Some of you read the title of this post and knew the origin! You are not only showing your age, but your impeccable taste for good comedy! I hijacked the “soft talker” title from a Seinfeld episode.Two words for you: pirate shirt. Good stuff.
Remember the old 10 Commandments movie? I mean the OLD one that still plays on TV around Easter. One of my childhood memories is watching this on TV. I can clearly recall asking my dad if God really sounded like that. That booming, thunderous voice really captured my attention at that innocent age.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God did actually speak to us in that same explosive voice? If I am totally honest, I have asked Him to do this…once or twice :). In some of my darkest moments of doubt or at a crossroads of some great decision, I’ve cried out to hear His voice this loudly. An unmistakeable audibility.
I am loving studying the account of Elijah. There is one particular passage that I’ve been drawn too. It’s found in 1 Kings 19:9-21. Elijah has just made a mockery of Baal, the prophets of Baal, and essentially this evil lady, Jezebel. Oh, and after he made a joke of the prophets he wiped them all out. Jezebel wasn’t Elijah’s biggest fan. He fled into the wilderness and went hiding out and finds himself now in a cave. Scripture says the word of the Lord came to Elijah and asks him what he is doing. Elijah answers with a “I’ve been doing your work. I’m the only one left doing your work. Everyone else is evil. Now they want to kill me.”(my paraphrase)
I love God’s answer. It is almost as if He is saying, “Come here Elijah. Do you really think I’m not in control of this entire situation? Let me show you just how ‘in control’ I AM.” (again, my paraphrase). Then…
“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…behold a voice came to him…”
As that wind storm approached, I imagine Elijah was thinking, ‘okay, here it is. This is God’s grand entrance.’ Then nothing. After came the earthquake. I’m sure he was thinking, ‘okay, this HAS to be it.’ Again, nothing. The fire. Still, nothing. Elijah was looking for the thundering, booming, explosive voice too. He was looking for the BIG signs. God was present in the ground breaking, but He spoke in the calm after the storm. The Hebrew word for gentle translates small. The word for blowing is whisper/calm/still/silence. LOVE! God was a soft talker :)
Earlier in Elijah’s story, as he is challenging the prophets of Baal, scripture says that the prophets had exhausted all attempts to call upon Baal. They had been at it all day, “but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.” Elijah then calls upon God. Needless to say, God shows up in a big way. Then here in the cave, God chooses to once again show up. But this time, He speaks. He was paying attention and He answered Elijah in a voice! All the things Baal didn’t do and COULDN’T do…God did. Yet, He doesn’t speak in all the fireworks, but in the still.
Why, after all the excitements of the earlier stuff, does he chose to speak in a whisper? It’s personal. It’s intimate. Whispering requires the whisperer to draw close to share. It’s a beautiful image.
I love what John MacArthur says, “the wind, earthquake and fire announced the imminent arrival of the Lord. The Lord’s self-revelation to Elijah came in a faint, whispering voice. The lesson for Elijah was that Almighty God was quietly, sometimes imperceptibly, doing His work in Israel.”
So, maybe you, like me, find yourself asking for the big, strong, thunderous voice of God…and He could do that if He chooses. Or perhaps He desires to draw close to you and whisper; showing you He is in control – of the wind, earth, even fire – but speaking to you personally in the state of still.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10