Historical Context: The King of Israel, Ahab, has been promoting the worship of Baal, the Canaanite god of rain. Elijah, God’s chosen prophet, has declared a three-year drought in order to prove the futility of worshipping this false god. The time for the drought to end has come. The Lord will soon send rain on the land, but first there must be one final showdown between God and Baal. This portion of our history takes place in approximately the year 875 B.C.
Authorship: The Book of the Kings was written mostly by Jeremiah the prophet during Israel’s exile in Babylon. It was later edited and completed by subsequent prophets and Levitical (Israel’s) priests.
Read 1 Kings 18:16-46
“Elijah” – Hebrew for “The Lord is my God”
The time for the evening sacrifice – The Levitical priests were to sacrifice to God every day, at least once in the morning and once in the evening (Leviticus 6:20)
Slaughtering of the prophets of Baal – the Old Testament Law given by God to Moses required that false prophets be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20) for leading people astray and causing them to sin
Small Group Questions:
1. Ahab tries to blame Elijah for the drought, but what does Elijah say is the cause of Israel’s trouble?
2. Why would not following God cause trouble?
3. In verse 21, Elijah gives the people a choice. He makes it clear that God alone should be worshipped or not at all. Why would God rather have people not follow Him than only follow Him partly?
4. What evidence do we see today of people only wanting to serve God partially?
5. Elijah makes it a point to mention that, as a follower of God, he is in the minority. What is the significance of this?
6. Contrast the prayers and actions of the prophets of Baal to those of Elijah. Why is Elijah so calm when the prophets of Baal are so frantic?
7. Notice that Ahab does not stop Elijah from killing the prophets of Baal. What do you think Ahab is thinking after seeing has happened?
8. This passage mentions three geographic places (“Mount Carmel”, “Kishon Valley”, “Jezreel”). It specifies the times of day when certain events occur (“morning”, “noon”, “midday”, “the time for the evening sacrifice”). And it refers back to Israel’s past (“Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’” and calling the Lord the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.”) Why should all these things be important to us?
9. What evidence do we see in this passage of God and man communicating with each other?
1. God _______________________________________________. All I have to do is
2. God will ______________________________. All I have to do is _____________.
3. God will _________________, even though I am in _____________________, if I am
____________________________ to Him.
Answers to Questions:
1. Abandoning the Lord’s commands and following false gods is at the root of Israel’s problems.
2. God is the only One to whom we owe our love and devotion and obedience. Because He is the ultimate authority, we should expect punishment when we disobey Him. When God makes a rule, He doesn’t do it arbitrarily. God’s rules are “Daddy rules”. He has set up this world and made us. He knows that when we don’t follow Him, our lives necessarily take a turn for the worse because we were not made to live in disobedience. When something is used for a wrong purpose, it doesn’t work as well as when it is used for what it was intended.
3. God is holy. Giving God lip service and not our total devotion is an insult. It’s like having a wife or a husband that tells you they love you, but then cheating on you. It would be better if they didn’t tell you that at all than lie to you.
4. God requires complete devotion. When we don’t give Him our whole lives, we are trying to serve Him and ourselves at the same time. This can be seen in our lives in any number of different ways. It comes down to whether or not we obey Him in everything. God is Savior but He also needs to be Lord (Master).
5. God often uses the minority or the weak to show His power. He likes overcoming incredible odds because things are more necessarily attributed to Him at that point. Today, genuine Christians are in the minority. That’s a good thing because it means that God can use us in big ways. Jesus only had a limited number of disciples compared to the whole Jewish nation and the entire Roman Empire but look what they accomplished.
6. The prophets of Baal shout, dance around the altar, slash themselves, and prophesy frantically for hour and hours with no result. Elijah is calm and confident and prays for only a few moments. Elijah knows that he does not have to beg God to reveal Himself. There is nothing God wants to do more than answer Elijah’s prayer and show Israel that He is God. God commanded him to do all this.
7. Hopefully Ahab has come to a turning point in his life. Maybe he realizes that he’s been wrong, that his god, Baal, does not exist, and that he’s sinned against the Lord. Not only has he sinned, but he is responsible for causing a lot of other Israelites to sin. I think we all have times in our life after we realize something about God that we just need to be quiet and feel sorry for our sin and think.
8. The Bible is usually very specific in terms of geographic locations and times in order to more fully prove its historical veracity.
9. Elijah says that God commanded him to do these things. Elijah prays. God answers Elijah’s prayer.
1. God speaks to man everyday. All I have to do is listen.
2. God will answer my prayer. All I have to do is pray.
3. God will use me, even though I am in the minority, if I am fully devoted to Him.
1. Who is the king of Israel? Ahab
2. Why did God cause a drought in Israel? Israel sinned and worshipped Baal
3. How many prophets of Baal were there? 450
4. How many other prophets of God were with Elijah? None
5. What test did Elijah use to prove to the people that Baal was not a god and that God was? They prepared a sacrifice and whichever one sent fire down from heaven to consume it would be proven to be God.
6. How many times did Elijah command his sacrifice to be drenched with water? Three
7. How many years had the drought lasted? Three