Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Elijah: Where God Guides, He Provides
Lesson 1: God Provides Courage, and Dinner
Author’s Notes: This week, we’re beginning a new series of lessons on the prophet, Elijah. Throughout this series, we’re going to find God calling Elijah into many difficult, often scary situations. And we’re going to see that no matter what God asks Elijah to do, He always provides whatever Elijah needs to accomplish His will. This is a great reminder for each of us: that God may call us, even though we’re just ordinary people, to do extraordinary things. And when He does, we can remember that God will never ask more of us than what He will enable us to do.
Today, we’re going to be starting a new series of lessons on a man named Elijah. He was a prophet in the Old Testament, and did some very brave and exciting things for the Lord.
How do you think the Lord chooses whom He will call to be great servants for Him? What sort of person do you suppose He might be looking for? (allow the children to respond, perhaps write down a list of what they suggest as good qualities) Do you think God calls people who are brave and strong? Smart or good looking? Someone who is outgoing, and speaks well in front of groups? These are all fine qualities. But they’re not necessarily the ones God is looking for.
In fact, God seems to take great delight in using people we’d least expect to do great things for Him. That way, He gets all the glory He deserves. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a In other words, we can best see God’s strength when He uses someone who may seem like nobody special to do something extra-special for Him.
Over and over again in the Bible, we see God use plain, old, ordinary people. He called shepherds to become great leaders of nations. He called fishermen to become disciples and great preachers. And some day, He’s going to call you to do what He has already planned for your life. And if that is something extraordinary, then His grace and strength will be all you need to do what He asks!
In our lesson today, we’ll meet the great prophet, Elijah, and learn about some of the extraordinary things God asked him to do. Now, you might think that God chose Elijah because he was very brave or strong. But the Bible doesn’t say that. We’ll see that the Bible does not tell us anything special about Elijah, except that he was willing to do what God asked of him. But to God, that’s the most important characteristic He’s looking for. Not ability, but availability… a readiness to obey God. And that’s what He wants from us, too. If we supply the obedient spirit, God will take care of the rest!
Today’s memory verse is from today’s passage. And it simply reminds us of Elijah’s best attribute; the one the Lord looks for in each of us.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD;”
1 Kings 17:5a
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and Your plans for us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: The Prophet, Elijah (1 Kings 16:29 – 17:6 )
Our lesson, today, is about the prophet Elijah. But we’re going to start out by taking a little look back at the Bible history that leads up to Elijah coming on the scene. At that time, Israel was divided into two different kingdoms, a Northern Kingdom known as Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And many of the kings, especially in the Northern Kingdom, no longer followed God, or His word. One of these evil kings was named Ahab. Let’s read about him from the book of 1 Kings.
(1 Kings 16)
29And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
30And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
If you were to look back even further in your Old Testament, you would find many wicked kings. They were men who ignored God’s instructions, and began to worship other gods. So when the Bible says that Ahab was even more evil than all the kings that came before him, that means he was about as evil as one could get!
31And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
32And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
33And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
So not only did Ahab, himself, do things that were evil in God’s sight; he also went out and found a wife from a country that worshipped Baal. That led Ahab to worship Baal, as well. He even built a temple for Baal worship right in his capital city. And in doing so, the Israelite people were encouraged to also worship Baal along with their wicked king, Ahab, and their pagan queen, Jezebel.
And it’s in this setting that we’re introduced to the prophet Elijah. There’s no background given, telling us who he was or what he’d been doing before God called him. We are not told why God chose him. God simply calls him, seemingly out of nowhere, into special service for Him. That’s a great reminder to us, that God doesn’t always call the biggest and bravest, or the boldest and strongest. Sometimes He’s just looking for someone who’s willing to trust and obey Him. And that’s just what Elijah did.
Let’s meet Elijah, and find out what God was led him to do.
1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
What do we find Elijah doing? He was standing before the wicked king Ahab, giving him a message from the Lord. And it was not a message Ahab wanted to hear, for two reasons. First of all, what did Elijah tell Ahab? He said there would be no rain until he said so. And that it would be for years! What happens to the food and water supply when it stops raining? Water runs out, and food stops growing. And back in that time, there weren’t many ways to store food for very long. People would quickly begin to starve. And if the water supply dried up, there would be no water to drink, or to water the crops.
How do you think the people of Israel would respond to such a drought? When people have no water or food, they get scared and angry, and often look for someone to blame. And usually, it’s whoever is in charge. And that was Ahab!
But not only would a drought create unrest in Ahab’s kingdom, it would also directly challenge the god he was worshipping. Unlike the one true God, who is all-powerful, many pagan gods were considered to have only particular powers. Baal, the god Ahab and Jezebel worshipped, was supposed to be a god of rain. And Elijah was there to tell Ahab that the living LORD was the one in control of everything, including the rain.
It must have taken a great deal of courage for Elijah, who’s name by the way means “Jehovah is God,” to stand before a king who was well known for his rebellion against the Lord, and tell him that God was preparing to teach him a lesson. Do you think you would have been brave enough to do that?
What if God asked you to go out and find the biggest, meanest person you know, and tell them that your God said He’s going to punish them for the bad things they’ve been doing? What do you think their reaction might be?
Maybe Elijah didn’t feel very brave, either. But he knew that whatever God asked him to do, God would give him the courage and protection he would need to do it.
The same is true for you and me, today. God will never ask us to do something for Him without giving us everything we need to obey Him. 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God will supply whatever we need, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…”
Now, our passage in 1 Kings does not specifically tell us what Ahab’s reaction was. But we can make a pretty good guess, based on what the Lord told him to do next.
2And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
3Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
What did God tell Elijah to do, once he had delivered God’s message? He told him to get out of there, and hide! That was probably just what Elijah wanted to hear. God had an escape plan in mind. So not only did God provide Elijah with the courage he needed to stand before Ahab, He also had the getaway prepared. Let’s read on to see where God sent Elijah next, and how He continued to provide for him, there.
4And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
Once again, we see God sending Elijah out. And once again, God has provided everything Elijah would need in order to obey God’s instructions. Where did God send Elijah this time? God sent him to live by a brook. Why would God send him there? Remember, the rain had stopped. So Elijah would need a good water supply from which he could drink. And for as long as he stayed there, God made sure the water in that brook kept flowing for Elijah.
God also had a plan for feeding Elijah. Where would his food come from? God sent ravens to bring him food twice a day. That’s a pretty good deal! God miraculously used the ravens to meet Elijah’s needs until it was time for him to leave the brook. You see, ravens are known for being quite intelligent. They’re especially good at hiding their food from other birds. So it would not be natural instinct for them to share their food with Elijah. Only their Creator, God, could convince them to do such a thing.
Now, it’s not likely that God is going to call any of us to go live in the wilderness, or send birds to drop food off for our dinner. But it is likely that He will call each of us into service for Him. And if we can remember this story about the way the Lord provided for Elijah, then we can be certain that He will provide for our needs, too. He is the same loving, caring, and all-powerful God today that He was all those years ago.
But before the Lord can call us into service, we first must be part of His family. Have you ever made that very important decision to ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins, and come into your heart? More than anything else, that is what He wants most for you… to become His child. To do that, we need to repent of our sins. Tell Him we’re sorry for the wrong things that we do. We need to recognize that Jesus paid the penalty for those sins when He died on the cross. And that He has the power to give us eternal life because He rose from the dead, and is now alive! Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess Jesus as Lord of our lives, and believe that He died for us, and rose again… we can be saved, and become part of God’s eternal family. If you have not ever done that, today would be the perfect day to ask Jesus into your heart and life.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Elijah, and how he obeyed Your call, even though it must have seemed scary at the time. And thank You for the reminder that when You call us to serve You, that You will provide all we need to follow You. Please give each of us the courage to obey, and the faith to trust You to take care of us. And if there’s anyone here who does not know you as their Savior, let this be the day that they open their hearts to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. King Ahab married a Jewish princess. (false – he married a pagan princess)
2. Ahab and Jezebel worshipped the one true God. (false – they worshipped Baal)
3. People who worshipped Baal believed that he controlled the rain. (true)
4. After Elijah delivered God’s message, he ran away and hid. (true)
5. God told Elijah to go hide in a cave. (false – he was to go to the brook Cherith)