by Brannon Howse
The Scripture: and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
The Twist: In the last chapter, we looked at how Psalm 46:10 is taken out of context to say that we need to be still and listen for the voice of God. As we learned, the context of Psalm 46:10 is not about prayer but is a proclamation of warning to Israel and a proclamation of warning to Israel’s enemies. Psalm 46:10 declares that God is in control, so be still and stop worrying and fretting.
Psalm 46:10 and 1 Kings 19:12 are often combined to suggest that you need to be still and listen for the small voice of God. This leads to the false teaching that Christians need to be involved in contemplative prayer, to literally be still and know that He is God, and then hear His still small voice.
Let’s examine the context of 1 Kings 19:12 by going back to verse 9: “And there he went into a cave.” Who went into a cave? Elijah. The “man of God,” as he is called elsewhere, is hiding from Jezebel, the king’s evil wife. Elijah is afraid even though he is a prophet. Oh, wait a minute, he’s a prophet. That’s quite important to the context. Did God speak to prophets? Yes, He surely did. Did God speak in the New Testament to apostles? Yes again. So, it is not a theological problem at all that God appears and speaks to Elijah. But: Are you a prophet? No. Am I a prophet? No. Are you an apostle? No. Am I an apostle? No. We don’t have prophets and apostles today; those offices are closed.
God spoke through prophets in the Old Testament, and they wrote God’s Word as the Holy Spirit moved upon them. Then when the canon for the Old Testament was complete, this office ceased. For about 400 years, there were no prophets. God was silent. Then the time came to write the canon of the New Testament, and— whammo!—now God starts speaking again through prophets and through His apostles, particularly His apostles. The prophets, in fact, had to be under the authority of the apostles, and, as Ephesians points out, everything they said as prophets had to be consistent with the foundational doctrine being laid down by the apostles.
God spoke audibly to prophets, and He spoke to the Apostles. But He’s not doing that today. The offices of apostle and prophet are closed. I’ve presented whole programs on this, and in my book Religious Trojan Horse, I explain in great detail the biblical evidence for why these offices are no longer in use. (You can order the book, e-book, and a wide range of DVDs and other books on the topic at worldviewweekend.com.) So I’m not going to spend time re-plowing ground already plowed. Even the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination, put out a report in 2001 declaring that there is no continuation of office for prophets and apostles. Those offices are closed.
So, do we hear an audible voice today from God? No, we do not. Do we hear God speaking through His Word? Yes, we do, and the Holy Spirit helps us understand what we’re reading. Are we to seek an audible voice? No! Are we to have some kind of mystical experience and receive new revelation? No! So, again, the context here speaks specifically of Elijah, who actually was a prophet.
So let’s back up and start over reading 1 Kings 19:9: “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(That’s the second time he’s been asked why he is in this place.)
And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
The Lord asked him twice, “What are you doing here? Why are you hiding out?” Elijah is having a pity party, isn’t he? And God is speaking to him in this still small voice. Why? Because Elijah is a prophet, and because God spoke to His prophets like this. Today, He speaks to us through His Word. Although we are not supposed to listen for an audible voice, many people do. But guess what is really speaking to them? I believe it is demons. Those things you think you offer to God, you sacrifice to demons (1 Corinthians 10:20).
Demons step in when people fool around with unbiblical practices like transcendental meditation, or kundalini yoga. Such things are no different than using a Ouija board. Why would a believer do that? Why would someone dabble in occult practices and think God’s going would speak to them through that? These things are forbidden in Deuteronomy 18. Yet people dip into the occult, thinking they’re going to hear from God, and the demons show up imitating God, and they speak completely unbiblical things.
Look at verse 18: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (people used to kiss a statue of Baal). God is telling Elijah, “Quit having your pity party. I’m sovereign; I’m in control. We still have 7,000 who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal.” God tells him this audibly. He literally speaks to Elijah. That’s what “the still small voice” of God means—a literal voice of God speaking to Elijah.
The main point here is that you should not let people tell you to “‘be still and know that I am God,’ be still and listen for a small voice – a ‘still small voice.’” This misguided combination of Psalm 46:10 and 1 Kings 19:12 ends up promoting unbiblical approaches like contemplative prayer, breath prayers, centering prayers, and soaking prayers. Psalm 46:10 is about God’s sovereignty—a warning to the enemies of Israel that He is in control, and it’s a proclamation of comfort to Israel. And 1 Kings is God speaking to His prophet, Elijah.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.