We’ve been talking lately about hearing the voice of God. As I consider, it seems most of the proof-texts I’ve heard have already been looked at and from my viewpoint, they’ve been found wanting. I would hope if others agree that they’ll take the time to consider the implications of that.
It means that a whole ideology has risen up and people have bought into it though it doesn’t even have remotely a biblical foundation. Now on some doctrines, there are texts that are hard to explain and you could look and see a reasonable way people come to those conclusions based on the text. With this one though, the evidence for it is nil and the evidence against it is great.
However, if there is one passage today that is used often as well, it’s Elijah’s hearing the still small voice. Let’s look at the text in 1 Kings 19.
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.”
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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 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?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken 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.”
And somehow, a whole doctrine has come out of this.
First off, I’m not convinced this is a voice. Considering earth and fire already showed up, I’m more inclined to think this was a wind. I don’t think the text is definitive though. Let’s suppose it was a voice. My reply. “So what?”
Some of you might be shocked I said that.
Let’s look at some facts though. Elijah was not like the rest of us in one regard. He was a prophet who was supposed to hear from God. This was not the experience of Joe Israelite. In fact, if it was a regular thing for Elijah as well, one wonders why he would have ran and hid in a cave for so long.
One also wonders why he didn’t point to such an experience to the Israelites when facing Baal and telling them to listen for the voice of YHWH. The prophets never tell them to listen to an internal voice. They tell them to hear the Word of the Lord, but what they mean is the message that is being given through them.
Yet I have seen too often this passage being used. I’ve seen sermons where the whole point seems to be on how to hear the voice of God and why we need to from this passage. I have heard prayers where the pastor prays that we can all listen to the still small voice. If we use this kind of exegesis though, I wonder what it will be like when we have a dating service based on the method of Judges 21.
Friends. This idea isn’t biblical, and that we take texts of Scripture so lightly to form a doctrine I think really shows how lightly we take Scripture and serious interpretation of it. Now again, some of you will disagree. If you do, I say it again, show me the problem from Scripture. Show me how I exegeted this text wrong or show me another text. Experience won’t cut it.