1 Kings 15:25-17:24
25 Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, took over Israel’s throne during the second year of Asa’s reign over Judah. Nadab ruled Israel for two years. 26 He committed evil in the eyes of the Eternal One, walking the wicked path of his father and causing the Israelites to live sinful lives.
27 Baasha (Ahijah’s son) of the house of Issachar plotted against him. Baasha killed his own anointed king, Nadab, at Gibbethon in Philistia. He did this while Nadab was leading Israel in a siege against Gibbethon. 28 Baasha struck Nadab down during the third year of Asa’s reign over Judah, and Baasha took Nadab’s place on the throne. 29 As soon as he gained the power of the throne, he killed the entire family of Jeroboam. He did not allow a single person to live; no one remained to challenge his throne. He annihilated them all, just as the Eternal had instructed through His servant, Ahijah the Shilonite. 30 He did this because of Jeroboam’s abhorrent wickedness that caused the Israelites to live sinful lives and that incurred the wrath of the Eternal God of Israel.
31 Is not the rest of Nadab’s story—his actions and lasting legacy—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings?
32 Asa and Baasha, Israel’s king, warred against each other for their entire reigns. 33 During the 3rd year of Asa’s reign over Judah, Baasha (Ahijah’s son) became Israel’s king. He ruled from Tirzah for 24 years. 34 He committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes, walking the wicked path of Jeroboam and causing the Israelites to live sinful lives.
16 The Eternal’s message came to Jehu (Hanani’s son) against Baasha.
Eternal One: 2 I gave you an amazing opportunity, Baasha. I lifted you up from the dirt of the ground and appointed you to lead My people Israel; but you have been foolish, have embraced the same path as Jeroboam, and have caused My people Israel to live sinful lives. You have provoked My wrath against their wickedness. 3 Therefore I will devour you and all who serve you and belong to you. I will do to your house what I did to the house of Jeroboam (Nebat’s son). 4 The hungry dogs will devour the remains of all those who belong to you if they die within the city walls. The birds in the sky will swoop down and eat up the remains of all those who belong to you if they die in the fields.
5 Is not the rest of Baasha’s story—his actions and lasting legacy—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings? 6 Baasha left this world to sleep with his fathers and was laid to rest in Tirzah. His son, Elah, then inherited the throne. 7 So that is how it happened—the Eternal’s message, which He gave through the prophet Jehu (Hanani’s son), challenged Baasha and all those who belonged to him and served him. This took place because of the abhorrent wickedness he committed in the Eternal’s eyes. By his wicked deeds and by embracing the same wickedness as Jeroboam, Baasha provoked the anger of the Eternal.
8 During the 26th year of King Asa’s reign, Elah (Baasha’s son) took over the throne of Israel in Tirzah. He ruled two years. 9 Zimri, Elah’s servant who was in charge of half his chariots, plotted against Elah. Elah was drinking excessively in Tirzah at Arza’s house. (Tirzah was in Arza’s control.) 10 Zimri murdered Elah during the 27th year of Asa’s reign over Judah, and he inherited the throne.
11 As soon as Zimri became king and gained the power of the throne, he killed every male in Baasha’s family. He did not leave a single survivor—no family or friends or servants to challenge his claim to the throne. 12 Zimri demolished Baasha’s entire household, just as the Eternal had said in His message against Baasha that He gave through the prophet Jehu. 13 He did this because of all the abhorrent wickedness committed by Baasha and by his son, Elah, which caused the Israelites to live sinful lives. This wickedness with their idols invoked the wrath of the Eternal God of Israel. 14 Is not the rest of Elah’s story—his actions and lasting legacy—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings?
15 During the 27th year of Asa’s reign over Judah, Zimri ruled for seven days in Tirzah. Everyone was encamped around Gibbethon, which was in the possession of the Philistines, preparing to lay siege. 16 All those camped out heard the rumor, “Zimri plotted to kill the king, and he has succeeded in his scheme.” So that day the entire community of Israel appointed Omri, the military leader and Zimri’s commander, to be Israel’s king until a permanent king was given power. 17 Omri and the entire community of Israel abandoned their plans in Gibbethon and laid siege on Tirzah. 18 When Zimri perceived that the city had been taken over, he panicked and ran into the highest fortress in the king’s house and set fire to the house around him. He burned himself alive in the house 19 because of the abhorrent wickedness he had committed in the Eternal’s eyes. He had walked the wicked path of Jeroboam, causing the Israelites to live sinful lives. 20 Is not the rest of Zimri’s story—his actions and the record of his secret plot—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings?
21 The community of Israel was split up into two separate groups. One group embraced Tibni (Ginath’s son) as king. The other group embraced Omri as king. 22 The group that followed Omri as king was more powerful and defeated the people who followed Tibni (Ginath’s son) as king. Tibni died, and Omri inherited the throne.
23 During the 31st year of Asa’s reign over Judah, Omri took over Israel’s throne. He reigned 12 years—6 of those years were in Tirzah. 24 He purchased Samaria Hill from Shemer for 150 pounds of silver. He developed a city on the hill and named the city Samaria after Shemer, the man from whom he had purchased the hill.
25 Omri committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes. He was more wicked than any wicked king who had lived before him, and there were a lot of wicked kings who lived before him. 26 He embraced the wicked path of Jeroboam (Nebat’s son), causing the Israelites to live sinful lives. Their worthless gods caused the wrath of the Eternal God of Israel to boil.
27 Is not the rest of Omri’s story—his actions demonstrating his might and lasting legacy—documented in the book of the chronicles of Israel’s kings? 28 Omri left this world to sleep with his fathers and was laid to rest in Samaria. His son, Ahab, then inherited the throne.
Nations often have several names. The Northern Kingdom is called “Israel” after the tribes who settled there, “Samaria” after its capital city, and the “House of Omri” after its founder. Omri is considered the founder of the Northern Kingdom, even though he isn’t the first king, because he establishes its capital in Samaria and is the first king buried there. In the ancient patriarchal system, the king is seen as the father of the country, so the entire nation is his household. He sees to the protection, nourishment, and advancement of his people, just as a father cares for his children. As long as the Northern Kingdom survives, it is called the “House of Omri” by many in honor of its first, and therefore greatest father.
29 Omri’s son, Ahab, took over Israel’s throne during the 38th year of Asa’s reign over Judah. Ahab (Omri’s son) ruled Israel in Samaria 22 years.
30 Ahab (Omri’s son) committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes. He was more wicked than all the wicked kings who lived before him. 31 Ahab was not content to commit the wickedness that Jeroboam (Nebat’s son) had. He went even further, marrying the Sidonian princess Jezebel and offering his loyalties and worship to Baal. Jezebel was King Ethbaal’s daughter, and Ethbaal was the king of the Sidonians.
32 He constructed an altar in honor of Baal in Baal’s temple in Samaria. 33 Ahab crafted a sacred pole there as well. Ahab incited the wrath of the Eternal God of Israel more than any king who had lived before him.
34 During Ahab’s reign, Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho. As he put down its foundations, he buried his firstborn, Abiram, beneath them.
Following the common pagan practice of burying children beneath cities to ensure favor from the gods, Hiel fulfills the expectation set by Joshua for anyone who rebuilds Jericho.
As he raised its gates, he buried his youngest son, Segub, beneath them, thinking this would ward off evil. This all happened just as the Eternal One said it would through the message he gave through Joshua, Nun’s son.[a]
17 Elijah the Tishbite, one of the Gilead settlers, spoke to Ahab.
Slowly the Israelite kings are drifting further and further away from God’s laws. Hoping to remedy this, the Lord sends a prophet to guide the kings. That prophet, Elijah, certainly lives up to his name, proclaiming his God (Eli) is the Eternal (jah)—Eli-jah. He uses many methods: demonstrating God’s power through miracles, reminding of God’s purpose through oracles, and acting out God’s will through his appearance. While his guidance sometimes reminds kings of the correct path and helps them return to it, ultimately nothing he can do will stop the Northern Kingdom’s destruction.
Elijah: As the Eternal lives—the True God who gives life to the Israelites, the God whom I serve—no rain or dew will touch the earth unless I give word.
The Baal cult is prominent both with the monarchy and with the general populace, so Elijah’s claims are extraordinary to people who believe Baal is the deity who provides or withholds rain.
2 The Eternal One gave him this message:
Eternal One: 3 I want you to travel away from this place and go east. Keep yourself hidden near the Cherith stream, east of the Jordan. 4 You will have water from the stream during this drought, and I will tell the birds to take care of you while you are hiding there.
5 Elijah did just as the Eternal had instructed him to do. He lived near the Cherith stream, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens did take care of him while he was there, just as the Lord said, bringing him a meal of bread and meat at sunrise and another meal of bread and meat at sunset. He satisfied his thirst by drinking from the stream. 7 Soon the stream became dry because of the drought.
8 The Eternal One gave him this message:
Eternal One: 9 Get up, and travel to Zarephath. It is in the possession of Sidon, which is outside Israel. Remain there, and do not leave for any reason. There is a widow in Zarephath whom I have told to take care of you.
10 Elijah got up and immediately traveled to Zarephath. He arrived at the city gate, and at that moment, a widow was picking up sticks nearby.
Elijah: Please bring me some water in a jar to quench my thirst.
11 (as she fetched the water) Also, could you please bring me a piece of bread?
Woman: 12 As certain as the Eternal One, your True God lives, I don’t have any bread. In fact, I am starving. I don’t have anything except for a bit of flour in a bowl and a few drops of oil in a jar. I was gathering sticks when you arrived to make a fire so that my son and I could eat one last bite of food and then die. It’s all over for us.
Elijah: 13 I assure you that it’s not over for you yet. Don’t be afraid. Continue what you were doing, but make a small bread cake for me first, and bring it here to me. Then you and your son may eat your own bread cakes. 14 This is the message of the Eternal God of Israel: “The flour and the oil will not run out until the moment when the Eternal showers the earth with rain.”
15 She did exactly as Elijah had instructed her to do, and everyone who lived in her house had food for days. 16 The bowl of flour and the jar of oil did not run out, just as the Eternal had said through Elijah.
17 A little while later, the son of the woman, the house’s mistress, grew fatally ill. His illness grew so intense that eventually he stopped breathing; he was dead.
Woman (to Elijah): 18 Why did this happen? What wickedness have I committed against you, man of God? Are you here as a reminder of past sin? Is that why my son died?
Elijah: 19 Bring your son to me.
Elijah then took the dead boy out of her arms, carried him upstairs to his own room, and laid him on his own bed.
Elijah: 20 O, my True God, the Eternal, have You brought this tragic death upon the son of the widow who is looking after me? If so, why would You do this to a woman who is serving You?
21 Elijah stretched himself out over the boy three different times, and he cried out to the Eternal again.
Elijah: O my True God, the Eternal, I beg you to bring this boy back to life.
This incredible act by the Eternal One is not only for the benefit of giving back the woman’s son so he could help with the support of the family, but it is also to demonstrate God’s powerful hand on Elijah.
22 The Eternal heard Elijah’s plea, and the boy was brought back to life. 23 Elijah brought the boy back down to his mother who was waiting anxiously in the house.
Elijah: Your son lives again.
Woman (rejoicing): 24 I now fully trust that you are a man of God and that the truth of the word of the Eternal dwells in your mouth.
24 They arrived in Caesarea the next afternoon just before three o’clock. Cornelius had anticipated their arrival and had assembled his relatives and close friends to welcome them. 25 When Peter and Cornelius met, Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in worship, 26 but Peter helped him up.
Peter: Stand up, man! I am just a human being!
27 They talked and entered the house to meet the whole crowd inside.
Peter: 28 You know I am a Jew. We Jews consider it a breach of divine law to associate, much less share hospitality, with outsiders. But God has shown me something in recent days: I should no longer consider any human beneath me or unclean. 29 That’s why I made no objection when you invited me; rather, I came willingly. Now let me hear the story of why you invited me here.
Cornelius: 30 It was about this time of day four days ago when I was here, in my house, praying the customary midafternoon prayer. Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. His clothes were dazzling white, and he stood directly in front of me 31 and addressed me: “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your kindness to the poor has been noticed by God. 32 God wants you to find a man in Joppa, Simon who is also called Peter, who is staying at the home of a tanner named Simon, near the seaside.” 33 I wasted no time, did just as I was told, and you have generously accepted my invitation. So here we are, in the presence of God, ready to take in all that the Lord has told you to tell us.
Peter: 34 It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, 35 that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. 36 You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed—who is King of all people. 37 You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism.[a] 38 You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. 39 My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, 40 but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. 41 Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. 42 He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people—both living and dead. 43 All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
The true gospel is becoming increasingly clear as the church spreads and develops. What happens that day in Caesarea changes the face of Christianity forever. It builds a bridge from Jews to Gentiles, from insiders to outsiders, and sends the community of Jesus on a journey beyond the kind of religious and cultural barriers that all people erect. Through Peter’s short trip, the church makes an important journey toward reaching the ends of the earth because the message of Jesus is not for the Jews alone but for all people of all time. This is a hard lesson, and not everyone is eager to learn it.
44 Peter wasn’t planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. 45-46 They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter’s friends from Joppa—all of them Jewish, all circumcised—were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders.
Peter: 47 Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism[b] as fellow disciples? After all, it’s obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
48 So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days.
A song for those journeying to worship.
1 Praise the Eternal, all you who serve Him—
who stand ready to serve in the house of the Eternal through the night.
2 Lift up your hands toward His sanctuary,
and praise the Eternal.
3 May the Eternal grant you His blessing from Zion,
God, the weaver of heaven and earth.
9 Those who forgive faults foster love,
but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships.
10 A single correction makes a more lasting impression on one who is wise
than a hundred lashes do on a fool.
11 Evil people are determined to rebel,
and so a merciless messenger will chase them down.