The Power of His Whisper

Speak Tenderly” by Meghan Williams of Dyed4you Art

In pondering the story of Elijah, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18-19, I was struck by the fact that Elijah was overrun with the fear of Jezebel’s threats to overtake him and kill him. Her voice grew loud inside of him until it was all he heard, becoming his main focus. He ran for his life, feeling weary, discouraged, and exhausted. 

Shortly before this, God had miraculously and powerfully demonstrated to Elijah, the Israelites, and the prophets of Baal that He is the true God. There had been a spectacular showdown between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal: Both Elijah and the prophets of Baal were to build an altar and offer an ox as a sacrifice; yet neither was to light the fire to offer their sacrifice. Instead, each would call to his god, and whoseever god answered, burning up the sacrifice, was the True God. 

And now, just a little while later, Elijah is running for his life! Elijah runs to God’s mountain, where God has a powerful and tender encounter planned for him as He passes by Elijah. Let’s pick the story up directly from Scripture. 

1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) 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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”

Oxford Languages defines whisper: to speak softly, using one’s breath without one’s vocal cords, especially for the sake of privacy.   

Merriam-Webster defines whisper: to speak softly with little or no vibration of the vocal cords, especially to avoid being overheard.  

There are a few important significances to note here: 

  1. A whisper involves using your breath and not your vocal cords. Thinking of the breath of Creator God, He made Adam from the dust and then breathed into his nostrils, giving Adam life. If God is whispering, God’s breath is bringing something special; life from the breath of God. 
  2. God had Elijah go to a place where he could be still and listen (the mountain cave). Elijah was focused on waiting for God to pass by, not on Jezebel’s threats. Perhaps Elijah was expectantly waiting for God.
  3. When Elijah heard the still, small voice, he recognized that voice, that whisper, as the voice of God. He stepped out to meet Him—Elijah moved in closer to God. By coming close to hear His whisper, we, too, learn to recognize His voice and heartbeat for us in His whisper.
  4. Leaning in and getting closer to hear the whisper is a choice that creates intimacy between both parties.
  5. Becoming more intimate with God calls us to surrender our walls of self-protection and come under His wing.
  6. Leaning into God more brings you more into His presence. His presence is sweet and powerful. His presence changes us. You can’t be in His presence without being changed.

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