05 Science and Faith - Nothing is impossible for God

UNIT #: 
I
Lesson Theme: 
Taking Leaps of Faith
Aim: 

To understand that God exceeds the limitations put by man.

Bible Passage: 

1 Kings 18:1-46

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Elijah’s Message to Ahab

18 After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly; when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.) Then Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the wadis; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.

As Obadiah was on the way, Elijah met him; Obadiah recognized him, fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” He answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.” And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11 But now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ 12 As soon as I have gone from you, the spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the Lord from my youth. 13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? 14 Yet now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here’; he will surely kill me.” 15 Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Elijah’s Triumph over the Priests of Baal

20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. 23 Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29 As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. 33 Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, 35 so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

36 At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.” 40 Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

The Drought Ends

41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” 44 At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” 45 In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. 46 But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Teacher’s Preparation: 

Faith is a difficult concept sometimes to explain or understand. Perhaps teachers can share some examples with the students of when they had to demonstrate faith in God in their own lives.

Main Ideas: 

Meet Elijah, a prophet of God. Elijah began as a prophet when God called upon him to confront the wicked king of Israel, Ahab. Elijah was the prophet who prophesied to Ahab that according to God, there will be a severe drought for a long time.

Ahab was an evil king who did not follow the Lord. He married Jezebel, and together they set up altars and temples for Baal and worshipped him. Ahab did so much evil that he provoked the Lord’s anger more than all the kings of Isreal before him. Now we’re talking about an evil king!.

When our bible passage begins, it has been 3 years since the drought started. Elijah has been in hiding in the meantime, as instructed by God. A severe famine is underway due to the drought. Ahab is still king, along with his wife Jezebel. During our study of today’s passage, we’ll see a lot of ways that God worked in situations that seemed impossible to us!

God tells Elijah it is time to see Ahab again. Imagine Elijah’s fear! He was the man who delievered the bad news of the drought to Ahab and then went into hiding. He has become one of Israel’s most wanted. Ahab has been searching for Elijah with a consuming hatred.  Jezebel has been killing off the Lord’s prophets. And now God is telling Elijah to confront Ahab again? What do you think was going through Elijah’s mind? He may have been thinking this is a crazy task. He may have thought it would be impossible for him to save his own life from Ahab if he confronted him again.

Elijah decides to trust God and follows God’s instructions. He runs into Obadiah, the man in charge of Ahab’s palace. Even though he is a very important official for Ahab, he did not disobey God. He protected 100 of God’s prophets during the time of Jezebel’s murderous rage against the prophets. He must have found himself in a situation that seemed impossible- finding a way to protect and provide food and water for God’s prophets during a terrible famine. In the midst of this, God helped Obadiah to be able to protect these prophets. Obadiah must have had a lot of faith in God to be willing to risk his own life to protect the prophets.

Elijah challenges Ahab to bring a total of 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah against him. It’s time for a showdown! But Elijah appears to be the underdog…

Once the prophets have been assembled, Elijah confronts them with a bold question and demand- “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” When was the time you felt that you needed to make a difficult decision between two choices?

Elijah now sets up a challenge to determine who’s god is the true God. Two identical altars are set up with a bull to be sacrificed. The wood is prepared, but the lighting of the fire is up to the true God.

The prophets of Baal call upon their god from morning to noon with no response. At this point, Elijah prepares his altar, making it even harder to light. A deep trench is built around it. Water is poured over the altar three times, eventually filling up the trench. Why do you think Elijah poured water on the altar? Was he trying to prove a point- that he had faith that God would work a miracle? Scientifically, this altar should be impossible to light on fire, right? (Don’t try this at home!)

But…God does the impossible! After Elijah calls on him to show the people of Israel that he is the Lord, the fire of the Lord falls upon the altar and lights the sacrifice. The people watching this fell and declared, “The Lord- he is God!” Can you imagine what a scene this was? How do you think you would have reacted after witnessing such a miracle?

To put the icing on the cake, Elijah tells Ahab the drought is ending- rain is on the way. A drought that began three years ago with no forseeable end has now come to a close.

 

Activities: 

Interview an older family member or friend. Ask them to share an example of when they were in a difficult situation with an impossible outcome. Ask them to share if they had to choose to trust in God or not believe in Him, and what happened as a result.

Lesson Review: 

Fill in the blanks.

  1.  ______ then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different ­­­­_______? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him

Short Answer

  1. From today’s bible passage, describe how different characters displayed faith in God in difficult situations.
  2. Also, describe what may have happened if they hadn’t believed. What do you think would be resulted in a better outcome- having faith in God or walking away?
  3. What are other examples of faith demonstrated by people in the Bible? What are other examples of God doing impossible things?

 

Values for Life: 

There are a lot of things in our world today that seem impossible. Because we have a lot of knowledge about science, and continue to learn more, many people today think that what science says goes. If science says it’s impossible, then it’s impossible. It can be very hard for someone with a scientific background to also have faith in God, because God can’t be explained by science. He has does and continues to do so many things that seem impossible, things that we can’t explain ourselves by facts or logical thinking.

 

This is where faith comes in.

Life Response/My Decision: 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

We may not know all the answers to the impossible questions about God. There are a lot of times in life where we will go through things we can not understand at all.  What do we do when this happens? We have a choice to make- we can either trust in God or walk away from God. We must decide if it’s better to live with faith in God or to live without Him.

Real faith is not just being hopeful. Real faith is that no matter what, we’ll trust in God and believe in His promises. We saw a lot of examples of that in today’s passage and we can find many more in the bible. We can probably find more examples around us- just ask your family members and friends! Our older family members may have many examples to share about difficult situations and how they trusted God during that time.

When something happens and we wonder about having faith in God, we can do several things. We can talk to someone we know that has faith in God, to help us understand. We can look up all the promises that God has given us throughout the Bible. This can help us have faith in God during impossible situations.

Memory Verse: 

Proverbs 3:5-6

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

status: 
scope and sequence

Comments

While the main ideas section is very expansive and is written nicely, it appears that is only a summary of the Bible reading above it. There needs to be a paragraph or section that has an application focus i.e. how did Elijah's action require and manifest faith. What can we emulate from his life today?  Consider reading James 5:16-18 which talks of Elijah's faith. 

Also, as a CAB member, I noticed that the passage given to you appears to be too long. We would like to reduce the passage to 1 Kings 18:20-46.  Based on this, can you adjust the main ideas section accordingly. 

Teacher's Preparation:  Can you add a little more to the Teacher's Preparation. is there some kind of activity or challenge that the students could possibly do in class. Encourage teachers to find such means to make the lesson interesting. 

Also, please add a student introduction paragraph in the Main Ideas Section and give that part the sub heading of Student Introduction to the Lesson. The rest of the section can be put under the sub heading Bible Exploration.