Elijah lived during a time when it was extremely unpopular to worship and obey God. However, Elijah didn’t let peer pressure keep him from delivering God’s message of truth and he experienced God’s protection and blessings because of his obedience. Furthermore, the impact of Elijah’s obedience was experienced beyond his family and spread throughout the entire nation of Israel. Children will learn in this ninth lesson of the series that individual obedience can be used by God to positively influence entire nations.
TARGET AGES: 9 – 13 Older Elementary. You may need to simplify this lesson when working with younger children.
CURRICULUM UNIT: This lesson is part of the Who was …. ? series on major Bible characters.
OBJECTIVE: To help the children understand that God had a special plan for Elijah, and his obedience affected not only his family but the entire nation of Israel.
MAIN IDEA: Elijah was a prophet who stood up to the evil ruler Ahab. And even though Elijah had times of trouble, God protected him and used him to lead the nation of Israel away from idol worship.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: 1 Kings 16:29-30, 18:4, 17:1-5, 18:16-19, 18:25-29, 21:21-23
MATERIAL(S): All About Elijah word search (download attachment)
Optional: Download the Elijah Coloring pages
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, give us boldness to choose obedience instead of sin. Help us follow Elijah’s example of obedience even though he was surrounded by evil. Thank you for giving us the wisdom and strength we need to share the truth of your word with others. Amen.”
ICEBREAKER ACTIVITY: Say, “Last week we learned about Job and the struggles he encountered (loss of possessions, children, and health). Even though Job’s wife and friends gave him bad advice, Job gave them godly responses.” Explain to the class that practicing godly responses is important if we truly want to be able to honor God through our interactions with others. Then read the following prompts and allow a child to answer with an appropriate, biblical response (suggestions are italicized).
- “He deserves to serve detention all week. He’s a horrible person!”
(Well, he may not be nice to others, but I will still be kind to him.)
- “My mom is the worst! She never lets me doing anything.”
(There’s probably a reason she said “no.” You can trust she has what’s best for you in mind.)
- “If God really cared about me then he wouldn’t let me be so sad.”
(God does care about you! He sent his own son, Jesus, to die for you. And even though we go through hard times, God is always with us and will help us.)
- “People in other religions are so stupid.”
(No, they are deceived. That’s why it’s important for us to have compassion and tell them about Jesus!)
- “I saw you take the pencil from the teacher’s desk! You are a liar and a thief.”
(Yes, I did take the pencil, but I had permission from the teacher. There is no reason to be upset.)
Lesson (20 minutes)
- Say, “Today we are going to talk about the prophet Elijah and how he helped God’s people turn away from evil.” First, explain that prophets were messengers who warned God’s people of judgment and encouraged them to turn back to God. Also add that Elijah lived during the reign of the evil king Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Read 1 Kings 16:29-30 & 18:4. Ask, “Since Ahab and Jezebel were so evil, how do you think they responded to Elijah (they didn’t like him, they didn’t want him around, they mocked him, etc)? How is this similar to the responses we can receive from unbelievers (they say mean things, call us names, etc)?” Emphasize that while Elijah simply wanted the people of Israel to do what was right, God told him to hide from Ahab and Jezebel. Read 1 Kings 17:1-5. Say, “Elijah’s obedient actions opened the door for others to turn back to God. The same is true for us when we lovingly serve our families and communities.”
- Next, read 1 Kings 18:16-19. Say, “When Elijah came out of hiding, he confronted Ahab. What did Ahab call Elijah (‘troubler of Israel’)? What was Elijah’s message (that Ahab’s family had abandoned God and they needed to meet him at Mount Carmel)?” Discuss the irony of Ahab’s disobedience causing him to think of Elijah as a trouble-maker! Help the children understand that Baal was the king god of the Canaanites and Asherah was the “mother” of their gods, so Elijah wanted to settle once and for all that the Lord was the one true God. Read 1 Kings 18:25-29 to discover Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal and the result. Then read verses 36-40 to discover how God responded. Ask, “What happened when Elijah called on the Lord (fire came down and burned up the sacrifice and everything around it)? Then what happened to the prophets of Baal (they were killed)? We learn from this situation that we shouldn’t neglect obedience simply because it is unpopular. Elijah’s actions ended up giving the nation of Israel another chance!”
- Tell the class that Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah when she heard what had happened, so he ran into the wilderness to hide (1 Kings 19:1-9). However, Jezebel and Ahab eventually came to their demise: read 1 Kings 21:21-23 (Ahab’s descendents would be wiped out and Jezebel would be eaten by dogs). Comment, “Elijah was a prophet who delivered a difficult message, but God blessed him through protection and ultimate destruction of those who persecuted him. Even better, Elijah was carried into heaven by a ‘chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11)!’ God certainly had a special plan for Elijah, and he also has a special plan for each of us, our families, and our nation.”
“All About Elijah” Word Search (10 minutes) (download attachment)
Pass out the word search (attachment) and help the children find the words to review what they have learned about Elijah. You may consider having a race to see which child can find all the words the fastest and receive a small prize.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Elijah didn’t give in to peer pressure and sin. He obeyed God even when it was hard, and all of Israel was given another chance to turn back to God because Elijah obeyed.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, help us obey you even when it is unpopular. Give us the words we need to speak so others may turn to you. Amen.”
Who was …. A Study on Bible Characters
This lesson is part of a 14 unit curriculum for older children (age 9 – 13) that introduces major characters in the Bible.