Week 3-The Whisper in the Circumstance!
When We Listen to The Whisper in The Circumstance God’s Glory Can Be Revealed!
When difficulties arise in our lives we have a few options in our thinking: we can believe God is unhappy with us or we can search for His whisper in the difficulty. God speaking in our circumstances is a way He communicates to us to make us aware of His presence and His activity. Listen when the circumstances are difficult. That may be when His voice is most recognizable.
1 Kings 19:4
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:9-12
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
What was something your parents often told you that you didn’t appreciate at the time?
Why is it we tend to hear God more when things are going bad rather than when they are good?
Tell about a difficult circumstance where you heard God speak to you?
After the great victory over the prophets of Baal, why do you think Elijah was discouraged?
Look at verses 10-14. God asked Elijah essentially the same question twice, but what do you think was different about Elijah’s responses?
God can obviously speak with His “outside voice”, through fire and earthquakes. Why do you think He chooses sometimes to whisper?
Jesus, thank you that no matter how alone I feel sometimes you are here and you never leave. Please help me to recognize your whisper through all the circumstances that come my way, whether easy or difficult? When you speak help me to lean even closer and recognize your voice. Amen!
Have you ever come to a point of loneliness and depression where you have approached God like Elijah? What do you do in those moments? In what ways does God meet you where you’re at?
What are some things you could practically do to get better at hearing God’s voice?
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1 Kings 19:1-18
19:1. Once King Ahab arrived in Jezreel, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done. He recounted Elijah’s proposal, the failure of Baal to respond to the prayers of his prophets, God’s incredible display of power, the people’s response, and the slaughter of all the prophets of Baal. Jezebel could look outside and see Elijah’s prophecy of rain also had come true.
19:2. Hearing Ahab’s account, Jezebel viewed Elijah’s action as a vicious attack on her god Baal, something she refused to tolerate. She sent a messenger to Elijah, vowing he would die as had the prophets of Baal. As Elijah ran to Jezreel (18:46), he must have been overjoyed at God’s great victory over Baal. The people had recognized the Lord as Victor and had acclaimed Him as their God (18:39). Surely Ahab also had been convinced that Baal did not exist and should not be worshiped. Elijah probably expected to return to Jezreel as a victorious prophet. Jezebel’s message crushed his joyful celebration.
19:3. Elijah responded to Jezebel’s threat with fear and ran for his life. Elijah’s flight might have indicated a lack of strength to continue the fight against Baalism and Jezebel or a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect him from Jezebel. His victory had turned into defeat.
Many characters in the Bible experienced fear, including Abraham (Gen. 26:7), Jacob (32:11), Joshua (Jos. 8:1), and Peter (Gal. 2:12). We also face fear and sometimes, as Elijah, we seek to escape from frightening situations. When we allow threats to intimidate our faith, we cannot see how God can help us; fear then can overwhelm us.
Elijah traveled south through Israel and Judah and arrived at Beersheba (bee ehr SHEE buh), the southernmost boundary of Judah. There Elijah left his servant, probably the same young man who had reported to Elijah on the status of the gathering rain clouds (1 Kings 18:43-44). Elijah’s dismissal of his servant indicated his intention to abandon his prophetic ministry. He would no longer need a servant.
19:4. Alone, Elijah traveled another day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, a small shrub, and sought shelter in its meager shade. Elijah prayed that he might die. He had had enough of standing alone for God. He had grown tired of facing one enemy of God after another. He believed his service for God had been in vain. He, as his ancestors, had failed to lead Israel to a permanent commitment to the Lord. In his depressed state, death seemed the best alternative.
Sometimes we may think biblical figures did not experience the same problems we do. James’s statement that Elijah was like us emphasizes Elijah’s humanity (Jas. 5:17). It shows, however, that God can use us ordinary people in wonderful ways as he used Elijah. Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah were not superhuman. They wrestled with temptation, experienced failure, felt fear, and struggled with depression, even as all of us do at times.
19:5. The past three years in Elijah’s life had been trying and exhausting. As a known opponent of Baal, he topped Ahab and Jezebel’s list of troublemakers (1 Kings 18:17). Although God had miraculously provided nourishment for him (17:6,15-16), he had watched his people suffer through the drought and still not repent and trust in the Lord. God’s impressive victory on Mount Carmel had filled Elijah with joy and confidence, but that evaporated with Jezebel’s threat. Within a short time he had journeyed approximately 100 miles, passing beyond the boundary of Judah and into the wilderness.
Physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion finally caught up with Elijah. He lay down under the shrub’s shade and fell asleep. Believers are not immune to exhaustion and depression. Sometimes we exhaust ourselves through Christian service, spending all our time ministering to others without spending enough time with God and at rest. At other times the demands and stresses of life can take their toll. With no physical energy to face or complete tasks, we can despair of ever getting them done. With no mental energy, we cannot think clearly and can become discouraged when we cannot make sound decisions. With no spiritual energy, we lose sight of our divine source of strength.
In Elijah’s time of need, God provided for him. God sent an angel who touched Elijah and told him to get up and eat. As God miraculously had cared for Elijah earlier (17:6,15-16), so He did again.
19:6. Elijah roused from his sleep and saw a freshly baked cake of bread and a jar of water. God provided the basic necessities for His servant. Elijah did not awaken to find a multicourse meal, a freshly drawn bath, and a warm bed. Elijah awoke to find hope. In the last few days, Jezebel’s threat and the apparent ineffectiveness of his ministry had overwhelmed and depressed him. Now he realized God had not given up on him. The food and water brought hope but did not cure his exhaustion or depression. After eating and drinking, he lay down again.
19:9. God, who had spoken to Moses and Israel at Horeb centuries before, spoke to Elijah. He asked Elijah what he was doing at Horeb. While we might think God spoke to Elijah in a stern, accusing manner, He probably did not. God knew what Elijah had been through. Out of His great compassion, God encouraged Elijah to tell Him exactly what he was thinking. Of course, God knew.
19:10. Elijah held nothing back. He told the Lord he had been very zealous for Him. By contrast, the Israelites had rejected God’s covenant, destroyed altars dedicated to the worship of God, and killed God’s prophets. Elijah thought he alone remained of all God’s prophets, and Jezebel had turned her full attention to killing him too. As Elijah reflected on his ministry, he could see nothing but a great investment of time and commitment for God that had produced little results.
19:11-13. God first reveals His presence to Elijah in His greatness and power, but He did not speak from that position. The Lord instead spoke to Elijah in a soft whisper, showing Himself to be a God who communicates via a still, small voice as well as powerful displays.
19:15-16. God’s commands first pointed to judgment. Elijah was to anoint Hazael as king over Aram, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as his own successor. God was still controlling events.
19:17. This command indicated the extent of God’s judgment—death at the hands of Hazael, death at the hands of Jehu, and death even at the hands of Elisha through His pronouncements of judgment.
19:18. The second part of God’s response gave hope. God still had 7,000 people through whom He could work in the future.