“Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:37)
Elijah was an enormously important hero of the faith. Like Shemaiah and others before and after him, Elijah faithfully proclaims God’s Law as well as demonstrates His loving Gospel. Elijah pronounces divine judgment on Ahab and the rebellious Israelites throughout his ministry. Yet, God also uses him to bring life and healing to many along the way, demonstrating the extension of His covenant beyond the children of Israel to all the world.
Despite the incredible things God does through him, Elijah sometimes becomes frustrated with the apparent lack of results from his ministry. His spiritual warfare against the darkness in Israel seems to culminate at the epic battle of Mt. Carmel where Elijah calls down fire from heaven and puts the false prophets to the sword. But even this glorious triumph is short lived, being quickly swallowed up in seeming defeat through the queen’s return to hostility and idolatry. Elijah quickly flees for his life, then prays for God to let him die.
As Elijah lies there at his lowest point, defeated, depressed, and bereft of all hope, God reaches out and gently touches him. He gives Elijah the daily bread that he needs to sustain his weary body and spirit a little longer. Then He does it again. God continues to sustain Elijah for forty days as he struggles through a spiritual wilderness, questioning God and struggling with doubt and despair.
How easy it is for God’s warriors today to find themselves wandering the same spiritual wasteland! We look at all that we’ve fought for and done for the Lord, and then look at the world around us and wonder, what’s the use? We run away from the battle and away from God, ready to give up completely. And in times like this, our loving Father comes and gently touches us. We turn, and behold, the Bread of Life, baked over the coals of atonement! This daily Bread and the Living Water comes to us miraculously from God, through His Word, and it is enough to sustain us as we wander through the desert of our own doubt and despair.
We come at last to a mountain – the mountain of God’s covenant. And we say to God, “I’ve kept my end of the bargain, why haven’t You kept Yours?” Like Elijah, we are looking for God to sweep through our nation in a mighty wind, to shake the foundations of secular society by a thundering earthquake, or to purge the evil of this world in the consuming flames of His mighty wrath! If we were God, that’s how we’d do things. We would smite the evil-doers with bolts of judgment! We would come down from that cross and show those mockers who God really is!…
…But our God is really the God who stayed on the cross until death, scorning its shame, and rising again in triumph only after full atonement was made on our behalf. His greatest triumph over the enemies of His children came not in a fiery blast from heaven, but in the dying whisper of His holy, innocent Son: “It is finished.”
Sometimes God calls warriors to be instruments of impressive displays of His power by worldly standards. Miracles do happen; God does reveal Himself at times through fire, and the blind see again, and the lame walk, and the dead live once more. But it is the still, small voice of His Word that effects the greatest miracle of all. The fire of the Holy Spirit comes upon those who hear it. Their eyes are opened to God for the first time. Then then walk in faith as a new creation, made alive in Jesus.
God calls His warriors today, equipping them with that gentle whisper, and assuring them that it does not go out from them in vain.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, nourish and sustain me always with Your Word. Give me wisdom, courage, and patience, that I may faithfully be a still, small voice in a world of darkness and noise. Bless Your Word as it goes out from my lips, through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.