“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 11-12.
A little over 2,000 years ago, God spoke in the most inconspicuous way. He sent His Son to be born of a no-name teenage girl in a no-name town at just the right moment God had promised to send a Messiah, one who would save His people. He could have easily burst on the scene as a full grown man, a seven-foot warrior with fiery eyes and arms of steel. Or He could have been a mighty king, or a hero. Most people were expecting the Messiah as either a king, warrior or hero. But that was not God’s plan. The Messiah came as a whisper, a very small package, wrapped in rags, given from the heart of God; the perfect gift.
There is a story in the first half of the Bible that relates Elijah’s experience of hearing God speak to him in a whisper. 1 Kings chapter 19 relates the story: Elijah is dejected saying that “…The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10) Then in verse 11: “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” As we read in the passage above that God is not in the wind, or in a earthquake, or in a fire. God is in a gentle whisper.
So why does God speak to us through a whisper? Perhaps God speaks to us in a whisper because He is close. He doesn’t need to speak any louder. You don’t shout when you’re close to someone. You talk at the appropriate volume. Paul explains in Acts: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.” (Acts 17:26-28, NIV).
The Messiah was born in a whisper in Bethlehem all those years ago. But if we listen closely, we can still hear the soft whisper of God today. We can hear that still small voice that says, “Do not be afraid. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you.” God is close enough to each of us to whisper.
- What is the “still small voice?” Why would God whisper instead of shout?
- Do you listen for the still small voice?
- What are the benefits of listening for the still small voice?