Lesson: A Little Oil and a Lot of Faith…Elijah and the Widow (1 Kings 17:7-24)

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Lesson: A Little Oil and a Lot of Faith…Elijah and the Widow (1 Kings 17:7-24)
A little goes a long way when it comes to things like horseradish, cayenne pepper, whiny toddlers…and faith! After all, a mustard seed-sized trust promises to relocate mountains in Biblical advice. God celebrates faith and those who demonstrate it. One of those giants of reliance was Elijah. In this lesson, we see through his encounter with a widow how God can do amazing things when we lean on Him.
Lesson focus: When we know that God is in control, we can be content to trust that He will always care for us.
Passage: 1 Kings 17:7-24
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Yeast, bread dough elements, oil, baskets or boxes, decorating supplies.
Lesson Opening: Let it rise…give students a brief bread-making tutorial…show them yeast and explain how it contributes to the process of bread rising. Have pre-made balls of dough for students to roll, knead, squish, and feel. Describe how we can combine ingredients to make bread, and explain that today’s story features food along with something important…oil! Most modern association with oil is probably as an unhealthy fat, but mention how there are different types of oil. In Bible times it was highly valued and widely used. Allow kids to sample already baked bread with a little oil.
Bible Lesson: Remind students of who Elijah was (especially if following up on previous introductory lesson). Discuss his conflict with the wicked king and queen and how God cared for him by the river. After a while, the drought was so rough that even the river dried up:

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him:  “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”  -1 Kings 17:7-9

What do you do when you get hungry or thirsty? Usually we can ask our mom or dad to help provide when we need something. Well, Elijah had nothing, but God instructed him what to do. Elijah had to trust these strange directions and he followed…

 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”    -1 Kings 17:10-11

Again, we see Elijah following God’s instruction without question. He goes to the widow that God told him about and finds her just as promised. Her answer seems to throw a wrench in the plan, though…

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”  Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” (12-14)

God is about to do something truly amazing here. Not only is He taking care of Elijah; He is also using Elijah to help someone else in need! This widow had reached the end of her rope and was all out of hope. But Elijah knew that God always has a plan.

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.  For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (15-16)

Just as Elijah trusted God to take care of him at the ravine, he (and the widow) had to have faith in God to provide what they would need…and God never fails! A tiny drop of oil and bit of flour turned into more than enough food! But the story doesn’t quite end there…

 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing.  She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed.  Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?”  Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.  Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”                                                                -1 Kings 17:17-24

It seems again that God has turned His back on Elijah and the woman He was helping…but not really. Just as He fed the widow and Elijah, He used Elijah to bring the boy back to life and prove God’s mighty power. He lifted up the sick boy, and lifted up the name of God!
Craft: Bread basket…use simple baskets as a reminder of God’s providence for our daily needs. Decorate simple materials and a verse caption to use daily.
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask God for wisdom and strength in making choices, and also for gratitude in what He has already granted. Ask God to help us honor Him in all that we say and do.