1 Kings 18; 1 Kings 19; 1 Kings 20

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1 Kings 18

1 During the third year without rain, the Lord spoke his word to Elijah: "Go and meet King Ahab, and I will soon send rain."
2 So Elijah went to meet Ahab. By this time there was no food in Samaria.
3 King Ahab sent for Obadiah, who was in charge of the king's palace. (Obadiah was a true follower of the Lord.
4 When Jezebel was killing all the Lord's prophets, Obadiah hid a hundred of them in two caves, fifty in one cave and fifty in another. He also brought them food and water.)
5 Ahab said to Obadiah, "Let's check every spring and valley in the land. Maybe we can find enough grass to keep our horses and mules alive and not have to kill our animals."
6 So each one chose a part of the country to search; Ahab went in one direction and Obadiah in another.
7 While Obadiah was on his way, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized Elijah, so he bowed down to the ground and said, "Elijah? Is it really you, master?"
8 "Yes," Elijah answered. "Go tell your master that I am here."
9 Then Obadiah said, "What wrong have I done for you to hand me over to Ahab like this? He will put me to death.
10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, the king has sent people to every country to search for you. If the ruler said you were not there, Ahab forced the ruler to swear you could not be found in his country.
11 Now you want me to go to my master and tell him, 'Elijah is here'?
12 The Spirit of the Lord may carry you to some other place after I leave. If I go tell King Ahab you are here, and he comes and doesn't find you, he will kill me! I have followed the Lord since I was a boy.
13 Haven't you been told what I did? When Jezebel was killing the Lord's prophets, I hid a hundred of them, fifty in one cave and fifty in another. I brought them food and water.
14 Now you want me to go and tell my master you are here? He will kill me!"
15 Elijah answered, "As surely as the Lord All-Powerful lives, whom I serve, I will be seen by Ahab today."
16 So Obadiah went to Ahab and told him where Elijah was. Then Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17 When he saw Elijah, he asked, "Is it you -- the biggest troublemaker in Israel?"
18 Elijah answered, "I have not made trouble in Israel. You and your father's family have made all this trouble by not obeying the Lord's commands. You have gone after the Baals.
19 Now tell all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. Also bring the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
20 So Ahab called all the Israelites and those prophets to Mount Carmel.
21 Elijah approached the people and said, "How long will you not decide between two choices? If the Lord is the true God, follow him, but if Baal is the true God, follow him!" But the people said nothing.
22 Elijah said, "I am the only prophet of the Lord here, but there are four hundred fifty prophets of Baal.
23 Bring two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal choose one bull and kill it and cut it into pieces. Then let them put the meat on the wood, but they are not to set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull, putting the meat on the wood but not setting fire to it.
24 You prophets of Baal, pray to your god, and I will pray to the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to his wood is the true God." All the people agreed that this was a good idea.
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "There are many of you, so you go first. Choose a bull and prepare it. Pray to your god, but don't start the fire."
26 So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon, shouting "Baal, answer us!" But there was no sound, and no one answered. They danced around the altar they had built.
27 At noon Elijah began to make fun of them. "Pray louder!" he said. "If Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!"
28 The prophets prayed louder, cutting themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed, which was the way they worshiped.
29 The afternoon passed, and the prophets continued to act like this until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But no voice was heard; Baal did not answer, and no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, "Now come to me." So they gathered around him, and Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down.
31 He took twelve stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes, the number of Jacob's sons. (The Lord changed Jacob's name to Israel.)
32 Elijah used these stones to rebuild the altar in honor of the Lord. Then he dug a ditch around the altar that was big enough to hold about thirteen quarts of seed.
33 Elijah put the wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.
34 Then he said, "Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the meat and on the wood." Then Elijah said, "Do it again," and they did it again. Then he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it the third time.
35 So the water ran off the altar and filled the ditch.
36 At the time for the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah went near the altar. "Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel," he prayed. "Prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that you commanded me to do all these things.
37 Lord, answer my prayer so these people will know that you, Lord, are God and that you will change their minds."
38 Then fire from the Lord came down and burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the ground around the altar. It also dried up the water in the ditch.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell down to the ground, crying, "The Lord is God! The Lord is God!"
40 Then Elijah said, "Capture the prophets of Baal! Don't let any of them run away!" The people captured all the prophets. Then Elijah led them down to the Kishon Valley, where he killed them.
41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Now, go, eat, and drink, because a heavy rain is coming."
42 So King Ahab went to eat and drink. At the same time Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, where he bent down to the ground with his head between his knees.
43 Then Elijah said to his servant, "Go and look toward the sea." The servant went and looked. "I see nothing," he said. Elijah told him to go and look again. This happened seven times.
44 The seventh time, the servant said, "I see a small cloud, the size of a human fist, coming from the sea." Elijah told the servant, "Go to Ahab and tell him to get his chariot ready and go home now. Otherwise, the rain will stop him."
45 After a short time the sky was covered with dark clouds. The wind began to blow, and soon a heavy rain began to fall. Ahab got in his chariot and started back to Jezreel.
46 The Lord gave his power to Elijah, who tightened his clothes around him and ran ahead of King Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Kings 19

1 King Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how Elijah had killed all the prophets with a sword.
2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "May the gods punish me terribly if by this time tomorrow I don't kill you just as you killed those prophets."
3 When Elijah heard this, he was afraid and ran for his life, taking his servant with him. When they came to Beersheba in Judah, Elijah left his servant there.
4 Then Elijah walked for a whole day into the desert. He sat down under a bush and asked to die. "I have had enough, Lord," he prayed. "Let me die. I am no better than my ancestors."
5 Then he lay down under the tree and slept. Suddenly an angel came to him and touched him. "Get up and eat," the angel said.
6 Elijah saw near his head a loaf baked over coals and a jar of water, so he ate and drank. Then he went back to sleep.
7 Later the Lord's angel came to him a second time. The angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat. If you don't, the journey will be too hard for you."
8 So Elijah got up and ate and drank. The food made him strong enough to walk for forty days and nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.
9 There Elijah went into a cave and stayed all night.
10 He answered, "Lord God All-Powerful, I have always served you as well as I could. But the people of Israel have broken their agreement with you, destroyed your altars, and killed your prophets with swords. I am the only prophet left, and now they are trying to kill me, too."
11 The Lord said to Elijah, "Go, stand in front of me on the mountain, and I will pass by you." Then a very strong wind blew until it caused the mountains to fall apart and large rocks to break in front of 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, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a quiet, gentle sound.
13 When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice said to him, "Elijah! Why are you here?"
14 He answered, "Lord God All-Powerful, I have always served you as well as I could. But the people of Israel have broken their agreement with you, destroyed your altars, and killed your prophets with swords. I am the only prophet left, and now they are trying to kill me, too."
15 The Lord said to him, "Go back on the road that leads to the desert around Damascus. Enter that city, and pour olive oil on Hazael to make him king over Aram.
16 Then pour oil on Jehu son of Nimshi to make him king over Israel. Next, pour oil on Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to make him a prophet in your place.
17 Jehu will kill anyone who escapes from Hazael's sword, and Elisha will kill anyone who escapes from Jehu's sword.
18 I have seven thousand people left in Israel who have never bowed down before Baal and whose mouths have never kissed his idol."
19 So Elijah left that place and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field with a team of oxen. He owned twelve teams of oxen and was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah came up to Elisha, took off his coat, and put it on Elisha.
20 Then Elisha left his oxen and ran to follow Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and my mother good-bye," Elisha said. "Then I will go with you." Elijah answered, "Go back. It does not matter to me."
21 So Elisha went back and took his pair of oxen and killed them. He used their wooden yoke for a fire. Then he cooked the meat and gave it to the people. After they ate it, Elisha left and followed Elijah and became his helper.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Kings 20

1 Ben-Hadad king of Aram gathered together all his army. There were thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots who went with him and surrounded Samaria and attacked it.
2 The king sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel. This was his message: "Ben-Hadad says,
3 'Your silver and gold belong to me, as well as the best of your wives and children.'"
4 Ahab king of Israel answered, "My master and king, I agree to what you say. I and everything I have belong to you."
5 Then the messengers came to Ahab again. They said, "Ben-Hadad says, 'I told you before that you must give me your silver and gold, your wives and your children.
6 About this time tomorrow I will send my men, who will search everywhere in your palace and in the homes of your officers. Whatever they want they will take and carry off.'"
7 Then Ahab called a meeting of all the older leaders of his country. He said, "Ben-Hadad is looking for trouble. First he said I had to give him my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I have not refused him."
8 The older leaders and all the people said, "Don't listen to him or agree to this."
9 So Ahab said to Ben-Hadad's messengers, "Tell my master the king: 'I will do what you said at first, but I cannot allow this second command.'" And King Ben-Hadad's men carried the message back to him.
10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: "May the gods punish me terribly if I don't completely destroy Samaria. There won't be enough left for each of my men to get a handful of dust!"
11 Ahab answered, "Tell Ben-Hadad, 'The man who puts on his armor should not brag. It's the man who lives to take it off who has the right to brag.'"
12 Ben-Hadad was drinking in his tent with the other rulers when the message came from Ahab. Ben-Hadad commanded his men to prepare to attack the city, and they moved into place for battle.
13 At the same time a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel. The prophet said, "Ahab, the Lord says to you, 'Do you see that big army? I will hand it over to you today so you will know I am the Lord.'"
14 Ahab asked, "Who will you use to defeat them?" The prophet answered, "The Lord says, 'The young officers of the district governors will defeat them.'" Then the king asked, "Who will command the main army?" The prophet answered, "You will."
15 So Ahab gathered the young officers of the district governors, two hundred thirty-two of them. Then he called together the army of Israel, about seven thousand people in all.
16 They marched out at noon, while Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two rulers helping him were getting drunk in their tents.
17 The young officers of the district governors attacked first. Ben-Hadad sent out scouts who told him that soldiers were coming from Samaria.
18 Ben-Hadad said, "They may be coming to fight, or they may be coming to ask for peace. In either case capture them alive."
19 The young officers of the district governors led the attack, followed by the army of Israel.
20 Each officer of Israel killed the man who came against him. The men from Aram ran away as Israel chased them, but Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with some of his horsemen.
21 Ahab king of Israel led the army and destroyed the Arameans' horses and chariots. King Ahab thoroughly defeated the Aramean army.
22 Then the prophet went to Ahab king of Israel and said, "The king of Aram will attack you again next spring. So go home now and strengthen your army and see what you need to do."
23 Meanwhile the officers of Ben-Hadad king of Aram said to him, "The gods of Israel are mountain gods. Since we fought in a mountain area, Israel won. Let's fight them on the flat land, and then we will win.
24 This is what you should do. Don't allow the thirty-two rulers to command the armies, but put other commanders in their places.
25 Gather an army like the one that was destroyed and as many horses and chariots as before. We will fight the Israelites on flat land, and then we will win." Ben-Hadad agreed with their advice and did what they said.
26 The next spring Ben-Hadad gathered the army of Aram and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.
27 The Israelites also had prepared for war. They marched out to meet the Arameans and camped opposite them. The Israelites looked like two small flocks of goats, but the Arameans covered the area.
28 A man of God came to the king of Israel with this message: "The Lord says, 'The people of Aram say that I, the Lord, am a god of the mountains, not a god of the valleys. So I will allow you to defeat this huge army, and then you will know I am the Lord.'"
29 The armies were camped across from each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began. The Israelites killed one hundred thousand Aramean soldiers in one day.
30 The rest of them ran away to the city of Aphek, where a city wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of them. Ben-Hadad also ran away to the city and hid in a room.
31 His officers said to him, "We have heard that the kings of Israel are trustworthy. Let's dress in rough cloth to show our sadness, and wear ropes on our heads. Then we will go to the king of Israel, and perhaps he will let you live."
32 So they dressed in rough cloth and wore ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel. They said, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please let me live.'" Ahab answered, "Is he still alive? He is my brother."
33 Ben-Hadad's men had wanted a sign from Ahab. So when Ahab called Ben-Hadad his brother, they quickly said, "Yes! Ben-Hadad is your brother." Ahab said, "Bring him to me." When Ben-Hadad came, Ahab asked him to join him in the chariot.
34 Ben-Hadad said to him, "Ahab, I will give you back the cities my father took from your father. And you may put shops in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria." Ahab said, "If you agree to this, I will allow you to go free." So the two kings made a peace agreement. Then Ahab let Ben-Hadad go free.
35 One prophet from one of the groups of prophets told another, "Hit me!" He said this because the Lord had commanded it, but the other man refused.
36 The prophet said, "You did not obey the Lord's command, so a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me." When the man left, a lion found him and killed him.
37 The prophet went to another man and said, "Hit me, please!" So the man hit him and hurt him.
38 The prophet wrapped his face in a cloth so no one could tell who he was. Then he went and waited by the road for the king.
39 As Ahab king of Israel passed by, the prophet called out to him. "I went to fight in the battle," the prophet said. "One of our men brought an enemy soldier to me. Our man said, 'Guard this man. If he runs away, you will have to give your life in his place. Or, you will have to pay a fine of seventy-five pounds of silver.'
40 But I was busy doing other things, so the man ran away." The king of Israel answered, "You have already said what the punishment is. You must do what the man said."
41 Then the prophet quickly took the cloth from his face. When the king of Israel saw him, he knew he was one of the prophets.
42 The prophet said to the king, "This is what the Lord says: 'You freed the man I said should die, so your life will be taken instead of his. The lives of your people will also be taken instead of the lives of his people.'"
43 Then King Ahab went back to his palace in Samaria, angry and upset.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.