Thursday, March 8, 2012

Choose Your Own Bible Study - Elijah Edition

(For the monthly men's bible study I combined the last three studies for the youth and stepped up the questions a bit.)

Who are the biggest names in the Old Testament to you?  Pick two:

1)    Go around the group and share someone you picked and why they’re a big name to you.

All amazing heroes of the faith. And yet when Jesus is joined at the transfiguration by two of these worthy, it is Moses and Elijah that come to see him. (Mark 9:2-8) It’s easy for us to overlook this prophet, and he might not make many Final Fours, but he could not have had a more dramatic life, and he is like distilled essence of prophet. Of course, he is the only figure in the bible who regularly has a place set for him at dinner still today. Probably because of this passage (as well as his excellent exit): 

Malachi 4:2-5
“The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings for you people who fear my name. You will go out and leap like calves let out of a stall. 3You will trample on wicked people, because on the day I act they will be ashes under the soles of your feet,” says the Lord of Armies. 
“Remember the teachings of my servant Moses, the rules and regulations that I gave to him at Horeb for all Israel.  “I’m going to send you the prophet Elijah before that very terrifying day of the Lord comes. 6He will change parents’ attitudes toward their children and children’s attitudes toward their parents. If not, I will come and reclaim my land by destroying you.”
The Battle at Mt. Carmel
photo: TheRevSteve @ Flickr

Elijah’s time was 800 years before Jesus, after Israel had separated into the kingdoms of Israel (north) and Judah (south).  When we first hear of Elijah, Ahab is king , married to Jezebel. He is a Baal worshipper and described as more evil than all the kings before him.  Jezebel became a word used to describe a wicked woman.

But he had such a full life, how can you study him in one morning? That’s the choose your own adventure part. Read over the question, consider the summary, and decide whether you want to read that passage. You don’t have to go in order. You will need a bible!

1 Kings 17:1-24 Elijah announces a drought, meets the widow of Zarepath, and performs the first resurrection in the bible.
2)    What might Elijah have learned from his time with the widow? How do we deal with the times God does not choose to heal?

(1 Kings 18:1-16) In the third year of the drought, the Lord sends Elijah back to Ahab. In turns out that Ahab has been scouring the country for Elijah, but was unable to find him.
1 Kings 18:17-40 Elijah versus the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel
3)    Did God want all these prophets killed? Did the people change their heart or are they going with a winner? Why would people have been following Baal?

1 Kings 18:41-46, 19:1-9 Elijah confronts Ahab and Jezebel and experiences depression.
4)    Does it make sense for Elijah to be afraid? What’s the significance of Elijah running to Horeb (aka Sinai)? Have you ever felt really down not too long after a peak experience?

1 Kings 19:9-18 The Lord speaks to Elijah at Horeb
5)    People LOVE this story. Why do you think?

1 Kings 21 In verses 1-14 Ahab covets a vineyard and Jezebel obtains it by arranging for the owner’s betrayal by his neighbors. Read 1 Kings 21:15-27 where Jezebel and Ahab hear their fate from Elijah.
6)    After all Ahab has done, why is this a breaking point? How can God show mercy to him and exact vengeance on his family?

2 Kings 1:1-16 has the story of the death of Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, and Elijah calling down fire on 100 soldiers.
7)    What lesson can be drawn from the story of Ahaziah – does it relate to our modern life at all? How do you make sense of Elijah’s treatment of the soldiers?

1 Kings 19:19-21 The Call of Elisha

This story brings to mind Luke 9:57-62
57As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep.”   
59He told another man, “Follow me!”   But the man said, “Sir, first let me go to bury my father.”  60But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You must go everywhere and tell about the kingdom of God.”  
61Another said, “I’ll follow you, sir, but first let me tell my family goodbye.” 62Jesus said to him, “Whoever starts to plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.”
8)    Have you had an Elijah or been an Elisha in terms of a mentor in the faith? (Share the story!) What is Jesus trying to tell these people who want to be disciples? The church is considering how to mentor young fathers, do you have any ideas for that?

2 Kings 2:1-14 The spectacular exit of Elijah
9)    Why won’t Elisha leave Elijah? What was Elisha asking for – a double portion of his spirit? Is it related to Jesus sending his Spirit? It’s clear for Elisha that he received it; what’s our sign we’ve received the Holy Spirit?
10)    Do you have any trouble believing the fantastic moments of the Bible? How would you advise someone who does?

2 Kings 9:30-36
What happened to Jezebel? (After Elisha anoints Jehu king of Israel, and God commands him to kill Ahab’s grandson Joram.)
11)    How can we deal with the wicked of today? (Like Syrian president al-Assad, maybe.) Does it make a difference that we live in new testament times?

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