Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Elijah: Where God Guides, He Provides
Lesson 3: God Provides, Even When It Seems To Be Too Late
Author’s Notes: This week, we’re continuing a series of lessons on the prophet Elijah. In last week’s lesson, we met a widow woman who demonstrated her faith in God by giving what she had to Elijah. This week, we’ll see her faith tested, once again, as it seems like God takes from her the most precious thing that she has. But we’ve been learning about how God provides for our needs when we follow where He leads us. And God will not let this widow woman down. He’s going to continue to supply all that she needs, even when it seems to be too late.
How late is too late, for God to help? Does anything ever get to the point that God is no longer in control, and cannot help if He chooses to?
Our Bible lesson today is taken from the Old Testament. But before we go there, let’s take a moment to look at a story in the New Testament where two sisters were devastated because it appeared like Jesus came too late. Jesus had spent some time with Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus; and they loved Him very much. They also believed that He was the Son of God, and could do wonderful miracles. But when Lazarus became very sick, and they sent word for Jesus to come and heal him, Jesus didn’t come right away. In fact, He waited four days. And in that time, Lazarus died.
When Jesus did finally arrive, both Mary and Martha came to Him, crying, because they thought that He had arrived too late. But Jesus had bigger things than healing in mind for Lazarus. He had come to bring Lazarus back to life! And it was all “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.” (John 11:4b) And that’s just what happened: John 11:45 tells us that many Jews who had come to comfort the family saw what Jesus did, and believed on Him.
This is a good reminder for us; that when it looks like things are going beyond what we can handle, or like God has forgotten about us and is too late to help us, that it’s all still part of His plan. We must remember that God always wants the very best for us. So if He waits till it looks like He’s too late, then God has a reason for the delay.
One possible reason is that what we wanted God to do was not what He knew was best for us. In those cases, God chooses to answer our prayers in a different way than we might be expecting. And sometimes those answers can make us sad, because we don’t see things the same way that God does. Like when we pray for a family member to get better, but they don’t; and God chooses to take them to Heaven, instead. Those are the times when we must really trust that He knows what’s best, and is doing what’s best for us.
Another reason God sometimes waits until it looks like it’s too late is so He can have the opportunity to do the impossible; like He did raising Lazarus from the dead. There was nothing anyone could do to help Lazarus, once he was dead. Anyone except for God, that is. And that’s where today’s memory verse comes in. When we seem to be in impossible situations, those are just the times God likes to step in and do the impossible; to remind us that He is God, and with Him all things are possible!
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.)
“And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
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 promises to 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: Elijah Brings the Widow’s Son Back to Life (1 Kings 17:17-24)
For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been learning about the prophet Elijah. We’ve also been learning about how God met Elijah’s needs, as Elijah obeyed God and followed where God led him. In our first lesson, God sent Elijah to tell wicked King Ahab that God was stopping the rain because of Ahab and Jezebel’s wickedness. So Elijah had to hide from the king. And God provided him a safe place by a brook. Do you remember how God provided food for him? Yes, He sent ravens to the brook to feed Elijah every morning and evening.
But last week, we saw that the brook dried up because of the drought. So God had another plan for taking care of Elijah. He sent him to the town of Zarephath; and told him that a woman, there, would take care of him. Does anyone remember what kind of woman she was? Was she wealthy? Did she have a big family? No! She was a poor widow woman. And she and her son were suffering because of the drought, too. In fact, she had only enough oil and meal to make one more meal for herself and her son. Then she thought they would starve to death. But God used that opportunity to test her faith in Him, and show her how He was willing and able to meet all of her needs.
Does anyone remember what the widow did that demonstrated her faith in God? She used what little supplies she had left to feed Elijah first. Then she made food for her son and herself. And what did God do in return? He made sure her jar of oil and her barrel of meal did not run out during the drought. Through this, the widow learned that God can do miracles! Even for poor widows.
But in our lesson today, we’re going to see God stretch the widow’s faith just a little bit farther. He’s going to bring her to the point of thinking things are hopeless, just like He did with Mary and Martha. And the widow is going to see, just as the sisters did, that when things are impossible for man, they are more than possible for God.
Let’s look in the book of 1 Kings to see what happened to the widow, that taught her a great lesson in the mighty power of the one, true God.
(1 Kings 17)
17And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
Sometimes people ask this question: why do bad things happen to good people? Have you ever heard anyone say that? Many like to believe that if we are obeying God, and doing our best to be good, that bad things shouldn’t happen to us. But when we read God’s Word, we find that God often allows “bad” things to happen to those who are following Him, to teach them to trust Him even more. We should keep in mind, here, that what we see as bad might not be bad at all in God’s eyes. He sees the end result, and knows it is good for us.
The widow who was taking care of Elijah had done nothing wrong. And yet something very bad had happened. What was wrong with her son? He was so sick that he had stopped breathing! This must have been the worst possible thing that the widow could ever imagine. She had done just what the Lord had asked of her. She had been willing to give everything she had to Elijah, and was faithfully caring for him for some time. And then…her son was taken from her. Let’s read on to see just what she was feeling.
18And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
As the widow was overcome by grief, she seemed to be thinking the same thing that we mentioned before. Surely God wouldn’t allow such a terrible thing to happen to a good person. So why, then, did she think her son had died? She thought that perhaps God had sent Elijah to kill her son, as a punishment for her past sins. But that wasn’t what God was doing, at all. God had a special plan for this widow. He was going to show her something about Himself that very few others ever get to experience… His mighty resurrection power!
But in order to do that, the widow was going to have to trust God, once again, with something very precious to her. He asked her, before, to give up what food she had left to feed Elijah. That must have been one of the hardest things she’d ever been asked to do. And now, God was asking her to give up her only son. She would have to let him go, and trust that God would once again provide.
19And he [Elijah] said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
There’s no indication that Elijah explained what he was going to do. In fact, perhaps Elijah, himself, didn’t really know. He would have to trust God, too, to lead him to do what needed to be done in order for God to keep His promise to provide all that the widow needed. And in this case, what she needed was life of her son.
Do you remember our memory verse from last week? “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 God has promised us over and over again in His Word that He loves us, and is doing all that needs to be done to take care of our needs. He wants what’s best for us. And sometimes what’s best comes wrapped up in scary packages. I’m sure the widow had no idea that God was providing the very best for her by letting her son die. But that’s just what He was doing. And she was about to see it for herself.
20And he [Elijah] cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
Did Elijah know what God was planning to do? It doesn’t sound like it. He seemed to be just as confused as the widow, that God would bring such “evil” on this widow. But Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God’s plans for us are “…of peace, and not of evil…” So what looked like “evil” to the widow and Elijah was actually God’s way of supplying just what He knew they needed. God was ready to watch their faith grow. And He knew this was just the way to do it.
So what did Elijah do? Faith always leads to action. And Elijah still had faith that God could bring the widow’s son back to life. He didn’t give up, and just walk away. Instead, he immediately turned to the only One who was now able to help; the one, true God who had created the boy.
Faith that God could do the impossible also required the widow to do something. A mother’s natural reaction would be to hold onto her lifeless boy. But when Elijah said that she needed to give him her son, what did she do? Did she argue with Elijah, and insist on keeping him with her? No. She placed her son’s body in Elijah’s hands. She must have believed that there was still something that could be done for her son. And we know she was right, because our memory verse tells us that even when things are impossible for man, with God all things are possible… even bringing a dead little boy back to his mother.
Let’s read the rest of the passage to see just how God came to the rescue, even when it looked like it might be too late.
21And he [Elijah] stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.
22And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
What two things did Elijah do to bring the boy back to life? He stretched himself on top of the child three times, and he prayed to the LORD. We’re not told why he stretched out like that. But do you suppose he ever thought about giving up? After all, couldn’t God have revived the boy the first time? Yes, He could have. But God waited for Elijah to do this three times. There are several times in the Bible that God allows things to happen three times. So there seems to be some significance to God in that repetition. But whatever the reason, Elijah kept crying out for God to bring the boy back to life. And in God’s own way and time, that’s just what happened. What was impossible for man was possible with God. Our passage says his soul came back to him, and he revived! What a miraculous thing for God to do.
There is no record of this happening to anyone in the Bible, before this. No one had ever been brought back to life. Yet the Lord must have felt that some good would result in the lives of this widow and her son in allowing him to die, then bringing him back to life. Do you remember the story of Lazarus from the beginning of our lesson? What good came out of his death and coming back to life? Many of the Jews who saw it believed on Jesus. And the same was true for the widow who received her son back from the dead.
23And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
24And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
This widow woman had already demonstrated her faith by taking care of Elijah, and entrusting him with her son. But after seeing what God could do through His prophet Elijah, after handing her son’s lifeless body over to Elijah and receiving him back, alive again, there was absolutely no doubt left in her mind that Elijah served the living God; and that what God said through Elijah was the absolute truth. God had allowed the woman to endure the most painful loss so He could bless her with a seemingly impossible gift – her son returned to her. And as a result, her eyes we opened to the greatness of the power of the one, true God.
What about you? Have you ever come to the place where you realized that there really is only one, true God; and that He is the God of the Bible? We have something very special today that the widow woman did not have. Can anyone guess what that is? We have God’s Word, the Bible, written down for us to read. We can learn all about God and His promises by reading about it in His Word. Since the widow did not have the Bible to tell her about God, and His power to heal, God sent His own prophet right to her home. So she could see for herself who God really is.
Do you believe that God still has the power to heal people, or bring them back to life, today? Of course He does! He is the same God today that He was back then. But remember, He has given us His precious Word to teach us all about Himself. So we shouldn’t need for Him to do some great miracle before our eyes in order to believe that He is God.
But God does still love for us to come to Him with our prayer requests. He still loves to meet the needs of His children. And He loves to demonstrate His power, when He knows it will be best for that person, and bring glory to His name. So, like Elijah, when we have a need, the best place to turn is to our Heavenly Father; believing that He can do even the impossible. And believing that He will do what is best for each of us.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Elijah and the widow. And thank You for reminding us that You are a God who can do the impossible. What a comfort that is for us, when we find ourselves in what seems to be an impossible situation. We love You, Lord. And thank You, this day, for loving us, and always doing what’s best for us. Help us to be grateful, each day, for the way You meet our needs. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. The widow wondered if God took her son to punish her for her sin. (true)
2. Elijah also questioned why God allowed the boy to die. (true)
3. Elijah took the boy to a doctor to see if he could help. (false – he took the boy to his own room)
4. Elijah did not rely on himself, but cried out to God to bring the boy back to life. (true)
5. The widow believed that Baal was responsible for healing her son. (false – she knew God had healed him)