Looking for the Razzle Dazzle — Adam’s Angle

Elijah knew about spiritual bling. That is to say, he was used to God showing up in big ways during his life.

By his word he held back rain from falling for years on end. He multiplied flour and oil. He was greeted by whirlwinds and flaming chariots. He raised the dead. It seemed like every time he turned the corner God was working another miracle in his life.

We wish we were just like him. We’d like to see the power of God unleashed every time we get in a jam. Neighbor playing his radio too loud? Zap! A quick lightning bolt would shut off his power. Short on cash? Squawk! A sea gull would drop a roll of 20 dollar bills at your feet, then fly away. But is that how God works?

Sometimes, maybe — God can work however He chooses. But as even Elijah had to learn, God sometimes gives solutions in less-than-flashy packages.

Showdown at the O.K. Corral

It had been a busy week for Elijah. He had just finished up a spiritual shoot out with the prophets of Baal and Ashherah on Mount Carmel. You remember the story, it was 850 false prophets vs. one true prophet. Fire fell. People repented. The false prophets were slain. God won quite a victory.

But in the aftermath, there was no rest for the prophet. The wicked queen, Jezebel, was incensed that the prophets of her religion were slaughtered. She sent a message to Elijah, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them” (1 Kings 19:2). Elijah was spooked, and he ran for his life.

He fled first into the desert where he reached his wit’s end. He prayed that he would die: “I have had enough, LORD. . .take my life” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah was exhausted and needed some strength. How would God provide for him?

Just one chapter earlier, the Spirit of the LORD came upon him to energize him when he needed to run. In fact, he ran so fast he zipped past Ahab’s chariot, even though the prophet was on foot (see 18:44-46). But that wasn’t the case this time. God didn’t send power from on high to charge him up. Instead, He gave him two square meals and plenty of time to sleep (1 Kings 19:5-8). Seems like a rather un-spiritual solution, doesn’t it?

But apparently Elijah didn’t get it yet. He was still looking for the razzle-dazzle solution to his current problem with Jezebel chasing after him. His solution? Flee to Mount Horeb, where he expected big things to happen.

What’s So Special About Mount Horeb?

But why, of all places, would Elijah run to Mount Horeb? Well, one reason is that it was the same place where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-2). If Jezebel was going to send her armies after him, Elijah might as well make his last stand where God was known to show up in a mighty way. Surely the showdown on Mount Carmel was nothing compared to what was about to take place.

To me, Elijah’s own words suggest that (in his exhausted state of mind) he thought he was about to face his own Alamo. When God asks him what he’s doing there, he says, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:10). But was another fiery blowout on a mountaintop God’s solution for Elijah? Not this time.

God had a solution for Elijah, but He wanted to give him a little lesson first. He told him to exit the cave he was in to stand in the presence of the LORD as He passed by. We know this story well. God sent a mighty wind, but God was not in the wind. God then sent an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. God then sent a fire (at last, this must be it, right, Elijah? After all, this is where God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and now you’ve got a fire outside). Nope. God wasn’t in the fire either.

Then Elijah heard a whisper, and he realized it was time to step out of the cave and into the presence of God.

God wasn’t in the big stuff — this time. He was in a soft whisper. And, God’s solution for the Jezebel problem was not quite the fanfare Elijah expected. God told him to anoint some new rulers and the prophet Elisha. Those rulers and Elisha would take care of the situation.

Your Un-spiritual Solution

Well, what does all this mean to you and me? It means we shouldn’t knock a solution just because it doesn’t seem super-spiritual. God uses ordinary stuff, too.

Are you in debt? Maybe your solution is getting a job. Do you want to marry a godly spouse? Maybe your solution is trying a Christian dating Web site. Are you spending hours on end wondering if you’re actually saved or not? Maybe you need to get 10 hours sleep and a good square meal (like Elijah) to make sure you’re thinking clearly.

Want to call me un-spiritual? Go ahead, I’ve been called worse. I’m not saying we should jettison prayer or trusting in God or belief in miracles. What I am saying is that God can use the little stuff just as easily as He can use the big stuff because all things are His.

— Adam Pivec
5/24/08