1. A CALL FOR REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION
a. What mission did God entrust to Elijah when Israel was controlled by the priests of Baal and Ashtoreth? What did he say to Ahab, the king? 1 Kings 17:1.
“God’s message to Ahab gave Jezebel and her priests and all the followers of Baal and Ashtoreth opportunity to test the power of their gods, and, if possible, to prove the word of Elijah false.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 124.
b. As God sought to speak to the king, the leaders, and the people through judgments—calling for repentance and reformation, how did the heathen priests seek to keep the nation deceived?
“The people were urged by their leaders to have confidence in the power of Baal and to set aside as idle words the prophecy of Elijah. The priests still insisted that it was through the power of Baal that the showers of rain fell.”—Ibid., p. 123.
2. A SAVOR OF LIFE OR OF DEATH
a. When they met face to face, with what question did the king try to rebuke Elijah? 1 Kings 18:17. What must God’s messenger expect from those who refuse to receive the truth?
“The prophets of God were hated by apostate Israel because through them their hidden sins were brought to light. Ahab regarded Elijah as his enemy because the prophet was faithful to rebuke the king’s secret iniquities. So today the servant of Christ, the reprover of sin, meets with scorn and rebuffs.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 587.
“As men see that they cannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine to maintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail the character and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopular truth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 458, 459.
b. What can we expect from the vast majority, even when the truth is presented to them? Isaiah 59:14, 15; 2 Timothy 3:10–12. How is this to affect us?
“Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more. . . .
“In view of this, what is the duty of the messenger of truth? Shall he conclude that the truth ought not to be presented, since often its only effect is to arouse men to evade or resist its claims? No; he has no more reason for withholding the testimony of God’s word, because it excites opposition, than had earlier Reformers. . . .
“The great obstacle both to the acceptance and to the promulgation of truth is the fact that it involves inconvenience and reproach. . . . But this does not deter the true followers of Christ. These do not wait for truth to become popular. Being convinced of their duty, they deliberately accept the cross”—Ibid., pp. 459, 460.
3. THE DANGER OF SMOOTH SERMONS
a. When King Ahab accused Elijah of being a troubler of Israel, how did the prophet respond? 1 Kings 18:18.
“Standing in conscious innocence before Ahab, Elijah makes no attempt to excuse himself or to flatter the king. Nor does he seek to evade the king’s wrath by the good news that the drought is almost over. He has no apology to offer. Indignant, and jealous for the honor of God, he casts back the imputation of Ahab.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 140.
b. What kind of sermons are needed in calling for repentance and reformation? Isaiah 58:1. What is wrong with smooth sermons?
“The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression; the trumpet does not give a certain sound. Men are not cut to the heart by the plain, sharp truths of God’s word.”—Ibid.
“Those ministers who are men pleasers, who cry, Peace, peace, when God has not spoken peace, might well humble their hearts before God, asking pardon for their insincerity and their lack of moral courage. It is not from love for their neighbor that they smooth down the message entrusted to them, but because they are self-indulgent and ease-loving. . . .
“God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.”—Ibid., pp. 141, 142.
c. When will the accusations of Ahab be repeated against the servants of God? Revelation 13:15–17.
“As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.”—The Great Controversy, p. 590.
4. A CONTEST BETWEEN TWO POWERS
a. After rebuking Ahab, what did Elijah demand? 1 Kings 18:19, 20.
“[1 Kings 18:19 quoted.] The command was issued by one who seemed to stand in the very presence of Jehovah; and Ahab obeyed at once, as if the prophet were monarch, and the king a subject. Swift messengers were sent throughout the kingdom with the summons to meet Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 143.
b. What challenge did Elijah put before the people? 1 Kings 18:21 (first part).
“Facing King Ahab and the false prophets, and surrounded by the assembled hosts of Israel, Elijah stands, the only one who has appeared to vindicate the honor of Jehovah. He whom the whole kingdom has charged with its weight of woe is now before them, apparently defenseless in the presence of the monarch of Israel, the prophets of Baal, the men of war, and the surrounding thousands. But Elijah is not alone. Above and around him are the protecting hosts of heaven, angels that excel in strength.”—Ibid., p. 147.
c. What answer did Elijah get from the assembled multitude? 1 Kings 18:21 (second part).
“The Lord abhors indifference and disloyalty in a time of crisis in His work. The whole universe is watching with inexpressible interest the closing scenes of the great controversy between good and evil. The people of God are nearing the borders of the eternal world; what can be of more importance to them than that they be loyal to the God of heaven? All through the ages, God has had moral heroes, and He has them now—those who, like Joseph and Elijah and Daniel, are not ashamed to acknowledge themselves His peculiar people.”—Ibid., p. 148.
5. THE TEMPORARY PROTECTION OF ISRAEL
a. When Elijah proposed that, in the impending contest, “the God that answereth by fire, let him be God,” what did the people say? 1 Kings 18:22–24.
b. After the people had seen that the heathen priests were deceivers, what did Elijah do? 1 Kings 18:30–34. And then, what happened when he prayed to the Lord to manifest Himself? 1 Kings 18:36–38.
c. At the end of the contest, when the people saw the fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice and the water, what did they do and say of the true and only God? 1 Kings 18:39. What order did Elijah give concerning the false teachers? 1 Kings 18:40.
“The priests of Baal . . . would still remain the prophets of Baal. Thus they showed themselves ripe for destruction. That repentant Israel may be protected from the allurements of those who have taught them to worship Baal, Elijah is directed by the Lord to destroy these false teachers.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 153, 154.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Describe the operation of the great controversy as it related to Ahab against Elijah.
2. Explain our duty when facing the unbelieving multitudes.
3. Why are smooth messages especially perilous today?
4. When, in the near future, will the accusation of Ahab be repeated against the servants of God?
5. How are we warned against false religious teachers?