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Come, Follow Me (1 Kings 17-19)

This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)

June 27-July 3

1 Kings 17-19

The house of Israel was in disarray. The unity and prosperity achieved under David and Solomon were long past, and the nation’s covenant relationship with the Lord was, for many people, a distant memory. The Kingdom of Israel had divided, with ten tribes forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel and two tribes forming the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Both kingdoms were unstable spiritually, led by kings who violated their covenants with the Lord and influenced others to do likewise (see 1 Kings 11–16). But the apostasy was especially severe in the Northern Kingdom, where King Ahab encouraged Israel to worship the false god Baal.

It was in this setting that the prophet Elijah was called to preach. The account of his ministry makes clear that personal faith in the Lord can thrive among the righteous even in a wicked environment. Sometimes the Lord responds to such faith with impressive, public miracles, like fire falling from heaven. But He also works quiet, private miracles, like meeting the personal needs of a faithful widow and her son. And most often His miracles are so individual that they are known only to you—for example, when the Lord reveals Himself and His will through “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).

Choosing a false god over the true God is a terrible mistake. This is the reason why Christians cannot accept Mormonism as a Christian religion. The idea that Latter-day Saints worship the god as described by Joseph Smith is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Joseph Smith taught:

I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man. God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret, if the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345. See also Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 129).

He also taught:

We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-346. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, 305).

The God as described by Joseph Smith and the God taught by LDS leaders is completely different. The bottom line is that God was never a man and humans can never become gods.

Second, I’d like to address the final line in the paragraph above: “And most often His miracles are so individual that they are known only to you—for example, when the Lord reveals Himself and His will through ‘a still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12).”

This verse (1 Kings 19:12) has been ripped out of its context to support an LDS idea that is not biblical. This is the passage in context:

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” . . .

This “gentle whisper” is God speaking to Elijah. The words were understandable to him, which can bee seen in the next verse as the words are recorded. Mormonism teaches that each person can have personal revelation. Yet that “personal revelation”–taken as the whispering referenced in 1 Kings–must coincide with LDS teaching or else, we are told, it was not God speaking. This is a subjective, not an objective, test. As a result, all “revelation” that contradicts Mormonism is tossed.

For more on this, I invite you to read Sharon LindbloOm’s excellent article “The Crucial Question Related to Mormonism’s Dependence on Personal Revelation.”

Ideas for Personal Scripture Study

1 Kings 17:1–16

An invitation to sacrifice is an opportunity to exercise my faith.

At first it might seem hard to understand why the prophet Elijah asked the widow in Zarephath to give him food and water before feeding herself and her starving son. But Elijah’s request could also be seen as a blessing for this small family. They needed the Lord’s blessings, and sacrifice often brings blessings—including the blessing of stronger faith.

As you read this story, put yourself in the place of this remarkable widow. What impresses you about her? Consider the opportunities you have to exercise your faith—including opportunities to sacrifice. How can you be more like this widow?

When I read this, I though it was interesting how they used the term “opportunity to sacrifice.” I immediately though about the teaching on “tithing,” a requirement in Mormonism to give a tenth of one’s income.

I have nothing against being sacrificial and giving back to God, so don’t misunderstand. But I wonder, with inflation going crazy, rents going up, and gas prices at record levels, why the church leaders don’t lessen the burden for its people (especially young families) who are barely surviving. Those Latter-day Saints who want to obtain (or keep) their temple recommend cars must pay their tithe to the church. There are stories told time and time again in church magazines that praise those who were in dire straits but kept paying a “full tithe.” This, it is taught, is commendable and the only way to proceed.  Of course, maybe it’s what the family wants to do, and that’s OK. But possibly not providing food to their children and paying overdue bills–obligations they have–just to give the church money it really does not need just so a person has an “opportunity to sacrifice” seems pretty heartless.

In addition, it seems that LDS leaders are very much like prosperity teachers in this instance. “Give first,” they seem to say, “and God will take care of every need.” Again, I believe God does bless a cheerful giver, as addressed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7. But you should never give in hopes that your faithfulness will mean you will receive blessings many times over. God is not a gumball machine where a quarter is put in and a prize can be expected.

1 Kings 18

“If the Lord be God, follow him.”

The Israelites may have felt they had good reasons to worship Baal despite the Lord’s command, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Baal was known as the god of storms and rain, and after three years of drought, they desperately needed a storm. And Baal worship was socially accepted and endorsed by the king and queen.

I wonder how many Latter-day Saints worship “Heavenly Father” because they hope to someday become gods of their own worlds. The Bible says people are not supposed to have gods before them, but isn’t wanting to become a god of your own right actually putting another god before Him?

1 Kings 19:1–18

The Lord often speaks in quiet, simple ways.

When Queen Jezebel heard about what had happened to her priests on Mount Carmel, she wasn’t converted—she was enraged. Fearing for his life, Elijah fled to the wilderness and sought refuge in a cave. There, struggling with loneliness and discouragement, he had an experience with the Lord that was very different from what had happened on Mount Carmel. What does Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19:1–18 teach you about how the Lord communicates with you in your times of need? Ponder times in your life when you have experienced His voice. What do you need to do to receive His guidance more often?

Again, if “personal revelation” is what is being encouraged here, the example is not 1 to 1. After all, God literally speaks to Elijah. This is no small still voice. As far as I am concerned, this situation is not the same as a Latter-day Saint having his or her testimony confirmed.

Serving the Lord takes priority over worldly concerns.

The fact that Elisha owned 12 yoke of oxen indicates he was probably a wealthy man. What impresses you about his actions recorded in 1 Kings 19:19–21? How can you follow Elisha’s example?

Elisha did leave everything, which was quite the sacrifice. It reminds me of the rich man who asked what more he had to do and Jesus said, “Go, sell all you have and follow me.” I have never thought of it before, but perhaps Jesus had this account in mind when He said that.

Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening

1 Kings 17:1–16.

The video “Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org) and the picture in this outline could help your family visualize the account in 1 Kings 17:1–16. After reading the verses and looking at these resources, each family member could list inspiring qualities the widow had. What is the Lord asking us to do to demonstrate our faith?

1 Kings 19:11-12

As far as the Christian answer, Jesus said that we should live like Christians. Despite what some Latter-day Saints may assume, Christians do believe in righteous living, which we call sanctification.

What would help your family understand the importance of listening to the “still small voice”? You could read 1 Kings 19:11–12 together in a soft voice or quietly sing a song about the Spirit, such as “The Holy Ghost” (Children’s Songbook, 105). You might add some distracting noises to illustrate how Satan tries to keep us from hearing the still, small voice. Family members could share what they do to be sensitive to promptings of the Spirit.

I fully understand the example of “distracting noises,” as these can cause us to lose focus on the most important things. Yet when it comes to “hearing the still, small voice,” the problem is that this becomes very subjective. How do you know that this voice is directing you in the right way?

The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Unfortunately, Latter-day Saints typically invest too much in their feelings to the detriment of biblical truth. 

For more on this, see Facts, Feelings, Faith

Conclusion

Much is made about gaining a good feeling in order to determine truth and the direction one ought to head. Latter-day Saints like to think that, because prayer is involved, this somehow is a spiritual test. This, however, is a very dangerous proposition! The Bible ought to be the sole source for determining truth. When we rely on our feelings–such as a good feeling about an investment (that could go sour) or a relationship with another person (how many Latter-day Saints felt good about a potential spouse only to later get a divorce)–we open ourselves up to bad choices. The Bible says we ought to pray for wisdom and God will provide it.

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