Elijah – the gentle, quiet voice

Was Jesus a prophet, one in the line of prophets or was he something else?  Sunday we will read that Jesus spoke with “authority.”  When the prophets of the Old Testament spoke, things began to happen.  They spoke God’s word, an important message.  Yesterday we looked at Abraham from whom nations emerged even in his old age and by whom nations were blessed.  Today we will ponder Elijah.  At the time of Jesus people wondered if he, Jesus, was Elijah returned.

         Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, at the same time as King Ahab and his famous wife Queen Jezebel.  Jezebel came from the coastal people, the Sidonians, and worshipped a different god, Baal.  Two major religions were embraced by political leadership and it is not surprising that tensions impacted the common person.  Does that sound a bit like today?  It seems it is hard for different philosophies of government or religion or medicine or… to coexist peacefully.  The people often are hurt in the debate.

         Elijah’s disciple was Elisha and it is easy to get the two men mixed up.  Elijah performed big miracles and Elisha was more on the people’s level.  Elijah raised the dead woman’s son, brought fire down from heaven on Mt. Carmel in the confrontation with the prophets of Baal, and ascended to heaven in a whirlwind of fire, not dying and predicted to return.  Whew.  This Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain for three years, confronted Ahab, and called the people of Israel back to worship Jehovah.

         My favorite story, though, is after Elijah called down fire on Mt. Carmel, proving his god was God. Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah and he ran.  After the high, came the low.  Elijah ran for 40 days to Mt. Sinai.  In his discouragement and flight, God sent an angel to give Elijah food.  Elijah arrived and went into a cave.  The next morning God spoke with Elijah not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire but in a “gentle whisper (1 King 19:10-18)” In his exhaustion, God comes to Elijah with food and council.  Things begin to happen.

         Often we think that the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, the spectacular mean God is speaking and blessing.  Sometimes but often, I find that God speaks in that quiet, gentle voice.  It is in those spiritual moments that often things begin to happen and give direction to our ponderings. Always, though, that voice from God and from the prophet, calls us back to God and his “authority” in our lives.  Are we listening today?

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