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1 Kings 18; 1 Kings 19; 1 Kings 20

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1 Kings 18

1 It was now three years since it had rained. A message came to Elijah from the Lord. He said, "Go. Speak to Ahab. Then I will send rain on the land."
2 So Elijah went to speak to Ahab. There wasn't enough food in Samaria. The people there were very hungry.
3 Ahab had sent for Obadiah. He was in charge of Ahab's palace. Obadiah had great respect for the Lord.
4 Ahab's wife Jezebel had been killing off the LORD's prophets. So Obadiah had hidden 100 prophets in two caves. He had put 50 in each cave. He had supplied them with food and water.
5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go through the land. Go to all of the springs of water and to the valleys. Maybe we can find some grass there. It will keep the horses and mules alive. Then we won't have to kill any of our animals."
6 So they decided where each of them would look. Ahab went in one direction. Obadiah went in another.
7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him. He bowed down to the ground. He said, "My master Elijah! Is it really you?"
8 "Yes," he replied. "Go and tell your master Ahab, 'Elijah is here.' "
9 "What have I done wrong?" asked Obadiah. "Why are you handing me over to Ahab to be put to death?
10 "My master has sent people to look for you everywhere. There isn't a nation or kingdom where he hasn't sent someone to look for you. Suppose a nation or kingdom would claim you weren't there. Then Ahab would make them take an oath and say they couldn't find you. And that's just as sure as the LORD your God is alive.
11 "But now you are telling me to go to my master. You want me to say, 'Elijah is here.'
12 But the Spirit of the LORD might carry you away when I leave you. Then I won't know where you are. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn't find you, he'll kill me. "But I've worshiped the LORD ever since I was young.
13 My master, haven't you heard what I did? Jezebel was killing the LORD's prophets. But I hid 100 of them in two caves. I put 50 in each cave. I supplied them with food and water.
14 And now you are telling me to go to my master Ahab. You want me to say to him, 'Elijah is here.' He'll kill me!"
15 Elijah said, "I serve the LORD who rules over all. You can be sure that he lives. And you can be just as sure that I will speak to Ahab today."
16 Obadiah went back to Ahab. He told Ahab that Elijah wanted to see him. So Ahab went to where Elijah was.
17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you? You are always stirring up trouble in Israel."
18 "I haven't made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have turned away from the LORD's commands. You have followed the gods that are named after Baal.
19 "Now send for people from all over Israel. Tell them to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the 450 prophets of the god Baal. Also bring the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah. All of them eat at Jezebel's table."
20 So Ahab sent that message all through Israel. He gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.
21 Elijah went there and stood in front of the people. He said, "How long will it take you to make up your minds? If the LORD is the one and only God, follow him. But if Baal is the one and only God, follow him." The people didn't say anything.
22 Then Elijah said to them, "I'm the only one of the LORD's prophets left. But Baal has 450 prophets.
23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal's prophets choose one for themselves. Let them cut it into pieces. Then let them put it on the wood. But don't let them set fire to it. I'll prepare the other bull. I'll put it on the wood. But I won't set fire to it.
24 Then you pray to your god. And I'll pray to the Lord. The god who answers by sending fire down is the one and only God." Then all of the people said, "What you are saying is good."
25 Elijah spoke to the prophets of Baal. He said, "Choose one of the bulls. There are many of you. So prepare your bull first. Pray to your god. But don't light the fire."
26 So they prepared the bull they had been given. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon. "Baal! Answer us!" they shouted. But there wasn't any reply. No one answered. Then they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to tease them. "Shout louder!" he said. "I'm sure Baal is a god! Perhaps he has too much to think about. Or maybe he has gone to the toilet. Or perhaps he's away on a trip. Maybe he's sleeping. You might have to wake him up."
28 So they shouted louder. They cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. That's what they usually did when things really looked hopeless.
29 It was now past noon. The prophets of Baal continued to prophesy with all their might. They did it until the time came to offer the evening sacrifice. But there wasn't any reply. No one answered. No one paid any attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all of the people, "Come here to me." So they went to him. He rebuilt the altar of the Lord. It had been destroyed.
31 Elijah got 12 stones. There was one for each tribe in the family line of Jacob. The LORD's message had come to Jacob. It had said, "Your name will be Israel."
32 Elijah used the stones to build an altar in honor of the Lord. He dug a ditch around it. The ditch was large enough to hold 13 quarts of seeds.
33 He arranged the wood for the fire. He cut the bull into pieces. He placed the pieces on the wood. Then he said to some of the people, "Fill four large jars with water. Pour it on the offering and the wood." So they did.
34 "Do it again," he said. So they did it again. "Do it a third time," he ordered. And they did it the third time.
35 The water ran down around the altar. It even filled the ditch.
36 When it was time to offer the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward. He prayed, "Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Today let everyone know that you are God in Israel. Let them know I'm your servant. Let them know I've done all of these things because you commanded me to.
37 Answer me. Lord, answer me. Then these people will know that you are the one and only God. They'll know that you are turning their hearts back to you again."
38 The fire of the LORD came down. It burned up the sacrifice. It burned up the wood and the stones and the soil. It even licked up the water in the ditch.
39 All of the people saw it. Then they fell down flat with their faces toward the ground. They cried out, "The LORD is the one and only God! The LORD is the one and only God!"
40 Then Elijah commanded them, "Grab hold of the prophets of Baal. Don't let a single one of them get away!" So they grabbed them. Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley. There he had them put to death.
41 Elijah said to Ahab, "Go. Eat and drink. I can hear the sound of a heavy rain."
42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel. He bent down toward the ground. Then he put his face between his knees.
43 "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. So he went up and looked. "I don't see anything there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back."
44 The seventh time the servant said, "I see a cloud. It's as small as a man's hand. It's coming up over the sea." Elijah said, "Go to Ahab. Tell him, 'Tie your chariot to your horse. Go down to Jezreel before the rain stops you.' "
45 Black clouds filled the sky. The wind came up, and a heavy rain began to fall. Ahab rode off to Jezreel.
46 The power of the LORD came on Elijah. He tucked his coat into his belt. And he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1 Kings 19

1 Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done. He told her how Elijah had killed all of the prophets with his sword.
2 So Jezebel sent a message to Elijah. She said, "You can be sure that I will kill you, just as I killed the other prophets. I'll do it by this time tomorrow. If I don't, may the gods punish me greatly."
3 Elijah was afraid. So he ran for his life. He came to Beersheba in Judah. He left his servant there.
4 Then he traveled for one day into the desert. He came to a small tree. He sat down under it. He prayed that he would die. "Lord, I've had enough," he said. "Take my life. I'm no better than my people of long ago."
5 Then he lay down under the tree. And he fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him. The angel said, "Get up and eat."
6 Elijah looked around. Near his head he saw a flat cake of bread. It had been baked over hot coals. A jar of water was also there. So Elijah ate and drank. Then he lay down again.
7 The angel of the LORD came to him a second time. He touched him and said, "Get up and eat. Your journey will be long and hard."
8 So he got up. He ate and drank. The food gave him new strength. He traveled for 40 days and 40 nights. He kept going until he arrived at Horeb. It was the mountain of God.
9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. A message came to Elijah from the Lord. He said, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
10 He replied, "LORD God who rules over all, I've been very committed to you. The people of Israel have turned their backs on your covenant. They have torn down your altars. They've put your prophets to death with their swords. I'm the only one left. And they are trying to kill me."
11 The LORD said, "Go out. Stand on the mountain in front of me. I am going to pass by." As the LORD approached, a very powerful wind tore the mountains apart. It broke up the rocks. But the LORD wasn't in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake. But the LORD wasn't in the earthquake.
12 After the earthquake a fire came. But the LORD wasn't in the fire. And after the fire there was only a gentle whisper.
13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his coat over his face. He went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice said to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
14 He replied, "LORD God who rules over all, I've been very committed to you. The people of Israel have turned their backs on your covenant. They have torn down your altars. They've put your prophets to death with their swords. I'm the only one left. And they are trying to kill me."
15 The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came. Go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael as king over Aram.
16 Also anoint Jehu as king over Israel. He is the son of Nimshi. And anoint Elisha from Abel Meholah as the next prophet after you. He is the son of Shaphat.
17 Jehu will put to death anyone who escapes Hazael's sword. And Elisha will put to death anyone who escapes Jehu's sword.
18 "But I will keep 7,000 people in Israel for myself. They have not bowed down to Baal. And they have not kissed him."
19 Elijah left Mount Horeb. He saw Elisha, the son of Shaphat. Elisha was plowing in a field. He was driving the last of 12 pairs of oxen. Elijah went up to him. He threw his coat around him.
20 Then Elisha left his oxen. He ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said. "Then I'll come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He got his two oxen and killed them. He burned the plow to cook the meat. He gave it to the people, and they ate it. Then he started to follow Elijah. He became Elijah's assistant.

1 Kings 20

1 Ben-Hadad brought his whole army together. He was king of Aram. He went up to Samaria. He took 32 kings and their horses and chariots with him. All of them surrounded Samaria and attacked it.
2 Ben-Hadad sent messengers into the city. They spoke to Ahab, the king of Israel. They told him, "Ben-Hadad says,
3 'Your silver and gold belong to me. The best of your wives and children also belong to me.' "
4 The king of Israel replied, "What you say is true. You are my king and master. I belong to you. And everything I have belongs to you."
5 The messengers came again. They told Ahab, "Ben-Hadad says, 'I commanded you to give me your silver and gold. I also commanded you to give me your wives and children.
6 But now I'm going to send my officials to you. They will come about this time tomorrow. They'll search your palace. They'll search the houses of your officials. They'll take everything you value. And they'll carry all of it away.' "
7 The king of Israel sent for all of the elders of the land. He said to them, "This man is really looking for trouble! He sent for my wives and children. He sent for my silver and gold. And I agreed to give them to him."
8 All of the elders and people answered, "Don't listen to him. Don't agree to give him what he wants."
9 So Ahab replied to Ben-Hadad's messengers. He said, "Tell my king and master, 'I will do everything you commanded me to do the first time. But this time, I can't do what you want me to do.' " They took Ahab's answer back to Ben-Hadad.
10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab. It said, "There won't be enough dust left in Samaria to give each of my followers even a handful. If there is, may the gods punish me greatly."
11 The king of Israel replied. He said, "Tell him, 'Someone who puts his armor on shouldn't brag like someone who takes it off.' "
12 Ben-Hadad and the kings were in their tents drinking. That's when he heard the message. He ordered his men, "Get ready to attack." So they prepared to attack the city.
13 During that time a prophet came to Ahab, the king of Israel. He announced, "The LORD says, 'Do you see this huge army? I will hand it over to you today. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "
14 "But who will do it?" Ahab asked. The prophet answered, "The LORD says, 'The young officers who are under the area commanders will do it.' " "And who will start the battle?" he asked. The prophet answered, "You will."
15 So Ahab sent for the young officers who were under the area commanders. The total number of officers was 232. Ahab gathered together the rest of the men of Israel. The total number of them was 7,000.
16 They started out at noon. At that time Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings who were helping him were in their tents. They were getting drunk.
17 The young officers who were under Ahab's area commanders marched out first. Ben-Hadad had sent out scouts. They came back and reported, "Men are marching against us from Samaria."
18 Ben-Hadad said, "They might be coming to make peace. If they are, take them alive. Or they might be coming to make war. If they are, take them alive."
19 The young officers marched out of the city. The army was right behind them.
20 Each man struck down the one who was fighting against him. When that happened, the army of Aram ran away. The men of Israel chased them. But Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, escaped on a horse. Some of his horsemen escaped with him.
21 The king of Israel attacked them. He overpowered the horses and chariots. Large numbers of the men of Aram were wounded or killed.
22 After that, the prophet came to the king of Israel again. He said, "Make your position stronger. Do what needs to be done. Next spring the king of Aram will attack you again."
23 During that time, the officials of the king of Aram gave him advice. They said, "The gods of Israel are gods of the hills. That's why they were too strong for us. But suppose we fight them on the flatlands. Then we'll certainly be stronger than they are.
24 "Here's what you should do. Don't let any of the kings continue as military leaders. Have other officers take their places.
25 You must also put another army together. It should be just like the one you lost. It should have the same number of horses and chariots. Then we'll be able to fight against Israel on the flatlands. And we'll certainly be stronger than they are." Ben-Hadad agreed with their advice. He did what they suggested.
26 The next spring Ben-Hadad brought together the men of Aram. They went up to the city of Aphek to fight against Israel.
27 The men of Israel were also brought together. They were given supplies. They marched out to fight against their enemies. Israel's army camped across from Aram's army. The men of Israel looked like two small flocks of goats that had become separated from the others. But the men of Aram covered the countryside.
28 The man of God came up to the king of Israel again. He told him, "The LORD says, 'The men of Aram think I am a god of the hills. They do not think I am a god of the valleys. So I will hand their huge army over to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "
29 For seven days the two armies camped across from each other. On the seventh day the battle began. The men of Israel wounded or killed 100,000 Aramean soldiers on foot. That happened in a single day.
30 The rest of the men of Aram escaped to the city of Aphek. Its wall fell down on 27,000 of them. Ben-Hadad ran to the city. He hid in a secret room.
31 His officials said to him, "Look, we've heard that the kings of Israel's royal house often show mercy. So let's go to the king of Israel. Let's wear black clothes. Let's tie ropes around our heads. Perhaps Ahab will spare your life."
32 So they wore black clothes. They tied ropes around their heads. Then they went to the king of Israel. They told him, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please let me live.' " The king answered, "Is he still alive? He used to be my friend."
33 The men thought that was good news. So they quickly used the word Ahab had used. "Yes! Your friend Ben-Hadad!" they said. "Go and get him," the king said. Ben-Hadad came out of the secret room. Then Ahab had him get into his chariot.
34 "I'll return the cities my father took from your father," Ben-Hadad offered. "You can set up your own market areas in Damascus. That's what my father did in Samaria." Ahab said, "If we sign a peace treaty, I'll set you free." So he made a treaty with him. Then Ahab let him go.
35 There was a group that was called the company of the prophets. A message from the LORD came to one of their members. He said to his companion, "Strike me down with your weapon." But the man wouldn't do it.
36 The prophet said, "You haven't obeyed the Lord. So as soon as you leave me, a lion will kill you." The companion went away. And a lion found him and killed him.
37 The prophet found another man. He said, "Please strike me down." So the man struck him down and wounded him.
38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road. He waited for the king to come by. He pulled his headband down over his eyes so no one would recognize him.
39 The king passed by. Then the prophet called out to him. He said, "I went into the middle of the battle. Someone came to me with a prisoner. He said, 'Guard this man. Don't let him get away. If he does, you will pay for his life with yours. Or you can pay 75 pounds of silver.'
40 While I was busy here and there, the man disappeared." "That's your sentence," the king of Israel told him. "You have said so yourself."
41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.
42 He told the king, "The LORD says, 'You have set a man free. But I had said he should be set apart to the LORD in a special way to be destroyed. So you must pay for his life with yours. You must pay for his people's lives with the lives of your people.' "
43 The king of Israel was angry. He was in a bad mood. He went back to his palace in Samaria.