Elijah’s interactions with God showcase two very different ways He communicates with us. Which of the two do you most listen to?
On Mt. Carmel, Elijah issues a challenge to the people who have started worshiping Baal. The people, not sure of which god is more powerful, are afraid to respond to Elijah and he suggests a competition of sorts: which god could consume their sacrificial offering. When nothing happens to the offering prepared by the priest of Baal, Elijah raises the stakes and has a trench dug around the altar. The bull sacrifice and wood are drenched with so much water that the trench becomes a moat. It’s like Elijah is making it impossible for there to be any shadow of a doubt who the real God is. Elijah’s actions almost taunt the people with an attitude of, “You want to know who the real God is? Well, let me show you…” God does not disappoint. Not only is the bull sacrifice consumed in fire called down by Elijah, He also consumes the wood and all the water in the trench so that only the stone altar remains. Once the people saw for themselves, then they turned back to God.
In another interaction with God, Elijah is hiding in a cave and is told that God would be passing by. After several large, loud occurrences, Elijah realizes God is in a tiny, whispering sound. While the second way is much different, and the audience is exclusively Elijah, it may be a more widely shared story. The “message” for us is that God may not be in the loud events of our lives, but rather, He may communicate with us in the smallest, and most unexpected ways. In comparing these two accounts, it’s not just the grandness of the message, but rather how the message is delivered. On Mt. Carmel, the message is really an answer to the people’s skepticism. In the cave, Elijah is a man of faith and does not need the over-the-top display God provided to him at Mt. Carmel. Both accounts seem to address the lengths that God will go to communicate; based on the faith of a person or a people.
I’ve often said to God that if He wants something specific from me, He needs to bang me over the head until I understand. One of my greatest fears is to ignore God’s will for me, not because it was my choice, but because I didn’t understand it to be His will. Yet, I don’t believe in coincidence and am always looking at what I receive as a blessing or a challenge that He allows in my life. Perhaps I’m not as close in my relationship to God as Elijah was with the ability to hear God in a whispering sound. My faith, however, is a bit stronger than the Israelites in Elijah’s time, as I don’t need a water-logged sacrifice to be consumed before my eyes in order to believe in Him.
In our journey of faith, we will have our times when we ask God to prove Himself. At other times, we are close enough to Him, that He can use the small, simple, everyday events in our lives to deepen our relationship with Him. Let us pray that when we listen to God, we listen as less of a skeptic and more as a prophet on fire for love of Him.