Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 115

1 Kings 16–19, James 4–5

Bible text(s)

1The LORD spoke to the prophet Jehu son of Hanani and gave him this message for Baasha: 2“You were a nobody, but I made you the leader of my people Israel. And now you have sinned like Jeroboam and have led my people into sin. Their sins have aroused my anger, 3and so I will do away with you and your family, just as I did with Jeroboam. 4Any members of your family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and any who die in the open country will be eaten by vultures.”

5Everything else that Baasha did and all his brave deeds are recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel. 6Baasha died and was buried in Tirzah, and his son Elah succeeded him as king.

7That message from the LORD against Baasha and his family was given by the prophet Jehu because of the sins that Baasha committed against the LORD. He aroused the LORD's anger not only because of the evil he did, just as King Jeroboam had done before him, but also because he killed all Jeroboam's family.

King Elah of Israel

8In the 26th year of the reign of King Asa of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he ruled in Tirzah for two years. 9Zimri, one of his officers who was in charge of half the king's chariots, plotted against him. One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk in the home of Arza, who was in charge of the palace. 10Zimri entered the house, assassinated Elah, and succeeded him as king. This happened in the 27th year of the reign of King Asa of Judah.

11As soon as Zimri became king he killed off all the members of Baasha's family. Every male relative and friend was put to death. 12And so, in accordance with what the LORD had said against Baasha through the prophet Jehu, Zimri killed all the family of Baasha. 13Because of their idolatry and because they led Israel into sin, Baasha and his son Elah had aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel. 14Everything else that Elah did is recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel.

King Zimri of Israel

15In the 27th year of the reign of King Asa of Judah, Zimri ruled in Tirzah over Israel for seven days. The Israelite troops were besieging the city of Gibbethon in Philistia, 16and when they heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and assassinated him, then and there they all proclaimed their commander Omri king of Israel. 17Omri and his troops left Gibbethon and went and besieged Tirzah. 18When Zimri saw that the city had fallen, he went into the palace's inner fortress, set the palace on fire, and died in the flames. 19This happened because of his sins against the LORD. Like his predecessor Jeroboam he displeased the LORD by his own sins and by leading Israel into sin. 20Everything else that Zimri did, including the account of his conspiracy, is recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel.

King Omri of Israel

21The people of Israel were divided: some of them wanted to make Tibni son of Ginath king, and the others were in favour of Omri. 22In the end, those in favour of Omri won; Tibni died and Omri became king. 23So in the 31st year of the reign of King Asa of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he ruled for twelve years. The first six years he ruled in Tirzah, 24and then he bought the hill of Samaria for 6,000 pieces of silver from a man named Shemer. Omri fortified the hill, built a town there, and named it Samaria, after Shemer, the former owner of the hill.

25Omri sinned against the LORD more than any of his predecessors. 26Like Jeroboam before him, he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by his sins and by leading the people into sin and idolatry. 27Everything else that Omri did and all his accomplishments are recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel. 28Omri died and was buried in Samaria, and his son Ahab succeeded him as king.

King Ahab of Israel

29In the 38th year of the reign of King Asa of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he ruled in Samaria for 22 years. 30He sinned against the LORD more than any of his predecessors. 31It was not enough for him to sin like King Jeroboam; he went further and married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of Sidon, and worshipped Baal. 32He built a temple to Baal in Samaria, made an altar for him, and put it in the temple. 33He also put up an image of the goddess Asherah. He did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel before him. 34During his reign Hiel from Bethel rebuilt Jericho. As the LORD had foretold through Joshua son of Nun, Hiel lost his eldest son Abiram when he laid the foundation of Jericho, and his youngest son Segub when he built the gates.

1 Kings 16GNBOpen in Bible reader

Elijah and the Drought

1A prophet named Elijah, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to King Ahab, “In the name of the LORD, the living God of Israel, whom I serve, I tell you that there will be no dew or rain for the next two or three years until I say so.”

2Then the LORD said to Elijah, 3“Leave this place and go east and hide yourself near the brook of Cherith, east of the Jordan. 4The brook will supply you with water to drink, and I have commanded ravens to bring you food there.”

5Elijah obeyed the LORD's command, and went and stayed by the brook of Cherith. 6He drank water from the brook, and ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening. 7After a while the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.

Elijah and the Widow in Zarephath

8Then the LORD said to Elijah, 9“Now go to the town of Zarephath, near Sidon, and stay there. I have commanded a widow who lives there to feed you.” 10So Elijah went to Zarephath, and as he came to the gate of the town, he saw a widow gathering firewood. “Please bring me a drink of water,” he said to her. 11And as she was going to get it, he called out, “And please bring me some bread, too.”

12She answered, “By the living LORD your God I swear that I haven't got any bread. All I have is a handful of flour in a bowl and a drop of olive oil in a jar. I came here to gather some firewood to take back home and prepare what little I have for my son and me. That will be our last meal, and then we will starve to death.”

13“Don't worry,” Elijah said to her. “Go ahead and prepare your meal. But first make a small loaf from what you have and bring it to me, and then prepare the rest for you and your son. 14For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The bowl will not run out of flour or the jar run out of oil before the day that I, the LORD, send rain.’ ”

15The widow went and did as Elijah had told her, and all of them had enough food for many days. 16As the LORD had promised through Elijah, the bowl did not run out of flour nor did the jar run out of oil.

17Some time later the widow's son fell ill; he got worse and worse, and finally he died. 18She said to Elijah, “Man of God, why did you do this to me? Did you come here to remind God of my sins and so cause my son's death?”

19“Give the boy to me,” Elijah said. He took the boy from her arms, carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying, and laid him on the bed. 20Then he prayed aloud, “O LORD my God, why have you done such a terrible thing to this widow? She has been kind enough to take care of me, and now you kill her son!” 21Then Elijah stretched himself out on the boy three times and prayed, “O LORD my God, restore this child to life!” 22The LORD answered Elijah's prayer; the child started breathing again and revived.

23Elijah took the boy back downstairs to his mother and said to her, “Look, your son is alive!”

24She answered, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the LORD really speaks through you!”

1 Kings 17GNBOpen in Bible reader

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

1After some time, in the third year of the drought, the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab, and I will send rain.” 2So Elijah started out.

The famine in Samaria was at its worst, 3so Ahab called in Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devout worshipper of the LORD, 4and when Jezebel was killing the LORD's prophets, Obadiah took a hundred of them, hid them in caves in two groups of fifty, and provided them with food and water.) 5Ahab said to Obadiah, “Let us go and look at every spring and every riverbed in the land to see if we can find enough grass to keep the horses and mules alive. Maybe we won't have to kill any of our animals.” 6They agreed on which part of the land each one would explore, and set off in different directions.

7As Obadiah was on his way, he suddenly met Elijah. He recognized him, bowed low before him, and asked, “Is it really you, sir?”

8“Yes, I'm Elijah,” he answered. “Go and tell your master the king that I am here.”

9Obadiah answered, “What have I done that you want to put me in danger of being killed by King Ahab? 10By the living LORD, your God, I swear that the king has made a search for you in every country in the world. Whenever the ruler of a country reported that you were not in his country, Ahab would require that ruler to swear that you could not be found. 11And now you want me to go and tell him that you are here? 12What if the Spirit of the LORD carries you off to some unknown place as soon as I leave? Then, when I tell Ahab that you are here, and he can't find you, he will put me to death. Remember that I have been a devout worshipper of the LORD ever since I was a boy. 13Haven't you heard that when Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD I hid a hundred of them in caves, in two groups of fifty, and supplied them with food and water? 14So how can you order me to go and tell the king that you are here? He will kill me!”

15Elijah answered, “By the living LORD, whom I serve, I promise that I will present myself to the king today.”

16So Obadiah went to King Ahab and told him, and Ahab set off to meet Elijah. 17When Ahab saw him, he said, “So there you are — the worst troublemaker in Israel!”

18“I'm not the troublemaker,” Elijah answered. “You are — you and your father. You are disobeying the LORD's commands and worshipping the idols of Baal. 19Now order all the people of Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. Bring along the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah who are supported by Queen Jezebel.”

20So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and the prophets of Baal to meet at Mount Carmel. 21Elijah went up to the people and said, “How much longer will it take you to make up your minds? If the LORD is God, worship him; but if Baal is God, worship him!” But the people didn't say a word. 22Then Elijah said, “I am the only prophet of the LORD still left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. 23Bring two bulls; let the prophets of Baal take one, kill it, cut it in pieces, and put it on the wood — but don't light the fire. I will do the same with the other bull. 24Then let the prophets of Baal pray to their god, and I will pray to the LORD, and the one who answers by sending fire — he is God.”

The people shouted their approval.

25Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since there are so many of you, you take a bull and prepare it first. Pray to your god, but don't set fire to the wood.”

26They took the bull that was brought to them, prepared it, and prayed to Baal until noon. They shouted, “Answer us, Baal!” and kept dancing round the altar they had built. But no answer came.

27At noon Elijah started making fun of them: “Pray louder! He is a god! Maybe he is daydreaming or relieving himself, or perhaps he's gone on a journey! Or maybe he's sleeping, and you've got to wake him up!” 28So the prophets prayed louder and cut themselves with knives and daggers, according to their ritual, until blood flowed. 29They kept on ranting and raving until the middle of the afternoon; but no answer came, not a sound was heard.

30Then Elijah said to the people, “Come closer to me,” and they all gathered round him. He set about repairing the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. 31He took twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes named after the sons of Jacob, the man to whom the LORD had given the name Israel. 32With these stones he rebuilt the altar for the worship of the LORD. He dug a trench round it, large enough to hold almost fourteen litres of water. 33Then he placed the wood on the altar, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the offering and the wood.” They did so, 34and he said, “Do it again” — and they did. “Do it once more,” he said — and they did. 35The water ran down round the altar and filled the trench.

36At the hour of the afternoon sacrifice the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove now that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant and have done all this at your command. 37Answer me, LORD, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the LORD, are God, and that you are bringing them back to yourself.”

38The LORD sent fire down, and it burnt up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones, scorched the earth and dried up the water in the trench. 39When the people saw this, they threw themselves on the ground and exclaimed, “The LORD is God; the LORD alone is God!”

40Elijah ordered, “Seize the prophets of Baal; don't let any of them get away!” The people seized them all, and Elijah led them down to the River Kishon and killed them.

The End of the Drought

41Then Elijah said to King Ahab, “Now, go and eat. I hear the roar of rain approaching.” 42While Ahab went to eat, Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, where he bowed down to the ground, with his head between his knees. 43He said to his servant, “Go and look towards the sea.”

The servant went and returned, saying, “I didn't see anything.” Seven times in all Elijah told him to go and look. 44The seventh time he returned and said, “I saw a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand, coming up from the sea.”

Elijah ordered his servant, “Go to King Ahab and tell him to get into his chariot and go back home before the rain stops him.”

45In a little while the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind began to blow, and heavy rain began to fall. Ahab got into his chariot and started back to Jezreel. 46The power of the LORD came on Elijah; he fastened his clothes tight round his waist and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1 Kings 18GNBOpen in Bible reader

Elijah on Mount Sinai

1King Ahab told his wife Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had put all the prophets of Baal to death. 2She sent a message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me dead if by this time tomorrow I don't do the same thing to you that you did to the prophets.” 3Elijah was afraid, and fled for his life; he took his servant and went to Beersheba in Judah.

Leaving the servant there, 4Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. “It's too much, LORD,” he prayed. “Take away my life; I might as well be dead!”

5He lay down under the tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Wake up and eat.” 6He looked round, and saw a loaf of bread and a jar of water near his head. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7The LORD's angel returned and woke him up a second time, saying, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” 8Elijah got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to walk forty days to Sinai, the holy mountain. 9There he went into a cave to spend the night.

Suddenly the LORD spoke to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

10He answered, “LORD God Almighty, I have always served you — you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left — and they are trying to kill me!”

11“Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain,” the LORD said to him. Then the LORD passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks — but the LORD was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake — but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake, there was a fire — but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the soft whisper of a voice.

13When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

14He answered, “LORD God Almighty, I have always served you — you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left — and they are trying to kill me.”

15The LORD said, “Return to the wilderness near Damascus, then enter the city and anoint Hazael as king of Syria; 16anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17Anyone who escapes being put to death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and anyone who escapes Jehu will be killed by Elisha. 18Yet I will leave 7,000 people alive in Israel — all those who are loyal to me and have not bowed to Baal or kissed his idol.”

The Call of Elisha

19Elijah left and found Elisha ploughing with a team of oxen; there were eleven teams ahead of him, and he was ploughing with the last one. Elijah took off his cloak and put it on Elisha. 20Elisha then left his oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and then I will go with you.”

Elijah answered, “All right, go back. I'm not stopping you!”

21Then Elisha went to his team of oxen, killed them, and cooked the meat, using the yoke as fuel for the fire. He gave the meat to the people, and they ate it. Then he went and followed Elijah as his helper.

1 Kings 19GNBOpen in Bible reader

Friendship with the World

1Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you. 2You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it. 3And when you ask, you do not receive it, because your motives are bad; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures. 4Unfaithful people! Don't you know that to be the world's friend means to be God's enemy? People who want to be the world's friends make themselves God's enemies. 5Don't think that there is no truth in the scripture that says, “The spirit that God placed in us is filled with fierce desires.” 6But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

7So then, submit to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. 8Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners! Purify your hearts, you hypocrites! 9Be sorrowful, cry, and weep; change your laughter into crying, your joy into gloom! 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Warning against Judging a Fellow-Christian

11Do not criticize one another, my brothers and sisters. If you criticize fellow-Christians or judge them, you criticize the Law and judge it. If you judge the Law, then you are no longer one who obeys the Law, but one who judges it. 12God is the only lawgiver and judge. He alone can save and destroy. Who do you think you are, to judge someone else?

Warning against Boasting

13Now listen to me, you that say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to a certain city, where we will stay a year and go into business and make a lot of money.” 14You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. 15What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” 16But now you are proud, and you boast; all such boasting is wrong.

17So then, those who do not do the good they know they should do are guilty of sin.

Warning to the Rich

1And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! 2Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. 3Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. 4You have not paid any wages to those who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty. 5Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you.

Patience and Prayer

7Be patient, then, my brothers and sisters, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 8You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord's coming is near.

9Do not complain against one another, my brothers and sisters, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear. 10My brothers and sisters, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. 11We call them happy because they endured. You have heard of Job's patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.

12Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Say only “Yes” when you mean yes, and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God's judgement.

13Are any of you in trouble? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14Are any of you ill? You should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. 15This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. 16So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. 17Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years. 18Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops.

19My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings them back again, 20remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from his or her wrong way will save that sinner's soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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