There is a story in 1 Kings 19:11-13 where God speaks to the Prophet Elijah about Himself and the power of a voice. Elijah is discouraged because the people are not responding to God and they are aggressive and living solely for themselves. So, God brings Elijah to the mountain for a lesson in knowing God. There is a great windstorm, but God was not found in the power of the air. There was an earthquake, but God was not found in the shaking of the earth. Then came the fire, but God was not found in the consumption of the fire. Ultimately, God spoke in a small voice or as some versions translate it, a ‘quiet whisper.’
Our world has many voices, most of which try to be the wind, the earthquake, and the fire … few speak in tones of a ‘quiet whisper.’ But the irony of knowing God is knowing Him not in the shock and awe of His power, but in the gentleness of His voice. Mankind wants the power of the air, the shaking of the earth, and the consumption of the fire in order to make their voices known and heard. But God wants us to know Him in a way that goes beyond the display of how loud the voices in the world have to become to have their influence.
I think of the anger that drives much of our society today. The anger of injustice, the anger over inequality, and the anger of revenge or retaliation. These become the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, but they do not represent the ‘quiet whisper’ of God. His whisper to us is about forgiveness, mercy, and love. Healing does not come from the torrential wind and rain. Nor does it come in the devastation of the earth shifting its stability, and fire comes only to destroy. The voices in our world are about the crises that are created by the influence of an agenda of anger and inequality. These voices have captured the majority of the people and have convinced them that the inequality in our world is a cause to fight against. As noble as it may sound, inequality isn’t a condition you influence by the wind, the earthquake, or the fire … you fight it by listening to the still, small voice of God.
What is that small voice telling us?
1. We truly live in forgiveness. It is in forgiveness that inequality is addressed. If all we do is fight inequality with the strength of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, we will only entrench it deeper into our society. You cannot overcome a crisis with a crisis … you must overcome evil by doing good. God restores with His forgiveness, and that is where we need to start if we are listening to His ‘quiet whisper.’
2. We live in mercy. God tells us that He deserves mercy from His people.
Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
The Prophet Micah tells us what God requires of us, and it is often what we hear Him whisper to us … to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
3. We live in surrender. Only God has the answers to life, and there is nothing that can compare to His ways in living successful lives. But it takes surrender to His ways to take advantage of them. God’s ‘quiet whisper’ helps us to sort through the delusion of self-importance and places the emphasis back on knowing God and keeping His ways.
4. We live to listen. Listening is the most active characteristic of someone who knows God. As James writes:
James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
If God’s method is not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the ‘quiet whisper,’ then listening is how we take advantage of paying attention to what God is saying to us. When the voices of this world speak to influence people with volumes of words to support an agenda, the only way to know truth is to listen to God. His Words are different and the emphasis is different. His Words reconcile, restore, and renew hope. His Words bring healing to the hurting and challenge the anger that is only designed to destroy.
That still small voice doesn’t just happen … it is pursued. God speaks all the time, but we often get in the way and fail to pay attention. If we want truth, we must exchange our anger, our opinions, and our perspective for that ‘quiet whisper’ of God.
It is by listening to God that we understand a perspective worth giving our lives for in order to defend the truth.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler