Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 10

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 10


1 Kings 18:25–39

Futility (25–29)

One of the challenges in studying the Books of 1 and 2 Kings is keeping track of whether the narrative is dealing with the northern kingdom of Israel or the southern kingdom of Judah. Paragraph headings in most English translations help, as does the first line of each section. If it says someone began to reign in a given year of a king of Israel, you know we are being introduced to a king of Judah and vice versa.

One of the most dramatic stories in all of 1 and 2 Kings is Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Ahab is king, and although Israel didn’t have a single good king, Ahab was the worst. He and his wife, Jezebel, were horrible people. First Kings 16:29–33 gives us an overview of how evil they were.

As punishment God sent a devastating three-year drought to Israel.

At the end of this period of drought, God sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab to propose an epic challenge: Ahab was to assemble the prophets of Baal to meet Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel. They would build an altar and prepare a sacrifice for their false god. Elijah would build an altar to Yahweh.

On the appointed day the prophets of Baal built their altar and prayed their prayers and danced their dances, and nothing happened. Elijah mocked them, suggesting their god was thinking it over, on the road, asleep or even had “wandered away.” By the end of the day, the prophets of Baal even resorted to cutting themselves, to no avail.

It would be funny if it weren’t so familiar. But the fact is, people today go to similar extremes chasing after false gods that can never satisfy. We need look no further than the effects of drug addiction and sexual promiscuity to see the self-destruction false gods can bring.

Preparation (30–35)

Notice Elijah “repaired” the Lord’s altar. He didn’t build one from scratch. Revival often starts with rebuilding a foundation that has already been laid. What Elijah does next is especially remarkable given how precious water was after a three-year drought. After stacking the wood and laying the sacrifice on the altar, Elijah commanded his servants to drench the altar with water — not once, not twice but three times, until water filled up the trench around the altar.

Had God not responded, Elijah would have been seen as wasting the most valuable resource of the day. But for the sacrifice to be consumed by fire, God would need to show up in a big way.

Response (36–39)

Compared to the prophets of Baal, Elijah’s prayer was simple and understated. No shouting. No dancing. No cutting himself with knives. Elijah didn’t even actually pray for fire to come down.

The fire didn’t just consume the sacrifice and the wood. It evaporated the water in the trench and even consumed the stones of the altar. Science tells us wood burns at 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. To melt rock, temperatures have to be between 1,100 to 2,400 degrees.

As a result of Yahweh’s response, all the people fell facedown and proclaimed He is God.

Pastor of Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama

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