Lesson: Elijah Versus The False Prophets On Mt. Carmel

This lesson plan is based on the Bible story where Elijah gathers the false prophets on Mt. Carmel to have a contest to prove that God is the True Living God. It is written for upper elementary age students yet it can be adapted for younger children or children’s church.  At the end of the post there are additional resources to help you adapt to the needs of your class.

Scripture: 1 Kings 18

Target Age Group:  School ages 3rd-5th

Memory Verse: Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the LORD says-Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God.” NIV

Learning Objective(s):

  • Children will learn that by having the courage to live for God causes others to see what we believe.
  • Children will learn that there is only One, True God and He alone should be worshiped.
  • Children will learn that God hears and answers prayer.

Optional: Download our free “Stories of Elijah” coloring page

Learning Activities:

Bible Lesson Review Game: (This idea came from CEF’s Elijah the Prophet of the Living God lesson series.) Make 12 large gray stones from construction paper and back pieces of flannel or flocked paper. Make one large flame from orange construction paper and put flannel or flocked paper on the back. Place six stones in each of two paper bags. Divide group into two teams. A name or symbol may be drawn on each bag to designate which team it belongs to (I chose The Ravens & The Kings for our class). Alternate review questions between the teams. As a child answers correctly he/she may pull a “stone” from his/her team’s bag and help to build an altar. The team that builds the altar first stands and recites verse together as they place the flame on the altar.

A memory verse activity (idea taken from Gospel Light) that can be used for this lesson is called Verse Web. Students stand or sit in a circle. Place the written verse on a sheet of paper in the center of the circle. One student says the first word of the verse and holds tightly to the end of the string and tosses the ball to another student. That student says another word and while holding the string tosses the yarn to another student. This continues until the verse is completed. (It’s important to set the limits ahead of time so that the ball of yarn isn’t across the room instead of in the students lap.)

A song that goes well with this lesson is Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus. (Stanzas 1 and 3)

The Contest on Mt. Carmel Bible Lesson

Introduction:
Standing up for Jesus means you obey God and do what He tells us to do in the Bible even when everyone around is not. Have you ever had to stand up for God? (Allow students to share a time when they took a stand for God.) It isn’t always easy to stand up for God but when you trust God and take a stand for Him, He gives you the strength and courage to do it. When you take a stand for Jesus everyone around you will see that you have faith in God.

In our story today we will see Elijah stand up for God. We have been learning about Elijah these past two Sundays. (See Elijah confronts Ahab and Elijah and Widow) We have seen Elijah boldly stand before wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel and tell them that there would be no rain for 3 ½ years because of the sin of idolatry. Ahab, his wife and the Jewish people in the Northern kingdom were worshiping the false god Baal.

Sin must be punished and God punished Ahab and all Israel by not sending rain for 3 ½ years. When God punishes His people His purpose is to turn their hearts back to Him. He wants His people to turn away from their sin and repent and return to Him living a life that pleases Him. (Ezekiel 18:32, 2 Peter 3:9)

Story:

Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Kings 18. (Supply Bibles for students who do not have one so they can follow along when verses are pointed out.)

During the 3 ½ years of drought, Elijah had to live in God’s witness protection program. His life was in danger because wicked Queen Jezebel was so angry that Elijah had brought God’s message to them saying there would be no rain. She was so angry that she took her anger out on all of God’s prophets. She began to send her people through the land killing God’s prophets. She really wanted to kill Elijah as well, but God had him hidden safely in Zarephath with a widow and her son.

As each month passed and not one single drop of rain fell from the sky, all the plants and grass dried up and died. Rivers and streams that once were flowing with water had now dried up and all that could be seen were cracks in the ground. As the water dried up and the gardens didn’t grow many people most likely starved to death. Animals would die too because all the green grass for them to feed on would be gone.

Each day King Ahab and Jezebel must have grown angrier and angrier with Elijah. They searched everywhere for him. They sent servants to the surrounding countries and asked if they had seen Elijah. When they said “no”, Ahab made them promise that they had not seen him.

When you and I are surrounded by people disobeying God it feels like we are surrounded by darkness. We can trust God to help us when sin and evil is all around us. Even in the most wicked, dark times God always has a light in that darkness.
In our story today there is a character that gets a few lines in the passage we are reading. We don’t want to overlook him. His life is important to teach us to stand up for God even when everyone else isn’t. The man in our story besides Elijah who stands up for God in the midst of wickedness is Obadiah. Let’s look at verse three and learn about Obadiah. Obadiah was in charge of Ahab’s house, he was a governor for Ahab. Obadiah worked in an environment that was not friendly to anyone who believed in the One true God. We learn from this passage of Scripture that Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. In verse 4 we see that as Jezebel was having the prophets of the Lord killed, Obadiah was hiding 100 of God’s prophets in 2 caves. He placed 50 in each cave and secretly brought them bread and water so Jezebel would not kill them. Would you say that Obadiah is standing up for God? Obadiah could have been so afraid that he might get caught for hiding these prophets and be killed himself. He could have chosen to do nothing so his life wouldn’t be in danger, but he chose to stand up for the Lord and do what he could do in a very dark and wicked time.

Ahab was getting very concerned about the remaining livestock he had. He desperately needed green grass for his animals. He asked Obadiah to go out with him and search for food for his animals. Remember God’s punishment should cause us to seek Him. Ahab wasn’t in search for God but in search for grass.

Ahab and Obadiah split up and went into two directions looking over the land trying to find grass. As Ahab walked through the dry, cracked dusty land you would have thought that he would be convicted of his sin of idol worship and realize that his sin caused this famine. We don’t see anywhere that he had any of those thoughts.

Obadiah was walking along in his part of the land and Elijah appeared to him. Obadiah immediately fell on his face and said, “Is that you my lord, Elijah?” Elijah told Obadiah that he needed to go and tell Ahab that he was in the land and that he was ready to speak with him.

Obadiah was really scared at what Elijah was asking him to do. He was afraid that Elijah would disappear and Ahab would kill him instead.

Elijah assured Obadiah that he would not disappear. Obadiah went and told Ahab where he could find Elijah.

When Ahab showed up the first words out of his mouth were, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” I don’t think Ahab felt any responsibility for his and Israel’s sins that caused this punishment.

Elijah looks at Ahab and points right back at him and said, “I haven’t troubled Israel but you and your family have. You have disobeyed God’s commands and worshiped Baal. What I want you to do is gather the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah and bring them to me at Mt. Carmel. Also gather all of Israel and bring them here too.”

Ahab agreed he would do this and went back and gathered the false prophets of Baal. Ahab, all Israel and the false prophets of Baal came to Elijah on Mt. Carmel.

Elijah, a true prophet of God was standing before the Israelites who had been worshipping a false god. This was sin. Also before Elijah were the false prophets that were leading the Israelites to worship Baal. Elijah said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? Either the Lord is God, or Baal. You need to choose who the true God that you will follow is.”

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Elijah said there would be a contest that would prove who the true God was. The prophets of Baal would present a sacrifice to him and Elijah would present a sacrifice to the Lord God. The prophets of Baal would call on their god and Elijah would call on the Lord God. Whoever answered by fire would be the True God.

The people agreed to the contest.

The prophets of Baal took their bull and prepared it as a sacrifice on an altar. They began to call out to Baal. “Oh Baal hear us!” They cried out to Baal until noon and there was no answer. They leaped and danced around, still no answer. At noon, Elijah began to tease the prophets of Baal and said, “Cry louder, maybe he is busy meditating or is on a trip. Maybe Baal is asleep and needs to be awakened!”

The false prophets cried aloud and began to cut themselves with knives as they did in their worship of Baal. Not a spark came from anywhere to light their sacrifice on fire. They continued doing this until the evening and still no answer. A god that is made out of stone cannot hear and answer prayer.

When there was no answer, Elijah called them to him as he prepared the sacrifice before the Lord. He repaired an altar that had been used to worship the Lord a long time ago but had long since been forsaken since the people worshiped Baal. He took twelve stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel and built an altar. Elijah made a trench around the altar and filled it with seed. He put the wood on the altar and the cut up bull on top. Next, Elijah asked for 4 water pots to be poured on the altar. He asked them to pour these 4 water pots on the sacrifice 3 times. That is 12 pots of water on the sacrifice. Why do you think he poured water on the sacrifice? Fire doesn’t burn wet things very well. Elijah wanted the people to see that the Lord is God and he wasn’t doing any magic tricks to start the fire.

When the sacrifice was ready Elijah spoke in the hearing of the Lord, “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” Elijah didn’t shout and dance. He didn’t cut himself or anything else. He just spoke this simple prayer to the Lord.

Immediately fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. The Lord’s fire was so powerful that it not only burned up the bull, but it burned up the wood and stones. All the water in the trench was gone. The One True God showed His people that He alone is God and there is no other.

When the people saw God’s amazing power, they all fell on their faces. They said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” They had seen that Baal could do nothing, but the Lord heard and answered prayer.

Elijah told them to kill all the prophets of Baal and not to let one of them escape. All 450 prophets of Baal were killed that day. (God told His people that false prophets were to be put to death. Deuteronomy 13:5, 18:20 )

As soon as all the people had returned to their homes and Elijah was alone on the mountain, Elijah knelt down with his face between his knees and prayed, “Please, O God, send rain to our people. The people now realize that You are the One, True God.” Elijah prayed knowing that God hears and answers prayer. After Elijah prayed he would send his servant to go and see if he could see any rain clouds in the sky. His servant came back and said he could not see any. Elijah would pray again and send the servant out again. The servant came back and said he saw no rain clouds. This happened 7 times. On the seventh time the servant came back with the news that there was a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising up from the sea. Elijah told his servant to go and tell Ahab the news.

Elijah trusted God and even though he prayed 7 times, God heard every prayer and waited for His perfect timing to answer that prayer. Elijah’s example teaches us that we should never give up praying. We need to continue to pray and have faith that God will answer our prayers in His way and in His time.

The servant went to tell Ahab Elijah’s message. As he went the sky became black with clouds and wind and the heavy rains came. Ahab got in his chariot and began to ride home to Jezreel. God gave Elijah power and he tucked his robe in his belt and began to run toward Jezreel. God had given him so much power that he ran faster than Ahab’s chariot and beat him home to Jezreel!

God had answered Elijah’s prayer and rain finally came after 3 and ½ years. God showed everyone that He is the One True God. He alone is to be worshiped.

We can learn from both Elijah and Obadiah that in all situations we can stand up for Him because He is powerful and He will take care of His children.

Salvation Message:

If you had to give an answer to Elijah’s question “Who is the god/God you are following?” could you say that you are following the One, True God? If you believe that Jesus is the Only Way to have a right relationship with God because He died for your sins and was raised from the dead, you do believe in the True God. If you believe that there are many ways to be able to go to heaven, such as being good, helping others, going to church etc. then you do not believe in the True God. Today you can pray and ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and He will save you. When He saves you, you will be righteous (forgiven of all sin) before God and will have eternal life. Please talk to us (teachers) and we will show you from the Bible how you can be saved today.

Questions:

1. How long was the land of Israel without rain?
2. Who was angry about the drought?
3. What did Jezebel do because she was angry?
4. Who was in charge of King Ahab’s house?
5. How did Obadiah show he was a devout believer in the LORD?
6. What did Ahab say to Elijah when he came to him?
7. Who came to meet Elijah at Mt. Carmel?
8. What was the contest that Elijah was setting before the people?
9. Who answered the prophets of Baal as they offered their sacrifice?
10. How many stones did Elijah set up on his altar?
11. How did God show His power when Elijah prepared his sacrifice?
12. How can you stand up for God this week?

Additional Resources:

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