Thanks to A Narrow Minded Woman, today I read probably the finest article I’ve ever come across explaining why God doesn’t speak to present-day believers in the “still small voice” that He used with Elijah (1 Kings 19:12, KJV). No matter what position you take on this issue, you really need to carefully read this article! Let me tell you why.
To be fair, I’ll begin with the people in my camp, who believe that direct revelation ended with the closing words of Revelation. We typically use 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 1:1-2, 2 Peter 1:3-4 and Revelation 22:18-19 to support our claim that God now speaks exclusively through the Bible. Certainly those Scriptures make our case well. In fact, I believe it might be profitable if I wrote individual blog posts about each of these passages.
Yet it has even more power if we show people 1 Kings 19:12 in its greater context. In so doing, we come alongside those who use that verse, helping them understand why the Lord spoke to Elijah in a still small voice and how He would have Christians today interpret the verse in light of the entire narrative.
In other words, we can meaningfully respond to those who rely on 1 Kings 19:12 instead of dismissing their proof-text with our own. We can challenge their readiness to identify with Elijah on that point by asking if they really want to identify with him on the incident as a whole. After all, God spoke to Elijah in that still small voice as a rebuke, not as a sign of intimacy.
To those who embrace 1 Kings 19:12 as a standard of how they should expect to hear from God, I ask you to read Chapter 18, and then Chapter 19. Have they demonstrated God’s superiority over heathen gods by having fire consume a soaking wet offering? Have they had to flee from a crazed queen who took an oath to kill them? Have ravens fed them as they hid in caves praying for God to take their lives?
Those events led up to Elijah hearing the still small voice. That voice would rebuke his demands for a supernatural miracle, incidentally.
None of us is Elijah. God’s way of dealing with him in that particular circumstance in no way indicates a normative pattern for 21st Century Christians. Reading 1 Kings 18-19 in its entirety demonstrates that point.