And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. — 1 Kings 19:11-12
The clouds were fluffy white against a backdrop of baby blue. The sun at high noon was projecting its brilliant rays down to warm the earth. It appeared to be a day that would be filled with sunshine and perfect outdoor weather. I had just finished lunch with an older friend, and we were chatting as we got ready to climb into my van. Suddenly a powerful wind knocked us into each other. It came with no warning, blasting bits of gravel, sticks, sand, and scraps of paper into our unprotected faces and arms. Caught off guard by its force, my friend and I felt momentarily powerless. The flying particles whirled through the open doors of my van, dusting the carpets and seats with grit. My elderly friend shuddered in disbelief. However, as quickly as it came, the wind swept up and away.
In thinking back on this experience, I understand a little about how Elijah must have felt when God showed him the powers of nature. How often, when viewing nature’s wondrous displays of power, do we think of God as being in them? As we see from the verses mentioned, God was not in the powerful displays Elijah witnessed. The Lord came after nature had spent its fury. He came quietly in a still small Voice.
To hear God speak, we may need to get away from the “roars” of life — the earthquakes that rattle below us, the tornadoes that toss us about like feathers, and the mountains that explode into thunderous smoke. Perhaps we need to find a secluded spot or altar — a place away from the chaos and cares we daily encounter — where we can listen to the quiet Voice of the Lord. As we silently wait there before Him, we will hear His still small Voice speaking to our hearts and filling our souls with His peace.
Elijah had just experienced two glorious victories on Mount Carmel — fire on the sacrifice and rain upon the land. One might expect him to have been on the mountaintop praising the Lord. However, because of Jezebel’s threatening message to him, Elijah ran in fear for his life. Beersheba was at the extreme south of Judah, and therefore beyond Jezebel’s reach.
Elijah was exhausted and discouraged as he sat down under a juniper tree and asked the Lord to take his life. Juniper trees, or “broom trees,” are desert shrubs that flower and can grow up to twelve feet high and provide shade. Today, what Elijah experienced might be called “emotional burnout.” He also had some self-pity. He may have hoped that through his ministry on Mount Carmel, the whole country, including Ahab and Jezebel, would quit praying to Baal and fall to their knees in worship of the true God. When his hopes were not realized, he may have felt like a failure. However, God loved him and provided what he needed: rest and nourishment before his journey to Mount Horeb (another name for Mount Sinai), which was about two hundred miles south of Beersheba.
When Elijah told God that “I, even I only, am left,” he forgot that others had helped him kill Baal’s prophets. The wind, fire, and earthquake were dramatic events for someone to experience, especially while alone. Still there was not a message for Elijah from the Lord in these things. Finally, the “still small voice,” a gentle call, caused Elijah to move out to the entrance of the cave, for he recognized God’s Voice. After Elijah listened, he made a fresh start at obeying God and following His leading.
Elijah finally realized there were still tasks for him to do and that God would be with him to help him do them. God instructed him to anoint three men, and said that these men would bring punishment to Israel. As king of Syria, Hazael would fight against Israel, Jehu would nearly destroy Baal worship in the northern kingdom (2 Kings 10:18-31), and Elisha would succeed Elijah.
Elisha’s family must have been well off financially, since he had twenty-four costly animals.
A mantle was a coat and an extremely important piece of clothing. People used mantles for protection in bad weather, to sit on, to sleep on, to carry items, or to secure a debt. Elisha knew that Elijah’s action was symbolic, and he answered the call.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel
K. The reign of Ahab of Israel
2. The ministry of Elijah against Ahab’s Baal worship
c. The flight after Mt. Carmel (19:1-21)
(1) Elijah’s flight from Jezebel (19:1-8)
(2) Elijah’s arrival at Horeb (19:9-18)
(a) The despondency of Elijah (19:9-14)
(b) The instructions for Elijah (19:15-18)
(3) Elijah’s anointing of Elisha (19:19-21)
No matter how alone we feel or how much of a failure we think we are, God can use us if we listen and obey.