9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine 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 brake 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 it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1 Kings 19:9-13
This scripture says that as the Lord passed by the prophet Elijah, three powerful forces attended the Lord’s passage – a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But the Lord was not in any one of these things!
These ‘powers’ were with God all right, but God was not in them. That’s what the Bible says right there. The wind “rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD” – but God was not in it. The earthquake and the fire must have brought on an even greater manifestation of the power of God but – wonders! – God was not in them.
It is clear that God did not reveal Himself in the fireworks, nor in the drama.
God was in the last one… “a still small voice”. No ‘power’ there. No drama. Just “a still small voice” – and here God spoke.
Talking of voices, let us see what the New Testament has to say. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read, “1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…”
And at the Transfiguration we read, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Mat. 17:5)
“Hear ye Jesus!” And Jesus said clearly, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mat. 16:24). In other words, if we want to be like Jesus; if we want to carry the character of Christ in us, we must arrive at an understanding of what the cross needs to do in our lives.
Let us consider another scripture: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:19
Mark that, “God was in Christ”! God is involved in all (or at least much) of the drama we find in church, but God is in His Son. Simple and clear. In other words, God is in the character of His Son! Simply, a change – a transformation – is required in us. The drama might be needful for other purposes, but the heart, or the core of God’s purpose in us is for us to be transformed to become like His Son Jesus Christ.
But humankind has a problem. In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 we read: “22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
You notice that there are 3 classes of people clearly delineated here: those who require signs and wonders, those who seek after wisdom, and lastly, “them which are called”, those who take up their cross and follow Christ.
As far as the Bible is concerned, there are only two natural groups of people in the world: Jews and Gentiles. This third group, therefore – “them which are called” – is not a part of either of the two natural groups; it is a spiritual group. That means that those who have been called into the New Covenant with Christ are not in the miracle- or wisdom-seeking groups. They seek after only one thing: to crucify the flesh and to be transformed so they may walk in the perfect will of God.
And this is the group, apparently, that God is interested in.
There are many things happening in church today, and God is not in any of them. They could be of God all right (some clearly are not), but even with those that are of God, still God is not in them. That might sound contradictory, but actually it is not, in the light of Elijah’s experience in i Kings 19. Now, signs and wonders are not a bad thing, nor is seeking after wisdom. But God is not in them. They are not sin, but they are of no value in combating sin.
In recent years, wave after wave of ‘the power of God’ has been manifested within the Body of Christ, but the spiritual condition of the church has only gotten worse. The levels of sin and confusion are mounting to the extent where certain sins, like divorce have been ‘legalized’ in a large portion of the church.
Recently, I heard of a church where believers were made to eat grass like goats! Now that is total confusion.
The Bible tells us where the real power and wisdom of God is: it is when we are denying self, and taking up our cross. If one is not taking up their cross and following Christ, they are very weak Christians, no matter that they may be working miracles!
The Apostle Paul walked in this revelation and that was why he said, “…for when I am weak, then am I strong” (1 Cor. 12:10). This was a man who worked miracles, but he was not talking about miracles here!
God was in Christ, Christ crucified. God is everywhere; but “seriously speaking” God is in the revelation of that cross alone! This was the reason Paul would preach no other gospel other than Christ Jesus and Him crucified. He understood the power of the cross in transforming people and bringing the character of Christ into their lives!
Today you hear much talk about many things in the church, but God is not interested in any of those things. God is interested in one thing. He is interested in a spiritual church.
[Below: The ultra-modern Sam Nujoma highway in Dar es Salaam]