9. Elijah: God's Humble Prophet 3: The God Who Loves Me As I Am
1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 2
Day One Study
Setting The Stage…
Use a Bible handbook, Bible text notes, or other sources to find out more information about the significance of these:
· Mount Horeb—
· The mantle worn by Elijah—
· The horses and chariots of fire—
After the phenomenal experience on Mt. Carmel, you might expect to find Elijah openly preaching to all Israel. Instead . . .
1. Read 1 Kings 19:1-18. (See the map after the first Elijah lesson to follow Elijah’s travels.) Describe all the reasons Elijah gives for being dejected and fleeing to Mt. Horeb.
2. Considering the great victory on Mt. Carmel, when Elijah stood alone but boldly proclaimed God, why do you think he now lost courage? For more insight, read also what happened to Peter in John 18:1-10; 15-18; 25-27.
Think About It: In 1 Kings 19:9, the Hebrew text says, “he came to the cave,” possibly the very cleft of the rock where God had placed Moses as His glory passed by (Ex. 33:14-23). The Lord told Moses, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” What might Elijah have been seeking at Mt. Horeb?
3. Looking back at 1 Kings 19:3-14, and continuing to read vs. 15-18, what was God’s response to Elijah’s need? Describe all the ways God helps, encourages, and shows His love for Elijah.
4. In 1 Kings 19:13; 19-21, how does Elijah respond to God’s word and love?
5. Your Life’s Journey: Although God can and does display His power in mighty acts like that on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), the majority of us experience His presence as Elijah did—the gentle “whisper.” Personal. For us alone. As Christians, we have access to this “power” daily. Read John 14:26; 16:12-15; and Romans 8:15-16; 26-27. Explain in your own words how God has already provided for us to know His presence and power. Add any other verses.
Think About It: God “draws” us to Himself in a loving personal relationship. In Romans 8:15, 16, Jesus introduced a revolutionary truth when He taught that we can relate to God on this level. How can we NOT be drawn to a God who loves us in this way? (Bob George, Growing in Grace, p. 70-71)
The God Who Loves Me As I Am
Elijah became weak because He stopped trusting God. Peter failed (question 1b) because he stopped trusting God. In God’s sight, sin of adultery and murder (David) is just as bad as that of not trusting Him. Romans 14:23 says, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” The wonderful thing about Jesus Christ is that He knows all about our human weakness and failures. Our God accepts us as we are.
6. He understands my weaknesses and failures. Read Hebrews 4:14-16; Psalm 56:3-4; and 1 Peter 5:7.
· What does He tell us to do with our fears?
· Name some practical ways you can do this.
Think About It: There is only one way to determine your identity that cannot be shaken, one foundation that cannot be taken away from you: “I am a child of God.” Now you might be a child of God who happens to be a businessman...or a Now you might be a child of God who happens to be a businessman...or a mother...or an athlete. But the core source of your identity is your relationship with your God and Father. Only in this way can you ever begin to discover true security…At moments of failure, we need to be reminded of who we really are so that we can return to dependency upon Him and act in accordance with our true identity. We never outgrow our need to be reminded of who we are in Christ! It is something that God is trying to teach us from the first day of our Christian lives until the day we go home to heaven, and this truth provides a constant standard against which we learn to measure our thinking and responses throughout life...It is only as we learn and rest in what the Word of God teaches us about our total acceptance before God that we can become free. (Bob George, Growing in Grace, p. 22, 63, 84)
7. He responds to my need. Fear, confusion and despair distorted Elijah’s thinking, and he ran instead of praying. He withdrew from his sphere of influence and neglected his body’s needs. He wallowed in self-pity. God responded to Elijah’s need.
· Have you ever followed Elijah’s stressed-out steps? What happened, and how did God help you out of such a painful place in the past?
· Have you thanked Him for this? Consider writing or drawing something to express your thankfulness today.
Scriptural Insight: Preventing despair is far easier than recovery! Next time you encounter a frightening situation, dwell on Philippians 4:6-8; John 14:27; and Psalm 27.
Day Two Study
A No-Death Contract
As a prophet, Elijah represented God during the time period 875-848 BC. That means for 27 years, he remained faithful and persevered through drought and discouragement. This perseverance produced fruit in his own life, as well as in the life of Elisha whom he trained to take over after him. He most likely also spent time at the various schools of the prophets, also called the “sons of the prophets,” located at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho where men were in training for the life of a prophet—the earliest “seminaries.” These schools were apparently begun by Samuel to teach the Israelites the revealed Word of God and encouraged by Elijah as he visited them. What an abundant life Elijah led!!
8. Read 2 Kings 2:1-18. What does God do for Elijah on his last day on earth?
9. Your Life’s Journey: One day, Christians will also be taken up directly to heaven without seeing death. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. This is commonly called the Rapture, a much anticipated event for it signals the time when Christ will come to defeat His enemies on earth and set up His earthly kingdom. Thinking about Elijah, what would you do if you knew today was your last day on earth?
Scriptural Insight: The influence of Elijah did not end here nor was God finished using Him to do His will. In Malachi 4:5,6, God promises “behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” This expectation of the return of Elijah appears frequently in the NT, as John the Baptist (Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13; Mark 9:13; Luke 1:17; John 1:21, 25); and Jesus (Matt. 16:13, 14; Mark 6:15, 8, 28; Luke 9:8, 19). Elijah appears to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3, 4; Mark 9:4, 5 Luke 9:30-33). James and John are reminded of how Elijah called down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54). Some thought Jesus called fro Elijah to recue Him from the cross (Matt. 27:47-49; Mark 15:35, 36). The epistle of James Elijah as an example of a man who prevailed in prayer (James 5:17-18). Whether Elijah is one of the two witnesses, together with Enoch, in Revelation 11, is a matter of interpretation, resting on the fact that Enoch and Elijah are the only two men recorded as being taken up to heaven without dying. (Adapted from The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 256)
10. What in Elijah’s life encourages you to persevere?
Think About It: God can achieve His purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or the abandonment of reliance upon them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on Him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used “somebodies” only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources. (Oswald Chambers)
Going Further With Elishah (Optional)
2 Kings 2:2-9:13; 13:10-20
Elisha was one of those persons who lived much of his life in the shadow of a great individual. Elijah blazed the trails; Elisha enlarged them. Elijah was the prophet of fire. Elisha’s ministry was less dramatic. He was the son of a well-to-do farmer, enjoyed living in cities, and relished the comforts of home. Even after Elijah was gone from the scene and Elisha was well-established in his own work, he was still known as the man who “used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11)…For generations, a special chair has been set for Elijah at the circumcision ceremonies of every Jewish boy. And Elisha? He remains in the shadows…the obscure understudy of a great prophet. Even though God performed twice as many miracles through Elisha as He did through Elijah, the former would probably be content to be remembered as the man who followed Elijah.
Elisha’s first ministry was simply to become Elijah’s friend. To be a listening ear, to offer words of counsel. To just be there. It was true that Elisha poured water over Elijah’s hands as a servant. But more important that that, he poured the refreshing water of encouragement over Elijah’s heart as a close companion. For ten years, until the older prophet was finally called into the presence of the Lord, Elisha served Elijah, walked the dusty roads of Samaria with him, and stood by his side until the very end.
It’s easy to overlook a ministry of friendship and encouragement. Often it goes unnoticed. It isn’t the kind of ministry that grabs a lot of attention and headlines. Jonathan was David’s friend at a critical time in David’s life. David went on to the throne and to fame and renown, but it was Jonathan who had stood beside him. It was Jonathan who had encouraged the son of Jesse when David felt like life wasn’t worth living. Paul initiated the major first-century thrust for Christian missions, but as you read his letters you discover it was several supportive friends who made the difference in his life: Barnabas…and Onesiphorus…Timothy.
If you were Elisha, gifted with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and launched into your own career as a prophet, how would you begin to shape your ministry? Elisha never tried to imitate Elijah! It was not Elisha’s mannerisms, style, or methods he had requested; it was Elijah’s strength and spirit. Now, endowed with the strength, Elisha was free to utilize his own gifts—he was free to be himself. Elijah was a prophet of fire and judgment; Elisha became a prophet of mercy and compassion. Elijah was a man on the move; Elisha enjoyed the tranquility of home life. Elijah’s ministry was one of stern warning; Elisha’s ministry was one of tender teaching.
11. In what ways might Elisha have encouraged Elijah during his years of service to the prophet?
12. Your Life’s Journey: Has God called you to a “background” ministry of encouragement? How?
Think it through: Your infinitely creative God delights in diversity! That’s why He created you exactly the way you are. He has gifted you with the ability to reflect the life of Jesus Christ in a way that no one else who ever walked the earth (or ever will) can hope to duplicate. Have you found the freedom to be yourself in your ministry and not have to match someone else’s style, results or expectations? (Adapted from Talk through the Bible, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, pages 116-123)