1 Kings 17 + Elijah the Prophet
What’s happened since last week? The reign of King David, led to King Solomon, and then to a divided kingdom (Israel/Northern Kingdom, Judah/Southern Kingdom), and to a series of evil kings over the next 100 years. Ahab, King of Israel, was one of the worst. With his wife Jezebel, he worshipped false gods and did not care for his people. The prophet Elijah appears on the scene to confront Ahab & Jezebel.
Digging Deeper: 1. Elijah’s name means “Yahweh is God”. That reveals the purpose and character of his life.
2. A prophet is one who speaks for God. Elijah goes to Ahab and pronounces a drought upon the land. This seems like a harsh punishment on the innocent as well as the guilty. The drought will be the means of showing that Yahweh is God as opposed to Baal-the rain god, which Ahab & Jezebel worshipped. Elijah also is affected by the drought. God sends him to hide in safety, and commands the ravens to bring him food. Where do some people get the ‘guts’ to do what needs to be done? How does someone in Elijah’s shoes trust what sounds like an unlikely promise from God?
3. Next, God sends Elijah to Sidon (where Jezebel happens to be from!), to stay with and depend on a widow and her son. Elijah promises that God will provide for her and for her son, so that she can provide for him. All is well, until the son becomes ill and dies. In bringing the boy back to life, Elijah shows that God is real and at work.
4. The story leads to the “contest at Mt. Carmel” between the prophet of God and the 450 prophets of Baal, a contest which God and Elijah win decisively.
5. Elijah is one of those ‘reformers’ who challenges the status quo. In 1517, a German priest named Martin Luther, also did that, challenging the Church-which held considerable power over peoples’ lives, along with considerable wealth. This led to the Reformation, a movement that transformed church and society! What powers and principles need challenging in our time? How are people of faith suited to stand up to the powers-that-be? Who speaks for God today? Is it us? Or are we waiting for another Martin Luther? Or another Martin Luther King Jr.? Or another Rev. Billy Graham?
6. Elijah is also an example of trusting in God when the situation around you is bad, and when your own life is hard! What situation have you faced when it has been hard to trust God? How did you experience God’s presence or God’s promise in such a time?
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