June 11-june 17
A significant event happened at the end of our reading last week: the nation of Israel split into two separate kingdoms. Remember that the people of Israel are divided into twelve tribes, named after Jacob’s sons. In the middle of 1 Kings 12, following Solomon’s death in chapter 11, the tribes form two distinct kingdoms, each choosing to name a different king to rule them. The ten tribes to the north name Jeroboam their king (1 Kings 11:26). From this point forward, as you read in 1 and 2 Kings, the northern kingdom will be referred to as Israel. Two tribes in the south -- Benjamin and Judah -- name Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, as their king. From this point forward, the southern kingdom is referred to as Judah. As an additional point of context, many of the prophets and prophetic books of the Old Testament fall into the time of the divided kingdom, as God sends messengers to warn the Israelites of impending judgment due to their sin and unfaithfulness.
The readings this week jump from 1 Kings into the book of 2 Kings, as we follow the accounts of the kings who reign in Israel. Next week we will look at the kings in Judah. Other than geography, there is a common link between the 19 rulers of the northern kingdom: none lead the Israelite people into worship of and relationship with the Lord. Instead, they lead the people into greater and greater sin, primarily the sin of idolatry -- the worship of false gods. As time passes in the history of Israel, a common theme becomes clear. No sinful, broken human is able to lead perfectly or save entirely. Not a judge. Not a king. As we read about the kings in the northern kingdom, their sin should not only remind us of our own, but also point us to our need for a holy and perfect Savior.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON OVER THE NORTHERN KINGDOM, LISTEN BELOW:
FOR A PODCAST OVER THE PROPHETIC BOOKS, LISTEN BELOW
OLD TESTAMENT MOVEMENT
MAP OF THE DIVIDED KINGDOM
1 Kings 18:16-39
Everyone loves a showdown between good and evil. But this is more than that: it is a story showing the reality of God’s power to triumph over evil. The story opens with Israel experiencing a severe famine under the rule of wicked King Ahab and an even more wicked wife, Queen Jezebel. Another character enters the scene, the prophet Elijah. Elijah is one of the most well-known prophets of the Old Testament. He verbally challenges the people of Israel, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Who would the people choose to follow as their God? And then comes the fun part. Elijah challenges the 450 prophets of Baal to prove who is the one true God. This is not done as a rash act, but rather a faith-filled, God-led challenge. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had not taken their responsibility seriously in leading their people to worship the one true God. God calls upon Elijah to take up that responsibility. We exhibit the family ingredient of Responsibility when we lead our family toward God during difficult times. He is powerful and faithful.
- At the beginning of the story, who did the people worship?
- What challenge did Elijah give the false prophets?
- What happened when the false prophets called to their god?
- What happened to Elijah’s sacrifice when he called upon the one true God?
- What was the people’s response to God’s display of power?
Working together, use paper grocery sacks to make "altar stones" by stuffing sacks with crinkled newspaper or plastic bags. Close with masking tape. Make enough “stones” to build a round altar. Explain that altars were used to give offerings to the Lord to pay for the sins of the people. They were also built where someone talked with God or as a reminder of something that God did at a particular place.
Activity 1: Reenact story
Build altar and surround it with blue paper or blanket for water. Use pool noodles for wood. Make fire with yellow, red, and orange crepe paper. When fire comes, pull out the “water blanket,” “wood,” and “stones.” Everyone cry out, “The Lord, He is God!”
Source: Adapted from Danielle’s Place
Activity 2: Game
Write out the words of 1 Kings 18:39, “The Lord, He is God,” putting one word on each paper stone. Stand in circle. Pass the stones around circle while you play music. When music stops, everyone scrambles to make an altar with the Bible verse in order. Pray together that you would always know that “The Lord, He is God!”
Source: Adapted from Danielle’s Place.
Small Group Discussion
- What example is there to follow?
- What is the key to making a difference for God? (See 1 Kings 19:10, 14).
- If you want to make a difference for God, are you willing to commit to the things that will help you get there? What are those commitments?