Someone once told me that if you are struggling to hear God’s voice, or if you don’t feel you can sense His leading, then go back to the last thing He spoke to you.
Elijah experienced the power of God in ways most of us can only imagine. On one occasion, the king (Ahab), accused him of being ‘the troubler of Israel’ (1 Kings 18: 17). Elijah, not one to back down even before the highest monarch in the land, then poured out a catalogue of wrongs committed by Ahab, including abandoning the Lord’s commands and leading the nation into idol worship.
Elijah then challenged the king to a showdown. ‘Bring me your best prophets of Baal and the nation will see who the real God is’ (my paraphrase).
So, crowds of people showed up from all over the country along with 450 representatives of the idol, Baal. You know the story: the Baal prophets and Elijah each set up an altar with a dead bull on top and each called upon their God to ignite the sacrifice by fire from Heaven.
So confident was Elijah in the Lord’s power and the foolishness of idol worship, that He even started teasing the prophets as they grew more desperate for their god to hear them: ‘Shout louder people, he’s a god, isn’t he? Maybe he’s just busy today, perhaps he has dozed off, or is travelling somewhere’ (1 Kings 18: 27, my paraphrase).
Elijah then made His sacrifice even harder to ignite, with copious amounts of water and, after a short prayer, the fire of God exploded onto the scene, as the people fell on their faces exclaiming, ‘The Lord – he is God!’
Elijah promptly had the prophets executed, prophesied an end to the nation’s famine and ran like a wild sprinter to Ahab’s hometown (Jezreel) just ahead of a heavy downpour.
Not bad for a day’s work, except that in Jezreel, Elijah received word from the king’s wife (Jezebel) that she will stop at nothing to ensure he is brutally executed.
Perhaps surprisingly, despite the miracles Elijah had just experienced, fear gripped his heart like a vice, and he ran for his life.
At first, the text of 1 Kings keeps us in suspense as to where he is headed. He leaves his servant in Beersheba, then continues alone into the desert, praying with a fearful and discouraged heart that God might take him. Eventually, he arrives at Horeb. Why here?
The author of 1 Kings tells us that this is the mountain of God – it is the same place as Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 commandments. Elijah hasn’t run away; he has run to the place where God speaks. The man of God fled to the one location he knows of where God words can be heard. Maybe God will speak here again – to him.
At Elijah’s lowest point (and even those who know God’s love and power experience those times), where a dark cloud threatened to envelop his soul, Elijah found his way to the place of God’s Word.
The good news is that God did speak again to Elijah and so, God can whisper words to you and me too. Perhaps we just need to go back to the mountain – to His Word. For some of us, that might be to the last thing He said.