, or some kind of powerful and miraculous thing; but it did not happen. We do not know what was in the mind of the man of God, but he ran for his life. God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?”. It is kind of like He asked Adam in the garden, “Where are you?” Have you ever had someone ask you a question they knew the answer to; only to get you to think things through.
The LORD and His prophet are in session together, and Elijah tells the LORD that he is the only one of the prophets of the LORD left. He has felt that way since before the victory on Carmel (1 Kings 18:22). He had much to learn yet.
The LORD sends the prophet out of the cave, to stand and witness events the LORD would cause to pass before him. A strong wind which tore the mountain, and broke the rocks of the mountain; then, an earthquake; then a fire. In all three of these catastrophic means we are told, “the LORD was not in” them. There came that “still small voice”, and Elijah covered his face;
“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?'” 19:13
The wind, the earthquake and the fire did not spark much action from Elijah; but when he heard the still small voice he covered his face. Surely he must have realized his fear, and realized the voice was that of God at work in his life.
He was still feeling as though he were the only prophet of God left in the land. God tells Elijah to go and call Elisha the son of Shaphat (19:16) to be prophet in his place. He also tells him that there are “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal…” (v. 18)
It would seem that God is about to do something spectacular in the life of Elijah. Even in our doubts and fears God is with us. He still speaks to us. Just because there is nothing dramatic with falling fire happening in our lives does not mean that we are forsaken; it is really the time for us to hear that “still small voice” and believe.
-Tim A. Blankenship