1 Kings 19:11-21
And he said, Go forth, and stand on the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by…
The earthquake has shaken the Queen City of the South, and given Charleston ashes for her beauty.
1. As a scientific fact, there is no more of God, His wisdom, power, or purpose, displayed in an earthquake than there is in the quiet growth of the grass in our door-yard; no more of God in the cyclone than in the perfumed breath of the flowers; no more of God in the conflagration kindled by the lightning or the volcano than in the glow of animal heat in our bodies. The steady, hardly audible, ticking of a watch reveals as much of the intelligence and purpose of its artificer as does the striking of the clock upon the steeple bell; and these alarming things in nature are but the louder striking of the mechanism of the universe. Great minds show their greatness by recognising the great in little things, recognising God in the commonplace things of daily observation. Sir David Brewster raised his hands and cried: "Great God! how marvellous are Thy works!" when he studied a tiny bit of animated matter. A distinguished naturalist wrote over his study door: "Be reverent, for God is here." Jesus illustrated the Divine Providence, not by world-shaking events, but by the clothing of the lily and the floating wing of the sparrow.
2. It is a mistake to imagine that there are any deeper lessons of man's impotence and dependence to be learned from these astounding things than ought to be learned from every. day occurrences. Fifty men were killed by the earthquake; but as many die every night in this city without the slightest tremor being observed in the earth's surface until their survivors dig their graves. Some millions of dollars worth of property was shaken down by the mysterious visitant; but the common law of decay is all the time shaking our habitations back again to original dust.
3. It is a mistake to imagine that men will lay these lessons more to heart, and seek more persistently the favour of God, because His more astounding judgments are abroad in the land. The inhabitants of Naples are not the less worldly and thoughtless because Vesuvius keeps its flag of smoke all the time flying over the city, and so frequently awakens them by the lava-burst flashing its glare through their windows. Though she sits on the quivering edge of destruction, and her children play on the mounds of buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, Naples is one of the most godless haunts on the face of the earth. The Eastern Mediterranean is on the great earthquake belt. Its islands and shores are torn by convulsions, many of them having occurred within historic times, and not a few of them within the memory of the present generation. Yet this has always been the belt of human corruption. Antioch and Cyprus, earthquake centres, were the seats of the most abominable paganism and immorality. There is an Eastern proverb: "God comes to us without bell." The deepest Divine impressions are those which are made silently upon the heart, not by wind, nor earthquake, nor fire, but by the "still small voice" of His spirit. These startling events can do no more than arrest our attention momentarily. They are like a hand touching us to awaken, but whether we are bettered or not depends upon our laying the lesson to heart, hearing within the soul the spiritual voice. Do you remember how beautifully St. speaks of God's talking with the human soul — an exquisite description of the still small voice? He and Monica were communing together about spiritual things — "We were saying to ourselves then: If the tumult of the flesh were hushed, hushed the images of earth, and waters and air, hushed also the poles of heaven, yea, the very soul hushed to herself... hushed all dreams and imaginary revelations, every tongue and every sign... and He alone should speak... if we might hear His word, not through any tongue of flesh, nor angel's voice, nor sound of thunder, nor in dark riddle of similitude... but might hear His very self... were not this to enter into the joy of the Lord?"
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks 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:
WEB: He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before Yahweh." Behold, Yahweh passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before Yahweh; but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake.