Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Elijah to teach children about respect.
Needed: Bibles, strips of paper, drawing paper and crayons or colored pencils
Intro Activity: Mock Election
Announce that you’re going to play a game to decide which student will be the next leader of (your country, your class, your church, or any other organization your kids will relate to).
Explain that everyone will vote for who they want the new leader to be. Even the teacher will vote. Your election will happen in three phases: nominations, questions and answers, and voting.
Phase 1: Nominations. Kids can nominate themselves or another member of the class. When they nominate someone, have them state why they think that person would make a good leader. A student can decline the nomination if they don’t want to be leader. Once students are finished making their nominations, write the names of all the nominees down on strips of paper and put them in a non-see-through container. This is where the teacher will pull their vote from at the end.
Phase 2: Questions and Answers. Think of three questions you want the nominees to answer. They can be serious or silly questions about problems your organization (country, class, church, etc.) needs to solve. After you finish asking your premade questions, allow kids time to ask questions that they think of. Nominees can also answer each other questions. Make sure the questions and discussion remain appropriate and respectful.
Phase 3: Voting. Have each child come up to you and tell you who they want to vote for. Tally up the votes. Say, Based on student votes alone, (student’s name) is the winner! But I haven’t made my vote yet. I will tell you my vote before the end of class, and then, we’ll see who wins the final election.
Say, So far, we’ve learned about how the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of the fake gods, Baal and Asherah, to prove if their god was real or not. Does anyone remember what the challenge was? (Elijah killed one bull and put it on the altar and the prophets of Baal and Asherah killed another bull and put it on their altar. The god who sent fire down from Heaven to burn up the bull would be proven to be the real god.)
And which god sent fire down from Heaven to burn up the bull, the fake gods or the real God? (The real God.)
Then, Elijah took the prophets of the fake gods, Baal and Asherah, and killed them because they were teaching the people to worship fake gods instead of the real God.
After that, the bad king and queen who were worshipping the fake gods died and a new king, King Amaziah, ruled over Israel. But King Amaziah was a bad king too because he also worshipped the fake god Baal instead of worshipping the real God.
One day, King Amaziah was walking outside on his porch when the wood broke underneath him, and he fell down the hole and hurt himself pretty bad. His servants helped him out of the hole and put him in bed. Then, King Amaziah sent a messenger to ask the priest of the false god, Baal, if he would get better from his injuries.
(Read 2 Kings 1:3-6 with your students.)
“But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?” Therefore this is what the Lord says: “You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’ So Elijah went.
“When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, ‘Why have you come back?’
“’A man came to meet us,’ they replied. ‘And he said to us, “Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
Why did God say that King Amaziah was going to die? What bad thing did King Amaziah do? (King Amaziah believed in the fake god, Baal, instead of the real God, so God was going to punish him by letting him die. Amaziah sent messengers to the priest of Baal instead of to God.)
Remember that God’s number one rule is that we believe in Him only and not any fake gods.
(Read 2 Kings 1:7-10 with your students.)
“The king asked them, ‘What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?’
“They replied, ‘He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.’
“The king said, ‘That was Elijah the Tishbite.’
“Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, ‘Man of God, the king says, “Come down!”’
“Elijah answered the captain, ‘If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
Why did Elijah call fire down from God to burn up the army captain and his men? (The king sent the army captain to arrest Elijah and Elijah didn’t want the bad king to arrest him. Elijah was afraid that if he let the army captain arrest him, then King Amaziah might put him in prison or kill him, so he called fire down from God to protect himself.)
(Act out this scene with your students. Choose one student to be Elijah and the other to be the first army captain. Set “Elijah” on one side of the room and then, have the army captain come up and order Elijah to come with him. Then, tell Elijah to call fire down from God and have the captain pretend that fire came down and killed the first captain.)
(Read 2 Kings 1:11-12 with your students.)
“At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, ‘Man of God, this is what the king says, “Come down at once!”’
“’If I am a man of God,’ Elijah replied, ‘may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.”
(Act out this scene as you did the first, choosing a new student to be the second captain.)
(Read 2 Kings 1:13-15 with your students.)
“So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. ‘Man of God,’ he begged, ‘please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!’
“The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.’ So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.”
Why didn’t Elijah call fire down from God to burn up this third army captain? (The third army captain asked nicely for Elijah to come with him and God said that Elijah didn’t have to be afraid of this one.)
(Act out this scene with a new student being the third captain and asking Elijah to come with him nicely. Instruct Elijah to go with him, and both students take their seats.)
This third army captain was good because he showed respect for God and for God’s prophet, Elijah. We have to be careful to always show respect to God and to the leaders that God chooses.
(Read 2 Kings 1:16-17 with your students.)
“He told the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’ So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.
So, there are two things we should remember from this lesson today. One, we should believe in the real God only and not any fake gods. Two, we should always show respect to God and to the leaders that God chooses. If we do those two things, then God will be happy with us.
Do you know any people that God chose to be leaders?
God chose the leaders of the church when He helped us decide who would be the pastors and the elders (or whatever term you use for lay leaders). God chose the leaders of our country when He helped us decide who should be… (President or Prime Minister, members of Congress or Parliament, and our local leaders).
Even if we don’t always agree with the decisions our leaders make, we still need to respect them. We respect God first, but unless a leader does something against God’s rules, we respect them too because God chose them to be a leader.
Craft: Praying for Our Leaders
Tell students that we should pray for the leaders that God chooses. They have a big job, and we need to pray that they make good decisions, that they stay safe, and that they don’t get too stressed by being the leader.
Hand out drawing supplies and ask kids to draw themselves praying for one leader. It can be a leader of the county, of your church, or any other type of leader they might have in mind as long as that person is real. No praying for the leader of the Justice League in this activity!
Mock Election Conclusion
Remind students that God chooses the leaders. Explain that for this election, you’re pretending to be God. So, whoever you vote for, that person wins. Then, randomly draw a name from the strips of paper you made for all of the nominees. Announce the winner of the election of and congratulate them on being “God’s” chosen leader.
Father God, we know that You are our leader and that You chose the leaders we have here on Earth. Help us to respect our leaders like You want us to. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Kings and Prophets.