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This past Sunday, the children studied the account of when Elijah presented himself to King Ahab who had turned to worshiping Baal (1 Kings 18:20-46). There was severe famine in Samaria caused by three years of drought, and people had begun to pray to idols for relief. God instructed Elijah to have two altars built: one the prophets of Baal would construct, and another Elijah would build in honor of God.
Elijah, King Ahab, the prophets of Baal and many spectators gathered at Mount Carmel. The 450 Baal prophets built their altar and prepared a sacrifice of bull, which they set on wood on top of the altar but did not set on fire. They called on Baal to set fire to the sacrifice, and danced until the afternoon, but with no result. Elijah then built an altar with twelve large stones (one for each tribe descended from Jacob), dug a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice, and set it on the wood. He then took an additional step to have water poured on the offering and the wood three times until water ran down the altar and into the trench. He prayed to God, asking, “O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you are turning their hearts back again.” God sent fire that burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and “licked up the water in the trench.” Later, the sky grew black with clouds, a strong wind blew, and a heavy rain fell.
In the first-second grade classroom, we discussed how by having everyone together, witnessing this miracle as one community, everyone had the chance to receive God’s undeniable validation that He is present and caring for us. The children talked about what it must have been like experiencing a drought in those times when people did not have the reserves we have today–the sacrifices being true sacrifices of their resources–and how they would have felt being witnesses to what happened. The story reminds us that in times of crisis, especially prolonged ones, it’s easy to lose hope or feel forgotten. It is in those times that we need to listen ever more closely to what God is saying to us so that we, too, will receive our encouragement and know that “the Lord–he is God!”
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