Wind, Earthquake, and Fire (Devotional Article)

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JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
While on a recent trip in Scotland, I was deeply struck by the words of one of our Highland ministers who said, "œI rarely pray for revival". After gathering my chin from my lap, I asked him why not. He began to tell me how profoundly difficult it is to minister to a people who, because of past awakenings in their history, think the only way one can know if the Lord has truly done a work in the heart, is to have a sudden, powerful, dramatic, and effectual move of the Holy Spirit upon the soul in revival. Anything short of this is met, not with hostility, but with suspicion and doubt. Now don't get me wrong, this dear brother was not saying we should stop praying for revival. What he was saying however was that he longed for the slow, steady, regular, and even mundane (I use that word respectfully) ways in which Christ normally grows his Church. His point stuck with me the whole trip, and I was left asking myself this question several times since, "œHas my desire to see revival spoiled me for the regular work of the Church?" I was reminded that God has often used the everyday, the regular and the mundane to convey His sovereignty and magnificence. This He did with Elijah on Mt. Horeb.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah, who had just witnessed one of the truly great miracles of the Old Testament was commanded by the Lord to go and wait for Him at "œHoreb the mount of God" (19:9).

Verses 11-12 tell us,

And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake 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: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.


The Wind

The wind had been the tool of the Lord before, so why not now in Elijah's case? We are no doubt reminded of the words found in Job 38:1, "œThen the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" God used the wind to judge Egypt and Babylon (Exo 10:13; Jer 51:1), part the Read Sea (Exo 14:21), provide nourishment (Num 11:31), revive His covenant (Eze 37:9), send his Spirit (Act 2:2), and judge the world (Rev 7:1). Why not here in this text? Might this be the way in which the Lord decided to speak to Elijah on the mountain? What was Elijah thinking as the wind tore the rocks before him? Judgment on Jezebel (1Ki 18)? Indignation on the idolaters (18:40)? Revival for the 7000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal (1 Kin 19:18)? But here, "œthe LORD was not in the wind."

The Earthquake

Next we see that a great earthquake shook the place where the prophet stood. This same mountain had trembled before. In the days of Moses, "œMount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." The awe an earthquake inspires can make the strongest man weak. Was Jehovah about to shake the nations? This mighty shaking has been attributed to Jehovah's presence (Jdg 5:4), His Judgment (Isa 29:6), His salvation (Mat 28:2), and the end of the age (Mat 24:7). It is also widely known that such physical signs and premonitory upheavals would accompany the closing conflict between the powers of light and darkness (Isa 24:20; Zec 14:4; Mat 24:7). What powerful works could the Lord do with His mighty shaking? What kingdoms would fall, what rulers tremble? Was Elijah looking for the Lord in the shaking of His Judgment at this time? No for, "œthe LORD was not in the earthquake."

The Fire

After the wind and the earthquake, Elijah is confronted once again with fire from heaven. No doubt Elijah was remembering of his recent victory over the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Was the Lord coming now, not to consume a bullock, but His enemies (Psalm 37:20)? Was he coming to purifying Elijah by testing and proving (Mal 3:2)? Perhaps He was sending Elijah zeal as a result of the filling by the Spirit akin to the believers at Pentecost (Acts 2; Isa 4:4)? Was this fire to refine? To test? To judge? To cleanse? None of these, for "œthe LORD was not in the fire."

The Still Small Voice

After a raging wind, a mighty earthquake, and fire from heaven, there is then silence in the ear of Elijah. And somewhere in the recesses of his soul he hears what the translators of the AV call, a still small voice. What does "œa still small voice" mean? Literally it means, "œa sound of soft stillness." John Gill says, "œnot rough, but gentle, more like whispering than roaring; something soft, easy, and musical." This is how the Lord spoke to Elijah. Why this way? Why not in the mighty deeds of God's awesome power? I think in part to remind His tired prophet, that God works just as efficiently through the seemingly unimpressive as he does through the spectacular.

Though wind, earthquake, and fire shook the mountain, it was the still small voice that made Elijah cover his face (a sign of holy reverence). It was the still small voice of God that gripped Elijah with the majesty of God's holiness. So often we are looking for God in the wind, earthquake, and fire of life, we forget that he still speaks to us in "gentle whispers." Much like Job who said, "œIt stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying"(Job 4:16).

How often in life are we as believers looking for God in the mighty, the powerful, and the incredible? In revivals and awakenings, scouring the earth for the next wave of God's power to be felt. We live in a generation that is enamored with the elaborate and immense, that discards the small and seemingly insignificant. Was Elijah so accustomed to God moving in a majestic display of power (after fire from heaven), that he needed to be reminded that although Jehovah was a God of the wind, earthquake and fire, he was also the God of the ordinary? Perhaps. Are we not like Elijah here?

Is it possible that at times, we are so transfixed by the echoes of the past, and looking so hard for God in the phenomenal that we miss His still small voice? We feel like Elijah at times, wanting to crawl under a Juniper and call it quits. But remember friends, it is "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zec 4:6).

While we do not hear the audible voice of God any longer, we still hear His gentle whispers in His providence: in our Lord's Day services (the preaching, reading, and singing of His Word), in the Lord's Supper, baptism, mid week meetings, Bible studies, prayer meetings, session meetings, deacons courts, presbyteries, family worship, private devotions, conferences, and retreats. No, it is not all the drama and excitement of a Cambuslang Revival, but it is His usual way. If we would just be still and know that He is God (Psa 46:10).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "œI pray daily for revival", but never saw it. Truth be known, God does not normally send revival, but he does speak to us directly every time in His Word (if we are listening). It is the still small voice of His Spirit in the text. Are you listening? Are you placing yourself in a closet (as it were), daily, to seek out the still small voice of God? Do you take the Psalmist´s instruction "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still " (Psa 4:4)?

Conclusion

God does still move dramatically at times within the Church, so we will continue to pray for revival in Canada (something we have never seen). But until revival comes, we need to labour as if it never will, and remember to listen to the still small voice of the Lord in the normal routine of His providence. "œSow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).

By Rev. Jerrold H. Lewis
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks for posting that Jerrold, I really enjoyed it.

:up::up:

I often think that what the church needs more than revival is reformation. It seems to me that the latter more includes the ordinary means you mention in your article. May God grant us grace, so that the plough-boy will know his bible, and practice what it says as well as the theologian.
 
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