“After the Fire a Still Small Voice”
Elijah seals up the heavens, is miraculously sustained, and raises a widow’s
son from the dead.
Elijah challenges the priests of Baal and opens the heavens for rain.
Elijah is comforted by the Holy Ghost and instructed to continue in God’s
A study of this lesson will encourage us to put God first in our lives and to
find guidance and comfort in the words of the living prophet and the whisperings
of the Holy Ghost.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 28 Handout (PDF)
President Thomas S. Monson told the following story: "Born
in poverty but nurtured in faith, [Jose Garcia] prepared for a mission
call. I was present the day his recommendation was received. There appeared
the statement: 'Brother Garcia will serve at great sacrifice to his family,
for he is the means of much of the family support. He has but one possession--a
treasured stamp collection--which he is willing to sell, if necessary,
to help finance his mission.'
W.] Kimball listened attentively as this statement was read to him, and
then he responded: 'Have him sell his stamp collection. Such sacrifice
will be to him a blessing'."
- HOW WOULD YOU REACT IF YOU WERE ASKED TO GIVE UP ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS TO
- President Monson continued: "Then with a
twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, this loving prophet said, 'Each
month at Church headquarters we receive thousands of letters from all parts
of the world. See that we save these stamps and provide them to Jose at
the conclusion of his mission. He will have, without cost, the finest stamp
collection of any young man in Mexico'." (Ensign, Nov 1978,
When we put the things of God first in our lives, the rewards we receive
are far greater than anything we have to sacrifice along the way. Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, received great blessings because they
were willing to obey God, even when it was difficult to do so.
Elijah Seals Up The Heavens & Is Miraculously Sustained
As previously discussed, Jeroboam led the kingdom of Israel into idolatry. He and his descendants were eventually destroyed.
They were followed by another succession of idolatrous kings.
One of those kings was Ahab. He "did more
to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel that were
before him" (1 Kings 16:33).
Ahab married Jezebel, adopted her practice of Baal worship, and encouraged
his people to join him in the worship of this false god.
"And Elijah the Tishbite...said unto Ahab, As
the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be
dew nor rain these years, but according to my word" (1 Kings
WHY WAS ELIJAH ABLE TO MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT?
"Elijah was endowed with the priesthood power
of God. With this power, he declared to King Ahab that no rain would fall
upon the land." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p450)
Joseph Smith: "We ask, then, what are we
to understand by a man's working by faith? We answer: we understand that
when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical
force. It is by words, instead of by exerting his physical powers, with
which every being works when he works by faith. God said, 'Let there be
light: and there was light' (Gen 1:3). Joshua spake and the great lights
which God had created stood still (Joshua 10:12-13). Elijah commanded and
the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so
that it did not rain; he again commanded and the heavens gave forth rain
(1 Kings 17:1; 18:1, 41-45). All this was done by faith. And the Savior
says: 'If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this
mountain, Remove…and it shall remove' (Matt 17:20); or 'say unto this sycamine
tree, Be thou plucked up…and…planted in the sea; and it should obey you'
(Luke 17:6). Faith, then, works by words; and with these its mightiest
works have been and will be performed." (Lectures on Faith,
Elijah, was given power like Nephi in the book of Helaman. Consider
the Lord's words to Nephi: "Blessed art
thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how
thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto
thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought
thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because
thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee
forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and
in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to
thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will."
1 KINGS 17:2-5. Elijah given instructions
for survival during the drought.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM ELIJAH'S RESPONSE?
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I draw strength
from a simple statement made concerning the Prophet Elijah, who warned
King Ahab of drought and famine to come upon the land. And Ahab scoffed.
And the Lord told Elijah to go and hide himself by the brook Cherith, that
there he should drink of the brook, and he would be fed by the ravens.
And the scripture records a simple and powerful statement: 'So he went
and did according unto the word of the Lord.'
"There was no arguing.
There was no excusing. There was no equivocating. Elijah 'went and did
according unto the word of the Lord.' And he was saved from the terrible
calamities that befell those who scoffed and argued and questioned."
(Ensign, Dec. 1971, pp123-124)
Because Elijah was obedient to the Lord, "the
ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh
in the evening; and he drank of the brook" (1 Kings 17:6).
IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED OR SUSTAINED WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN OBEDIENT
TO THE LORD?
I believe we all have enjoyed special blessings because of obedience to
the Lord. Like Elijah, obedience to the law of tithing brings physical
and spiritual blessings and we are sustained. There have been times
when I wondered how we were going to make ends meet. But we always
did. Elijah was not living the high life out there by the brook Cherith,
but he was sustained and taken care of.
What we do not understand is what might have happened had
we not been striving to keep the commandments. All we have to do
is to look around at so many of our friends and neighbors. We see
divorce and broken families. Children on drugs or involved in crime. Some lifestyles often encourage unnecessary health problems. We are not
immune to these things, but as we strive to do the
will of the Lord, we minimize the risk.
1 KINGS 17:7-13. Elijah goes to the widow.
Elijah continues in obedience to the Lord's instructions.
HOW DID THE WIDOW RESPOND WHEN ELIJAH ASKED FOR WATER?
She seemed to respond without question, for she went to "fetch it" (v11).
HOW DID SHE RESPOND WHEN ELIJAH ASKED FOR FOOD?
She replied that she had only enough for a scanty meal. She and her
son were preparing to die.
Elijah then promised her, "For thus saith the
LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the
cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth"
(1 Kings 17:14).
WHAT DID THE WIDOW THEN DO?
"And she went and did according to the saying
of Elijah" (1 Kings 17:15).
What a great act of faith! Elder Jeffery R. Holland said that the
widow's response was "an expression of faith--as
great, under these circumstances, as any I know in the scriptures.... Perhaps
uncertain what the cost of her faith would be..., she first took her small
loaf to Elijah, obviously trusting that if there were not enough bread
left over, at least she and her son would have died in an act of pure charity."
(Ensign, May 1996, p29)
HOW WAS THE WIDOW BLESSED FOR HER OBEDIENCE?
Her need for meal and oil continued to be miraculously supplied (v15-16).
Consider a similar latter-day story from the life of Heber C. Kimball:
"It is related that,
during this  famine, a brother, sorely in need of bread, came to
President Kimball for counsel how to procure it.
"'Go and marry a
wife,' was Heber's terse reply, after relieving the immediate wants of
receiving such an answer at such a time, when he could hardly provide food
for himself, the man went his way, dazed and bewildered, thinking that
President Kimball must be out of his mind. But the more he thought of the
prophetic character and calling of the one who had given him this strange
advice, the less he felt like ignoring it. Finally he resolved to obey
counsel, let the consequences be what they might. But where was the woman
who would marry him, was the next problem. Bethinking himself of a widow
with several children, who he thought might be induced to share her lot
with him, he mustered up courage, proposed and was accepted.
"In that widow's
house was laid up a six months' store of provisions!
Kimball shortly afterwards, the now prosperous man of family exclaimed:
'Well, Brother Heber, I followed your advice—' 'Yes, said the man of God,
'and you found bread'." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp403-404)
WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS THAT GOD ASKS OF US THAT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT?
IN WHAT WAYS ARE WE BLESSED WHEN WE PUT GOD FIRST, DOING WHAT HE ASKS EVEN
WHEN IT IS DIFFICULT?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "When we put
God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of
our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection,
the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our
"May God bless us
to put [him] first and, as a result, reap peace in this life and eternal
life with a fulness of joy in the life to come." (Ensign, May
1 KINGS 17:17-22. The widow's son raised from
Again we see the magnificent faith and priesthood power possessed by the
man Elijah. Had he not been obedient to the commands of the Lord,
he could not have performed this great miracle.
Certainly, the widow woman was also blessed by her great faith for her
expressions of charity to the Lord's anointed.
Elijah Challenges The Priests Of Baal
"And it came to pass after many days, that the
word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself
unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth" (1 Kings 18:1).
"And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that
Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" (v17)
WHO DID AHAB BLAME FOR THE FAMINE?
WHAT WAS THE TRUTH?
Elijah replied to Ahab, "I have not troubled Israel;
but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments
of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim" (v18).
Ahab did not want to believe that his wicked practices and the sins of
the people were responsible for the famine. If he believed that,
he would have to change and Ahab was comfortable in his lifestyle.
As we look at the difficulties experienced in society today, we find many
casting blame on others: the politicians, the schools, the criminals, the
homeless, etc. These are only symptoms of something much deeper. Who is truly responsible?
"Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him
whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according
to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty
unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity;
if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed
shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed
forever." (2 Nephi 1:7)
"And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning
this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess
it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his
wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them
when they are ripened in iniquity." (Ether 2:9)
1 KINGS 18:19-21. Israel and the false
priests gather to mount Carmel.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS?
I believe in this instance, the people knew that Elijah was a prophet of
the Lord and yet they were reluctant to give up their wicked lifestyles. They were wavering between the choice of continuing in their wickedness
or repenting and following the Lord.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The stirring words
of various prophets...urge us to choose, to decide, and not to halt....
Elijah's message has tremendous relevancy today, for all must finally choose
between the gods of this world and the God of eternity." (That
My Family Should Partake, p22)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Decisions should
be timely. Sometimes a lack of decision on a point is actually a decision
in the opposite direction. We need to make up our minds." (Teachings
of Ezra Taft Benson, p386)
HOW DO WE SOMETIMES HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS?
"Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only,
remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and
fifty men" (v22).
Elijah is prefacing his challenge to the priests of Baal. He says
that he is a lone prophet, but a prophet of the Lord. Being a prophet
of the Lord he can call upon the powers of heaven. The priests of
Baal, though numbering 450, are nothing but men and cannot call upon any powers
but their own.
1 KINGS 18:23-24. Elijah challenges the prophets
HOW DID THE PROPHETS OF BAAL DO WITH THE CHALLENGE?
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN ELIJAH TOOK HIS TURN?
See 1 Kings 18:30-38.
"Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed
the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked
up the water that was in the trench" (v38).
WHY DID ELIJAH CHALLENGE THE PRIESTS OF BAAL?
"And it came to pass at the time of the offering
of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said,
LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that
thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done
all these things at thy word" (v36).
To remind the people who is the real God of Israel.
To let the people know that Elijah is the Lord's anointed, His prophet.
To let Israel know the Elijah's power comes from God.
HOW DID THE PEOPLE REACT TO THE LORD'S DISPLAY OF POWER?
"And when all the people saw it, they fell on
their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the
God" (1 Kings 18:39).
The people were blessed for acknowledging the Lord with the return of rain
(1 Kings 18:45).
Do we need to be challenged by a drought or other plague before we acknowledge
the Lord and his power?
HOW CAN WE MORE FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE LORD AND HIS POWER?
Elijah Is Comforted By The Holy Ghost
Jezebel, Ahab's wife, was angry about Elijah's victory over the priests
of Baal and was intent on having Elijah killed (1 Kings 19:1-2).
Elijah fled into the wilderness and in his frustration "came
and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he
might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for
I am not better than my fathers" (1 Kings 19:4).
WHY WAS ELIJAH SO DISCOURAGED?
"I have been very jealous for the LORD God of
hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown
down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I
only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away" (1 Kings 19:14).
WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE HE DID TO GAIN PEACE?
He fasted and prayed (see
Kings 19:4, 8).
Elder Robert L. Simpson: "One of the most
neglected and yet most needed laws for this troubled generation in a modern
world of acceleration and distraction is the law of the fast. Fasting and
praying have been referred to almost as a singular function from the earliest
times. Adam's generation fasted and prayed, as did Moses on Sinai. (Deut.
9:9-11.) The Prophet Elijah traveled to Mt. Horeb under the influence of
fasting and prayer. There he received the word of the Lord. His preparation
had not been in vain. (1 Kings 19:8.) Mordecai's advice from Esther as
he faced an emergency at Shushan pointed out that he and his people should
'neither eat nor drink three days, night or day.' (Esther 4:16.) This was
the true fast, abstinence from both food and drink. This is still the manner
of the true fast in our day." (CR, Oct 1967, pp16-17)
HOW DID THE LORD RESPOND TO ELIJAH?
1 KINGS 19:9-13. In a still small voice.
A news reporter asked President Hinckley how he communicates with God. The prophet's response was, "I think the best
way I could describe the process is to liken it to the experience of Elijah
as set forth in the book of First Kings. Elijah spoke to the Lord, and
there was a wind, a great wind, and the Lord was not in the wind. And there
was an earthquake, and the Lord was not in the earthquake. And there was
a fire, and the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a still, small
voice, which I describe as the whisperings of the Spirit." (Ensign,
Nov 1996, p51)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Do you take time
to listen to the promptings of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most
often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings.
I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you
will take the time to pray and to listen." (Teachings of Ezra
Taft Benson, p428)
WHAT DID THE LORD THEN COMMAND ELIJAH TO DO?
See 1 Kings 19:15-16.
He told Elijah to be up and doing. He gave Elijah some assignments.
HOW CAN SERVING THE LORD HELP US WHEN WE ARE DISCOURAGED?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "When we are down
and discouraged, the hope of Christ can lift us up lest we remain vulnerable
overlong. The brisk pace of Church service also helps us focus talent and
time outwardly rather than being left alone for long with our moods. Duties
knocking at one's door are like friends come to call not always convenient
but usually gladdening in their effect." (Notwithstanding My
The Lord also reminded Elijah that he was not alone in Israel, "Yet
I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed
unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18).
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Elijah is a wonderful example of one who puts the Lord first in his life. His faith and devotion to the Lord, even in the most difficult of times,
resulted in the Lord reaching out and blessing Elijah. Even in his
deepest frustration, so great that he wanted the Lord to take his life,
Elijah called out to the Lord in fasting and prayer. Elijah was blessed
with the sweet, comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost. As we put the
Lord first in our lives, no matter the circumstances, we will be blessed. We
are also entitled, through our righteous living, to the comforting influence
of the Holy Ghost.
See Resource Note 1: Jewish Traditions About the Historical Elijah
Record your thoughts on Elijah. How does obedience invite the blessings of
the Lord? What can you do to be more obedient to the will of the Lord.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Encyclopedia of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.
Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith.
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Neal A. Maxwell.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
That My Family Should Partake by Neal A. Maxwell.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
09 April 2018