Summary: This message helps individuals answer the question, "Where is God in this world of disasters?" and presents a challenge to them to discover how they are called to be part of the remedy.
(This sermon was delivered as a trial sermon for a pastoral position; hence the personal information about self and family)
Tell a little about self and family; 3 children living at home now; 7 total; Also have 3 we never see but hear a lot about.
Nobody…. I don’t know… Not me.
Who’s on the phone? - Nobody.
Whose papers are these scattered all over the living room? - I don’t know.
Hey, who’s making all that noise up there? - Not me.
Of course, we all know that when it’s quiet, when you don’t hear anything, that’s when you have to pay attention.
When it’s quite, that’s when you have to pay attention! Elijah had to learn this the hard way.
We’ve kind of picked up the story at the end…kind of like starting a joke at the punch line. No buildup. No drama. So let’s just briefly look at what happened previously.
[tell story … country under rule of King Ahab; actually, under rule of Jezebel. They worship Ba’al. Elijah had been sent to get them and the rest of the country back on track to renounce Ba’al and worship the one true God. So Elijah gets this idea to challenge the priests of Ba’al to a kind of duel. 2 bulls for sacrifices, wood for the fires, 450 priests of Ba’al against Elijah and God. The idea is that if the priests of Ba’al succeed in convincing their god to supernaturally send fire for their bull, than Ba’al was the one true god. If Elijah’s supplication to his God was successful in producing a fire for the sacrifice, then his God, Yahweh, was the one true God.
The Ba’al priests go first. They prepare their bull, lay the carcass out on the wood, and appeal to Ba’al. Nothing happens. They begin dancing and chanting, driving themselves into a frenzy of whooping and hollering and even cutting themselves. Nada.
Then it’s Elijah’s turn. He prepares his bull, and then, for dramatic effect, he has water poured all over the sacrifice and the altar and the wood – lots of water. Then, he offers a prayer, and the bull catches fire.
The 450 prophets of Ba’al are killed; Elijah is on a spiritual high. But then, Jezebel gets angry, and she sends a death threat to Elijah. Now, you’d think that a man who has just defeated 450 priests would be able to stand up to one woman. You’d think that after such a rousing victory Elijah would be secure in the knowledge that his God would protect him. You’d think.
But he’s scared. He’s terrified. He runs for his life. He runs away to the desert and sinks into such a depression that he reaches a low point where he actually wants to die.
And God shows up. “What are you doing here in the desert?” He says. And then, just like a mom who wants to cheer her child up, God says “Eat! You’ll feel better!”
How many can relate to that? I can. My Mom was a firm believer that food could fix anything. Got a cold? Have some chicken soup. Boyfriend dumped you? Aw, eat some more lasagna; Got a good report card? Celebrate with some cake. You get the idea.
So the LORD feeds Elijah, he feels a little better, well enough to take a 40 day journey to Mt. Horeb, that same mountain on which Moses found himself after a 40 year journey; the mountain on which the law was given. The mountain on which some scholars think Jesus talked with Elijah and Moses during his transfiguration.
So Elijah travels to this mountain, and instead of standing atop it, he crawls within it by finding himself a dark, damp cave to hide in.]
* * * * *
Now we’re all caught up. That’s where our text for today picks it up. Elijah is in this cave, feeling sorry for himself. And God shows up again and says, “Elijah… what are you doing here? Go stand on the mountain…I’ll meet you there”.
But Elijah doesn’t move. Then, again like a parent who wants to cheer his child up, God presents a fantastic show to coax this pouty child out – He sends wind that batters the mountains and breaks rocks apart. Elijah doesn’t budge. God sends an earthquake that rattles the ground and no doubt Elijah, too. No movement from Elijah. Then God sends a fire. Nothing, nothing can bring Elijah out of his depression and out of that cave.
Then, (pause), all is quiet. We all know that when it’s quiet, when you don’t hear anything, that’s when you have to really pay attention. How many of you know that? Uh-oh… I think I see evidence of the “Nobody”, “I don’t know”, “Not me” trio here this morning. How many of you know that when it’s quiet, when you don’t hear anything, that’s when you have to pay attention? All right, then.