When Heaven Is Silent

Bible Reading

RSV  1 Kings 19:1- 18

 

Sermon

Elijah the prophet of God is a man who experienced a dry spell in his ministry right after the highlight of his prophetic calling. The chapter before our reading this morning Elijah is back after 31/2 years of draught he had declared on the land. He summons the people onto Mount Carmel for one of the greatest show downs in history. He entreats the people to once and for all chose whom to worship Baal or YHWH. The contest is simple the God who answers by fire is the true God. YHWH answers by fire and the people slaughter the 350 prophets of Baal.

Well Jezebel the wife of Ahab the king is enraged when she hears of the slaughter of the prophets of her god and sends a threat to Elijah:

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (1Ki 19:2 RSV)

This is Elijah the man that just called fire down from heaven to consume a water logged sacrifice. And how does he react:

3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.” (1Ki 19:3-4 RSV)

Elijah’s mind is in battle, he is in warfare. After such a glorious victory on Mount Carmel, he is exhausted and unable to face an empty threat from Jezebel. Do you identify with Elijah this morning? Have you been from a successful mission trip, prayer and fasting season, door to door witnessing; where you have first hand experienced the might move of God and vividly seen His hand at work only to come back down from the mountain figuratively speaking and be faced with lack of food, fare to go home and visit your parents, etc? have you felt so weak, so defeated, so useless; willing to even give up?

You have seen God save, heal, restore and deliver, miraculous provide for others and open doors for them but when it comes to Him meeting your needs you don’t see Him at work? And you wonder where He is

Personal Snippet = my husband and I got married around 61/2 years ago. We had our premarital counseling in a group set up and after we all got married we decided to continue with the group now as married couples to encourage each other. We’re still together although group dynamics have changed a lot since then.

Because you see, while our friends were quickly blessed with children my husband and I were having complications from the get go. I was diagnosed with condition after condition and as a result we experienced two very difficult miscarriages. Heaven was silent on us as regards the blessing of children….

Fast forward, when we were expecting our Wendo and Thayu the pregnancies were difficult. We were never sure whether they’d make it or not. But God in His mercy though they were both born before time they’re healthy, alive and well. Praise the Lord!

And I ask you again – Have seen God save, heal, restore and deliver, miraculously provide for others and open doors for them but when it comes to Him meeting your needs you don’t see Him at work? And you wonder where He is

Well be encouraged my brother my sister, you are in the company of greatness. Elijah the prophet of God faced a similar situation and how the Lord meets him offers comfort for us this morning.

We will do so by answering four questions:

  1. Where do you go?
  2. Which direction?
  3. What is the norm?
  4. When the silence is broken, what then?
  • WHERE
  1. Elijah went to the Lord’s dwelling place – Horeb the mount of God

Where do you go when you feel threatened? When you feel squeezed in by life? When Heaven is silent? Where do you go? Elijah went to the dwelling place of God, Horeb the mount of God. Today, the Lord dwells in us Immanuel God with us; we do not have to ascend to a certain mountain or go to a special location though at times such seclusion does facilitate quiet and silence to hear God’s voice. The response is therefore to turn to God in prayer regardless of the location.

I remember my family and friends rallying around us and praying for my health. Praying for us to be blessed with children. We all turned to God in prayer.

It reminds me of the classic answer Peter gave to the Lord in John 6:68-69 after Christ declared that ‘I am the bread of life….’ And asked people to eat Him and it offended the jews who chose to no longer follow Him. Turning to His disciples He asked them if they also wanted to leave.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;

69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Joh 6:68-69 RSV)

In the same breathe I pray that when heaven is silent on us, we will run to God. We will hold onto His Word and His promises.

  • WHICH
  1. Direction

Elijah’s ascent to mount Horeb takes forty days and nights. It’s a long journey of silence…….. but it’s a journey in the right direction.

When heaven is silent which direction do you face? Which direction do you walk in? My brother my sister I pray that you face and walk towards the Lord; even when you cannot see or hear Him. It is very tempting and easy to face and start walking away from the Lord when heaven is silent. To start coming up with solutions to the problems we face since God is taking too long in our thinking. Remember the story of Abraham Sarah and Hagar? The result of taking matters into their own hands when heaven was silent is still with us today the Arab nation – Ishmael : the greatest enemy to Israel the people of God.

Brethren desist from taking matters into your own hands when heaven is silent. Like Elijah choose to take that lonely and long walk towards God. He’ll meet you; that’s a guarantee.

  • WHAT
  1. Forget the norm

When Elijah finally gets to mount Horeb, the man of fire expects God to manifest Himself in the same way. We see a great wind, an earthquake and a fire – but the Lord isn’t in any of them. He comes to Elijah in a still small voice.

Brothers and sisters sometimes when we say that heaven is silent could it be because the Lord isn’t answering our prayers as we have clearly outlined for Him to? Could it be that He isn’t coming to us in the manner we expect Him to? In the manner we are accustomed to? Is the Lord speaking to us but we can neither see Him nor hear Him leave alone receive Him because He isn’t following our routine? May the Lord help us brethren.

Once upon a time, an elephant and a dog fell pregnant at the same time. 3 months down the line the dog gave birth to 6 puppies. 6 months later the dog was pregnant again, and 9 months it gave birth to another dozen puppies. The pattern continued. On the 18th month the dog braggingly approached the elephant in mockery. Are you sure that you are pregnant? the dog asked. We fell pregnant on the same date, I have given birth 3 times to a dozen puppies and they’re now grown to become big dogs, yet you’re still pregnant. What’s going on? or you only wanted to be treated in kindness under the pretense of being pregnant? The elephant laughed out loud and replied to the dog. There is something I want to understand. What I am carrying is not a puppy but an elephant. I only give birth to one in 2 years…

Turn to your neighbor and tell them RUN YOUR OWN RACE, KAA KWA LANE YAKO!

Forget the norm, forget how the Lord is visiting or responding to your neighbors/friends prayers. The Lord is not to be boxed so to speak. He is God. He can answer us in any way He chooses. How He responds to Jane is not the way He responds to Pamela…… And he definitely does not need our advice, direction or guidance when answering our prayers. May we be open to receive Him, see Him and hear Him whichever way He chooses to manifest/reveal Himself.

Back to Elijah, the Lord finally speak to Him in a still small voice. May the Lord open our ears to hear that still small voice when heaven is silent. That voice can be from/through nature, a friend, family member, a child, or even a donkey as in the case of Balaam J J

  • WHEN
  1. When heaven breaks the silence

In vv. 9 and 13 God asks Elijah the same question:

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Ki 19:13 RSV)

And twice in vv.10 and 14 Elijah responds:

“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1Ki 19:14 RSV)

God’s question is clear and straight to the point. Elijah’s answer is not. Many a time we cry and complain how God isn’t hearing leave alone answering our prayers but if we are to be honest with ourselves, we are not very clear on what it is we are asking. Or even we are praying in error. Elijah was running away from the threat of jezebel on his life. But when he comes to God he says “they seek my life, to take it away”. Exaggeration really does compound the threat on Elijah from his end, but He forgets God is omnipresent, He was there when the threat was issued and He knows the facts all too well.

God’s response is classic! He orders Elijah to leave the mountain and gives him his last assignment on earth:

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria;

 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.

 17 And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. (1Ki 19:15-17 RSV)

And then God responds to Elijah’s claim of being the only one left:

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1Ki 19:18 RSV)

BOOM!

Stop feeling all sympathetic on yourself, you are not the only one. There are other brothers and sisters going through hard times just as you are in this campus and beyond who have decided not to bow down to the gods of our generation aka sponsors.

One of the lies of the enemy especially when we feel that heaven is silent is that ‘you are the only one’

You are the only virgin in your class

You are the only one not cheating in the exams

You are the only one not engaging in sex

You are the only one sleeping hungry

You are the only one……. Fill in the blanks with your current ‘Only one situation”

My sisters my brothers I am here this morning to let you know that YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE!

Turn to your neighbor and tell me YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE! Remind them also to RUN YOUR OWN RACE, KAA KWA LANE YAKO!

Just as the Lord made known to Elijah on mount Carmel, He makes known to you this morning. He has His chosen ones who have not bowed down to the gods of our age nor kissed them! You are in the company of believers who like you have made a choice to stand for the Lord hallelujah!

Therefore arise and do the work of the Lord, fulfill your purpose.

Conclusion

Brothers and sisters as we have been learning this morning even when we do not see, hear or even feel the Lord it does not mean that He isn’t at work. Heaven being silent is clearly more about our perception of who the Lord is and how He should go about working than God being distant from us. Even as Elijah was in panic, gripped by fear and surrounded by confusion the Lord was still speaking and ministering to him. In vv4-8 we read of God sending a ministering angel twice to refresh Elijah with food and drink.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.”

 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.”

 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again.

 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.”

 8 And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (1Ki 19:4-8 RSV)

It is in the strength if that food that he was able to walk the distant to God’s mount. Reflect and you will see how the Lord has been refreshing you in the days when you feel heaven is silent. He’s never left your side, He has been there with you all along.

Elisha the prophet that succeeds Elijah makes a prayer for his young servant that wraps up our lesson this morning very beautifully:

In 2 Kings 6:11-17 it is written:

11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?”

 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.”

 13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.”

 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army; and they came by night, and surrounded the city.

 15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”

 16 He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

 17 Then Elisha prayed, and said, “O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (2Ki 6:11-17 RSV)

The kind of Syria was greatly troubled because every plan he made to destroy Israel was being thwarted over and over again; mind you this were top secret plans no wonder he called his servants to find out who was betraying his confidence. Well that is not the emphasis of the passage for us this morning.

The prayer that Elisha makes to the Lord regarding his young servant is where I want us to focus as we end:

“O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.”

Elisha’s eyes were open to see the spiritual realm, it was not him who was surrounded by the Syrian army but the Syrian army was surrounded by the armies of the Almighty! Our situations may lead us to feel like heaven is silent, that God isn’t hearing us, that He is no longer interested in our situations. But this morning it is my prayer that God may open our eyes to see Him at work in and around our lives for our good. Hallelujah.

And that is my prayer for all us this morning:

O LORD, I pray thee, open our eyes that we may see you at work, open our ears that we may hear you speaking to us, open our hearts that we may receive you. In Jesus name Amen!

NB: By the grace of God this sermon was first preached at Chiromo Campus Christians Union on 29th May 2016

 

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