Word of the Month

Just a whisper

June 2001

Many people would like to see God intervene with thunder and lightning, to put order back into the wild tumult on earth, and to show mankind once again, who is Lord of creation. But that does not lie in his nature, his work of completion is done in a soft, gentle whisper.

While fleeing from his persecutors, the prophet Elijah crept into a cave on Mount Horeb, full of doubt (cf 1 Kings 19). When God asked him "What are you doing here, Elijah?", the prophet began a song of lamentation: "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." (NIV). In this lamentation, a silent reproach can be detected: Dear God, can't you see the injustice? Why don't you intervene?

The Lord instructed the Prophet to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord was about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, whereby the Prophet recognized: Now I may stand before the Lord, because he wants to speak to me. He humbly pulled his cloak over his face, deeply moved. The Lord did not appear in the thunderstorm, not in the earthquake nor in the fire; he revealed himself in a soft, gentle whisper. And he also did not intervene in subsequent events, but instead instructed the prophet to anoint three men selected by God, that they should restore order in Israel.

When necessary, even today God may sometimes intervene here and there through storm, earthquake and fire in the natural course of events. But this is not the manner in which he wants to complete his work - that he does differently: the Apostles of his Son proclaim the gospel throughout the world, the glad tidings of redemption of mankind - not in menacing gestures, but joyfully as an offer of Godly grace. Let us always heed the loving admonishment, the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, with which our souls are being prepared for the return of Christ and the eternal fellowship with the triune God. Now is still the time of grace, God still inclines himself unto mankind in love and compassion. Let us make use of God's offer of salvation and reconciliation.

(Excerpt from a divine service of the Chief Apostle)