25 lesson plans for children, young people and their teachers.
Lesson 15 The prophets speak for God Bible reference – 2 Kings 17 verses 13-20. In Africa, like the rest of the world, many people claim to speak messages from God. Some may be witch doctors, spirit mediums or those who practise ancestral worship. Islam has its angels, prophets (or apostles), and meditation leaders at shrines to dead holy men. Islam includes Jesus Christ as one of the six great prophets: along with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad.(see note 11 below). The Bible speaks of prophets. The Good News Bible ‘Word List’ defines a prophet as “a person who proclaims a message from God”. (note 12). There are many examples in the Old Testament and a few in the New Testament. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is much more than a prophet. It shows us that He is the Son of God, Matthew 3 verses 16-17; Colossians 2 verse 9. In the School Dictionary a prophet is “someone who is believed to have been sent by God to lead people and teach religious beliefs”. It gives as an example the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. (see note 13 below). But this Dictionary does not explain what prophets do. It only says that the noun ‘prophecy’ and the verb ‘to prophesy’ refer to saying what will happen in the future. Muhammad in the Qur’an and the prophets of the Bible, claim to do much more than that! The Bible shows us there are true prophets and there are false prophets. It is important for us to know the difference between the two, Deuteronomy 13 verses 1-4.
Stop and discuss (1) Ask every student to look up and read for themselves Deuteronomy chapter 18 verse 18. Then ask them to complete this – God’s own definition of a true prophet: “I w t h w t_ s , a h_ w t t
p e I c .” In the Old Testament prophets are sometimes called “man of God” or “God’s servant”. They often had a very important role in the nation. They were to keep the nation on the right path. They called the people back to living the right way – living to honour God because they were His special people. There are many prophets in the Bible. In this lesson we will look at two examples. David was king of Israel. 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 tell us that David sinned very badly. He stole another man’s wife. He tried to cover up what he had done. When that did not work, he had the man fight in the most dangerous place in the war. The man was killed exactly as King David hoped. Notes: 11 Qur’an Sura VI verses 84-86 12 See at the end of the New Testament, after the Index. 13 MacMillan School Dictionary, Oxford, 2004, p.581.
God was not pleased, 2 Samuel 11 verse 27. God sent the prophet Nathan with a message for King David.
Stop and role play (2) Ask the students to divide into groups of 4/5. In their groups ask them to quietly read 2 Samuel 12 verses 1-15 for a few minutes. These verses include a parable – an everyday story with a much bigger (or deeper) meaning. The Good News Bible has two drawings from the parable for students to look at.
Ask the children to choose two volunteers from every group. One is to be King David for that group, and the other is to be Nathan the prophet. David sits on his throne (wearing a crown if you can make one!). The prophet Nathan comes in to tell him this story, (perhaps with a scroll of paper from which he pretends to read the parable). Encourage the other 2/3 students in the group to tell ‘Nathan’ exactly what the story is. They should do this a little piece at a time. ‘Nathan’ can then pass it on, step by step, out aloud, to King David. Point out that the 2/3 students are being like God! God told Nathan what to say.
Nathan, the prophet, passed God’s message on to King David. Quicker groups could repeat the process, with students changing roles.
Allow enough time for all groups to do the whole story at least once. Stop and discuss (3) In the groups answer these questions from 2 Samuel 12:1-15: 1. Who sent Nathan to David? 2. Why did He do this? 3. What did David do when he heard the prophet’s message ? 4. How did God answer David? Years later, Ahab was king of Israel. 1 Kings chapters 16 verses 29, 30 tell us Ahab was a very evil king. He was worse than all the kings before him!
God sent the prophet Elijah to King Ahab with a message. Stop and role play (4) Ask students to divide into bigger groups of 9/10. In their groups have them quietly read 1 Kings chapter 17 verses 1 to 6 and chapter 18 verses 16 to 46.
In the Good News Bible there are two drawings for the students to look at. Each group needs five volunteers. One is to be King Ahab (with his crown). Another is to be the prophet Elijah (with his paper scroll). Three more are to be the false prophets of Baal and Ashera. Encourage the other 4/5 students to tell the student playing the prophet Elijah exactly what God tells him to do. They should do this a little piece at a time. ‘Elijah’ can then pass God’s message on to King Ahab. Students may want to act out and speak the challenge on Mount Carmel. God’s prophet Elijah and the false prophets of Baal build their altars.
Be careful that God’s message is clearly passed on from ‘Elijah’ to ‘Ahab’. Remind everyone that this is always the role of a prophet– to hear what God is saying and to pass it on to the people. Allow time for the groups to act the whole story. Stop and discuss (5) In the groups answer these questions from 1 Kings 16 verses 29-30;
chapter 17 verses 1-6; and chapter 18 verses 16-46. 1. What was God’s message to King Ahab? 2. What was the miracle God used to provide for Elijah in the drought? 3. Why did the prophet Elijah want his prayer to be answered by fire?
Ask the class if anyone can remember God’s definition of a true prophet? (It was from Deuteronomy 18 verse 18: “I will tell him what to say, and he will tell the people everything I command”). Nathan and Elijah were two of God’s prophets. Because they walked closely with God they brought His message to the people of their day. They were very brave. They feared God more than they feared human kings who could have killed them for what they said and did. They lived for God and for others, not for themselves. Over hundreds of years God’s special people saw God chose men to preach His message, especially when they stopped worshipping the true God. The people did not like to hear the truth! Some of the prophets suffered badly. Look at Jeremiahfor example:
Jeremiah 26 verses 7-9, he received death threats.
Jeremiah 36 verses 1-26, his writing was cut up and burned.
Jeremiah 37 verses 12-16, he was imprisoned in an underground cell.
Jeremiah 38 verse 6, he was left in the mud at the bottom of a well.
See Acts 7 verse 52. Stephen accuses the leaders of God’s people: “Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute?”
But these men like Nathan, Elijah and Jeremiah, were faithful to God. Their characters and ways of life are written in the Bible for us to learn from. Their messages form large parts of our Old Testament. We should use the Bible to test ‘prophets’ today. Jesus Christ said many false prophets would appear after Him. Some would even perform amazing miracles:
See Matthew 24 verse 11, 24.
See Matthew 7 verses 15-23.
If someone claims to speak from God, examine their personal character very carefully.
Do they serve themselves or do they seek the good of others? Does their message always agree with God’s rules for His people, given to us in our Bibles? God’s chosen people were warned by the prophets many times. After a little time living by God’s plan, they would fall away again – just like animals roaming around and getting lost.
Finally, “God rejected all the Israelites … and banished them from His sight”,
2 Kings 17 verse 20.
Answers to ‘Stop and discuss’
1. “I will tell him what to say, and he will tell the people everything I command”,
Deuteronomy 18 verse 18, (second part).
3. 1. The Lord, 2 Samuel 12 verse 1.
2. Because David had sinned against Him, 2 Samuel 11 verse 27, and 12 verses 7-9.
3. David confessed his sin, 2 Samuel 1 verse13.
4. God forgave David. The penalty for the sin was paid by another – the baby died,
2 Samuel 12 verses 13,14 and 18,19.
5. 1. It will not rain until God tells me, 1 Kings17 verse1.
(In Deuteronomy 28 verses 15, 22-24, God warns that if His special people turn to
other gods then He will stop sending rain to the land).
2. ravens brought him bread and meat two times every day, 1 Kings 17 verse 6.
3. So that people would see the true and living God and come back to Him.
1 Kings 18 verse 37.
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