Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Great People of the Bible Week #9- Elijah


Elijah's single minded commitment to God shocks and challenges us. He was sent to confront, not comfort, and he spoke God's word to a king who often rejected his message just because he brought it. Elijah carried out his ministry for God alone. He experienced isolation from others who were also faithful to God.

It is interesting to think about the amazing miracles God accomplished through Elijah for he had a unique relationship with Yahweh. Elijah seemed to know God in a different and unique way even when he was treated as an outcast and a bearer of bad news. After God worked an overwhelming miracle in defeating the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel retaliated by threatening Elijah's life. Elijah ran away and was scared. He felt depressed and abandoned. Despite God's provision of food and shelter in the desert, Elijah wanted to die. So God presented him with an "audio visual display" and a message he needed to hear. Elijah witnessed a windstorm, an earthquake, and fire. But the Lord was not present in any of those powerful things. Instead God displayed his presence in a gentle whisper.

Elijah, like us, struggled with his feelings even after this comforting message from God. So God confronted Elijah's emotions and commanded action. He told Elijah what to do next and informed him that part of his loneliness was based on ingnorance: 7,000 others in Israel were still faithful to God.

Even today, God often speaks through the gentle and obvious rather than the spectacular and unusual. God has work for us even when we feel fear and failure. And God always has more resources and people than we know about. Although we might wish to do amazing miracles for God, we should instead focus on developing a relationship with him through his son Jesus Christ. Through Christ our broken relationships can be made whole again.

Read 1 Kings 18:1-19
-Why did Elijah return to Israel?
-What was Elijah's attitude as he confronted King Ahab?
-What was the source of his security?

Read 1 Kings 18:20-29
-Describe Elijah's confrontation with the people on Mt. Carmel.
-How did the prophet summarize the nation's spiritual dilemma?
-Why did the people have no answer for Elijah?
-What were the "rules" of the contest and how was a "winner" to be determined?
-What did the prophets of Baal do to get their god to answer their prayers?
-How does Scripture emphasize the futility of their efforts?
-Why was there no answer?
-What was Elijah's mocking rebuke? (giggle-giggle)

Read 1 Kings 18:30-40
-After carefully preparing the bull according to the law, what did Elijah ask the people to do? Why?
-How did Elijah address the Lord in his prayer? Why? What specific petitions did he make?
-How did God answer?
-What was the reaction of the people?

Read 1 Kings 18:41-46
-What was Elijah's advice to Ahab?
-How did Elijah describe his expectation of the rain? What does this show about Elijah's faith?
-How do you think Elijah's servant felt as he reported six times, "There is nothing"?
-What might his wording of the seventh report indicate about his faith?
-What was Elijah's response to the seventh report?

Read 1 Kings 19:1-18
-Having just experienced the extraordinary power of God on Mt. Carmel and the successful seige of prayer for rain, what do you think Elijah anticipated as he speed toward Jezreel, the headquarters of Jezebel and the nation's center of Baal worship?
-What was Jezebel's reaction to the news of the events on Mt. Carmel.
-What was Elijah's reaction to Jezebel's threat?
-How did Elijah's desire in verse 4 contradict the very reason he ran away?
-What did God do for Elijah? What did he not do?
-What did God ask Elijah to do?
-What was he teaching Elijah by refusing to show himself in exciting displays of natures power?
-Why was this an important lesson for the prophet to learn?
-What was God's remedy of Elijah's depression?
-What effect might Elisha's appointment have had on him?
-What effect might his learning about the seven thousand faithful people have had on him?

-How has God encouraged you in the low times of your life?

Next Week = Daniel


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