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The Gentle Voice Calms Our Fears

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Sermon on 1 Kings 19:9-18 for Christian Education Sunday

Various situations in our life arise when we need to use a strong firm voice. Outside at recess teachers need to be loud in order to call the students in to get back to class. When we see someone in the line of danger, we will want to use a firm voice to warn of what is coming. At other times a soft, gentle voice might be called for. When a child rushes into their parent’s room after a bad dream, the parents will not yell. They will speak softly to that child to alleviate their fears. A mother sings in a quiet voice to a newborn while putting them down for a nap. A soft voice does the trick in these situations.

A soft soothing voice goes a long way to make a person feel comfortable and at ease. A gentle word of encouragement reassures a person that everything will be okay. Today, God speaks to a prophet, not with a booming voice, but with a gentle whisper. In the same manner God continues to come to us with a soothing whisper producing the same result.

The Gentle Voice Calms Our Fears

  1. It points us to his strength.
  2. It reminds us he is in control.

 Elijah had enough. Perhaps no other prophet experienced a roller coaster of emotions in such a short time. He preached and spent his time in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The spiritual condition was less than stellar for these people. The kings of Israel introduced worship of various false gods. The people forgot all about the true God and followed their own desires. At the time of Elijah Baal, promoted by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, was the God of choice.

About a month before our lesson Elijah thought a turning point took place. He battled the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel. At the end of this face off Elijah thought the tide would change to the worship of the true God once more. God won this battle decisively. Fire came down from heaven engulfing the altar and sacrifice. Elijah waited for the people to make an exodus from Baal worship back to God. Yet, his joy was short lived. The very next day Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life.

Elijah fled. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him. God knew the journey was too tough. Elijah needed strength, and more than any human hand could provide. The Angel of the Lord prepared a meal for Elijah. After eating Elijah ran for forty days and nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Elijah still did not know what the future held. He spent the night wrestling with his thoughts. He wondered if he should still go on. The strength of Elijah slowly withered away. Then God came to him, “Why are you here, Elijah” (I Kings 19:9)? Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life” (I Kings 19:10).

Elijah had no idea why he was here. He felt like all his effort was in vain. He preached, taught, prayed, and did everything else the Lord wanted. It all seemed to no avail. The Israelites constantly fell away. Every prophet sent to them would be killed. Elijah had no strength to go on. He felt like throwing in the towel and having God bring him home to heaven.

God knew Elijah needed a little pick me up. “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is passing by” (I Kings 19:11). God would come to Elijah to pick him up in his moment of weakness. First a powerful wind came shattering the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. An earthquake shook the ground underneath Elijah’s feet, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Fire came, but the Lord was not in the fire either. In all of these powerful shows of force the Lord remained hidden.

All of a sudden a soft, whispering voice came. Elijah immediately pulled his cloak over his head. He knew who came. Here the Lord appeared to him. Again the Lord asked, “Why are you here, Elijah” (I Kings 19:13)? Elijah repeated his same concerns. God told him work still needed to be done. He gave him two kings to anoint and a prophet to take his spot. Elijah had to trust in God’s strength and not his own to get all these things done. In the moment of his weakness, God picked Elijah up. With a soft soothing whisper God reassured Elijah that all would be okay.

Do we have our hardships in life? Do we sometimes feel like we are all alone? Do we sometimes feel like God’s plans will no longer come to fruition? Does our strength leave us fatigued? Stop me when it sounds all too familiar. We experience those feelings all too often in life.

The world no longer listens to God. People forsake God to follow after the gods of materialism and fame. They tear down his altars by no longer wanting to come to church because they have other things to do. Christian education no longer is a priority it once was. All seems hopeless. Everything stands against us.

We ask God for some kind of sign that all will be okay. The problem is we want something really big from God. We want a sign with all the bells and whistles for all to see. God, if you really are in control then let us know somehow. We want God to come in the form of an earthquake, strong wind, or fire. We want all our enemies and stumbling blocks eliminated. When those signs fail to appear, our strength fails right along with it.

We spend so much time looking for those big signs that we easily miss the gentle whisper. God speaks to us in the simple words of the gospel message. They seem so simple, almost forgotten. However, those words pack a punch. We need to listen to that soft soothing whisper God brings to us.

Through those words of the gospel message God tells us he died for our sins. He reassures us that we are his children. God tells us to lean on his strength and not on our own. Our flesh leaves us weak. God comes to us and feeds us with his Word and his body and blood in communion. With these God lifts us up. He tells us to rely on his strength to accomplish what he has planned for us.

Listen to that gentle whisper! It points us to God’s strength. The gentle whisper also reminds us that God is always in control.

Elijah felt like the only one left. He could not see the fruit of all his labors. He felt like his preaching and teaching produced no results. He only saw the hatred and disdain many people had for God. God again came to him reminding him that he is in control, “But I have preserved in Israel seven thousand whose knees have not bent to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18).

Even though Elijah could not see it, God has his remnant in the land of Israel. Elijah’s preaching and teaching were not in vain. God’s Word would always accomplish the purpose for which he sent it. Not everyone in Israel chased after foreign gods. Everyone had not deserted for Baal. Seven thousand people remained faithful to God.

Elijah had work to do. Those seven thousand people needed to be fed. They needed to be strengthened. They needed leadership from someone. God was still in control and would not lose his faithful believers from the earth.

God’s work of faithful preaching and teaching continues today. We might think our efforts are in vain. We invite our neighbor to church time and time again. Each time they say they want to come. However, every week they never join us on Sunday morning. Pastors faithfully preach law and gospel. However, so many people continue to follow their own desires. They do not want to listen or come to church. Teachers feel like students would rather be playing video games than being in the classrooms. They talk with their friends about plans for the weekend, but they remain silent when answering questions about basic Bible history.

We might think all our efforts are in vain. We feel like giving up. Listen to that gentle whisper. God is still in control. God calls us to proclaim the gospel message. We cannot change hearts; the Holy Spirit does that. That invitation plants the seed. The fruit might not be seen for a while. The pastors proclaim law and gospel knowing that this is what God called them to do. Teachers do what they do because they want students to have the firm foundation in education, especially Christian education.

It all comes back to the question, “Why are we here?” I am not speaking about that philosophical question of why and where we come from. I am speaking about what is my purpose? Why am I in this place at this time? God has put us here. God has a plan for us. God has work for us to get done. We are here to proclaim God’s truths. We are here to pass down God’s word to future generations. We are here to do his work.

As we go about our work, listen to the gentle whisper. God brings his comfort to us calming all our fears. He tells us to trust in his strength. He reminds us that he is always in control. Amen.

 

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