“Unit 20: Day 1, 1 Kings 18–22,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 20: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
The prophet Elijah called the children of Israel to repent. To show the people that the God of Israel is the only true God, he challenged the priests of Baal to a contest. Elijah prevailed in the contest and opened the heavens to rain. When Jezebel sought Elijah’s life, he fled. The Lord comforted Elijah and showed him there were 7,000 in Israel who were faithful to the Lord.
What advice would you offer someone who wanted to walk down two lines going in opposite directions at the same time? Imagine that one of these lines represents the ways of the Lord, and the other line represents false gods and the ways of the world. What are some ways we may be tempted to try to follow the ways of the Lord and the ways of the world at the same time?
As you study 1 Kings 18, look for principles that can guide you in your choices to follow the Lord and His prophets rather than the ways of the world.
Remember that under the leadership of King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, most of the people in the Northern Kingdom of Israel had chosen wickedness and were worshipping false gods. Consequently, Elijah used the power God had given him to bring a drought upon the land (see 1 Kings 17:1; see also Helaman 10:5–10; 11:4–18). Jezebel had killed many of the Lord’s prophets, but Elijah had survived. In 1 Kings 18:1–16 we read that Elijah sent Obadiah, the governor of the king’s house, to tell Ahab that Elijah was waiting to meet with him.
Read 1 Kings 18:17–18, looking for what Ahab and Elijah said to each other when they met.
Because of Ahab’s and the Israelites’ worship of false gods, Elijah proposed a contest that would demonstrate that Jehovah was the true God.
Read 1 Kings 18:19, looking for whom Elijah told Ahab to send to this contest.
Read 1 Kings 18:20–22, looking for what Elijah said to the people. The word halt in this case means to hesitate or waver in choosing whom to follow.
From these verses we learn that because of the gift of agency, the Lord allows us to choose whether we will follow Him or the false gods and unrighteous ways of the world.
As you read the following statement, mark words or phrases that can help you make righteous choices:
“You are responsible for the choices you make. God is mindful of you and will help you make good choices, even if your family and friends use their agency in ways that are not right. Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will, even if you have to stand alone. As you do this, you set an example for others to follow.
“While you are free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences. Whether for good or bad, consequences follow as a natural result of the choices you make” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 2).
As you continue studying 1 Kings 18, look for consequences of the choice to follow Jehovah or to follow Baal.
Read 1 Kings 18:23–24, looking for the conditions of the contest between the false prophets and Elijah. (It may help to remember that a bullock is a young bull.)
Study 1 Kings 18:25–29, looking for what happened when the false prophets called upon Baal.
Elijah mocked the false prophets of Baal as they were seeking to attract Baal’s attention. He did this to call attention to the fact that Baal had no power to bless or save the children of Israel and that the people were foolish to worship him. These false prophets were wicked people who deliberately led the Israelites away from worshipping the Lord. They promoted evil practices such as sexual immorality and the sacrifice of innocent children (see Leviticus 18:20–24; Deuteronomy 12:29–31).
When no voice or answer came to the prophets of Baal, Elijah addressed the people. Read 1 Kings 18:30–35, looking for how Elijah prepared his sacrifice to the Lord.
Why might Elijah have poured so much water on the sacrifice and altar?
“The priests of Baal were so unscrupulous that they rigged their altars with fires beneath them to make the sacrifices appear to ignite spontaneously. …
“Elijah undoubtedly drenched the altar and sacrifice with water as much for the heathen priests as for the people. He wanted to convince them that there was no trickery and to show them that the power of the Lord was manifest. It was a bold and dramatic move that demonstrated his absolute confidence in the power of the true God” (Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd edition [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 61).
Following his preparation, Elijah prayed to the Lord. Study 1 Kings 18:36–37 to see how he hoped the people would be affected by the demonstration of the Lord’s power.
Read 1 Kings 18:38–40, looking for what happened after Elijah prayed.
According to verse 39, how did the people respond to what happened?
From this account we learn that the Lord’s power is greater than the power of men and that the Lord can help us know that He is the true God.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt your testimony strengthened because you chose to follow the Lord and witnessed His power in your life?
In 1 Kings 18:41–45 we read that Elijah prophesied that rain would soon come upon the land and that his prophecy was fulfilled.
In 1 Kings 19:1–8 we read that Ahab told his wife, Jezebel, everything that Elijah did to the prophets of Baal. Jezebel was upset and humiliated that the false prophets of Baal had failed to defeat Elijah. She was a Phoenician princess, and Phoenicia was a principal source and center of Baal worship (see Bible Dictionary, “Baal,” “Jezebel”). Jezebel swore an oath that she would have Elijah killed within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Elijah fled from the land of Israel and traveled the long distance to Mount Horeb (another name for Mount Sinai). Remember that Mount Sinai is where the Lord appeared to Moses and delivered the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel. At that time, “the Lord descended upon [the mount] in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18).
Read 1 Kings 19:9–12, and look for what happened when Elijah was at the mount. (In verse 10, when Elijah said that he had “been very jealous for the Lord God,” it is another way of saying that he was intent on following the Lord.)
One truth we can learn from Elijah’s experience is that the Lord often speaks to us through the still, small voice of the Spirit.
To illustrate the truth you identified, be completely still and quiet for 30 seconds, and listen for any sounds you did not notice before. What sounds did you hear that you did not notice before?
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How might this activity illustrate what we must do to receive the messages the Lord may give us through the still, small voice of the Spirit?
What can prevent us from hearing the still, small voice of the Spirit?
Read the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The voice of the Spirit is described … as … ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause [the heart] to burn.’ (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6–7.) …
“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. …
“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).
- In your scripture study journal, describe a time when you felt the still, small voice of the Spirit speak to you. Then answer the following questions:
How was that experience a blessing to you?
In the coming week, what will you do to better listen to and follow the still, small voice of the Spirit?
The Lord comforted Elijah on the mount by teaching him that he was not alone. Read 1 Kings 19:16–18, looking for who besides Elijah was still faithful to the Lord.
In 1 Kings 19:19–21 we learn that Elijah did as the Lord commanded and called Elisha to be a prophet. As shown in verse 21, Elisha demonstrated his obedience and willingness to serve by killing and cooking his oxen and then sharing the meat with the people, as well as by destroying his plowing equipment. He left his former life behind to follow the prophet Elijah, and he dedicated the remainder of his life to serving the Lord as one of His prophets.
In 1 Kings 20–22 we read that the Israelites defended themselves in battle against the Syrians. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and Jezebel would be destroyed. His words were fulfilled, and eventually they were both killed (see 2 Kings 9).
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 1 Kings 18–22 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: