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Bible Question and Answer

Why did God speak to Elijah in a still small voice, rather than in the wind, earthquake, and fire?

Bob Prichard

Topic(s): Old Testament

Following his great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), Elijah fled into the wilderness. Because he had killed the prophets of Baal, Jezebel sent the message, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time (1 Kings 19:2). When God asked Elijah why he had fled, he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away (1 Kings 19:10). Elijah thought he was the only faithful man left in Israel: I, even I only, am left.

God said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind<: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13).

No doubt Elijah thought of the experiences of Moses, to whom God appeared, and especially the occasion when God demonstrated His presence on Mount Sinai in smoke, and earthquakes, and fire (Exodus 19). In the great contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, God had decisively demonstrated His power by sending fire from heaven to consume the altar (1 Kings 18:38). The victory was all the more impressive because Elijah was outnumbered four hundred and fifty to one, and the pagan god Baal was supposed to be the god of thunder and lightning. The victory of the Lord showed that Baal was no god at all.

God spoke to Elijah, not in the power of the wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a still small voice. God wanted Elijah to know that He is much more than a storm god. He is powerful, and controls all nature, but He often spoke to the prophets in the quietness of the day. It is not the fire, wind, and earthquake that show the power of God, but the truth of His Word. Elijah thought he was the only faithful man left, but God said, Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him (1 Kings 19:18). He also told Elijah to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, Jehu to be king over Israel, and Elisha to be the prophet to succeed him. Elisha immediately left to serve God, anointing Elisha and understanding that though things had seemed bleak, he was not the only faithful man left in Israel. In the midst of the storms of life, we still find peace in the still small voice of His Word.

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Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Matthew 28:19
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