OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 28
1 Kings 17-19
- Elijah seals up the heavens, is miraculously sustained, and raises
a widow's son from the dead.
- Elijah challenges the priests of Baal and opens the heavens for rain.
- Elijah is comforted by the Holy Ghost and instructed to continue in
A study of this lesson should encourage us to put God first in our lives
and to find guidance and comfort in the words of the living prophet and
the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
Thomas S. Monson told the following story: "Born in poverty
but nurtured in faith, [Jose Garcia] prepared for a mission call. I was
present the day his recommendation was received. There appeared the statement:
'Brother Garcia will serve at great sacrifice to his family, for he is
the means of much of the family support. He has but one possession--a treasured
stamp collection--which he is willing to sell, if necessary, to help finance
"President [Spencer W.] Kimball
listened attentively as this statement was read to him, and then he responded:
'Have him sell his stamp collection. Such sacrifice will be to him a blessing'."
HOW WOULD YOU REACT IF YOU WERE ASKED TO GIVE UP ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS
TO THE LORD?
President Monson continued: "Then with a twinkle in his eye
and a smile on his face, this loving prophet said, 'Each month at Church
headquarters we receive thousands of letters from all parts of the world.
See that we save these stamps and provide them to Jose at the conclusion
of his mission. He will have, without cost, the finest stamp collection
of any young man in Mexico'." (Ensign, Nov. 1978, p56)
When we put the things of God first in our lives, the rewards we receive
are far greater than anything we have to sacrifice along the way. Elijah
and the widow of Zarephath, received great blessings because they were
willing to God, even when it was difficult to do so.
Elijah Seals Up The Heavens & Is Miraculously Sustained
- As previously discussed, Jeroboam led the kingdom of Israel into idolotry.
He and his descendants were eventually destroyed.
"And Elijah the Tishbite...said unto Ahab, As the LORD God
of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain
these years, but according to my word" (1 Kings 17).
- They were followed by another succession of idolatrous kings.
- One of those kings was Ahab. He "did more to provoke the Lord
God of Israel than all the kings of Israel that were before him"
(1 Kings 16:33).
- Ahab married Jezebel, adopted her practice of Baal worship, and encouraged
his people to join him in the worship of this false god.
READ 1 KINGS 17:2-5. Elijah given instructions
for survival during the drought.
- WHY WAS ELIJAH ABLE TO MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT?
- "Elijah was endowed with the priesthood power of God. With
this power, he declared to King Ahab that no rain would fall upon the land."
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, ELIJAH)
- Joseph Smith: "We ask, then, what are we to understand by a
man's working by faith? We answer: we understand that when a man works
by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by
words, instead of by exerting his physical powers, with which every being
works when he works by faith. God said, 'Let there be light: and there
was light' (Gen 1:3). Joshua spake and the great lights which God had created
stood still (Joshua 10:12-13). Elijah commanded and the heavens were stayed
for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain; he
again commanded and the heavens gave forth rain (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1, 41-45).
All this was done by faith. And the Savior says: 'If ye have faith as a
grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove…and it shall
remove' (Matt 17:20); or 'say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked
up…and…planted in the sea; and it should obey you' (Luke 17:6). Faith,
then, works by words; and with these its mightiest works have been and
will be performed." (Lectures on Faith, pp95-96)
- Elijah, was given power like Nephi in the book of Helaman. Consider
the Lord's words to Nephi: "Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those
things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness
declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And
thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast
sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
"And now, because thou hast done
this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I
will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea,
even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for
thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will." (Helaman10:4-5)
Because Elijah was obedient to the Lord, "the ravens brought
him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening;
and he drank of the brook" (17:6).
- WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM ELIJAH'S RESPONSE?
- Gordon B. Hinckley: "I draw strength from a simple statement
made concerning the Prophet Elijah, who warned King Ahab of drought and
famine to come upon the land. And Ahab scoffed. And the Lord told Elijah
to go and hide himself by the brook Cherith, that there he should drink
of the brook, and he would be fed by the ravens. And the scripture records
a simple and powerful statement: 'So he went and did according unto the
word of the Lord.'
"There was no arguing. There
was no excusing. There was no equivocating. Elijah 'went and did according
unto the word of the Lord.' And he was saved from the terrible calamities
that befell those who scoffed and argued and questioned." (Ensign,
Dec. 1971, pp123-124)
READ 1 KINGS 17:7-13. Elijah goes to the widow.
- IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED OR SUSTAINED WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN
OBEDIENT TO THE LORD?
- I believe we all have had special blessings because of our obedience
to the Lord. Like Elijah, obedience to the law of tithing brings physical
and spiritual blessings and we are sustained. There have been times when
I wondered how we were going to make it. But we always did. Elijah wasn't
living the high life out there by the brook Cherith, but he was sustained
and taken care of.
- What I don't think we sometimes realize is what might have happened
had we not been striving to keep the commandments. All we have to do is
to look around at so many of our friends and neighbors. We see divorce
and broken families. Children on drugs or involved in crime. Their lifestyles
often encourage unnecessary health problems. We are not necessarily immune
to some of these things, but as we strive to do the will of the Lord, we
are minimizing the risk.
READ 1 KINGS 17:17-22. The widow's son raised
from the dead.
- Elijah continues in obedience to the Lord's instructions.
- HOW DID THE WIDOW RESPOND WHEN ELIJAH ASKED FOR WATER?
- She seemed to respond without question, for she went to "fetch
- HOW DID SHE RESPOND WHEN ELIJAH ASKED FOR FOOD?
- She replied that she had only enough for a scanty meal. She and her
son were preparing to die.
- Elijah then promised her, "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel,
The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail,
until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth" (17:14).
- WHAT DID THE WIDOW THEN DO?
- "And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah"
- What a great act of faith! Jeffery R. Holland said that the widow's
response was "an expression of faith--as great, under these circumstances,
as any I know in the scriptures.... Perhaps uncertain what the cost of
her faith would be..., she first took her small loaf to Elijah, obviously
trusting that if there were not enough bread left over, at least she and
her son would have died in an act of pure charity." (Ensign, May
- HOW WAS THE WIDOW BLESSED FOR HER OBEDIENCE?
- Her need for meal and oil continued to be miraculously supplied (17:15-16).
- Consider a similar latter-day story from the life of Heber C. Kimball:
"It is related that, during this
 famine, a brother, sorely in need of bread, came to President Kimball
for counsel how to procure it.
"'Go and marry a wife,' was Heber's
terse reply, after relieving the immediate wants of the applicant.
"Thunderstruck at receiving such
an answer at such a time, when he could hardly provide food for himself,
the man went his way, dazed and bewildered, thinking that President Kimball
must be out of his mind. But the more he thought of the prophetic character
and calling of the one who had given him this strange advice, the less
he felt like ignoring it. Finally he resolved to obey counsel, let the
consequences be what they might. But where was the woman who would marry
him, was the next problem. Bethinking himself of a widow with several children,
who he thought might be induced to share her lot with him, he mustered
up courage, proposed and was accepted.
"In that widow's house was laid
up a six months' store of provisions!
"Meeting President Kimball shortly
afterwards, the now prosperous man of family exclaimed: 'Well, Brother
Heber, I followed your advice—' 'Yes, said the man of God, 'and you found
bread'." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp403-404)
- WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS THAT GOD ASKS OF US THAT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT?
- IN WHAT WAYS ARE WE BLESSED WHEN WE PUT GOD FIRST, DOING WHAT HE ASKS
EVEN WHEN IT IS DIFFICULT?
- Ezra Taft Benson: "When we put God first, all other things
fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the
Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time,
the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities....
"May God bless us to put [him]
first and, as a result, reap peace in this life and eternal life with a
fulness of joy in the life to come." (Ensign, May 1988, p4,6)
- Again we see the magnificent faith and priesthood power possessed by
the man Elijah. Had he not been obedient to the commands of the Lord, he
could not have performed this great miracle.
- Certainly, the widow woman was also blessed by her great faith for
her expressions of charity to the Lord's annointed.
Elijah Challenges The Priests Of Baal
- "And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the
LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab;
and I will send rain upon the earth" (1 Kings 18:1).
READ 1 KINGS 18:19-21. Israel and the false priests
gather to mount Carmel.
- "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said
unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" (18:17)
- WHO DID AHAB BLAME FOR THE FAMINE?
- WHAT WAS THE TRUTH?
- Elijah replied to Ahab, "I have not troubled Israel; but thou,
and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the
LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim" (18:18).
- Ahab did not want to believe that his wicked practices and the sins
of the people were responsible for the famine. If he believed that, he
would have to change and Ahab was comfortable in his lifestyle.
- As we look at the difficulties experienced in society today, we find
many casting blame on others: the politicians, the schools, the criminals,
the homeless, etc. These are only symptoms of something much deeper. Who
is truly responsible?
- "Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall
bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments
which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore,
they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because
of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for
their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever"
(2 Nephi 1:7).
- "And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this
land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess
it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his
wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them
when they are ripened in iniquity" (Ether 2:9).
"Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a
prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men"
- WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS?
- I believe in this instance, the people knew that Elijah was a prophet
of the Lord and yet they were reluctant to give up their wicked lifestyles.
They were wavering between the choice of continuing in their wickedness
or repenting and following the Lord.
- Neal A. Maxwell: "The stirring words of various prophets...urge
us to choose, to decide, and not to halt.... Elijah's message has tremendous
relevancy today, for all must finally choose between the gods of this world
and the God of eternity." (That My Family Should Partake, p22)
- Ezra Taft Benson: "Decisions should be timely. Sometimes a
lack of decision on a point is actually a decision in the opposite direction.
We need to make up our minds." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
- HOW DO WE SOMETIMES HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS?
READ 1 KINGS 18:23-24. Elijah challenges the prophets
- Elijah is prefacing his challenge to the priests of Baal. He says that
he is a lone prophet, but a prophet of the Lord. Being a prophet of the
Lord he can call upon the powers of heaven. The priests of Baal, though
number 450, are nothing but men and cannot call upon any powers but their
- HOW DID THE PROPHETS OF BAAL DO WITH THE CHALLENGE?
- See 1 Kings 18:25-29. No success.
- WHAT HAPPENED WHEN ELIJAH TOOK HIS TURN?
- See 1 Kings 18:30-38.
- "Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice,
and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that
was in the trench" (18:38).
- WHY DID ELIJAH CHALLENGE THE PRIESTS OF BAAL?
- "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening
sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham,
Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel,
and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy
HOW DID THE PEOPLE REACT TO THE LORD'S DISPLAY OF POWER?
- To let the people know who is the real God of Israel.
- To let the people know that Elijah is the Lord's annointed, His prophet.
- To let Israel know the Elijah's power comes from God.
HOW CAN WE MORE FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE LORD AND HIS POWER?
- "And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces:
and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God"
- The people were blessed for acknowledging the Lord with the return
of rain (18:45).
- Do we need to be challenged by a drought or other plague before we
acknowledge the Lord and his power?
Elijah Is Comforted By The Holy Ghost
- Jezebel, Elijah's wife, was angry about Elijah's victory over the priests
of Baal and was intent on having Elijah killed (1 Kings 19:1-2).
- Elijah fled into the wilderness and in his frustration "came
and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he
might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for
I am not better than my fathers" (19:4).
- WHY WAS ELIJAH SO DISCOURAGED?
- "I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because
the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars,
and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and
they seek my life, to take it away" (19:14).
- WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE HE DID TO GAIN PEACE?
- He fasted and prayed (19:4,8).
- Robert L. Simpson: "One of the most neglected and yet most
needed laws for this troubled generation in a modern world of acceleration
and distraction is the law of the fast. Fasting and praying have been referred
to almost as a singular function from the earliest times. Adam's generation
fasted and prayed, as did Moses on Sinai. (Deut. 9:9-11.) The Prophet Elijah
traveled to Mt. Horeb under the influence of fasting and prayer. There
he received the word of the Lord. His preparation had not been in vain.
(1 Kings 19:8.) Mordecai's advice from Esther as he faced an emergency
at Shushan pointed out that he and his people should 'neither eat nor drink
three days, night or day.' (Esther 4:16.) This was the true fast, abstinence
from both food and drink. This is still the manner of the true fast in
or day." (CR, Oct 1967, pp16-17)
- HOW DID THE LORD RESPOND TO ELIJAH?
- READ 1 KINGS 19:9-13. In a still small voice.
- A news reporter asked President Hinckley how he communicates with God.
The prophet's response was, "I think the best way I could desribe
the process is to liken it to the experience of Elijah as set forth in
the book of First Kings. Elijah spoke to the Lord, and there was a wind,
a great wind, and the Lord was not in the wind. And there was an earthquake,
and the Lord was not in the earthquake. And there was a fire, and the Lord
was not in the fire. And after the fire a still, small voice, which I describe
as the whisperings of the Spirit." (Ensign, Nov. 1996, p51)
- Ezra Taft Benson: "Do you take time to listen to the promptings
of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are
discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know
the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray
and to listen." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p428)
- WHAT DID THE LORD THEN COMMAND ELIJAH TO DO?
- See 1 Kings 19:15-16.
- He told Elijah to be up and doing. He gave Elijah some assignments.
- HOW CAN SERVING THE LORD HELP US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED?
- Neal A. Maxwell: "When we are down and discouraged, the hope
of Christ can lift us up lest we remain vulnerable overlong. The brisk
pace of Church service also helps us focus talent and time outwardly rather
than being left alone for long with our moods. Duties knocking at one's
door are like friends come to call not always convenient but usually gladdening
in their effect." ( Notwithstanding My Weakness, p49)
- The Lord also reminded Elijah that he was not alone in Israel, "Yet
I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed
unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him" (19:18).
Elijah is a wonderful example of one who puts the Lord first in his
life. His faith and devotion to the Lord, even in the most difficult of
times, resulted in the Lord reaching out and blessing Elijah. Even in his
deepest frustration, so great that he wanted the Lord to take his life,
Elijah called out to the Lord in fasting and prayer. Elijah was blessed
with the sweet, comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost. As we put the Lord
first in our lives, no matter the circumstances, we will be blessed. We,
too, are entitled through our righteous living to the comforting influence
of the Holy Ghost.
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