The Problem with Noise
“And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12, ESV)
In my undergraduate engineering studies at college, I worked in a cooperative education program. The college had students work for six-months every year in a degree related field as part of the educational process. I worked at the United States Steel Corporation. My first year was working in the power plant. In this location there were two turbo-generators and several turbo-blowers. These made so much noise that it was difficult or near impossible to hear another person talking. We would have to shout in order to be heard even at a distance of a couple feet.
Noise is a great problem in communication because it prevents us from being able to hear properly. In fact, too much loud noise for too long can damage one’s ability to hear. So, to hear a voice, it often becomes essential to cut or filter out other conflicting noise.
We have the same problem when trying to hear from the Lord. Often the circumstances of our lives can produce a lot of noise that will hinder and perhaps block our ability to hear clearly from the Lord.
We can learn much about hearing the voice of the Lord from an experience that Elijah the prophet had. Elijah was a prophet in the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of the Northern Kingdom Israel. During this time Elijah had a great contest with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. In that contest, Elijah had the prophets of Baal make an altar for sacrifice of a bull and he also made one. The contest was that the prophets of Baal would call upon their god to bring down fire upon the altar and Elijah would call upon God to do the same. The one who succeeded in this would win and this would prove whether Baal or Israel’s God was the true God.
The prophets of Baal called upon their god all day long until twilight to no avail. Then, Elijah built an altar, piled wood upon it, saturated it with water twice over, and called upon the Lord, Jehovah, to bring fire down. The Scripture states, “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38, ESV)
Following this, the Israelites responded to Elijah’s initial challenge, which was “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21, ESV), and they indicated they would follow the Lord, God of Israel. Elijah then called upon Israel to kill the 450 prophets of Baal. Then he prayed and ended a three-and one-half-year draught and then ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel.
However, Ahab told Jezebel everything that happened on Mount Carmel and Jezebel sent word to Elijah. The word was that she would kill Elijah as he had the prophets of Baal killed. Elijah then flees for his life to Beersheba of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. He then goes alone another day’s journey into the wilderness where he sits under a tree, feeling like a failure in a state of depression, asking that he might die.
Elijah, a great prophet of God, experienced a great victory for the Lord. He was on the high of highs. Yet, we see something happen to him his life becomes filled with noise. He is exhausted both physically and emotionally. Activity, exhaustion, and uncontrolled emotions are usually connected and are significant sources of noise that can hinder or even block us from hearing the Lord’s voice in our lives. However, there is hope. We can overcome the noise. (To be continued.)