Your faith professed and put into action reveals God’s nature which has the power to change people’s minds and hearts.
Has your faith ever caused you to stand out to others? If so, discuss how. If not, why do you think it hasn’t?
Before diving into this study which focuses on Elijah’s calling to God for a revival at Mount Carmel in Israel found in 1 Kings 18, let’s set the scene in the biblical narrative. King David (who led the people of Israel to remain faithful to their covenant with God and worship him alone) has died, and numerous successive kings are mentioned in the books of 1 and 2 Kings. Israel is departing from the teachings of God restored during David’s reign. In fact, Israel is split into two parts: northern and southern; each with their own king. Of the two, the northern part is more corrupted by idolatry which results in a lack of faithfulness to Israel’s covenant with God. Elijah is a prophet in northern Israel. A prophet is a person whose role is to speak on God’s behalf and call out injustice as it conflicts with Israel’s covenant with God in the hopes that people would repent and follow God’s teaching. King Ahab is king of northern Israel during this time. Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, are persecuting prophets and leading Israel in destructive ways such as idolatry (worship of false gods). Elijah is one of the few who still believe in God’s sovereignty and live according to his authority. He is an outlier in his culture. Does your faith cause you to be an outlier in your culture?
Read 1 Kings 18:17-21.
1. Do you sense the argument taking place in this passage? Who does Elijah blame the “confusion” on? Have you ever “thrown confusion” into people by speaking countercultural statements?
Read 1 Kings 17:1, 18:2, and 18:5.
2. Israel was once a lively and fruitful place where God’s people lived. During the time period covered in 1 and 2 Kings this is not so. What may this drought symbolize for the nation of Israel?
Read 1 Kings 18:33-35; 38.
3. How many times does Elijah tell them to add water?
4. Why might Elijah be making such a request?
Read 1 Kings 18:36-37 and Matthew 21:22.
5. Why does Elijah want God to answer him?
6. When you pray (even if you do so silently), do you cry out or whisper to God?
7. In your prayer life, do you pray for others? Do you believe intercessory prayer makes a difference in the lives of others?
Read 1 Kings 18:23;38.
8. In the agreement between Elijah and Baal worshippers, what was to be burnt by fire? What was burned up by the fire sent by God?
9. What does the burning of the entire altar and its nearby surroundings tell about God’s nature?
Read 1 Kings 18:39.
10. What was the result of Elijah’s countercultural faith put into action? Did the Israelites experience a revival (a reawakened interest in God)?
11. Do you think their praises were sincere or were they just backing the winner?
Read 1 Kings 18:26.
12. Reflecting on this historical fire-filled event at Mount Carmel, as Christ follower, will you fight for control and dance (limp) around the altar of your own idols? Or will you cry out and surrender to deliverance?
Take some time and encourage each other to discuss some ways you can intentionally put your faith into action this week. Moreover, follow-up on developing a personal growth plan (see this post for a template to get you started). Ask for prayer and encouragement from each other to follow through in the next couple of days.
Apply the discussed intentional, faithful actions. Pray for opportunities to apply your faith in ways that bring people to love Jesus. Pray for more direct involvement as led by the Holy Spirit. Pray for non-believers (and Christ followers) to have a renewed interest in God and that they experience Him in a refreshing way that helps them understand more of who He is and what He has done through the Son of the Trinity, Jesus.
We encourage groups to try the Discovery Bible Method as an alternative to these discussion questions. You will find details for this Bible study method here. For this week, please study 1 Kings 18:21-24 and 1 Kings 18:32-39.
Supplemental Resource – The Bible Project, a non-profit popular on YouTube, breaks down each book of the Bible to help Christ followers understand how each book fits into the grand narrative of the Bible which ultimately points to Jesus. This video is about the book of 1-2 Kings.
2. Israel is, during the era of 1 Kings, a fruitless land. Without water, fruit cannot grow and death is imminent. Moreover, when water comes back to Israel, a new season of fruitfulness will be brought to a dead land (read 1 Kings 18:41-26 to see how the Lord sends rain to Israel).
3. Elijah tells them to pour water over the altar 3 times.
4. If everything was drenched in water then no one could claim the altar coincidentally caught fire. The people would know it was God alone. Also, we might consider that the water was also a sacrifice of a precious resource given the drought.
5. Elijah cries out to God so that the people may know God and have their hearts turned back (lives devoted to following Him).
8. According to the agreement the sacrificial animal and wood should be burnt. God burned the sacrificial animals, wood, stones, dust, and water (the entire altar and its near surroundings).
9. He is more powerful than we fathom. When He shows up, he shows up in ways we don’t expect or bigger than we imagine.
10. Yes! The result was a revival, an awakening of interest in God, in the land. Israelites realized God’s active presence and power.
12. Consider reading this verse in several translations (NASB, ESV, NLT).