Elijah had just represented God in a contest with the prophets of Baal, when God demonstrated that he alone is God and that Baal was nothing compared to him. The prophets of Baal were put to death to end Baal worship in the land, and Elijah had run before king Ahab in triumph. But he had not reckoned with Queen Jezebel, who had introduced Baal worship from her homeland. At her threat he fled south, across Judah and into the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula. On the way God met his unspoken need for sleep, food and water.
Elijah went back to his nation’s roots, to the mountain where God met Moses (Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are probably the same mountain). There God first spoke to him, then revealed himself – not in the wind, earthquake or fire (reminders of the time when God gave Moses the law), but in a ‘voice of thin quietness’ (literally – often translated as ‘still small voice’ or ‘gentle whisper’ as here). Awe-inspiring demonstrations of power have their place, as Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal had shown; but God’s truly transforming revelation of himself is most often given gently, in quietness or in loving action done without fanfare or in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem.
God then spoke again. First he asked the same question as before – and received the same despairing response. Then he gave Elijah encouragement: he was not alone, there were thousands as faithful as him, the family of faith was larger than he thought. Then he gave Elijah work to do: he was to choose successors to himself, to King Ahab and to an enemy King. God’s work in history would continue.
1) How does God speak today?
2) How can this story encourage us?