The Pictures of God’s Authority (pt. 2)

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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 13, Session 1
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., Oct 2022.
Summary and Goal
During the time when the nation of Israel was divided politically into two nations, Judah and Israel, these nations were also divided spiritually, worshiping idols instead of the one true God. So the Lord raised up prophets to speak His truth to His people and to call them to repentance. One such prophet was Elijah, whose name meant “My God is Yahweh.” He spoke on behalf of God, performed miracles in God’s power, confronted rebellious kings, and challenged the people to worship only the Lord. Though he was a human being like us, he performed many great wonders and provided the template for the one who would precede the coming Messiah, to whom he also pointed through his faithful and miraculous ministry.
Session Outline
++God provides in unusual ways (God Wants to be Known by All as The [and Your] Provider, 1 Kings 17:1-4).
++God provides in miraculous ways (God Cares for You No Matter Who You Are, 1 Kings 17:10-16).
++God provides through His servant (God’s Authority Has No Limits and He hears Your Cry, 1 Kings 17:17-24).
Background Passage: 1 Kings 17
Session in a Sentence
God’s miracles reveal He is the one true omnipotent God that is over all.
The miracles Elijah performed revealed that he was a prophet of the one true God and that the Lord’s words were true.
Page 11 (DDG)
When my kids were younger, they often wanted to eat at McDonald’s® because they wanted a Happy Meal®. They enjoyed the food, but they loved the cheap toy inside even more. Now, however, my kids are older, and they never ask me to pull into McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. Now they want steak! They have grown up. The Happy Meal days are gone.
Some people today look at the miracles in the Bible like Happy Meals—to be cherished as children but not as adults. The skeptics believe you should grow up and see these biblical stories as fictional. But should we discard the miracle stories of Scripture?
What beliefs and doctrines might be affected if a person rejects the validity of miracles in the Bible?
(potentially God’s existence; God’s omnipotence; God’s immanence and involvement in His creation; the inerrancy and trustworthiness of Scripture; the power of the gospel to save sinners through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection)
If we don’t take the miracle stories of the Bible as being historically accurate, then by extension we cannot take the Gospels’ record of Jesus’ ministry as historically accurate either. Jesus Himself understood the Old Testament stories as truthful accounts, not fictional morality tales. In fact, He believed the miracles of the Old Testament prophets pointed forward to His own ministry, miracles, sacrifice, and redemption.
Elijah spoke on behalf of God, performed miracles in God’s power, confronted rebellious kings, and challenged the people to worship only the Lord. Though he was a human being like us, he performed many great wonders and pointed to the coming Messiah through his faithful and miraculous ministry.

Point 1: God provides in unusual ways (God Wants to be Known by All as The [and Your] Provider, 1 Kings 17:1-4).

Read 1 Kings 17:1-4 (DDG p. 12).
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
DDG (p. 12)
During the reign of Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel practiced idolatry to a level not seen before (1 Kings 16:29-33). The worship of Baal, the false god of rain and fertility, was state-sponsored and modeled by the king and queen. So God raised up the prophet Elijah to minister in this dark time. Elijah boldly confronted the king and proclaimed a drought, which was actually a promise fulfilled (see Deut. 11:16-17; 28:14-15,23-24).
Deuteronomy 11:16–17 NASB
“Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them.“Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.
Deuteronomy 28:14–15 NASB
and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. “But it shall come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.
Deuteronomy 28:23–24 NASB
“And the heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.“The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
God was fulfilling His promise — His warning to Israel that He would punish His people for their pagan idolatry.
· The curse of a drought made sense in light of the people’s idolatry with the pagan god of rain and fertility, Baal. God’s people were to trust God alone for rain. If they turned to another god, then Yahweh would withhold rain. This specific judgment was very fitting since Baal was supposed to give rain.
Notice also that not only would it not rain, neither would there be any dew. No one could claim “bad luck” or a “bad break.” No rain and no dew demonstrated God’s sovereign judgment.
Elijah’s ministry occupies a number of chapters in the Kings narrative (1 Kings 17–19, 21; 2 Kings 1–2). Like Moses, who later appeared with Elijah at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3), Elijah challenged a national leader, lived on God’s provision, and felt the burden of leadership. Like John the Baptist, with whom Elijah is associated in the New Testament (Matt. 11:7-15; Luke 1:13-17), Elijah called people to repentance and was a forerunner to Messiah (Mal. 3:1-3; 4:5). Finally, Elijah was just like us (Jas. 5:17)
James 5:17 NASB
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
Therefore, he can teach us important lessons about how to pray and to trust in God’s provision.
Have them turn to: 1 Cor. 10:6-14.
Colossians 3:5 NASB
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
What are some similarities between Elijah’s context and the present context of our culture?
(idolatry is rampant, though not necessarily in the form of statues; the state sponsors wickedness and sin; the culture believes it can live independently of God; God continues to raise up voices in the culture to speak His truth)
DDG (p. 12)
Take a look at the map on the last page of your lesson. At the Lord’s command, Elijah fled to the east after his initial confrontation with Ahab. Seeking protection from the wicked king, he went to an inhospitable area by the Jordan River, where he drank from a brook and was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:5-6). Elijah was on the “wilderness meal plan”; bread and meat were provided by the ravens every morning and evening (see Ex. 16:8,12-13). His needs were provided on a daily basis.
Voices from Church History
“We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through any situation in life that He ordains. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.” 1 –Billy Graham (1918-2018)
· God is sovereign not only over the rain but over all of creation as well (see Ps. 104).
Ps. 104 “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers. He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which Thou didst establish for them. Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over; That they may not return to cover the earth. He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside …”
God was sovereign over the ravens, ceremonially unclean creatures (Lev. 11:13-15) that were used for God’s purposes of sustaining the prophet’s life during the famine.
All of this should encourage us.
You can trust in God to provide for your daily needs (Matt. 6:25-34).
He might not supply you with the finest of meats every day, and He might not provide in such a miraculous way as He did with Elijah, but God always provides.
Application: No doubt the false prophets of Baal, supported by Ahab and Jezebel, ate better than Elijah did (1 Kings 18:19), but God still provided for him. This is a good lesson: Even the prophet was suffering from this famine; the man of God was not immune to suffering along with his people. In fact, his source of water dried up on account of the drought (1 Kings 17:7). But he had the presence of God and the provision of God, and that was enough. We who receive such daily bread should be grateful and content people. Paul put it this way: “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim. 6:8).
How have you seen God provide for your daily necessities, especially in a difficult season of life?

Point 2: God provides in miraculous ways (God Cares for You No Matter Who You Are, 1 Kings 17:10-16).

Read 1 Kings 17:10-16 (DDG p. 13).
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
Talk about the Map: The Divided Kingdom Map: show the location of Zarephath outside of Israel.
DDG (p. 13)
After the brook dried up, Elijah went to the Phoenician town of Zarephath, which was Baal’s territory. Here God promised to use an unnamed widow to provide for Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-9). Not only could Baal not bring rain on the land and stop the drought, but Yahweh’s provision for His prophet extended right into Baal’s home turf. God had “prepared a table for Elijah in the presence of his enemies” (see Ps. 23:5).
· Even though the widow wasn’t an Israelite, she knew who the Lord was, or was at least aware of Him (1 Kings 17:12). Still, she told Elijah that all she had to eat on was a handful of flour and a little bit of oil, which she was planning on using for a last meal before she and her son died. Not exactly the best time to show up for dinner! Yet this was the person God sent Elijah to for provision. The Lord must have had a plan in this arrangement.
Does Elijah’s presence in Zarephath compare to the Christian’s life on earth?
(Christians currently live in a world dominated by sin and idolatry; no matter where we are, the Lord is God over all; the Lord moves in the hearts of people to prepare them to hear His Word through His people; believers are strangers and sojourners on this earth)
DDG (p. 13)
Elijah tested the widow’s faith and asked her to provide for him first, then for herself and her son. He assured her there would be enough for her and her son and that her flour and oil would be sufficient to get them through the drought. The widow trusted Elijah, acted accordingly, and God provided. Elijah’s word was confirmed through this miracle. Imagine this scene: Every day the widow went over to her little barrel of flour and small jar of oil, and every day, there was enough to bake bread for one more day!
Can you imagine if, every day you go to open your fridge it is stocked with exactly what you need for the day, not one bit more, or one bit less, but everyday, day in and day out? Yet the Bible reminds us that God already knows that we have need of these.
Matthew 6:31–33 NASB
“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Why is it that we would marvel at such an idea about all that we need in the fridge, each day — or the ravens bringing what Elijah needs — or the daily manna and quail for Israel — of the widow’s cruise of oil? If we are fully surrendered to the Lord and not holding back, won’t the Lord provide all that we need? And even in those times (hopefully on occasion) that we are not fully surrendered, is God not a patient God, full of compassion and grace?
We should marvel not only at God’s provision but also at God’s compassion and grace.
· We see God’s compassion in the fact that God cared for this poor widow when it seems no one else did. Throughout Scripture we find God’s concern for the vulnerable, including the fatherless and the widow (see Ps. 68:5).
· We also marvel at God’s grace as He reached out to and blessed an outsider. God is not a tribal deity but the Lord over the nations. Jesus referred to this widow in Luke 4:24-26. In response to Jesus’ hometown rejecting Him (Luke 4:22,28-30), Jesus used this story of the widow of Zarephath, an outsider, as a warning to the local insiders, the Jews, who were listening to Him. The most unexpected people often find saving grace in the most unexpected places.
God graciously provides our daily daily bread. How should we then live, in order to demonstrate to those around us of God’s great provision? Even if it would take a miracle, is there reason to doubt God’s provision and purpose? So, what are miracles for, anyway?
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 13)
Miracles: A miracle is an event in which God makes an exception to the natural order of things, or supersedes natural laws, for the purpose of demonstrating His glory and/or validating His message.
Miracles are recorded throughout Scripture; miraculous signs and wonders were oftentimes evident when a prophet or an apostle was speaking God’s message to the people. Because we believe God to be all-powerful and personally involved in this world, we believe in His glory and His message, for we see His work actively, even in our very own lives — even at times when we were not living in a way that was fully surrendered to Him.
Point 1: God provides in unusual ways (God Wants to be Known by All as The [and Your] Provider, 1 Kings 17:1-4).
Point 2: God provides in miraculous ways (God Cares for You No Matter Who You Are, 1 Kings 17:10-16).

Point 3: God provides through His servant (God’s Authority Has No Limits and He hears Your Cry, 1 Kings 17:17-24).

Read: Ask a volunteer to read 1 Kings 17:17-24 (DDG p. 14).
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
DDG (p. 14)
Elijah took the dead boy and cried out to God. With full honesty, praying in faith and desperation. The Lord heard the prayer of this prophet and brought the child back to life (Heb. 11:32-35).
Based on our definition of miracles in the “Fill in the Blank” on p. 13, what was God trying to confirm with this miracle and to whom was He trying to confirm it?
· Baal wasn’t the only false god worshiped in this particular setting. Mot, the god of death, was also adored. Elijah was not only in Baal’s territory, he was also in Mot’s territory. Here we see that God alone reigns over life, death, and any other ruler or power, like the perceived gods of the surrounding nations. Because our God is the true and living God, we too can can live a faith-filled — prayer-filled dynamic life that speaks of God’s glory and the reality of His message.
Like Elijah, we must learn to trust God in everything and faithfully pour out our hearts to God in difficult times.
When you face a trial, what is your first instinct?
DDG (p. 14, 2nd paragraph)
Receiving her son back alive, the widow affirmed her trust in the prophet Elijah’s word and confessed her faith in God. Stories of death surround us, but there is hope beyond the grave for every grieving believer: God raises the dead. In this Old Testament historical account of provision and faith, God gives us a little sign of His resurrection power that He will later put on full display in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, never to die again, the Rapture of His church, and the final resurrection of the Great White Throne.
· Luke 7:11-17 contains strong echoes of this scene in 1 Kings. In this passage, Jesus brings another son of a widow back to life. However, there is one great difference: Elijah cried out for God’s help in prayer. Jesus simply said the words: “Young man, I say to you, arise” (Luke 7:14). Elijah was great, but we are again reminded that Jesus is God Himself, in the flesh.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 14).
Christ as Prophet: As one of His offices, Jesus fulfills the role of prophet: He alone is the ultimate teacher and has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus is also God’s ultimate revelation of Himself, the very Word of God (John 1:1).
God’s power to raise the dead was demonstrated once for all in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:54-57). Now God gives life to spiritually dead people by grace through faith (Eph. 2:1-10), and believers await the glorious final resurrection when the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Jesus has made the grave like a bed, death like sleep, and the resurrection like waking up to a new morning.
What does spiritual and physical resurrection in Christ teach us about how we ought to pray and the way that we should live?
(we know God is all-powerful and He will accomplish His purposes; we know God’s Word is true and He will keep all of His promises to His people; the sting of death is temporary and fading away until it is no more at the final resurrection; God can raise dead hearts to life through faith in Christ, so we proclaim with our words and with our lives, the gospel of Jesus in faith, so that people can and will hear and believe and be saved)
Session Outline
++God provides in unusual ways (God Wants to be Known by All as The [and Your] Provider, 1 Kings 17:1-4).
++God provides in miraculous ways (God Cares for You No Matter Who You Are, 1 Kings 17:10-16).
++God provides through His servant (God’s Authority Has No Limits and He hears Your Cry, 1 Kings 17:17-24).
Session in a Sentence
God’s miracles reveal He is the one true omnipotent God that is over all.
Explain: First Kings 17 challenges us because of the faith and prayer life of Elijah, who boldly proclaimed God’s word and experienced God’s extraordinary provision, even at some of the lowest times of his life. Elijah’s life and ministry also prepared God’s people for the greater Prophet to come, the Lord Jesus. Jesus lived on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:1-4). He too cared for the widow and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-17; see also John 11). Jesus’ prayers were also effectual (John 17). But more than Elijah, Jesus never sinned, and He died taking the judgment for sin upon Himself in the place of those who deserved it. Furthermore, He was raised from the dead and is now interceding for us with the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). This is the gospel of Jesus we proclaim to the world.
DDG (p. 15)
Because we have come to know Jesus as the Word of God and have been forgiven and transformed by Him, we should be declaring God’s Word to those around us with faith and boldness so that God may resurrect others from death to life.
· We must be praying in the name of Christ in a way that reflects His power and His grace?
· How much do we really pray…how much of our prayer truly reflects God’s power and grace…how much do we really pray with others of our church family?
· Prayer changes things for God’s glory?
Voices from Church History
“In all your prayers forget not to thank the Lord for his mercies. When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words, than thy words without a heart. Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer … Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” 2 –John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Close in prayer:
1. Billy Graham, Till Armageddon (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1984), 24.
2. John Bunyan, in The Complete Works of John Bunyan (Philadelphia, PA: Bradley, Garretson & Co., 1873), 80.
3. Musa Gotom, “1 and 2 Kings,” in Africa Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 437.
4. Robert C. Dunston, “Elijah: Man of God,” Biblical Illustrator (Winter 2010-11): 44-45.
5. Havilah Dharamraj, “1 Kings,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 435.
6. Kirk E. Lowery, “1 Kings,” in The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2007), 529, n. 17:9.
7. Katie McCoy, “1 Kings,” in The Study Bible for Women (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2014), 439, n. 17:17-23.
8. Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8 in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
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