Summary: God spoke to Elijah through the stillness, the quiet, the small voice. God did not answer or appear in the extraordinary, the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He certainly can, but oftentimes chooses the quiet.
I want to tell you a true story, look at its ramifications and see how it applies to our lives today. It is a familiar story, an Old Testament story, a story of one of God’s greatest prophets and his calling. You may have heard this story way back in Sunday school, or perhaps this may be the first time you’ve heard it. You may have forgotten the details, I believe important details that point to God’s perfection, or you may remember every single aspect.
Originally, today I was going to start a three-part study in the life of Joseph, but as I have been preparing, God put it on my heart to start with this brief study of God’s prophet instead. We could spend weeks studying this prophet, his ministry and its relevance in our lives today, but instead we’ll only spend our time together this morning. As we conclude, my prayer is that you will go home, re-read what we discussed today and study it further. There truly is application for our lives today.
I hesitate reading the newspapers every morning and then following current events throughout the day. There is no question we are all enduring some trying times in our lives. Problems of financial hardship, unemployment, new employment - perhaps even a change in a career, loss of loved ones; upside down mortgages, retirement concerns, addiction or dependency issues, relationship struggles, this day and age I believe we need to trust God more than ever in our lives. And I see it reflected in church, not only here at Capistrano Community Church but in churches across America. Church has to be a priority in our lives.
Worship in church has to be so important and so relevant that even through hardships, we set aside that important time to come together every week. We may be too exhausted, but we just can’t wait to come to church, to interact with one another and be refreshed by God’s Word. I’ve heard some say that it is what they need to help them through the upcoming week. For some, Sunday mornings have become the only time for rest, working two or three jobs. Others may feel that they are struggling just to make ends meet, how can they possibly support church? So it’s best to stay home. I believe church worship, church fellowship and church family is more important for our lives today than any other time since I’ve been in ministry. Why? Because our faith in God is paramount in our lives. So many Scriptures point to this. So many of the Apostle Paul’s words are in reference to enduring hardships and trusting God. All of the Old Testament Prophet’s words, both major and minor, point to trusting God alone. Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah where God says, “Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.” The life of Jesus modeled trusting in His Father, so much so, He willingly went to the cross. In trusting God, we have hope.
And when we’re facing the fear of the unknown in our lives, sometimes hope is what we need the most. Hope and trust that God really does have a plan, even through hardships. Look back on the many times in your life when God has answered prayer in an amazing way. Look back when you have felt the presence of God in a powerful way. So why do we forget at times? Because we’re no different. Even God’s most powerful people throughout the ages have gone through times of trouble, despair and doubt.
Back to my story. His name is Elijah and he lived during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, 850 years before the birth of Christ. Ahab was the seventh king of Israel after the nation split apart, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, in fact much more than other kings. There are many reasons why, but the biggies are: (1) the marriage to a pagan, evil woman named Jezebel and (2) allowing Baal worship to permeate God’s chosen nation of Israel. Worship of the idol Baal was prevalent during this time. Baal was the pagan god of fertility, the god who controlled the seasons and nature. Worship of Baal consisted of horrible, evil practices including the sacrifice of children. Ahab influenced by Jezebel, erected Baal altars, built temples for Baal, and “served Baal and worshipped him.”
Elijah wanted vengeance. He wanted God to send the windstorm, the earthquake, and the fire upon Jezebel and her idolaters, but God was reminding him that He is in control, not Elijah. But that is still the way Elijah felt. I once read the following, written half in jest; “My wishes are a humble dwelling with a thatched roof, a good bed, good food, flowers at my windows, and some fine tall trees before my door. And if the good God wants to make me completely happy, He will grant me the joy of seeing six or seven of my enemies hanging from the trees.”