Summary: An encouragement to the church that God doesn’t always work through just the loud and the showy.
The Story of A Whisper
As he sits at the foot of this “desert” mountain, he hugs his knees to his chest. Looking at Elijah, you may think he has fallen asleep, or even worse, maybe even died. But don’t worry, he’s not. It’s just that the desert winds have this habit of turning grains of sand into miniature missiles that sting the face. So what you see is Elijah watching for his guest through the thin slits of squinted eyes.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Who is so important that they are worth waiting for in the middle of a desert?
Elijah answers that for us. Not by his words, but by his location. Look where he sits – at the base of Mt. Horeb. You know Mt. Horeb/Sinai. This is the mountain where God talked to Moses through a burning bush (Ex. 3:1). This is the mountain where Israel met their living God for the first time, but they didn’t see him. All they SAW was lightening and thick smoke ushering His arrival. All they HEARD was thunder and the sound of trumpets announcing His presence. All they FELT was terror as the earth shook as God took his rightful place on His mountain.
The very name Horeb/Sinai evoked images of a powerful and awesome God. A God who BREAKS into HISTORY overthrowing kingdoms and working mightily among His people. That is why Elijah is here. He is at the MOUNTAIN of God, waiting for God.
But it could be a long wait. Elijah doesn’t have an appointment. God didn’t call him here, he just showed up. Let’s put it this way, Elijah has come to God the way a disgruntled employee unexpectedly comes to the office of his boss. A boss who is trying to run a Fortune 500 company. But God isn’t running a Fortune 500 Company; He’s running the universe.
So Elijah must sit and wait. And he waits and waits and waits.
After hours of waiting, Elijah has nothing to show for it but an achy back and a painful sunburn. God finally arrives, Elijah is taken back by God’s greeting. There’s no, “Hello Elijah. How’s the wife and kids?” God greets him with a question. A question that intends to hold Elijah ACCOUNTABLE to his calling as a prophet of God.
“Elijah! Why are you here? Elijah, Why are you here and not there? Why are you here and not where I sent you to do my work?”
Elijah was expecting God to provide the answers, not himself. Today was supposed to be the day that God was interrogated, not Elijah. It is then that Elijah begins to tuck his tail. But before he has a chance to run, he remembers what brought him to this mountain in the first place. He’s got a bone to pick with God, and so he vents.
“Lord God Almighty, I have given you the best years of my life, serving you to the best of my abilities. But look where it has gotten me. Your people have broken their contract with you. Your people have destroyed your worship centers, and built churches to other gods. Your people have killed all your preaching prophets with the sword because they didn’t like the sermons they heard. And if that isn’t bad enough, now they are trying to kill me, I’m the ONLY one left.”
Did you hear the feelings of his heart being expressed in his words? We’ve got a prophet of God who is frustrated, who is feeling abandoned by God. You’d feel the same way if you were in Elijah’s shoes?
You see, just a few months earlier Elijah was a hero among God’s people. It’s a great story. One of those underdog stories we love in sports.
As the team rosters were given to the judges, it showed: 450 prophets of Baal against 1 prophet of God.
The way the game was going to be played was that both sides would prepare a bull for sacrifice. The first prophet to get their God to send fire from heaven and burn up the bull wins.
The crowd cheers, they are excited to see how this is going to end. All of Israel has gathered in the stadium to see this take place. Yeah, I said Israel. But remember, they aren’t the good guys in this story. Remember Elijah’s complaint? Israel had abandoned the living God and killed all of his prophets. The Israelites in the stadium aren’t cheering for Elijah, they’re cheering for the prophets of Baal. And they are hoping for a slaughter.
Being a gentleman, Elijah lets the 450 prophets of Baal go first.
It’s about 9 in the morning. They start calling their god to get his attention. I don’t know how it went for sure, but I picture it like this. 225 prophets on 1 side, another 225 on the other side. They start chanting back and forth, “We love Baal, yes we do; we love Baal how ‘bout you!” They continue to yell for a couple of hours, but guess what? No fire. So they start to yell and DANCE.