Elijah Study Guide - Christ Central Church

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Study Guide

Standing with The LORD1 Kings 17: 1-6The LORD’s ProvisionThe Troubler of IsraelFire from HeavenLet It Rain1 Kings 17: 8-241 Kings 18:1-181 Kings 18:19-401 Kings 18:41-46The Prophet’s WeaknessElijah’s Restoration1 Kings 19:1-81 Kings 19:9-18Elisha Called and AnointedNaboth’s VineyardWhere is the LORD1 Kings 19:18-211 Kings 21:1-292 Kings 2:1-14christcentral.church/elijah

Standing with The LORD 1 Kings 17: 1-6This series looks at how God speaks to a nation – to a people – that has rejected God.Reading about Israel, from thousands of years ago, it is easy to separate ourselves fromthe story. However, for us in a nation that has turned away from God, this is just asapplicable to us today.Elijah is probably the most famous Old Testament prophet. The prophets were peoplewho delivered God’s message – normally for the people of Israel – direct from God. Godspoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets (Hebrews 1:1). This isn’t the ‘prophecy inpart’ that we see today, but is His direct, authoritative word. Their message, and languageused was often shocking and offensive, violent and explicit. The response was normallyaggressive: Jeremiah thrown in a well; Daniel thrown to lions; Elijah was a marked man. Itwas not a fun job to be a prophet, and they would plead with God to give the task tosomeone else. Often, when we see people called to be God’s prophet, there was a greatreluctance. It was a tough job to have – yet it was important for the nation of Israel to hear.Q. Why is fear of man such a challenge for us? How can we overcome this fear?Hearts turned from GodIsrael is God’s treasured possession, chosen, called and loved. As we read about God’srelationship with Israel there is great fondness and affection. As with every strongrelationship, there is a need for reciprocal love. God asks of His people that they love Him.God asks the Israelites to join this relationship, to join this affection and fondness. He callsa people to worship Him and worship Him alone. If God had created all of creation, thereis nothing else that deserves worship more than Him. To give worship to anything else,would be worshipping the creation, not the creator. If God exists, He is worthy of worship.Throughout the Old Testament, God has revealed Himself to the Israelites - and theresponse He deserves is their total worship.As we read the history of the nation of Israel, we meet King David – the worshipping king.David – a man after God’s own heart - knew God and loved Him. David was not perfect –an adulterous murderer – yet he knew how precious the word of God is – ‘sweeter thanhoney’ and ‘more precious than gold’. David led the nation of Israel to love and praise theirGod. David is followed by his son, Solomon – a king who sought wisdom, and theunderstanding of God. Solomon was blessed by God, and even the Queen of Sheba seesthe favour upon Israel, and glorifies God.Q. The Queen of Sheba was amazed by the favour of God upon Israel - how can we asa church display the favour of God upon us to the surrounding world?All is good until: ‘Solomon took many wives, from many nations in defiance of God’s wordwhich said ‘you shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surelythey will turn away your heart after their god.’ (1 Kings 11:2). The ‘heart’ of Solomon turnedfrom God and consequently the heart of Israel too. Once Solomon rejected God’s wordand took many wives from many nations, there started a downward spiral. Solomon’s sonsaw his father ignore scripture, and so gave it less authority. The next king: even less.Seven kings pass between Solomon and Ahab – in a period of 58 years - and the kings

become more and more evil. By the time of Ahab, the God of Israel has been fully rejected,in favour of Baal – worshipped through temple prostitutes and child sacrifice.Q. What does a life lived in obedience to God's Word look like? What ways can aperson who finds reading very difficult still be shaped by the Word of God?Q. What subtle changes has society made to God’s commands, steering people awayfrom His will?Standing Before God or Against God?Read 1 Kings 17:1This is the first time we encounter Elijah. He just appears on the scene, confronting a kingwho is happy to execute anyone worshipping God rather than Baal – and he starts with thename of Yahweh – at odds with the status quo. Elijah is not pandering to the ego of theking, and is not on a popularity mission. This isn’t about Elijah at all – it is about Yahweh,the God who lives – not a god made of wood or stone. The God who sees, hears, moves,feels – and speaks! Elijah knows God and stands with Him. He knows that in His presencethere is fullness of joy – pleasures forever more. Elijah knew we stand before God as ourjudge and, if we stand with Him, we need not fear any man or king.Q. What response do you receive when talking about God? What discourages youfrom talking about Jesus?Q. How can we hold onto Yahweh – the God who lives - when confronted withobjections and trials?God is the source of both Saving Grace and Common GraceRead James 5:17This is devastating. No rain, means no food and no drink. Drought and famine does notsound compassionate and merciful. God is the source of common grace: food, water,breath - all the things we take for granted. If we reject His saving grace, worshipping thecreated things – the blessings of common grace – the kindest thing God can do is removethose idols. God will withdraw His common grace to bring you back to something infinitelybetter.Elijah found himself in the time of drought, where common grace was being withdrawn –yet Elijah was obedient to the word of God and remains in the provision of God’s commongrace. God remains faithful to Elijah. Alone on a mountain God provides – even if it’s thebeaks of ravens.Q. How can the comfort of ‘common grace’ become an idol? How is this seen in thelives around us?Q. How can we express our gratitude and thanks for all the blessings God provides?

The LORD’s Provision 1 Kings 17: 8-24Elijah is a man of faith. He obeyed God’s word, even when it was difficult and challenging.Elijah had been sent to Zarephath – a land outside of Israel, in the territory of Ahab’sfather-in-law. Not only was Elijah in enemy territory, he was to trust in a widow – certainlynot someone who would have resources to support him. Elijah finds the widow, and allwould appear to be going well. However, when the widow is asked for a loaf of bread, herresponse cements the theory that she cannot support Elijah. In fact, her response is thatshe can’t even support herself and her son.Elijah responds in faith. He knows that God has promised to provide through the widow.He has no evidence, but he has faith in God to provide. Elijah believes that if the widowdoes as God has instructed, then God will provide – and so Elijah instructs the widow to doso. This is the behaviour of a man, just like us. Elijah had the same vulnerabilities that wehave, and so we can learn from him.Q. How can we be tempted to give up on God’s plans, when circumstances appeartoo tough?Elijah is a great example for us, yet this story shows an example that may be a little closerto how we feel. The Zarephath widow shows us a journey which many of us can relate to.The Journey to FaithWhen Elijah encounters the widow, she seems to know of him. She is in a pagan nation,worshipping Baal, and yet God has told her to feed Elijah. She is not shocked by meetingElijah – she is aware who he is. Yet her response makes clear that - although she respectsElijah and God – this is not her faith, and not her god. Elijah’s word of faith is strongenough to convince her to take part - to ride along on Elijah’s faith. By Elijah’sencouragement, we see the widow take great steps of faith, and starts to trust in theprovision.Q. How does your faith and obedience impact and affect yourfriends/family/colleagues?Q. How can we be inspired by the faith of those around us? How can we learn fromother’s experiences?Later she experiences a crisis. She has been living on the blessing God has provided,enjoying the food that God has given – and then, all of a sudden, her son dies. Herblossoming faith is rocked by this crisis, and she shows anger at Elijah and ‘his God’ –feeling like the whole thing has been a joke, a plan to highlight and punish her for her sin.Elijah continues in faith. His response is not a brazen or proud response – he cries outpleading with God, and the son is revived – a miracle as the boy is brought back to life. Thewidow sees something completely different. No longer is she talking of Elijah’s God,leaning on his faith. Now she knows God herself, and believes His words to be truth. Whatstarted as respect and appreciation of the God of Israel, has developed into full faith inHim and His words.Q. How do your friends/family/colleagues respond in times of crisis? How can a crisisaffect our faith in God?

The Grace of GodElijah’s encounter with the Zarephath widow is a sign post – an early indicator – of God’sheart for the hurting, the poor and the needy across the world. Jesus referred to thiswoman in Luke 4 to show an example of what He was coming to do. Jesus was talking tothe teachers of the law - the religious people – who expected Jesus to benefit them. Jesususes this widow as an example, highlighting His purpose for the world, those who need Hisgood news and healing.Grace is God’s favour, unearned. The widow is a clear example of someone who deservednothing. She did not follow the laws of Israel, nor did she have the blood heritage that theteachers of the law expected. Jesus explained that she is the type of person that He cameto save. It is not by works or human endeavour, but solely by the grace of God. This ideaoffended those around him (to the point they tried to throw him off a cliff) – but is seenclearly throughout examples in the Old Testament, and the teachings of Jesus.Q. ‘Grace is something for nothing – for those that don’t deserve anything’ – how canthis seem offensive?Q. How does the widow’s example remind us of grace, and take our eyes of ourselvesand our works?The LORD’s ProvisionThis widow experiences something in this encounter. She may not be the big characterthat Elijah is, but she is key to this story, and we can see that she catches something fromElijah. At the start of this story we read that this widow had enough food for herself andher son only. By giving to Elijah, the widow needs to sacrifice either her son’s meal - or herown. She is prepared to trust in the word of Elijah, and giving to him first – before she cansee the miraculous provision.The widow gets out of poverty and need by giving out of the little bit that she has. God islooking for the widow to honour Him as the provider. Elijah challenges the widow, andinspires her – but she needed to trust in God to provide, when the circumstances andevidence around her suggested otherwise.Read Proverbs 3:9-10This is an example of biblical economics – trusting in God to meet our needs. Putting Godfirst - not fear of the assumed outcome, but in faith of God’s promise. God uses the littlewe give - the widow with only a little bread; a little boy with only five loaves and two fish –and pours out blessing to meet our need. The widow started with enough for one finalmeal - but by faithfully remaining obedient, the widow had enough for each day, everyday.Q. How can we be tempted to limit our sacrifice by our circumstances and personalsituations?Q. How do your friends/family/colleagues react to your stories of sacrificialobedience, and God’s provision?

The Troubler of Israel 1 Kings 18:1-18This account is written three years into a drought. There has been no rain, people wouldbe angry. The nation would be in huge unrest, and there was one man to blame. Elijah hadprayed earnestly for this drought – and the nation of Israel were not happy. This is a storyof God bringing drought on the Israelites - but this is not a story of an unloving God, butthe story of a stubborn people. Israel belongs to the true God, but Jezebel had turned thenation to the worship of Baal, the fertility god, and god of rain and storm – one who couldnot stop this drought.God Wants Your Heart Ready to Obey HimAfter three years, there is no evidence of change. Ahab has been chasing Elijah, searchingfor him. The nation has been under hardship, blaming Elijah. At this point, God calls Elijah:‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land’. For Elijah, this could feellike a complete failure. There has been no change, and God is calling this plan to a stop –putting Elijah straight into danger. This may feel like the right time to abandon the plan, togive up. But Elijah did not give up on God; ‘Elijah went to present himself to Ahab’. There isimmense moral courage in Elijah’s response – incredible faith and total trust. Elijah sets agreat example as he obeys God.Many people aren’t ready to hear and obey God. For some they feel let down by God, hurt,upset, bruised or hardened by past experiences. For others there is a barrenness, havingbeen in the same place for years you see no sign of escape. Some have heard God, askingthem to step out, yet they hold out – waiting for a clearer sign, and more favourablecircumstances, second guessing themselves. All Elijah saw before him death at the handsof Ahab, yet he was obedient. Elijah knew God’s promises, knew God’s goodness, knew Hisfaithfulness, and so trusted in His plans. This was not an uncertain hope, but a confidentexpectation and desire for something good in the future.Q. How do you react when plans change suddenly? How do respond to God whenthings appear to have failed?God Has Placed You with Purpose, as a Person of InfluenceAs we read this passage, we encounter Obadiah, Ahab’s palace administrator. It would beeasy to assume God had left His people aimless and alone – yet here we see God hadplaced a man in a position of influence – someone who followed God, who used