Lodging in a Cave With "Only I" and "They"

(Reading Romans 11:2-5, Context of Paul quoting Elijah)

"I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." 1 Kings 19:10

My two greatest enemies are “only I” and “they.” These enemies appear during lonely and fearful moments of the soul. They lodge with me in darkness. Sometimes “they” masquerades as “everyone.” His voice is a trickle to the ear but a trumpet blast to the heart. He has spoken to you as well, you have heard him. Unity is a lofty ideal. Even the best and most godly plans are met with resistance. It is impossible to gather any sized cluster of people who think and speak the same. Yet when it is “only I” and “they” it is amazing how my mind is able to give “they” a common voice.

“Everyone is saying . . .feels that . . . thinks. . .”, with amazing unity. “Only I” is the fool who believes “they” actually said it, thought it, or felt it - together.

“Only I” and “they” are quite old. In 1 Kings 19 they were Elijah’s companions in a cave. He encounters them in a moment of fear. Elijah has defeated the prophets of Baal and now Jezebel seeks his blood within 24 hours. “Then he was afraid.”[1] The word translated afraid can also be rendered as he “saw things as they are.” Elijah had a moment of clarity. He was alone in the world. “They”, notice Jezebel is conspicuously absent, “seek my life.”[2]

Jezebel’s voice entered alone into the ear but by the time the sound met Elijah’s heart it was the single blast of innumerable trumpets. “They” are in concert. “Only I” is the audience. If you have ever been in a cave you know it has the ability to echo the human voice. Caves seem to amplify sound. Sound does not die quickly in a cave. When you are afraid caves amplify your fear. In Elijah’s cave the voice of Jezebel became a frightening choir.

For a prophet who is so defined by the Word of the Lord, the Word is noticeably absent in Elijah’s fear. God gave him no license to be afraid and no command to retreat or hide. Elijah’s prophet soul is to be a receiver of the Word of God. Yet, Elijah’s fear is an amplifier of ungodly threats. “Only I” is tuned in now to “they.”

In 1 Kings 18 Elijah confronts Baal. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah confronts God. As amplified are the voices of fear the voice of God is a low whisper.[3] Elijah witnessed a wind that ripped mountain boulders, and earthquake and a fire. No doubt all of these phenomena are filled with ferocious sound. The Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake nor the fire. The voice of God was in the sound of a low whisper.

Why do we surrender so easily to the loudest voice? God whispered to Elijah in the chaos. His prophetic soul discerned it, but even still his heart was given to the voices of “only I” and “they.”

If fear is a moment of clarity in which we “see things as they are” then why did it take the whisper of God in the chaos to reveal to Elijah seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed a knee to Baal? My suspicion is that it had something to do with his misguided perception “only I” had of “they.” “Only I” binds a man to fear. “They” is the birth of unified giants. “Only I” makes a man so small he cannot possibly see past the voice of “they.” In dark caves sound is visual. When things are dark and a sound is made the mind immediately produces the image of the monster that made the sound. Elijah was afraid. He could “see things as they were.” Isn’t it amazing what we see in the dark?

In dark and in fear we seem to see what we hear.

It is not good for man to be alone.

The whisper of God not only revealed to Elijah seven thousand voices he could not hear, but also a man who would multiply his legacy, Elisha. Elisha’s life changed on Elijah’s most depressing day. “Only I” and “they” confine us to cower in darkness. Elijah lodged in a cave with “only I” and “they.”[4] It took the whisper of God to dislodge him from “them.” The whisper of God gives meaning to a man and reveals to him his relevance. Men crave relevance. It is not good for man to be alone.

“Only I” and “they” are companions in the cave. Someone in this world desperately needs you to come out to meet them.

“Only I” and “they” have the power to depress the souls of prophets. The whisper of God is reassurance that:

Fear is not clarity.
Godly men are never alone.
Obedient lives are relevant.
Our perceptions cannot be trusted.
There are others.
God speaks.

[1] 1 Kings 19:3, ESV.
[2] I Kings 19:10, ESV.
[3] 1 Kings 19:12.
[4] I Kings 19:9


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