Summary: God speaks; more so in His Silence.....
LET SILENCE SPEAK…..
In 1 Kings 18 we find Israel in its pits. The people have broken their covenant with the Lord. The altars have been torn down. The Lord’s prophets decimated and Baal elevated as God of Israel by Ahab and Jezebel. It is at this juncture that a prophet of God, a Tishbite, a stranger from the mountains of Gilead that produces the healing balm, arrives upon the scene announcing himself…..my name is “Jehovah is my God”! Elijah, exemplifying conviction, commitment, and courage of the rarest order confronts and challenges the reigning king, the establishment, the entire political, social and spiritual order. There is but one God, and He is Jehovah, the Living God and none other before Him.
The spectacular encounter at Mount Carmel with Ahab, the prophets of Baal should by all counts have been the final showdown settling once and for all the true spiritual direction for Israel. Exuberance and euphoria transform Elijah into a fleet footed and triumphant herald of the new order as he makes haste to Jezreel, the strong-hold of Jezebel. To his utter dismay and disappointment, he receives news that Jezebel instead of repenting has sworn to take his life. This sudden turn of events leave him deflated, defeated, depressed and at complete loss leading him to contemplate suicide.
Lying under the broom tree, Elijah cries in despair: Lord I have seen you, I have seen your power, and I have seen what you can do. But it is of no use, either to me or to my situation. Let me die. God sends an angel to revive him and he continues his journey to Mount Horeb. Here on the Mountain, Elijah seeks a fresh revelation of God. God I know you, I have seen you, and I have experienced your power. But I need a confirmation. Show yourself to me once more.
If we go back to Exodus 19:16 we see Moses experiencing something very close to what Elijah is going through. On Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb or the Mountain of God; Moses sees God revealing Himself through storm, fire and earthquake. The whole of Israel is witness to this awesome display of God’s presence and power. However, when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments in his hands; he finds the people of Israel worshipping a Golden Calf. This comes as a major blow to Moses. Chagrined, he chastises the iniquitous Israelites. Thoroughly disillusioned, he is on the verge of giving up. The Lord takes Moses up the Mountain again. In Exodus 33:18 we see Moses pleading with God. Lord, I have done everything according to your bidding. I have been faithful and obedient. But now, I am at the cross-roads. Show yourself to me once more so that I can continue the journey.
God tells Moses, you cannot see me face to face. But I will place you in the cleft of a rock and will pass by you. You will not see my face, but you will see my back. As a witness that God indeed revealed Himself to Moses, we see that when Moses comes down from the mountain, his face is radiant because he has witnessed the glory of the Lord and has to cover his face with a veil. Moses, with this new revelation, continues his journey to the Promised Land.
Coming back to Mount Horeb, we see Elijah standing exactly where Moses stood centuries back. The Lord asks of him, what are you doing here? Elijah remonstrates with the Lord. I have been doing everything according to your bidding. I have been faithful and obedient. Now everything is over and as far as you are concerned, I am the last man standing. Show yourself to me once more, so that I know that I am not chasing a dream but following a reality.
We see another dazzling display of God’s power through a whirlwind which tears the rocks out of the mountain; a mighty earthquake which shakes the very foundation of the mountain and fire coming down on the mountain from the heavens. However, to his disappointment, Elijah sees that God was not in them. Now everything falls quiet and there is absolute silence. God’s voice in the form of an almost inaudible whisper comes to him: Elijah what are you doing here?
Elijah remonstrates by repeating his earlier words. Instead of reproving or admonishing him, God answers: Your mission is yet to be accomplished; anoint Hazael to be king of Aram, Jehu as king of Israel, Elisha as your successor; they will fulfill what is to be fulfilled according to My Will. Also note that I still have 7000 faithful followers apart from you!
It is now that Elijah really sees God. All along he has been engrossed with himself, his situation, his circumstances, his ups and downs, his feelings, his emotions. He has been viewing everything with him in the centre. I have been zealous; I have done my best; I am the only right person; I am the only one left; I am your last chance. He has been presumptuous about being the centre-piece, the pivot of God’s plans. He has minimized God’s role in the overall scheme of things and believes that it is up to him to see the entire thing through. He expects God to reveal Himself to him according to his expectations. Elijah has reduced God to his level.