On a scale of 1-10 (low-high) rate yourself on each of these qualities,
Whatever our temperament, easy going or passionate, God knows us and knows how to motivate and encourage us. If you scored highly on the qualities above you are in the company of several Old Testament prophets, men and women with strengths AND weaknesses who God used mightily in dark times. Welcome to the mad, mad world of Elijah...and his God!
Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel were ruling in Israel - a nation which had virtually abandoned God. Only a few prophets were left, trying to get the people to repent and return to God - and warning of the consequences if they didn’t!
1) Divide up the following episodes from Elijah’s life among the group and for each summarise -
A. What miraculous thing God does through him.
B. What you can tell about Elijah’s faith & relationship with God.
a- 1 KINGS 17;1-5.
b- 1 KINGS 17;7-15
c- 1 KINGS 17;17-24
d- 1 KINGS 18;16-40
e- 1 KINGS 18;41-46
C. How would you describe YOUR relationship with God at the moment?
Go back to READ 1 KINGS 18;1-16.
2) How would you describe the atmosphere under King Ahab in Israel?
3) a. How does Obadiah compare with Elijah?
b. Which of them do you identify with most? Why?
4) When have you been in a situation where holding your head up, publicly, as a Christian was difficult?
How did you deal with it?
Now READ 1 KINGS 19;1-4
5) a. In what ways does Elijah’s reaction surprise you?
b. What does this tell us about what living for God is really like (even for the strongest Christians)?
6) Elijah thought he couldn’t take any more.
From the following verses make a note of exactly how God encourages Elijah.
7) From what he does here what conclusions can you draw about God’s character?
8) a. What has God used to encourage you when you have felt low?
b. In what areas of your life could you do with his encouragement at the moment?
1) PASSAGE a. Is not what God does thru, but FOR Elijah.
e. People may (understandably) have a problem with a man of God executing several hundred people! However the OT law was very specific, God would not tolerate his people worshipping another God, and in particular would not tolerate false prophets - they were to be executed. Elijah is obeying the law!
These are random episodes - of very weird events , but they all serve to illustrate the Elijah was a radical, godly man who had seen his God do amazing things, who had been provided for & protected by God. He had great faith, saw his prayers answered and had faith.
2) Ahab is controlling the country by a regime of fear, executing those who disagree or oppose him. Not a great time to be a follower of Yahweh!
3) Obadiah seems much more human, he has tried to quietly serve God and not attract attention to his faith, but he has done this brave thing of protecting 100 prophets. However he IS fearful of what Ahab may do to him, Elijah by contrast seems fearless and much more ‘upfront’ & willing to take risks - he is not afraid of Ahab, or what he might do.
5) Elijah’s sudden fear at Jezebel’s threat (especially given that it follows him calling down fire etc.) Is unexpected, he hasn't shown any signs of fear before; he’s human after all! His reaction should tell us that even for the strongest Christian, life can simply get too much, it can just be too hard to keep going, we all have times when we want to give up.
7) God is so practical and gracious. He provides food, lets Elijah rest in safety and then speaks to him, letting him get his frustration and resentment off his chest (even though it’s not true, there are 100 hidden prophets and Obadiah still serving God) God talks to Elijah in ways he understands and then gives him the encouragement that there IS more to do, but it’s not all down to him - he’s going to be given a helper - Elisha, so he’s not alone anymore. God does know what we need and when we need it. He knows when we can’t go on and is kind in giving us the right help and support, and time to rest before he uses us again.
© Ruth Perrin 2008. Last revised on 1 December 2008
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Cloud of Witnesses is a series of Bible studies on the men and women of scripture. You'll find everyone from Gideon and Andrew through to Tamar and Tabitha.
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Ruth Perrin, the author, is on staff at King's Church Durham and holds an MA in Theology and Ministry.
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