Last week, while preparing for my message on listening to God, I studied the passage on the classic encounter that the Old Testament prophet Elijah had with God after fleeing for his life into the desert. I didn’t have time to share this encouraging story on Sunday so I thought I’d share the cliff notes of that passage with you in this devotional email. It’s basically like “4 Encouraging Lessons from Elijah in 4 minutes” and if you’d like to read it on your own it is in 1 Kings 19:1-18.
The gist of the story was that Elijah had just come off an incredible and supernatural victory over 950 false prophets of Baal and Asherah who were leading the Israelites away from God and into sin. But after that great feat, the evil Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, so he basically “ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:3) . Generally speaking, running for your life is not God’s game plan, especially after just seeing God come through for you in an amazing display power.
But not only did he run for his life, Elijah ran away for 40+ days into the desert. Eventually he hid away in a cave, where God confronted him. In this encounter God sent a powerful wind, then caused an earthquake, and then sent fire on that mountain to coax Elijah out of that cave. But after each of these events it stated, “but the LORD was not in the wind… the earthquake… the fire.” I love the next part, “After the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:12b-13
It would’ve been easy to think that God would cause His awesome voice show up in those mighty displays of power, but instead it was God’s gentle whisper that wooed and moved Elijah out of his cave! And He is still wooing the hearts of men and women with His gentle whisper today (see Revelation 3:20). One important lesson hear (pardon the pun and the misspelling) is that we need to be careful about how we think God might speak to us. Don’t miss the powerful impact of His gentle whisper.
Immediately after that, God corrects Elijah about his wrong thinking and errant attitude of self-importance. Elijah proclaimed that he was the only one left still faithful to the Lord, but God corrected him and told him that there were at least 7000 more like him. So another lesson to learn from Elijah is to not lean on our own understanding, but just continue to trust and obey God, especially when there’s a chance that we could be wrong. (see also Proverbs 3:5-6)
The next lesson to catch is that after we get our head out of our cave (so to speak) and start listening to and obeying God again, we need to be ready for Him to give us a few instructions to get us back on track. In verse 15 of this passage we the first thing that the Lord tells Elijah to do is, “Go back the way you came, and go to the desert of Damascus…” God still had work for Elijah to accomplish.
The final and most encouraging lesson I took away from all this was a reminder about God’s grace. Even though Elijah had been running for his life, and basically walked out of step with God’s will for 40+ days, and had probably succumbed to a little self-importance and stubbornness, God still gracious provided for him, and went on to use him greatly, and eventually whisked him off to heaven in a unique and supernatural whirlwind.
James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man just like us.” It’s so encouraging to remember that God is still graciously providing for and powerfully using imperfect people like me and you to this day! Anyway, I hope these lessons from Elijah’s story bless you as much as they do me.
Have a great week! Don’t forget to keep your ears open and your heart obedient!
Your brother in Christ,