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Lesson 13: Turning Hearts in the End Time *

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 Bible!

  1. Ahab

    1. Read 1 Kings 16:29-31. What do we learn about Ahab that you think is important?

    2. 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.)

      1. Are we seeing "hearts turn?" (Yes, but the wrong way.)

      2. What is so bad about Ahab marrying Jezebel? (He is institutionalizing the evil of Baal worship by marrying a pagan princess.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

  2. Elijah

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:1. What does Elijah say about God? (He lives!)

      1. How does this contrast with Baal?

      2. What does Elijah say will happen? (No dew or rain until Elijah announces otherwise.)

        1. Why does Elijah say that he will announce when the drought ends?

    2. 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.)

    3. 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 messenger.)

      1. Why would Elijah need to hide? (Ahab is truly evil - he would kill Elijah.)

    4. Read 1 Kings 17:4-6. Have you ever heard of such a plan? Hide and birds will feed you?

      1. What advantage does this plan have over, say, having some human bring Elijah food? (No one can be tortured into revealing his location.)

  3. The Trouble Maker?

    1. 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.)

      1. Is that still the correct strategy? When we want to "turn hearts," should we go specifically to the heart of the controversy?

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:16-18. Who has created the drought, Ahab or Elijah? (They blame each other.)

      1. Which one is right?

      2. 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.)

        1. 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 guidance.)

  4. The Showdown

    1. 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 then.)

      1. Why did the people not say anything? (They were not prepared to leave either God or Baal. They wanted both.)

        1. Why? Is that how you and I are today?

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:22. What is Elijah's point?

    3. 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!)

      1. 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 promises?

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:25-29. Is Elijah violating Proverbs 24:17 which tells us not to gloat when our enemy falls or stumbles?

    5. 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.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 18:36-39. Are hearts turned?

      1. Why don't we see such dramatic proofs today? Is it because we do not have the faith of Elijah?

      2. 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.)

    7. 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?

      1. Have you ever heard someone argue that our God does not believe in judgment? That evil punishes itself?

        1. What does this story reveal?

  5. Last Day Elijah

    1. Read Luke 1:17. How is John the Baptist like Elijah? (He has the same "spirit and power" as Elijah.)

    2. Read Luke 1:15. What Spirit does John the Baptist possess - even before he is born? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. What should we conclude about the spirit of Elijah? (It is the Holy Spirit!)

      2. Since the Holy Spirit is available to all believers, do we all have the "spirit and power" of Elijah?

        1. Is that how we "turn hearts?"

    3. Read Luke 3:7. Is that the approach we should take?

    4. 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?

    5. 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 towards God?

  6. Next week: We begin a new series entitled "The Least of These: Ministering to Those in Need."
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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