Elijah Flees to Horeb
19 Then Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “Thus may the gods do to me, and may they add to it, surely at this time tomorrow I will make your life as the life of one of them!” 3 Then he became afraid, got up, and fled for his life. He came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went into the wilderness one day’s journey, and he went and sat under a certain broom tree. Then he asked Yahweh that he might die, and he said, “It is enough now, Yahweh; take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 He lay down and fell asleep under a certain broom tree, and suddenly this angel was touching him and said to him, “Get up, eat!” 6 He looked, and behold, a bread cake on hot coals was near his head and a jar of water, so he ate and drank. Then he did it again and lay down. 7 The angel of Yahweh appeared a second time and touched him and said, “Get up, eat, for the journey is greater than you.” 8 So he got up, ate, drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights up to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Elijah Encounters Yahweh at Horeb
9 He came to the cave there and spent the night there. Suddenly the word of Yahweh came to him and asked him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” 10 Then he said, “I have been very zealous for Yahweh the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have demolished your altars, and they have killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left over, and they seek to take my life. 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before Yahweh.” Suddenly Yahweh was passing by, with a great and strong wind ripping the mountains and crushing rocks before Yahweh; but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake was a fire, but Yahweh was not in the fire. After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 It happened at the moment Elijah heard, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him and said, “Elijah, why are you here?” 14 He said, “I have been very zealous for Yahweh the God of Hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, demolished your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword; I alone am left, and they seek to take my life!” 15 Then Yahweh said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. Go and anoint Hazael as king over Aram; 16 and Jehu son of Nimshi you shall anoint as king over Israel. You shall also anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-Meholah as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18 I will leave in Israel seven thousand, all of the knees that have not bowed down to Baal and all of the mouths that have not kissed him.”
19 So he went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him. When he and the twelve passed Elijah, he threw his cloak on him. 20 Then he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will go after you.” Then he said, “Go, return, for what I have done to you?” 21 So he returned from after him, and he took a pair of oxen and slaughtered them, and with the yoke of the oxen he boiled the flesh and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and served him.
Syrian-Israeli Conflicts: Ben-Hadad vs. Ahab of Israel
20 Ben-Hadad king of Aram gathered all of his army, and thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. He went up and laid siege against Samaria and fought with it. 2 He sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel. 3 He said to him, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine, and your women and your best sons are mine.’ ” 4 Then the king of Israel answered and said, “As your word, my master the king; I am yours, and all that is mine is yours.” 5 The messengers returned and said, “Thus says Ben-Hadad, saying, ‘I sent to you saying, “Your silver and gold are mine, and your women and your best sons you must give to me.” 6 So at this time tomorrow, I will send my servants to you that they might search your house and the houses of your servants. All the desire of your eyes they will lay hands on and take it away.’ ”
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Please know and realize that this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my women, my sons, my silver, and my gold, and I did not withhold anything from him.” 8 All of the elders and all of the people said to him, “Do not listen and do not consent.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, “Say to my lord the king, ‘All that you demanded from your servant at the first, I will do, but this thing I am not able to do.’ ” Then the messengers went and made a report to him. 10 Then Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, “Thus may the gods do to me and thus may they add if the dust of Samaria is sufficient for the hollow of a hand for all of the people who are at my feet.” 11 The king of Israel answered and said, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who girds on his armor boast as one who takes off his armor.’ ” 12 It happened at the moment he heard this word, he and the kings were drinking in the tents. He said to his servants, “Get ready to attack.” So they got ready to attack the city.
13 Suddenly a certain prophet approached Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says Yahweh: ‘Have you seen all this great crowd? Behold, I am giving it into your hand today, that you may know that I am Yahweh.’ ” 14 Ahab said, “By whom?” And he said, “Thus says Yahweh: ‘By the servants of the commanders of the provinces.’ ” He asked, “Who will begin the battle?” And he said, “You.” 15 So he mustered the servants of the commanders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two. After them he mustered all of the army, all the sons of Israel, seven thousand.
16 They went out at noon while Ben-Hadad was drinking himself drunk in the tents, he and the thirty-two kings helping him. 17 Then the servants of the commanders of the provinces went out first, and Ben-Hadad sent, and they reported to him, saying, “Men have come out from Samaria.” 18 Then he said, “If they have come out for peace, seize them alive; and if they have come out for war, seize them alive.” 19 But these had come out from the city, the servants of the commanders of the provinces, and the army that was after them. 20 Each man killed his man, and the Arameans fled, so Israel pursued them, but Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with cavalry. 21 The king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and the chariots and defeated Aram with a great blow.
22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and he said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself; consider well what you should do, for the king of Aram is coming against you at the turn of the year.”
23 The servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we. Let us fight with them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this thing: remove the kings each from his post, and put a governor in their place. 25 You must muster an army for yourself as the army you have lost, and horses and chariots as the horses and chariots you lost, then we will fight them in the plain. Surely we will be stronger than they.” So he listened to their voice and did so.
The Triumphal Entry
11 And when they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village before you, and right away as you enter into it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say ‘The Lord has need of it, and will send it here again at once.’ ” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those who were standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 So they told them, just as Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, and he sat on it. 8 And many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went ahead and those who were following were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 And he went into Jerusalem to the temple, and after looking around at everything, because the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
A Barren Fig Tree Cursed
12 And on the next day as they were departing from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And when he saw from a distance a fig tree that had leaves, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it. And when he came up to it he found nothing except leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 And he responded and said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you any more forever!” And his disciples heard it.
The Cleansing of the Temple
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered into the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple courts, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling doves. 16 And he did not permit anyone to carry objects through the temple courts. 17 And he began to teach and was saying to them, “Is it not written,
‘My house will be called a house of prayer
for all the nations,’
but you have made it a cave of robbers!” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and began considering how they could destroy him. For they were afraid of him because the whole crowd was astounded by his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
The Barren Fig Tree Withered
20 And as they passed by early in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered!” 22 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God! 23 Truly I say to you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 For this reason I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be done for you. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”
Jesus’ Authority Challenged
27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came up to him 28 and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority that you do these things?” 29 So Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer me!” 31 And they began to discuss this with one another, saying, “What should we say? If we say ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘From men’ ”—they were afraid of the crowd, because they all looked upon John as truly a prophet. 33 And they replied to Jesus saying, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
18 But the path of the righteous ones is like the light of dawn,
leading and shining until the day is full.
19 The way of the wicked ones is like deep darkness;
they do not know what they stumble over.
Staying the Course
20 My child, be attentive to my words;
to my sayings incline your ear.
21 May they not escape from your sight;
keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
and healing to the entire body.
23 With all vigilance, keep your heart,
for from it comes the source of life.
24 Remove from yourself deceitful speech,
and abolish devious talk from yourself.
25 May your eyes look forward
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 May the path of your foot be balanced
and all your ways be sure.
27 Do not swerve right or left;
remove your foot from evil.
“May your eyes look forward and your gaze be straight before you. May the path of your foot be balanced and all your ways be sure. Do not swerve right or left; remove your foot from evil” (Prov 4:25–27).
These verses reflect someone who has incredible purpose. I imagine an acrobat walking a tightrope—knees bent, one foot carefully placed in front of the other, and nothing but a slender rope keeping him from plummeting to the ground. Such efforts would require incredible calm, effort, and focus—especially focus. The body naturally follows the path of our eyes, which is detrimental if we’re focused on the wrong thing.
The idea of staying the course illustrates God’s path and purpose for us. When we act, speak, and follow that path, we are carrying out His will for our lives. But there’s a problem: We can’t. All of our efforts are tainted. Our knees are bound to buckle, we’re sure to misstep, and it’s just a matter of time before we swerve to our own disadvantage.
Before we lose hope, though, we can remember God’s sacrifice. Jesus’ work of redeeming us has reversed our fate. The threat is gone—and that changes everything. Our lives are infused with the incredible purpose of His costly death. We have a renewed sense of hope because of His resurrection.
The cross puts everything in perspective. It is the new focus of our gaze. From His sacrifice to the time when redemption is complete, we are meant to live intentional lives that reflect His purpose. Keeping our eyes on Him helps us to stay on the path.
How are you staying the course?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.