Today’s first passage comes from the Book of Kings:
9 And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Eli′jah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke 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; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Eli′jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Eli′jah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Haz′ael to be king over Syria; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Eli′sha the son of Shaphat of A′bel-meho′lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And him who escapes from the sword of Haz′ael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Eli′sha slay. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Ba′al, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
(1 Kings 19:9-18)
There a several important points to be grasped in this passage, but the one I want to focus on is in the middle, when God passes by Elijah. In telling us that God wasn’t in the overpowering events that swept by the cave, but in the quietest of sounds, Scripture is teaching us that God works in quiet deeds as much as mighty ones. We are reminded that signs of His presence can appear in all things, great and small. We shouldn’t focus on the “big things” in life, but instead look for, and accept, that He is everywhere, when when we least expect it. In fact, it is a common theme throughout Scripture that God’s presence was not recognize by his people.
This is taken a step further in the Book of Isaiah, who provides another account of the faithful failing to notice what is before their very eyes:
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Of course, Christians understand exactly whom this passage referred to: Jesus of Nazareth, or God among us. God walked amongst his people, as foretold in prophecy, and yet His people did not see, or understand this. They saw only a man, nothing more. This is because they had closed their hearts, and their minds, to what God intended. Rather, they had their own ideas on what to look for, on what to expect from the one who was to come. They expected the mighty presence of an earthquake or fire, not the quiet voice. They looked for a lion, not a lamb. If we are not careful, if we let our pride and our own desires interfere with our senses, then we too will fail to observe God’s presence in our lives. We must learn to open our eyes, and see what is true, and not what we expect.