Prophet Elijah on Mt Horeb

(1 Kings 19:1-16)


One story of the Prophet Elijah particularly stands out from his life. Elijah was on the run – almost the whole of Israel had embraced paganism and no one who held to the true faith was safe. The Prophets were particularly a target. Elijah must have truly thought he was the only faithful servant of God left, and so he fled into the desert and was immediately overcome by profound despair. Our Lord then took compassion upon him and sent an angel to encourage him. Strengthened spiritually and physically, Elijah walked to Mt Horeb, fasting as he went. He did not know what to do; he was hoping that God would give him an answer.

Mt Horeb is significant because it is another name for Mt Sinai – the mountain so closely associated with Moses. God was present there – God had spoken there. Elijah would have known this, and so spent the night on the mountain in a cave. Indeed, God spoke to him asking what he was doing there. Elijah poured out his complaint before the Lord. At that time, no answer was given to him other than that he should leave the cave: “Go out tomorrow and stand on the mountain before the Lord; and behold, the Lord will pass by” (1 Kings 19:11).

When Elijah left the cave, God sent a powerful wind that started to tear the mountain apart – but God was not in the wind. He then sent an earthquake that shook the very ground under Elijah’s feet – but the Lord God was not in the earthquake. He then sent fire, like He had earlier sent on Mount Carmel at the time of Elijah’s greatest victory – but God was not in the fire. Finally, something far more insignificant happened – some English translations call it “a still, small voice”, others “a gentle whisper”. In Greek, it is written as «φωνὴ αὔρας λεπτῆς» – the sound of a gentle breeze. And behold, God was in the breeze – a moment in which Prophet Elijah profoundly experienced the Lord’s peace.

He had learnt that to truly serve God, particularly in times of anxiety and persecution, requires the ability to listen. His despair, which was due in this case to trusting in himself, was entirely overcome. Elijah not only received a new call from God, but also the strength, the grace and the wisdom to accomplish it. This new mission was a little different to the one which had so overwhelmed him before – he was to anoint new leaders for the people, and Elisha as his own successor as prophet. Before this encounter with God on Mt Horeb, this task seemed utterly impossible. But now, having experienced the might of the “gentle breeze” of the Lord’s Holy Spirit, he knew with certainty that with God, all things are possible.


Source: Lychnos August / September 2017