War between Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
18 It happened many days later that the word of Yahweh came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab so that I may give rain on the surface of the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 Ahab summoned Obadiah who was over the house. (Now Obadiah was fearing Yahweh greatly. 4 It had happened that when Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in the cave and sustained them with food and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the wadis. Perhaps we may find green grass that we may keep horses and mules alive and that we might not lose any of the animals.” 6 So they divided the land for themselves in order to pass through it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
7 It happened that Obadiah was on the way, and suddenly Elijah was there to meet him. When he recognized him, he fell on his face and said, “Is this you, my lord Elijah?” 8 He said to him, “I am. Go, say to your lord, ‘Elijah is here.’ ” 9 He said, “How have I sinned that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to kill me? 10 As Yahweh your God lives, surely there is not a nation or a kingdom to which my lord has not sent me to seek you. If they would say, ‘He is not here,’ then he would make the kingdom or the nation swear that it could not find you. 11 Now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your lord: “Elijah is here.” ’ 12 And it will happen that I will go from you and the Spirit of Yahweh will carry you up to where I do not know. Then I will come to tell Ahab, but he will not find you, and then he will kill me, even though your servant has feared Yahweh from my youth. 13 Has it not been told to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh? I hid a hundred men of the prophets of Yahweh by fifties in the cave, and I sustained them with food and water. 14 Now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your lord: “Elijah is here,” ’ and he will kill me.” 15 Elijah said, “As Yahweh of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will certainly show myself to him today.”
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and he told him, so Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you who throws Israel into confusion?” 18 He said, “I did not throw Israel into confusion; rather you and the house of your father have by forsaking the commands of Yahweh when you went after the Baals! 19 So then, send word and assemble all of Israel to me on Mount Carmel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at the table of Jezebel.”
20 So Ahab sent word among the Israelites, and he assembled the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah approached to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping over two opinions? If Yahweh is God, go after him; but if Baal, go after him.” But the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of Yahweh, but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let them give us two bulls, and let them choose for themselves one bull, cut him in pieces, and put it on the wood, but don’t let them start a fire on it. I will prepare the other bull and set it on the wood, but I will put no fire on it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh, and it shall be that the god who answers by fire, he is God.” Then all the people answered and said, “The word is good!”
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are the majority, and call on the name of your god, but don’t set fire under it.” 26 So they took the bull that he allowed to them, prepared it, and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice and there was no answer, so they limped about the altar which they had made. 27 It happened at noon that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god! Perhaps he is meditating, or is using the bathroom, or is on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must wake up!” 28 So they called out with a loud voice, and they cut themselves with swords and with spears as was their custom, until the blood poured out over them. 29 It happened as noon passed, they raged until the time of the evening offering, but there was no voice, there was no answer, and no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me,” so all the people came closer to him. He repaired the altar of Yahweh that had been destroyed. 31 Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of God came, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 With them, he built an altar in the name of Yahweh, and he made a trench which would have held about two seahs of seed, all around the altar. 33 And he arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces, and placed it on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 He said, “Do it again!” They did it again. He said, “Do it a third time!” So they did it a third time. 35 The water went all around the altar, and the trench also was filled with water.
36 It happened at the offering of the evening oblation, Elijah the prophet went near, and he said, “O Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and that I have done all of these things by your words. 37 Answer me, O Yahweh, answer me; that this people may know that you, O Yahweh, are God and that you have turned their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of Yahweh fell, and it consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust; and the water which was in the trench it licked up! 39 When all the people saw, they fell on their faces and said, “Yahweh, he is God! Yahweh, he is God!” 40 Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; don’t let any man of them escape!” So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the wadi of Kishon and killed them there.
41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of the noise of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink while Elijah went to the top of Carmel, bent down to the earth, and put his face between his knees. 43 Then he said to his servant, “Please go and look in the direction of the sea.” So he went up and looked; then he said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go back,” seven times. 44 It happened that at the seventh time, he said, “Look, there is a small cloud, as the hand of a man, coming up from the sea.” Then Elijah said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Harness your horses and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ ” 45 In no time the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was heavy rain. Ahab rode and he went to Jezreel, 46 but the hand of Yahweh was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran before Ahab as one comes to Jezreel.
A Rich Young Man
17 And as he was setting out on his way, one individual ran up and knelt down before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all that you have, and give the proceeds to the poor—and you will have treasure in heaven—and come, follow me.” 22 But he looked gloomy at the statement and went away sorrowful, because he had many possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who possess wealth to enter into the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astounded at his words. But Jesus answered and said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were very astounded, saying to one another, “And who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields on account of me and on account of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, together with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection a Third Time
32 Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going on ahead of them. And they were astounded, but those who were following him were afraid. And taking aside the twelve again, he began to tell them the things that were about to happen to him: 33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him, and after three days he will rise.”
A Request by James and John
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want that I do for you?” 37 So they said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup that I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when they heard this, the ten began to be indignant about James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their people in high positions exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not like this among you! But whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be most prominent among you must be the slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A Blind Man Healed at Jericho
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was setting out from Jericho along with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting beside the road. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many people warned him that he should be quiet. But he was crying out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” 50 And he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabboni, that I may regain my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him on the road.
8 Cherish her and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will give a garland for your head;
she shall bestow a crown of glory upon you.”
The Right Path
10 Listen, my child, take my sayings,
and the years of your life shall be great.
11 In the way of wisdom I have instructed you;
I have led you in the path of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Seize the instruction! Do not let go!
Guard her, for she is your life.
14 In the path of the wicked do not go;
do not walk in the way of those who do evil.
15 Avoid it; do not transgress it;
turn away from it and pass by.
16 For they will not sleep if they have not done wrong,
and they are robbed of their sleep if they do not cause stumbling.
17 For they ate the bread of wickedness,
and they drank the wine of violence.
Sometimes our work for God requires severe actions. In these times—ones that we can’t possibly prepare for—we need to rely on the Spirit and its work to empower us.
I have always admired Elijah the prophet because he goes into firestorms with little, if any, preparation. The Spirit of God is his leader, sword, and shield. One of the most frightening moments in Elijah’s life is his encounter with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. How could Elijah prepare to face 450 prophets from the enemy nation who are endorsed by Elijah’s own king? He faced certain death. Perhaps he had even reconciled himself to the idea that his life would end on that mountain.
Elijah’s supreme confidence in Yahweh is inspiring. He instructs the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are the majority, and call on the name of your god, but don’t set fire under it” (1 Kgs 18:25). After the other prophets fail to bring down fire from heaven, Elijah does what must be done: He calls down fire, and then he kills the evil prophets (1 Kgs 18:30–40).
Although Elijah’s particular actions do not apply directly today, his boldness certainly does. We should never fear walking into a fight against evil; instead, we should be ready to engage those who lead others astray. We must be certain that God will give us His words. He will act through us.
Whenever we’re in need, no matter how severe the situation, God can deliver us. We cannot prepare for the battle against the great evil that lurks in the world, but we can be certain that God will be with us.
What evil must you face? What do you need? Have you asked God for it?
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.