After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12, NLT).
Elijah was having quite a week.
He had confronted and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. After this encounter, Elijah went home only to receive a note from Queen Jezebel. It simply said . . .
May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them (1 Kings 19:2, NLT).
Elijah had just vanquished 450 prophets, so we would expect a bold stand against the Queen. Instead, we read . . .
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah (1 Kings 19:3).
Have you ever stumbled into temptation after a great victory?
In some ways, our most vulnerable moments come after success. I’ve witnessed many during my pastoral years who would undermine a few good weeks with a bout of drunken or pornographic stumbling.
Why? Perhaps tired, maybe having let their guard down, and some had a woundedness that made them insecure when things went well.
What happened to Elijah that his victory quickly turned to fear?
It’s not easy standing for holiness against an entire morally bankrupt culture — but Elijah did. After Elijah’s prayer, fire from God consumed the 450 prophets of Baal. It’s easy to ride too far on the laurels of such a victory. And there was a strong spirit of oppression working through Jezebel that intimidated Elijah.
After Elijah had fled in the wilderness for one day, he asked the Lord . . .
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:4).
God worked through Elijah as much as any other person in history. The power of God was with him, and Elijah had amazing visions that had impacted the world. And yet this mighty prophet just wanted to die.
Let’s be honest; we’ve all had a few moments like this. However, God gives us a grace we don’t deserve.
After Elijah slept, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and gave him food and water. I always feel better after a good night’s sleep. Throw in a nice breakfast, and my perspective changes considerably.
God then told Elijah to stand before a mountain.
First, there was a windstorm but no God. Then, an earthquake followed by fire, and still no God. And while Elijah stood there utterly impressed and probably humbled about feeling sorry for himself, God spoke to him.
Not in a windstorm, earthquake, or fire – but in a gentle whisper.
After success and failure, we find that Jesus still has a purpose for us and speaks to us compassionately. He tells us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Remember, after the storm, listen for the quiet voice of God.