This lesson is the 4th in the series of lessons on Elijah. This story includes Elijah running for his life, Elisha being called as Elijah’s successor and Elijah’s departure to heaven. It was written for upper elementary age children Sunday school class in mind. This lesson can be adapted to younger students or used in Children’s church as well. Additional resources for crafts and activities can be found at the end of the lesson.
- Children will learn that God is faithful and can be trusted at all times.
- They will learn that God has a purpose for his/her life and that He prepares them and empowers them with the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work.
- They will learn to be faithful in the situations they are in until God tells them what to do next.
Optional: Download our free “Stories of Elijah” coloring page
Memory Verse: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV
Activity for memory verse: Use a rope and have each of the students find a place to hold on to the rope. Explain that the rope is going to represent our hope in Jesus. As each student and teacher holds on to the rope share an example of a situation that may cause doubt or fear (storm, loss of a loved one, sickness). Be dramatic and act as though the situation is causing you to let go of the rope. Hang on to the rope as tightly as you can and say the verse as a group. Allow students to share circumstances that would cause them to need to cling to Jesus. For older students you can use this activity as a word picture of other believers holding up those who are struggling by hanging on to the rope and helping the student who is falling.
Pre-Bible Lesson Activity:
This activity could be used before starting today’s lesson. Take construction paper and write each of the following attributes of God on them (Strength, Protector, Provider, Powerful, and Faithful). On separate pieces of construction paper write the statements from Elijah’s life that match each of those attributes. Explain to the students what attributes are. Discuss briefly each of the attributes that you have chosen for this activity. Turn the papers face down on the ground/table and have students take turns turning the papers over trying to match the attribute of God and the statement that matches it. The student can help from his/her classmates in deciding if the statement matches the attribute.
Strength: Elijah stood before wicked King Ahab and Jezebel and with courage from God gave them the message that it would not rain for 3 ½ years.
- Protector: Elijah was safe from harm when he was hidden by the Brook Cherith and while living in Zarephath with the widow and her son.
- Provider: Elijah was fed by ravens by the Brook Cherith and ate bread from a supply of never-ending flour and oil while staying in Zarephath.
- Powerful: 1. No rain for 3 ½ years fulfilling the message Elijah gave to Ahab and Jezebel. 2. Ravens to obeyed and brought food to Elijah. 3. A never-ending supply of oil and flour. 4. Fire from heaven burning up Elijah’s sacrifice, altar and all the water in the trench while Baal remained silent and didn’t answer. 5. Rain poured down on a dry and thirsty land as Elijah fervently prayed.
- Faithful. God kept His Word to Elijah and did what He said He was going to do.
(Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and Your servant loves them. Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.”
Psalm 119:140, 144)
Elijah Runs Away, Receives Encouragement and Rides Chariot to Heaven (Children’s Sunday School Lesson)
Have students open their Bibles to 1 Kings 19. Provide Bibles for students who don’t have one so they can follow along when verses are read from the passage.
As we have traveled with Elijah these past three weeks we know from reading God’s Word that the statements about God in the activity we just took part in are true. Sometimes we know in our heads that something is true and yet there are times that we seem to completely forget what we know is true. It’s kind of like a runner who has run the course so many times he knows it well enough that he could run it with his eyes closed. But one day as he is running he trips over a twig that is on the course and he falls down. Was it because the runner didn’t know how to run that he fell down? No. He had an unexpected obstacle and what he knew changed his course. He could choose to never run again because he tripped and fell or he could get up and be more careful as he runs to watch for obstacles on the course.
We could say that Elijah was on a course with God. God had proved Himself faithful and powerful to Elijah. He proved Himself to be Elijah’s strength, protection and provision. Elijah had no reason to believe that God would fail Him after what he had experienced in the past 3 ½ years of the drought.
Let’s take a peek and see what Elijah is doing in our story today. Let’s imagine we are watching a video of this story. In the clip I am about to show you we see a man running as fast as he can. All we can see his back and his feet hitting the dirt road as he runs faster and faster. As the camera zooms in we recognize the outfit the runner is wearing. It looks just like Elijah’s robe. The camera gives a glimpse of the man’s face. It is Elijah and he looks very afraid.
To find out why Elijah is running let’s turn in our Bibles and read 1 Kings 19:1. Now let’s return to our video and watch what is taking place at the palace.
“Ahab, you are soaked! You are dripping water all over my clean floors! Servants! Dry this man off immediately!”
“Jezebel, what do you think of the rain? Isn’t it a wonderful sight to hear and see?”
“I suppose, but there’s no need for you to come in here dripping like that!”
“Listen to what happened today. You won’t believe what happened on Mt. Carmel. It was amazing! Elijah came to me and told me to gather all the prophets of Baal and the people of Israel and meet him on Mt. Carmel. When we all gathered on top of the mountain Elijah had a contest.”
“What are you talking about Ahab? A contest? You know that for 3 ½ years I have had men searching high and low for Elijah to have him put to death and you are on Mt. Carmel playing silly games?”
“Sorry, dear I wasn’t thinking about that when Elijah told me to gather everyone on Mt. Carmel. Can I finish my story? You have to hear what happened!”
Jezebel rolls her eyes and folds her arms and begins to listen to the story that Ahab tells. He tells her how the prophets of Baal called upon Baal all day long to send fire and he never answered. “Jezebel, it was like Baal wasn’t paying any attention to the prophets’ cries to send fire on their sacrifice.” When it was Elijah’s turn he brought fire down and it burned up the sacrifice, altar and even the water he had poured over the sacrifice.”
My family doesn’t like watching TV with me because I speak out when something is wrong. As we are watching this scene what would you say about Ahab’s story to his wife? He said Elijah did this. Did Elijah bring fire down? NO! Ahab was leaving God out of this story. BOO Ahab!!! Let’s press play and watch some more.
“Everything seemed to happen so fast after the fire fell from the sky. What I saw next was Elijah calling for all the false prophets to be brought to him. The people brought every single false prophet before Elijah and he killed them.”
“Elijah did what? Are you telling me that you stood there as all of the prophets of my beloved Baal were slaughtered? I should never let you go anywhere without me!”
Jezebel orders a servant to come into the room and as he comes in she gives him a message to take immediately to Elijah. The servant writes the message on a scroll, rolls it up and tucks it in his robe. He leaves the palace and finds Elijah.
As the queen’s servant shows up he tells Elijah that he has a message from the queen. He takes out the scroll and says, “This is what her majesty says to you. Elijah, may my gods punish me severely if by tomorrow you are alive. I want you dead just as you killed the prophets of Baal.”
The camera zooms in on Elijah’s face and the color drains from his face. As soon as the queen’s servant leaves Elijah grabs his robe and gets out of town as fast as he can.
So now we know why Elijah is running. What is wrong with this scene? Didn’t we begin our lesson today talking about all the things God had done for Elijah? How did this ‘twig in the road’ Jezebel cause Elijah to trip and fall? This wicked woman seemingly caused Elijah to forget all that God had shown Him and he ran for his life. Did Elijah forget that Jezebel’s gods have no power to do anything?
From the Scriptures we don’t see anywhere that God told Elijah to run away. Even though Elijah seemed to forget God could take care of him God knew that Elijah was only a man. Listen to what Psalm 103:13-14 says. “As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
Elijah ran far away (at least 100 miles) to be safe from Jezebel. (If you have a map show the direction where Elijah ran.) He was so tired when he finally arrived in the desert. He found a tree and went to sleep. As he slept an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” Awakened from his sleep Elijah rubs his eyes and in the middle of the desert sees a little fire with a cake of bread being baked on it. Beside the fire was a pitcher of water.
God showed compassion to his servant and took care of Elijah. Elijah must have been very hungry and thirsty. He ate and drank and went back to sleep. Later the angel came to him and told him to get up and eat again because he would need strength for his journey.
Now Elijah was rested and his strength was renewed. He went on a journey for 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (for older students ask what they know about this mountain.) Once he arrived in Mt. Horeb he went into a cave.
1 Kings 19:9-13 While Elijah was in the cave, God spoke to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah told him that he had been very zealous (devoted, diligent, and fervent) to stand up for God while Israel had turned to worship Baal and killed all of God’s prophets. Elijah thought he was the only one left and now Jezebel wanted to kill him too.
God called Elijah out of his cave. Elijah came and stood at the opening of the cave and the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake shook the earth, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire came but God was not in the fire. After these three powerful forces God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. When Elijah heard God’s voice he pulled the hood of his robe called a cloak over his face.
God spoke to Elijah and encouraged him by telling him that he still had a plan for his life. God was in control of his life not Jezebel. He didn’t need to be afraid. God gave Elijah instructions for what he was to do and one of those instructions included going to a man named Elisha who would work with him and be a prophet just like him. God was giving Elijah a companion who would serve God with him. (Read 1 Kings 19:18 to see how many prophets the Lord had besides Elijah.)
After hearing God’s voice and being encouraged that he wasn’t the only one left who loved God and served him, Elijah set out to find Elisha and anoint him to be God’s prophet.
(If you need to break this story up into 2 sessions this would be a good stopping place.)
Scripture: 1 Kings 19:19-21; 2 Kings 2:1-15
When Elijah arrived at Elisha’s home, he him found busy working. He was plowing in his father’s field with 11 other men. Elisha was a farmer. As he was plowing the field Elijah came up beside him and threw his cloak upon his shoulders. (A cloak is an outer robe that is used as a coat.) Imagine what Elisha must have thought when Elijah the prophet came over to him as he worked and placed his cloak on his shoulders. This might seem like a strange custom to us. In those days what Elijah did meant God was calling Elisha to serve Him.
It is always exciting when God calls a person to serve Him. God has a purpose for each person He has created. ( Ephesians 2:10 ) God prepares men, women, boys and girls to serve Him. God had been preparing Elisha’s heart for this important day. Elisha was faithful in his life where God had placed him. He farmed and did his job well because that was the job God had given him at that time. Elisha was faithful to do this work until God told him what to do next. When the cloak was placed on his shoulders, he knew in his heart he was ready to serve God and follow Him. He immediately went to his family and said good-bye and followed Elijah to be God’s servant.
This story reminds me of some fishermen who were busy fixing their nets and when Jesus walked by and called them to follow Him and become fishers of men, they immediately left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:19
God has a job for each one of His children. Until we know exactly what He is asking us to do we need to be faithful and obedient in the place He has us. As children you can be faithful in the things you have to do in your life like being obedient to your parents, doing your chores, doing your school work and whatever else you have to do in your life. God is preparing your heart for a future work for Him and as you wait for Him to work out whatever that is, you need to be faithful in your daily walk with Him. It is important to pray and read your Bible every day so that you will be ready when Jesus says, “Come, follow Me”, you will be ready and know it is time.
How will you respond as you wait for God to show you what His work for you will be? When God calls you to a place of service for Him will you be ready? Will you be faithful in the place that you are in until He calls you?
Elisha obeyed the call to follow Elijah. Elijah and Elisha worked together in schools for God’s prophets. Today we would say these schools were like colleges for prophets. Together Elijah and Elisha trained many young men known as the sons of the prophets to serve God. As Elisha worked with Elijah God was preparing him to take over as His prophet when Elijah was taken to heaven. Elisha loved Elijah and tried to learn all he could about serving God from Elijah.
Elijah must have been excited when he knew the time was drawing close for him to go to heaven and live with God forever. The Lord sent Elijah to Bethel and Elijah told Elisha to stay behind so he could go on. Elisha wanted to stay close to Elijah. He loved him very much. When they got to Bethel they met young men from the school of the prophets. These young men knew that Elijah would be going to heaven soon. They said to Elisha, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take away your master away today?” Elisha said, “Yes I know, please be silent!” It must have been difficult for Elisha to talk about losing his friend and teacher.
Elijah went to Jericho and on to Jordan. Both times he went to leave he asked Elisha to stay behind but Elisha would not and was determined to say by Elijah’s side.
When Elijah and Elisha reached the Jordan River, Elijah took off his cloak and rolled it up. He struck the Jordan River with his cloak and the river divided so the two could walk through.
Elijah knew his time to be with God in heaven was really close. He turned to Elisha and asked, “What shall I do for you, before I am taken away?”
If you were Elisha what would you have asked for? Elisha is standing there realizing that this prophet of God who had courage to stand up against evil was now leaving him. He could have asked for lots of money so he could settle down and buy a nice house. He could have asked to be a famous prophet in all the land. He could have asked that he not have to face the danger and trouble that Elijah faced with Jezebel. Did Elisha ask for any of these things? Let’s look in 2 Kings 2:9. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This didn’t mean he wanted to be more powerful than Elijah. According to Jewish law a double portion was given to the firstborn son as an inheritance when the father died. The firstborn son had the honor of leading the family when his father died. Elisha was asking for the ability to inherit Elijah’s prophetic ministry and his ability to serve God after he died. Elisha wanted to do great things for God. He wanted God’s power to do a great work for Him. Elisha wanted to do his very best for God.
Elijah had no way of granting Elisha’s request. He knew that only God could give Elisha His spirit. Elijah said, “If you see me when I am taken away, you will receive your request.”
As the two men walked along together a chariot of fire and horses came between them. Elijah was taken into the chariot and whisked off in a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha must have been sad to know he wouldn’t be with his friend any more on this earth. He looked and saw Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him as he went off to heaven.
Elisha took Elijah’s cloak, rolled it up and went back to the Jordan River. He struck the river and just as it had before it divided and he was able to cross over. God had answered his request. He had been given God’s power through His Spirit.
The sons of the prophets in Jericho saw Elisha do this miracle and they knew that God had replaced Elijah with Elisha now that Elijah went to heaven.
God called, trained and equipped Elisha with His Spirit to be His prophet. In the coming weeks we will be learning stories of how God used Elisha to serve Him.
God prepares you and me to serve Him by teaching us His Word. God places parents, preachers and teachers in our lives to help us to understand God and His ways better. When we become His children, He places His Holy Spirit in our hearts and gives us the strength and power to serve Him. How will you allow His Spirit to teach and help you to serve Him better?
Close in prayer.
- Why did Elijah run for his life? (Jezebel threatened his life.)
- How far away did Elijah run? (About 100 miles)
- Why did Elijah ask God to take his life when he sat under the broom tree? (He was tired and had enough.)
- Who woke Elijah up and told get up and eat? (An angel.)
- How long was Elijah’s trip to Mt. Horeb? (40 days.)
- Name three powerful things that Elijah saw as he stood on the mountain? (Wind, earthquake and fire.)
- How did God speak to Elijah? (A still small voice.)
- Who did God tell Elijah to call as a prophet? (Elisha)
- How many prophets had not bowed their knee to worship Baal? (7,000)
- What was Elisha doing when Elijah placed his cloak on his shoulders? (Plowing a field.)
- What did Elisha ask for before Elijah left?
- How did God take Elijah to heaven? (Chariot of fire and horses)
- How did others know that Elisha had been given God’s Spirit? (He used Elijah’s cloak and struck the Jordan and crossed through it.)
Additional Resources for this Bible Story
- Chariots of Fire Teacher’s Lesson
- Mission Arlington: God Whispers
- Mission Arlington: Elijah goes to heaven
- Calvary Chapel Activites/Coloring pages:
- The Still Small Voice
- Elijah Chooses Elisha
- Elijah is taken to heaven
- Elisha crosses the River
- Bible Chariot Craft