At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing 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 there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. First Kings 9, 11-13
I say to Michael (Bishop Beckett) all the time “did you hear that?” he says, “hear what?” Everybody hears and listens differently. Some people can hear grass grow, and some people cannot hear bombs going off next to them. But this is not the kind of listening God was telling Elijah to use. I believe God wanted Elijah to listen with his heart, not with his ears. When you want to hear what God has to say to you, just shut the rest of the world out and listen with your mind and heart. God was showing Elijah that He was not in the crushing rocks, or the earthquake, the fire, or anything else that was happening around him. God wanted Elijah to clear his mind, relax, and open his mind up to God. God was in the whisper, that little tiny voice you hear when you lay down in bed at night and start going to sleep. God is in that voice you hear when you are sitting by a quiet lake just enjoying nature; that little voice in the back of your head that gets you thinking about things. That is God talking to you. He is not going to open the clouds up and be a booming loud voice that shakes the ground and knocks acorns out of trees. I believe that God reserves that booming voice for when He is upset or giving out laws and orders for all His people. Instead of the booming voice, that little whisper is when He is speaking directly to you. When He is speaking directly to you, you are the only one that can hear Him. You could be in a football stadium with 30,000 other people, and you will still be the only one who hears Him. Some people call it your conscience: well possibly when your conscience is bothering you that could be God telling you something. Listen to that conscience voice and reflect on it and think about what it is telling you.
The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work. I have always heard that “God works in mysterious ways.” Wouldn’t hearing quiet whispers be more mysterious than a loud booming voice coming from the heavens. I believe the loud booming voice would be scary, while the quiet whisper would be comforting.
The difference between God speaking through the thunder and the whirlwind, than through the still, small voice, can be also considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and grace. The law is a voice of terrible words and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended by an earthquake (Hebrews 12:18–24), but the gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and the free gift of salvation through Christ. The law breaks the rocky hearts of men into pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of God’s fiery wrath and the punishment they deserve, and then the Gospel speaks gently to them of the peace and pardon available in Christ.
Listen to the little whisper, the quiet voice, that little voice in your head, it is most likely the Lord giving you some advice, encouragement, or guidance. The point is not how God speaks to us, but what we do with what he tells us. Do not ignore it; listen with all your heart.
Father, teach us to open our hearts and listen to the small still voice; teach us to hear your words of encouragement and guidance. Let us learn to be still and quiet so that we can hear that tiny whispering sound in the still of the night that is Your calming voice reassuring us that we will be loved and comforted by you. Amen