Today’s Bible story in The Gospel Project® for Kids focuses once again on the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God’s people in the Northern Kingdom had a long history of disobeying God. God sent His prophets to the people of Israel. The prophets told the people of Israel to repent and worship God again. Many times, the prophets told the people what would happen in the future if they continued to sin.
Sometimes God’s people listened to the prophets, repented of their sins, and followed God. But many people did not. God had been very patient with the Israelites. He had helped them in times of trouble and had delayed their punishment because He is gracious and compassionate. (2 Kings 13:23) But many years passed, and God knew His people would not love Him with all their hearts.
God had had enough of His people’s sinning. They wouldn’t listen to Him, so He allowed their enemies to send them into exile. The king of Assyria attacked Israel and laid siege to Samaria. Assyria captured Samaria and forced the people to leave the city. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed and the people were scattered, just as God had said it would be. (1 Kings 14:15)
When the Israelites disobeyed God, God judged their sin and punished them by removing them from His presence. Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He unites and restores those who trust in Him. Jesus brings us into God’s presence and keeps us there.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, we turn our attention to Elisha, Elijah’s friend and successor, and Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. The Syrians often attacked Israelite cities and took whatever they wanted, including people to work as slaves. One of the slaves carried off by the Syrians has a pivotal role in today’s story.
Naaman was sick with leprosy—a serious skin disease. Without a cure, Naaman would suffer horribly. A young slave girl from the land of Israel, however, knew about the one true God. She told her mistress that Elisha the prophet could heal Naaman.
Naaman told his master, the king of Aram, what his servant said. The king of Aram wrote a letter to King Ahab, commanding him to heal Naaman. King Ahab panicked. He couldn’t heal Naaman—only God could do that! Elisha called for Naaman and told him to wash seven times in the Jordan River. It wasn’t the “cure” Naaman was expecting, and initially he rejected Elisha’s instructions. His servants, however, encouraged him to obey. Naaman washed in the Jordan and he was healed! Naaman told Elisha, “I know there’s no God in the whole world except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15).
Naaman was sick with a skin problem. His disease went away when he washed in the river. All people are sick with a sin problem. They need a Healer. When we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, God forgives our sin and heals us.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story immediately follows Elijah’s confrontation with King Ahab and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah saw God send fire from heaven. God showed King Ahab, the Israelites, and all the people who worshiped the false god Baal that God is the one true God. Elijah probably felt very happy and victorious, but he was about to face trouble.
King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was furious with Elijah. Jezebel had already killed many of God’s prophets. After Baal’s defeat at Mount Carmel, Jezebel sent a message to Elijah: she was going to kill Elijah like she had killed God’s prophets. Elijah was afraid! He ran away from Jezebel and hid in the wilderness. Overcome with despair, Elijah begged the Lord to take his life. (See 1 Kings 19:4.)
God sent an angel to bring food and water to Elijah while he rested. Then Elijah traveled to Mount Horeb—another name for Mount Sinai—to have a personal encounter with God. God revealed Himself to Elijah in a voice, a soft whisper. Elijah’s circumstances were difficult, but God didn’t leave him. God gave him Elisha, a friend and successor. God assured Elijah that he was not alone; there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not turned to worship Baal.
Elijah was God’s prophet, but Jezebel wanted to kill him. God was in control, and He protected Elijah. Jesus is the true and final Prophet. People hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him. God was in control. He used Jesus’ enemies to fulfill His plan to save people from sin.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to a power-encounter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, a false god. King Ahab was a very evil king. In fact, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
God sent Elijah the prophet to get Ahab’s attention. God prevented rain in the land for three years. For Ahab, a man who worshiped Baal—the false Canaanite god of rain and fertility—the drought sent a strong message about the one true God. When God was ready to send rain to the earth, Elijah appeared to Ahab and told him to gather all the people and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Elijah issued a challenge to the people: Follow God or follow Baal.
Imagine what it must have been like to watch the thousand prophets of Baal face off against the one true God and His prophet. The prophets of Baal shouted to their false god. They cried out. They even cut themselves. Where was Baal? Why didn’t he answer? When it was Elijah’s turn, Elijah drenched his altar with water. Then Elijah called out to God, and God answered with fire from heaven that consumed the offering, the wood, the stones, the dust, and even the water in the trench Elijah dug. The people fell facedown, shouting “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”
Elijah called on the power of God to prove to the worshipers of Baal that God is the one true God. By sending fire from heaven, God displayed His great power. God would use His power years later to raise Jesus from the dead, showing that Jesus is the Son of God.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week, our journey takes us to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, created as a result of King Solomon’s sin. King Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, created two golden calves for his people to worship. Needless to say, his kingdom wasn’t starting out very well.
The Northern Kingdom was plagued by evil kings who led people away from worshiping the one true God. Baasha (BAY uh shuh), Elah, Zimri (ZIM righ), and Omri (AHM righ) each reigned as evil, sinful kings of Israel. Each king led the Israelites further away from worshiping God.
Then Omri’s son Ahab (AY hab) became king of Israel. Ahab was more evil than the kings who were before him—more evil than Omri, more evil than Zimri, more evil than Elah, and more evil than Baasha! If that wasn’t enough, Ahab married Jezebel, who encouraged him to serve and worship the false god Baal. Ahab built an altar for Baal in Samaria. All the things Ahab did made God very angry.
God’s people asked for a king to lead them, but no king led them perfectly. Was there any king on earth who would be faithful? God would send a king from heaven—His own Son—who would lead God’s people back to God. He would be the King of all kings—Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Project for Kids