Introduction: Last week a young man came into my office and told me
about how law school had matured his thinking. I knew what he was
talking about. He had been in my class a few years ago and was a real
“pain” because he was openly skeptical about my teaching on
constitutional law. Disagreement is part of learning. This was
something different. During law school he gave his heart to God, and
this year he has been one of my best helpers in an important
constitutional case I’m filing with the U.S. Supreme Court. God has
changed his attitude! Our lesson this week is about changing
attitudes and turning hearts to God. Let’s jump into our study of the
- Read 1 Kings 16:29-31. What do we learn about Ahab that
you think is important?
- Read 1 Kings 16:25. Do you see a pattern here? (King Omri
was worse then any king before him. His son, Ahab, was
even worse than Omri.)
- Are we seeing “hearts turn?” (Yes, but the wrong
- What is so bad about Ahab marrying Jezebel? (He is
institutionalizing the evil of Baal worship by
marrying a pagan princess.)
- Read 1 Kings 16:33. What else did Ahab do that is
remarkable? (He did more to make God angry than all the
kings before him.)
- Think about this. My view is that God gives us His
commandments in order to make our lives better and to
help us bring glory to Him. Why would God get angry
when we fail to enjoy the benefit of following His
direction in life? (Ahab did not simply fail to live
his best life, he is an active opponent of God. He
leads people away from God.)
- Read 1 Kings 17:1. What does Elijah say about God? (He
- How does this contrast with Baal?
- What does Elijah say will happen? (No dew or rain
until Elijah announces otherwise.)
- Why does Elijah say that he will announce when
the drought ends?
- Read Deuteronomy 11:16-17 and James 5:17. James tells us
that Elijah was praying for the fulfillment of the warning
that God would withhold rain if the nation turned to other
Gods. Why would Elijah have to pray for this if God came
to him with that message for Ahab? (This suggests that
Elijah took this upon himself! He prayed for the drought
so that his nation would repent.)
- Read 1 Kings 17:2-3. Notice that the text says that the
word of God came to Elijah after he told Ahab about the
drought. This give further support for the idea that
Elijah is pushing the drought and is not simply a
- Why would Elijah need to hide? (Ahab is truly evil –
he would kill Elijah.)
- Read 1 Kings 17:4-6. Have you ever heard of such a plan?
Hide and birds will feed you?
- What advantage does this plan have over, say, having
some human bring Elijah food? (No one can be tortured
into revealing his location.)
- The Trouble Maker?
- Read 1 Kings 18:1-2. Why do you think that rain is the
method for changing hearts? (This shows that God controls
the rain. One commentary reveals that the worshipers of
Baal thought that Baal was the god of rain. God and
Elijah go to the heart of the controversy.)
- Is that still the correct strategy? When we want to
“turn hearts,” should we go specifically to the heart
of the controversy?
- Read 1 Kings 18:16-18. Who has created the drought, Ahab
or Elijah? (They blame each other.)
- Which one is right?
- Over the years I have had people who were creating
trouble in our church. They wanted things done
differently, and they claimed God was on their side.
How do we decide who is the trouble-maker?(The Bible
tells us the trouble maker is the one who has
abandoned the commands of the Lord.)
- In the situations I’m thinking about, both
sides thought they were following God’s
commands. What do you do in situations like
that? (What happens next gives us some
- The Showdown
- Read 1 Kings 18:19-21. What do you think about the way
Elijah sets out the alternatives? What do you think Elijah
wanted the people to do? (I think he wanted them to
declare for God. He wanted an overwhelming vote right
- Why did the people not say anything? (They were not
prepared to leave either God or Baal. They wanted
- Why? Is that how you and I are today?
- Read 1 Kings 18:22. What is Elijah’s point?
- Read 1 Kings 18:23-24. What do the people say about this
contest to show who is the true God? (Now they say
something, and they agree!)
- Apply this to your life. Read Malachi 3:10-12. I hear
people say that demonstrations are for baby
Christians. Mature Christians are motivated by love
to obey God. What do you say? Should a devotion to
God make a difference in the application of His
- Read 1 Kings 18:25-29. Is Elijah violating Proverbs 24:17
which tells us not to gloat when our enemy falls or
- Read 1 Kings 18:30-35. It strikes me that this takes a
long time. Why is Elijah pouring so much water on his
bull? (He does not want anyone claiming that he engaged in
some sort of trick.)
- Read 1 Kings 18:36-39. Are hearts turned?
- Why don’t we see such dramatic proofs today? Is it
because we do not have the faith of Elijah?
- Let’s go back and re-read 1 Kings 18:36. Recall that
I suggested that it might be Elijah’s idea to pray
for a drought? What does this suggest? (Elijah says
he is following God’s command. Whether he is talking
about what he is doing on the mountain, or whether he
is talking about the entire conflict, is unclear.
Since the Bible threatens drought for idol
worshipers, Elijah could still make this statement
and be the one who prayed for the drought.)
- Read 1 Kings 18:40-41. Elijah kills 450 prophets of Baal,
but helps Ahab with eating and drinking. Why? Isn’t Ahab
the one in charge?
- Have you ever heard someone argue that our God does
not believe in judgment? That evil punishes itself?
- What does this story reveal?
- Last Day Elijah
- Read Luke 1:17. How is John the Baptist like Elijah? (He
has the same “spirit and power” as Elijah.)
- Read Luke 1:15. What Spirit does John the Baptist possess
– even before he is born? (The Holy Spirit.)
- What should we conclude about the spirit of Elijah?
(It is the Holy Spirit!)
- Since the Holy Spirit is available to all believers,
do we all have the “spirit and power” of Elijah?
- Is that how we “turn hearts?”
- Read Luke 3:7. Is that the approach we should take?
- Read Matthew 21:32 and Mark 1:4. How do we balance
attracting sinners and preaching repentance? Are we
turning hearts by being too accepting?
- Friend, this is a powerful lesson. Elijah does not turn
hearts by being timid or opening his arms to sin. He turns
hearts by action – drought, fire and sword. The power and
direction for this is the Holy Spirit. Why not invite the
Holy Spirit into your life to guide you in turning hearts
- Next week: We begin a new series entitled “The Least of These:
Ministering to Those in Need.”