1 Kings 19; 1 Kings 20; Luke 23:1-25

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1 Kings 19

1 Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including how he had executed all the prophets.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah. She said, "May the gods strike me dead if by this time tomorrow I don't take your life the way you took the lives of Baal's prophets."
3 Frightened, Elijah fled to save his life. He came to Beersheba in Judah and left his servant there.
4 Then he traveled through the wilderness for a day. He sat down under a broom plant and wanted to die. "I've had enough now, LORD," he said. "Take my life! I'm no better than my ancestors."
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom plant. An angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."
6 When he looked, he saw near his head some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water. So he ate, drank, and went to sleep again.
7 The angel of the LORD came back and woke him up again. The angel said, "Get up and eat, or your journey will be too much for you."
8 He got up, ate, and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled for 40 days and nights until he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah. He asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
10 He answered, "LORD God of Armies, I have eagerly served you. The Israelites have abandoned your promises, torn down your altars, and executed your prophets. I'm the only one left, and they're trying to take my life."
11 God said, "Go out and stand in front of the LORD on the mountain." As the LORD was passing by, a fierce wind tore mountains and shattered rocks ahead of the LORD. But the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the LORD wasn't in the earthquake.
12 After the earthquake there was a fire. But the LORD wasn't in the fire. And after the fire there was a quiet, whispering voice.
13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat, went out, and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then the voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
14 He answered, "LORD God of Armies, I have eagerly served you. The Israelites have abandoned your promises, torn down your altars, and executed your prophets. I'm the only one left, and they're trying to take my life."
15 The LORD told him, "Go back to the wilderness near Damascus, the same way you came. When you get there, anoint Hazael as king of Aram.
16 Anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel. And anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah as prophet to take your place.
17 If anyone escapes from Hazael's sword, Jehu will kill him. And if anyone escapes from Jehu's sword, Elisha will kill him.
18 But I still have 7,000 people in Israel whose knees have not knelt to worship Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him."
19 Elijah found Elisha, son of Shaphat. Elisha was plowing behind 12 pairs of oxen. He was using the twelfth pair. Elijah took off his coat and put it on Elisha.
20 So Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Please let me kiss my father and mother goodbye. Then I will follow you." "Go back," Elijah answered him. "I'm not stopping you."
21 Elisha left him, took two oxen, and butchered them. He boiled the meat, using the oxen's yoke [for firewood]. He gave the meat to the people to eat. Then he left to follow and assist Elijah.

1 Kings 20

1 King Benhadad of Aram gathered together his whole army. With him were 32 kings along with their horses and chariots. He went to blockade Samaria and fight against it.
2 He sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel. They told Ahab, "This is what Benhadad says:
3 Your silver and gold are mine. Your beloved wives and children are mine."
4 The king of Israel answered, "As you say, Your Majesty. I and everything I have are yours."
5 But Benhadad sent messengers back [to Ahab]. They said, "Benhadad has sent this message to you: 'Your silver, gold, wives, and children are mine. Give [them to me].
6 At this time tomorrow I'm going to send my servants to search your palace and your servants' houses. They will take anything that you consider valuable.'"
7 Then the king of Israel called for all the leaders of the country. He said, "You can see how this man is looking for trouble. When he sent for my wives, children, silver, and gold, I didn't refuse him."
8 All the leaders and all the people told him, "Don't listen to him. Don't agree [to his demands]."
9 Ahab told Benhadad's messengers, "Tell His Majesty, 'I did everything your messengers told me the first time, but I can't do this.'" The messengers left to take back his answer.
10 Then Benhadad sent Ahab the following message: "May the gods strike me dead if there will be enough dust left from Samaria to give a handful to each soldier who follows me."
11 The king of Israel answered, "The saying goes, 'Don't brag about a victory before you have even dressed for battle.'"
12 Benhadad heard this as he and his allies were drinking in their tents. He told his officers to get ready. So they got ready [to attack] the city.
13 Then a prophet came to King Ahab of Israel and said, "This is what the LORD says: Have you seen this large army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the LORD."
14 Ahab asked, "How [will this be done]?" The prophet answered, "This is what the LORD says: by using the young officers of the district governors." "Who will start the battle?" Ahab asked. "You will," the prophet answered.
15 Ahab counted the young officers of the district governors. There were 232. After counting them, he counted all the Israelite soldiers. There were 7,000.
16 They attacked at noon, when Benhadad was in his tent getting drunk with the 32 kings who were his allies.
17 The young officers of the district governors went out first. Benhadad had sent men [to watch the city]. They informed him that some men had come out of Samaria.
18 He said, "Take them alive, whether they have come out to make peace or to fight."
19 The young officers of the district governors led an attack, and the troops followed them.
20 Each officer killed his opponent. The Arameans fled, and Israel pursued them. King Benhadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry.
21 The king of Israel went out and destroyed the horses and chariots and decisively defeated the Arameans.
22 Then the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, "Reinforce your army. Consider what you have to do. When spring comes, the king of Aram will attack [again]."
23 Meanwhile, the officers of King Benhadad of Aram told him, "Their god is a god of the hills. That is why they were stronger than we were. However, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are.
24 This is what we must do: Remove all of the kings from their positions, and substitute governors for them.
25 Recruit an army with as many horses and chariots as the one which was defeated. Then, if we fight them on the plain, we will be stronger than they are." He took their advice and followed it.
26 Spring came, and Benhadad organized the Aramean army and went to Aphek to fight Israel.
27 When the Israelite [troops] had been organized and given provisions, they went to meet the enemy. The Israelites, while camped opposite the Arameans who filled the country, seemed like two newborn goats.
28 The man of God came again. He said to the king of Israel, "This is what the LORD says: Because the Arameans said that the LORD is a god of the hills but not a god of the valleys, I will hand over their entire army to you. Then you will know that I am the LORD."
29 They camped facing one another for seven days, and on the seventh day the battle started. The Israelites killed 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day.
30 The survivors fled to Aphek, the city where the wall fell on 27,000 of them. Benhadad had also fled. He came to the city and hid in an inner room.
31 His officers told him, "We have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Allow us to dress in sackcloth, put ropes around our necks, and go to the king of Israel. Maybe he'll let you live."
32 So they dressed in sackcloth and put ropes around their necks. They went to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Benhadad says, 'Please let me live.'" Ahab asked, "He's still alive? He's my brother."
33 The men, watching for a good sign, were quick to take him at his word. "Benhadad is your brother," they said. Ahab said, "Bring him here." When Benhadad arrived, Ahab had him come up on the chariot with him.
34 Benhadad told him, "I will give back the towns my father took from your father. You may set up trading centers in Damascus as my father did in Samaria." Ahab said, "If you will put this into a treaty, I will let you go." So Ahab made a treaty with Benhadad and let him go.
35 A disciple of the prophets spoke to a friend as the word of the LORD had told him. [The disciple said,] "Punch me," but the man refused to punch him.
36 The disciple said, "Since you didn't obey the LORD, a lion will kill you when you leave me." When the friend left, a lion found him and killed him.
37 Then the disciple found another man. He said, "Punch me." The man punched him hard and wounded him.
38 Then the prophet, disguised with a bandage over his eyes, waited for the king by the road.
39 When the king passed by, the disciple called to him. "I went to fight in the battle. A man turned around and brought a prisoner to me. He said, 'Guard this prisoner. If he gets away, you will pay for his life with your own life or be fined 75 pounds of silver.'
40 But while I was busy doing other things, he got away." The king of Israel told him, "That's your own penalty. You have determined it yourself."
41 Then he quickly took the bandage off his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42 The prophet told him, "This is what the LORD says: You let the man go. He was claimed by God and should have been killed. For that reason your life will be taken in place of his life and your people in place of his people."
43 Resentful and upset, the king of Israel went home to Samaria.

Luke 23:1-25

1 Then the entire assembly stood up and took him to Pilate.
2 They began to accuse Jesus by saying, "We found that he stirs up trouble among our people: He keeps them from paying taxes to the emperor, and he says that he is Christ, a king."
3 Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, I am," Jesus answered.
4 Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, "I can't find this man guilty of any crime."
5 The priests and the crowd became more forceful. They said, "He stirs up the people throughout Judea with his teachings. He started in Galilee and has come here."
6 When Pilate heard that, he asked if the man was from Galilee.
7 When Pilate found out that he was, he sent Jesus to Herod. Herod ruled Galilee and was in Jerusalem at that time.
8 Herod was very pleased to see Jesus. For a long time he had wanted to see him. He had heard about Jesus and hoped to see him perform some kind of miracle.
9 Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus wouldn't answer him.
10 Meanwhile, the chief priests and the scribes stood there and shouted their accusations against Jesus.
11 Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus with contempt and made fun of him. They put a colorful robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.
12 So Herod and Pilate became friends that day. They had been enemies before this.
13 Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people.
14 He told them, "You brought me this man as someone who turns the people against the government. I've questioned him in front of you and haven't found this man guilty of the crimes of which you accuse him.
15 Neither could Herod. So he sent this man back to us. This man hasn't done anything to deserve the death penalty.
16 So I'm going to have him whipped and set free."
18 The whole crowd then shouted, "Take him away! Free Barabbas for us."
19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for his involvement in a riot that had taken place in the city and for murder.)
20 But because Pilate wanted to free Jesus, he spoke to the people again.
21 They began yelling, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
22 A third time Pilate spoke to them. He asked, "Why? What has he done wrong? I haven't found this man deserving of the death penalty. So I'm going to have him whipped and set free."
23 But the crowd pressured Pilate. They shouted that Jesus had to be crucified, and they finally won.
24 Pilate decided to give in to their demand.
25 He freed Barabbas, who had been put in prison for rioting and murdering, because that's what they wanted. But he let them do what they wanted to Jesus.