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Elijah and the Great Baal Out

Notes & Transcripts

Elijah and the Great Baal Out

1 Kings 16:29-17:1, 1 Kings 18

Purpose:  

+ To learn a bit about Baal worship in Old Testament Caanan and, sometimes, Israel;

+ To learn one of the great Old Testament stories and meet one of the greatest Old Testament prophets;

+To understand the importance of the First Commantment;

+ To examine similarities between religious doublemindedness, indecision and syncretism in Old Testament Israel to our own time;

+ To know for sure that when God is on our side we have nothing to fear.

1.  If a visitors from another planet had come to visit you this week, what would they have learned learn about us by going everywhere we went and paying close attention?  About our interests, our hobbies, our favorite activities? Could they tell what our religion is?  Who our god is?  What if they visited our church ? What if they visited our homes?  What if they went around with us after school or on Saturday?

Three weeks ago our lesson was about the Ten Commandments.  We learned then that:

A "god" is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. (LC) or

A "god" is "Whatever we can't live without." (MDB)

Review and transition

The last two weeks' lessons were about Israel's greatest king, David, and his son Solomon, Israel's wisest and wealthiest king. Unfortunately, Saul, David, and Solomon were the only kings of undivided Israel.  After Solomon died, the northern and southern kingdoms divided.  The southern kingdom, called Judah, included two of Israel's twelve tribes; it had some good kings and some bad.  The other ten tribes comprised the northern kingdom, generally referred to as Israel.  Almost every king the northern kingdom was bad.  The king in this week's story, Ahab, was the wickedest king Israel ever had.  The bad kings' wickedness always included idolatry, and Ahab's wickedness was no exception.

2.  Read Kings 16:29-34.  What did we learn here?  What questions do we have? What do we know about Baal?

Tell about Baal:

The main god of the Caananites.

Worhipeed off and on by Israel (and even Judah) too, contrary to the First Commandment. 

When Israel and Judah worshipped Baal, it was often in addition to worshipping the true God.

God of fertility, which of course included crops, which required rain.  Baal was often depicted holding sylized lightening bolts.

Israel sometimes worshipped two gods - the True God and Baal. Do we ever do anything like that?

Remember from the Ten Commandments lesson:

A "god" is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. (LC) or

A "god" is "Whatever we can't live without." (MDB)

3.  Read 1 Kings 17:1.  This is the Bible's first mention of Elijah.  Consider the implications of his drought prophecy in light of what we now know about Baal.

A direct affront to the god of fertility - of thunder, lightening, and rain.

Following what we've just read, nearly three years passed, in which Elijah went to the wilderness and had several opportunities to experience God's miraculous powers.  We're skipping forward three years for today's lesson.

4.  Read 1 Kings 18. 

5.  What's the meaning of "limping" in verse 21?

To waver, mentally vacillate, formally, leap or dance about, i.e., think in an unstable, manner, bouncing between commitment of two persons or ideas.

Discuss once again the problem of serving two gods.  What do we look to for our needs? What can't we do without?

6.  What contrasts do you see between the actions of prophets of Baal and of Elijah in this story?

Contrast verse 26-29 with verse 36.

7.  5.  What are the main events in this story?

Baal fails to send fire.

God sends fire.

It rains, at the time of god's choosing.

8.  Have you every heard before of God sending fire for a sacrifice?

Read Leviticus 9:22-24.

Read 1 Chronicles 21:26.

9.  How did "all the people" react? (verse 39). Can you imagine how somebody wouldn't have believed?

Do you suppose Ahab and Jezebel also believed?

Nope.

Discuss the fact that we can never guarantee somebody will believe, no matter what the evidence they see.

10.  What's happening in verse 40?  Revenge?

No.  This was the OT penalty specified for idolotry.  See Deuteronomy 17:2-5.

11.  What was Elijah’s attitude toward God? Ahab's?

12.  What does  remind you to be thankful for?

13.  Why is it important to God that you have no other gods?

14.  What was the Law in this story for the original hearers?

15.  What was the Gospel in the story for the original hearers?

16.  What is the Law in the story for us?

17.  What is the Gospel in the story for us?

18.  Where is Jesus Christ in this story?

On the altar.

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