NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: 1 Kings 18:17-39
Discussion Questions: What are some of the things that attract a person’s loyalty in our current culture, thus compromising their loyalty to God? Why is it difficult for people in our society to be loyal to God? Based on Elijah’s challenge for how the true God would be known, what can we learn about God and His plan?
Food for Thought:
As a young Christian, when I first read the story of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, I thought, The Israelites must have been shallow to have fallen so easily into worship of Baal, a pagan god! Modern Christians, who have thousands of years of Jewish and Christian writings at their fingertips, are so much better educated and informed. We’d never fall into such a trap! Now I realize that people today are not that different from people thousands of years ago, especially when it comes to human disloyalty to God.
Given their history, the Israelites should have adamantly opposed giving their loyalty to false gods. Their lack of response to Elijah, however, revealed their unfaithful hearts and minds. Beginning with King Solomon’s allowance of foreign religious and cultural influences and all the way down to the kingship of Ahab, the Israelite people had gradually strayed from the worship of God.
In fact, the people had strayed so far from the worship of the true God that King Ahab actually blamed Elijah as the troubler or destroyer of their nation! Elijah, in unwavering loyalty to God, would not bow down to but openly opposed the worship of the pagan storm/fertility god Baal. And so, Elijah was blamed for attracting Baal’s wrath.
Elijah stated in his challenge that the true God is the One who answers. In 1 Kings 18, we find an important reason why God deserves our loyalty in worship, even when our society adamantly opposes us. God not only demonstrated His ultimate power but also His ultimate grace by providing Israel a chance to turn back to Him. Yahweh is deserving of loyalty as the true God of grace and power.
The prophets of Baal danced and slashed themselves before the altar, thinking they must bleed in order to express their devotion. But the true God is different than false gods like Baal. He expressed His devotion to us by sending His Son — Jesus Christ — who bled and died for us so that we could receive His grace through faith.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information, free samples, and The Gospel Project blog can be found at gospelproject.com.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.