This week we reprinted a message from the late David Murray first offered in this space in 2006.
I was recently blessed by the account of Elijah and his flight to Mt. Sinai after his tremendous victory on Mt. Carmel. Hounded by a vindictive queen, driven by suicidal despair, and weakened by the contest on Carmel, Elijah was rapidly sinking into a black pit of despondency. Upon reaching the mountain of God, he climbed into a dark cave and hoped to die. Where previously he had been consumed by zeal for Jehovah, now all he could see was the declining fortunes of his countrymen and the slaughter of the prophets of Jehovah. In his discouragement, he honestly thought he was all alone in his stand for decency, and that soon he too would be eliminated. No doubt he had concluded that he was finished and his ministry was over.
But God was not finished with Elijah. Here’s what happened: First, God challenged him with a simple question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” It may have been a little reality check to see if Elijah had an accurate evaluation of the real situation. It soon became apparent that his view of the national scene was badly skewed by his own negative feelings. How often we size things up with a mind distorted by recent reversals. For this situation, God had a strategy. He simply told Elijah to “come forth and stand on the mountain.” When we come out of our caves long enough to see what God is really doing, it changes our perspective all over.
The very next words are, “And behold, Jehovah was passing by!” How those words stir the soul! Jehovah is moving in powerful ways all over the earth. If we will only get out of our caves and stand on the mountain of God and see what He is up to, then we will avoid that sucking vortex of despair that grips so many people.
Then God proceeded to parade His power before Elijah in the form of earthquake, wind, and fire. These were genuine demonstrations of His power, designed to show a fearful soul that he was serving an omnipotent God. Even though God “was not in” these displays, I believe He was using them to reassure Elijah of His mighty grip on world affairs. As good as this was, though, Elijah needed something more. It’s all right to be convinced that God has a plan and is able to execute it, but we all need to know where we fit into it. Elijah needed some personal marching orders. And that’s just what happened when he heard the “still small voice.” One version calls it a “soft whisper of a voice.” Once God has our attention, He can use the little whispering things of life to give us direction and purpose.
For Elijah at that point, it meant only three things. He was to anoint three people. These were relatively simple and limited objectives, but it was all he needed at that time. In a similar fashion, we too can take up the small tasks that lie just before us, and not discount their importance in the overall scheme of things.
After all this, God had a final word of encouragement. He offered it by challenging Elijah’s estimate of those who still stood true to God. Elijah apparently thought he was all alone, but he found out that that wasn’t true. Did you ever feel that it was you against the world? Or that no one could possibly understand how you feel? Or that no one has ever suffered as you are being called to suffer? Or that no one really cares about forsaking all to follow Jesus fully? Or that every man has his price? We are really not equipped to look into people’s hearts and see the depth of loyalty that lies there, but God knows, and He wants to assure us that there are countless multitudes that are forsaking all to love and follow Jesus.
So be encouraged this Sabbath, as you listen for that “soft whisper of a voice” to show you your part in God’s great plan.
Happy Sabbath to each one.