Elijah, in a spiritual funk, ran away from Queen Jezebel to the mountain of God. Called Horeb by the northern tribes of Israel, it is the same mountain where Moses received the 10 commandments and saw the back side of God (Exodus 33). Moses had hid in a cleft in the rock when God passed by and scholars think it was this cleft or cave to which Elijah ran. In this high place God was sure to meet him (I Kings 19).
Israel is a hilly country, with deep valley and high craggy peaks. The high places were often used for worship, whether for idols or for the Lord. Solomon’s Temple was built on Mt. Zion. Elijah confronted the priest of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Jesus preached his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5). The most significant high place was a hill outside Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.
Mountains have always been associated with holiness and transcendence. They reach towards the heavens and can give a person a unique perspective on the world. I have been drawn to mountain peaks since boyhood, looking up at either Mt. Angeles or Mt. Rainier. Last summer I climbed Hallett Peak in Colorado as a kind of spiritual exercise in prayer.
But as Elijah discovered, God is not restricted to mountain peaks. Though Elijah experienced a dramatic sequence of wind, earthquake and fire, God was not in the dramatic. It was in the sheer silence that followed where Elijah heard God speak. This silence can be found anywhere, in the deepest valley as well as the loftiest peak. We seek a holy space where the ears of our souls yearn for simple assuring voice of God. And “voice” may not be the right word, more like presence, peace, hope, like a mother’s calm shush that ease’s a baby cries. As a child of God, I still yearn for that quiet, assuring voice of God’s grace.
God’s “voice” gives us the assurance to carry on the journey. Elijah did not stay on the mountain, but turned around and went back to face Queen Jezebel. More on that tomorrow.
Lord Jesus, quiet my noisy life that I may hear your loving voice.