The word of God in the quiet voice

The word of God in the quiet voice

Most of us would love to have a clear, personal experience of God. Wouldn’t it be great to see a vision, or be visited by an angel, or to have some miracle happen in front of us? We’d all like the spectacular things we see sometimes in the Bible to happen to us. There are streams of Christianity that actively aim for these kinds of experiences, trying to find some special feeling of God and powerful demonstration of his power.

Wanting the spectacular and miraculous fits in with our overachieving and hardworking lifestyles. We want our movies fast and interesting, and if that article on the web doesn’t grab our attention in the first few sentences, we’ll move on. We want the quick and memorable.

Elijah the prophet lived a life where he had seen more demonstration of God’s power than almost anyone else ever. He had prayed, and God stopped the rain for three years. He saw a jar of oil never run out. He was involved in a child being raised from the dead. And, of course, atop Mt Carmel he saw fire fall from heaven and rain come after prayer. Elijah was a man who knew what the spectacular and miraculous was like. And yet, in chapter 19, he was depressed. In his needy state, God led him to Mt Horeb, where he revealed himself like this:

11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Ki. 19:11-13a ESV)

These are memorable verses, but why did Elijah need this message right at that moment? I think God was gently reminding him of something important that we also need to recall.

God was not in the spectacular aspects in these verses, in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. This doesn’t mean they were out of God’s control! God controls everything, and he was the one behind these things happening. It means that God is not ultimately found and related to in the spectacular things of life. Elijah, who had recently seen amazing things atop Mt Carmel, needed to hear this. God controls the miracles of this world and the extremes, but that is not where we connect with Him.

No, God was in the quiet whisper. At the sound of that whisper, Elijah came out and spoke with God. The spectacular things showed God’s power; it was in the voice of God that Elijah related to his powerful God.

This is a memorable way of saying the kind of thing we come across in Psalm 19 as well. We can know God is real and powerful through His creation. That is enough to be amazed. But to know God, to really know God, you need to hear his voice. You don’t just need power, you need relationship.

We’re not prophets. We do not expect a personalised quiet whisper from God. But we do have God’s word in the Bible. We are called to read and meditate on it day and night (Ps 1). It is in God’s word that we find out that God is not only powerful; He is gracious and loving, sending Jesus to die for us in our place.

We think we need a miracle to confirm God’s presence. We don’t. We need to slow down and listen. We need to drink deep of the quiet voice of God in the Scriptures, often, slowly, reflectively, and thoughtfully. Seeking the spectacular and ignoring the Scriptures is foolishness and not Christianity.

Have you read from God’s word to you today? If not, why not do it now?