LESSON – ELIJAH AND THE STILL, SMALL VOICE
by Marty Donnellan, Copyright 2010
Key Verse: “As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14
Open in prayer.
Say: Several weeks ago we read a story about Elijah, a mighty prophet of God from the Old Testament. Does anyone remember what it was about? Wait for answers.
It was the story of Elijah and the poor widow who had nearly run out of food during a time of great hunger. God performed a miracle through Elijah, each day adding to the widow’s nearly empty jar of oil and flour, providing just enough food for her, her son, and Elijah.
There are lots of neat stories about Elijah in the Bible. Can anyone tell me where they are found? 1st and 2nd Kings. Does anyone know when Elijah lived? Elijah lived in the 9th century BC.
Today we’re going to read another story about Elijah. One of the characters is a wicked queen who wanted him dead! Does anyone remember her name? Wait for answers. Her name was Jezebel. There are some really awful people in the Bible, but Jezebel and her husband King Ahab were two of the worst. Not only were they liars, cheats and murderers, but they brought idol worship in Israel to a whole new level. Jezebel took things even further by trying to stamp out worship of the true God.
Remember that God doesn’t like idols of any sort taking His place. Also remember that evil is not content to merely co-exist with good. It wants to get rid of it!
Today’s story takes place after Elijah’s dramatic defeat of 450 prophets of the false god Baal, in which Elijah had performed a miracle by calling down fire from heaven. Jezebel was furious! She sent a note to Elijah threatening to kill him. Even though Elijah had stood up to the 450 godless men, he was afraid of Jezebel. He ran for his life! He travelled about 100 miles. After his trip, he was worn out – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Today we might say that he had “run out of gas”.
Ask: Have you ever felt discouraged and “bummed out” over circumstances? Wait for answers. Elijah was so worn out and discouraged that he even prayed to die! Fortunately, God did not answer his prayer. At an earlier time in Elijah’s ministry, God had sent a raven to feed him.
This time He sent an angel. After the angel fed him and he got some rest, he travelled to Horeb, a place the Bible calls “the mountain of God”. Horeb is another name for Mt. Sinai, the place where Moses received the law from God, including the Ten Commandments. Elijah’s trip was to take him 40 days. Let’s read about it!
Read or have a child read I Kings 19:9-18.
Say: The phrase “a still, small voice” is from the KJV, and is also translated “a gentle blowing” (NASV), “a gentle whisper” (NIV, NLT), or even “sheer silence” (NRSV), as in the silence after a storm. Whatever it was, it made Elijah come out of the cave, and then God spoke to him.
Ask: Why do you think God demonstrated the awesome power of “earth, wind and fire” before the “gentle blowing”? Wait for answers. One of many reasons may be that God is sort of like our parents. He knows when to yell and he knows when to get our attention with a quiet voice. Elijah had been through a lot of dramatic and frightening events, and his spirit was very fragile. God got his attention with stillness.
Read or have a child read Psalm 103:13-14: “As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
Say: God remembered that Elijah, for all his mighty works of faith, was just a weak and frail human being, just a guy. The stories of his amazing miracles make him sound like some kind of super-hero, but James 5:17, which is in the New Testament, states that he was just as human as we are!
At this point in Elijah’s life, he knew all about the big stuff: calling down fire from heaven; praying that it wouldn’t rain for 3-1/2 years; seeing nearly-empty jars keep filling with food; even raising a little boy from the dead! Maybe now God wanted him to be understand that He could work in a different way. Maybe now God wanted him to learn to listen for His quiet leading when the situation seemed hopeless.
Ask: You are all still very young, but have you ever felt this way, that all was lost? Wait for answers. Many grownups have felt this way at some point in their lives. Have the children try to see through the pieces of black “bummed out” construction paper provided – they won’t be able to.
Say: Remember that when we are tired and “bummed out”, we don’t always see things as they really are – all we can see is our own black discouragement!
Ask: Do you have any other thoughts about the presence of God in the gentle blowing or whisper? Wait for answers.
Then say: Elijah complained that all the people of Israel had left God and that he was the only one left. Was he right? Wait for answers. No, he was totally off base! He thought he knew the situation, but he didn’t. God surprised him by giving further orders and also stating that there were 7,000 others who had not bowed down to Baal. God even told Elijah to go back and appoint the next prophet after him. Elijah had assumed in his exhaustion and fear that it was “game over, dude”, but God surprised him with a bigger picture.
Ask: Who did God say he was sending to Elijah to help him? Wait for answers. He was sending Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. God answers prayers by sending us people. Who in your life is someone that God has sent to you? Wait for answers.
Ask: Before we get to our craft, can anyone tell me the unusual circumstances of Elijah’s departure from the earth? Elijah’s despairing cry for death was never answered. Elijah did not die like ordinary people. Instead, God took him directly to heaven in a blazing chariot.
Ask: Does the wind-chime make a loud sound or a soft one? When you listen to your wind-chime, remember how God got Elijah’s attention!
Activity: On the paper supplied, draw a super-hero of your own design. What is your super-hero able to do that ordinary people can’t? Be sure and give him or her a name!