Firepower with a Whisper – May 26, 2023
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.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13
Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:11-13
See series: Military Devotions
“Come Holy Spirit, renew our hearts, and kindle in us the power of your love.”
Thus, we invite God the Holy Spirit to come into our lives to revive and inspire us. We remember the time he came upon the crowd in Jerusalem. He appeared with the sound of a violent wind and tongues of fire. As a result, each person in a crowd with sixteen different languages heard the words of the others in his own native language.
This was firepower from heaven.
It might lead us to expect a dramatic display of power whenever the LORD goes into action. That’s what happens when humans unleash firepower. The exploding shells cause shock waves. Flames and smoke rise into the sky. The burst of power does not go unnoticed.
But now, along with Elijah, we are taught the arrival of heavenly firepower is not always dramatic or even visible. Sometimes, it comes as gently as a whisper.
The prophet had recently witnessed an amazing demonstration of divine firepower. He had challenged 450 prophets of the idol, Baal, to a test. Two altars with two sacrifices, each with dry wood, were set up. “You call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD,” Elijah told them. “The god who answers by fire—he is God!”
All day long, the Baal worshipers begged their idol to light the fire. Nothing happened.
When it was his turn, Elijah ordered water to be poured onto his altar and firewood again and again and again. Then he prayed, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God.”
We are told, “Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).
That’s the kind of response we like to see from the Holy One in heaven. That’s like the Pentecost miracle in Jerusalem. But that seldom happens. Probably none of us have ever seen something like that. And yet, Jesus has promised us that the Holy Spirit would be with us.
Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit show himself to us so we can be assured of his powerful presence?
Could the answer be that he does not want to? Is it that simple? Could it be that he does not need to? Might it be that he knows best how to carry out his soul-stirring, life-saving work?
The dramatic demonstration did not assure Elijah for very long. Shortly afterward, he is in a cave very depressed. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life” (1 Kings 19:4).
Not what happened outside of himself, but what the Holy Spirit would do inside of him was the critical work. There is where faith lived. In his soul dwelt the hope and joy that could overflow into his daily life.
No explosions, no fireworks, no drama—the Holy Spirit comes to human hearts as softly and gently as a whisper.
Sometimes, we may see evidence of God at work in our lives. When we look back in time, we may detect that it was during some of our worst days that his power was poured out in the greatest way.
Jesus once said, “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33).
Not as exciting as a violent wind. Not as obvious as flames appearing from heaven. But just as real. Just as certain. The Holy Spirit brings to us firepower from heaven.
We sing to our Savior God, “Come not in terrors, as the King of kings, but kind and good, with healing in thy wings.”
May God the Holy Spirit visit us with his love!
Come Holy Spirit, renew our hearts,
and kindle in us the power of your love. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- Why are humans more apt to believe a lie than the truth?
- Why is it easier for us to hate our enemies than to love them—despite what God says?
- It has been said, “God’s greatest power is his love.” Would we agree?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Stillwater, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.