The Thin Silence

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

This passage from 1 Kings chapter 19 is used in countless Spiritual Discipline guide books to teach us how to hear the voice of God. It is normally called the thin silence, its an intimate whisper like that of a lover. Although this ‘thin silence’ maybe a means in which God speaks to us but may it be emphasized that this is not the sole or even most prominent means for God to communicate to us, or for us to experience his presence.

Let us look closely at the passage. The first thing Elijah experienced was the wind, but God was not in the wind. The fact that this is recorded is profound. He told Elijah he was about to pass by so we would assume God would be in the next thing to come by. You see Elijah had to be expecting God to be in the wind. The very name of God was known as a breath, it was a name no one could pronounce other than with a breath. But in this instance God was not in the wind, he was not found in the breath.

Next Elijah experiences an Earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake. Elijah, who at this point is completely exhausted, lost all hope for life hiding in a cave waiting for God to show up to save him; experiences and earthquake remembering that God had been present in earthquakes in the past gets up an walks outside the cave expecting the presence of God, but is left waiting yet again.

Then there comes a fire, surely God would be in the fire, for He had been in the burning bush, and in the pillar that lead the people of Israel to the promise land! But God was not in the fire. By this point Elijah had to begin to wonder when God was going to show up.

Finally God came in a still small voice, like a whisper. This is not what Elijah had been expecting, for God had not spoken or reviled himself to anyone though a whisper like voice ever before.

See, God reviles himself to different people in different ways. When we begin to expect God to show up in a certain way we are doing nothing but setting ourselves up to be disappointed. Im not saying that God is not unable to show up in the ways we expect Him to but I ask what do we do when He doesn’t? How do we respond to this when our spirit is dry and all we desire is to experience just the briefest presence of God? I challenge us to begin to be aware of how God is trying to speak to you this week. It maybe through the bible or devotional or worship music or the stillness, but maybe He is trying to talk to you though your friends, or though events you observe happening in the lives around you. Just know that when God does speak, and He will, there must be action that follows.

Sometimes I wonder how long Elijah was in the cave waiting for God to show up. The passage makes it sound like it was fairly simultanious, like something that could happen in 5 minutes time, but I tend to beleive that there could have been some significant time of waiting between events, where Elijah could continue to rest and just wait on the Lord.

Where does God have you? Are you resting in His cave waiting on the Lord? Have you already heard form the Lord? If you have are you moving on it? Have you found God to have provided when you move on the word of the Lord, just as the Lord had provided for Elijah?

Just know the thin silence can be anything to anyone it doesn’t always come in the form we expect it.

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