1 Kings 18
18 Many days passed, and the word of the Eternal visited Elijah during the third year of the drought.
Eternal One: Go now, and reveal yourself to Ahab. When you do, I will bring rain on the earth.
2 Elijah then went to reveal himself to Ahab.
During this time, there was a dangerous shortage of food in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah to come to him. Obadiah was the coordinator of Ahab’s palace and was wholly devoted to the Eternal. 4 Back when Jezebel was murdering all the prophets of the Eternal, Obadiah had given 100 prophets refuge. There were two caves in which he hid the prophets—50 prophets in each cave. He provided them with food and water during this time.
Ahab (to Obadiah): 5 Search through the land, and visit all the springs and streams that run through the ravines; see if you can find any grass on which we can allow our horses and mules to graze, so that they may stay alive for as long as possible. Do this so that we don’t have to kill our own beasts.
6 Ahab and Obadiah split up the regions they were going to explore, and they both traveled in different directions to save time.
7 While Obadiah was exploring the land, suddenly Elijah came upon him. Obadiah knew who he was—a prophet—and he fell on his face before Elijah.
Obadiah: I can’t believe it’s really you, master Elijah.
Elijah: 8 Yes, it is I. Go now, and give this message to your king: “Elijah has arrived.”
Obadiah: 9 What is the purpose of this? Have I wronged you or God? Why do you put your servant in a dangerous spot with Ahab? Ahab will most certainly kill me. 10 As surely as your True God, the Eternal lives, there is not a single country or kingdom that Ahab has not searched for you. Whenever a country said that you were not there, Ahab made them swear an oath that you were nowhere to be found. 11 Now you are asking me to give him your message: “Look, Elijah has arrived.” 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Eternal is going to lead you after I depart from you. In fact, I am certain if I tell Ahab that you have arrived, He will take you somewhere else; and if you are nowhere to be found, then I will be put to death. Since I, your servant, was young, all of my worship and devotion has gone to the Eternal One. 13 Don’t you know, my master, what I did during the time that Jezebel was murdering all the Eternal One’s prophets? I gave 100 prophets refuge. I hid them away in 2 caves—50 prophets in each cave—and I provided them with food and water. 14 Even after all that I have done for the Eternal One, you ask me to give my king the message, “Look, Elijah has arrived.” He will surely kill me!
Elijah: Do not fear for your life. 15 As certain as the life of the Eternal One, Commander of heavenly armies, whom I serve, I will reveal myself to Ahab on this very day. You have nothing to worry about.
16 Obadiah approached Ahab and gave him Elijah’s message. Ahab immediately went to find Elijah.
Ahab (seeing Elijah): 17 There you are. I thought I perceived a troublemaker in Israel.
Elijah: 18 Hypocrite! I have caused no mischief in Israel. It is you and your family who are guilty of the very thing you accuse me of. You have turned your back on the laws of the Eternal and abandoned your devotion to Him. Instead you have given yourselves to the Baals, the masters of pagan nations. 19 Now I want you to gather the entire community of Israel and send them to Mount Carmel to meet with me. I have a message for them. Be sure to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah—the ones who fill their mouths and stomachs with food from Jezebel’s table.
20 Ahab did as Elijah asked, sent word throughout the entire community of Israel, and gathered all the prophets atop Mount Carmel.
Elijah (approaching the people): 21 How much longer will you sit on the fence, refusing to make a decision between the Lord and Baal? If you believe the Eternal One is the True God, then devote yourselves entirely to Him. If you believe Baal is your master, then devote yourselves entirely to him.
All the people who were gathered together atop Mount Carmel were completely silent. They didn’t know what to say to this.
Elijah: 22 I am the last remaining prophet of the Eternal. Baal has 450 prophets. Let us do a test to reveal the true quality of our deities. 23 Bring us two young bulls, the common sacrifice to your master whom you depict as a bull. The prophets of Baal may choose first which bull they want. They will kill it, chop it up, and prepare it for a fire by placing it above wood; but they will not light it. I will do the same with the other bull and prepare it for fire and place it above wood, but I will not light it. 24 Then you call upon your god, Baal, and I will call upon the Eternal. The God who answers with fire is the one True God.
Everyone liked this idea and said, “This sounds like a worthy plan.”
Elijah (to the prophets of Baal): 25 You have the pick of the bulls. Take the one you want, and prepare it first because there are many of you. Call upon your god, but do not set fire to the wood.
26 The prophets of Baal picked out their bull and prepared it. They called upon Baal from dawn till noon, crying out, “Baal, answer us with fire!” But there was no voice, no reply. Nothing happened. All they did was dance around the altar they had built and cry out to an elusive god.
27 At about midday, Elijah began provoking them.
Elijah: You have to shout louder than that! The one to whom you cry out certainly must be a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming or napping or away from his heavenly throne. Perhaps he is in a deep sleep, and you must wake him up. Shout louder!
28 So all the prophets of Baal began to shout at the top of their lungs pleading with all their might. They cut themselves with knives and swords and spears until they were covered in their own blood. 29 Midday passed by, and the prophets of Baal kept on with their antics until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But still, there was no voice, no reply. No god heard them.
Elijah (to the people): 30 Gather around me.
So all the people gathered around him, and he fixed the Eternal’s altar that had been torn down. 31 Elijah gathered 12 stones, one for each of Jacob’s tribes. Jacob was the one who wrestled with God and whom the word of the Eternal One visited, saying, “Your name will be Israel.”
32 Elijah took the 12 stones and constructed an altar in honor of the Eternal One and carved a ditch out around it large enough to hold 13 quarts of seed. 33 He set up the wood, chopped up the bull, and placed it on top of the wood.
Elijah (to the people): Go get four big jars, and fill them all up with water. Then pour the water out over the burnt offering and the wood. 34 Now, do the same thing again.
And so they did it a second time.
Elijah: All right, now do the same thing a third time.
And so they did it a third time. 35 The water covered the altar and even filled up the ditch. 36 When it was time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah called out to the Eternal.
Elijah (praying): Eternal One—God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—reveal Yourself on this day as Israel’s God. Make it known that I serve You and have done all this because You commanded it of me. 37 Answer me, Eternal One. Reveal Yourself so that everyone here will know that You, Eternal One, are the True God—the only God. Do it so that everyone knows You are turning the gaze of their hearts back to You again.
38 Right then the Eternal One’s fire landed upon the altar. The flames consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the ground. The flames even drank up all the water in the ditch. 39 When everyone witnessed this extraordinary power, they all put their faces to the ground in fear and awe and wonder.
People: The Eternal One is the True God! The Eternal One is the True God!
Elijah: 40 Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one of them escape!
So everyone grabbed hold of the prophets of Baal, and Elijah gave instruction for them to be taken to the Kishon Valley and killed immediately—no exceptions.
Elijah (to Ahab): 41 You should go fill your belly with food and water. I hear a heavy rain coming.
42 Ahab did as Elijah instructed and went to eat and drink. Elijah journeyed to the peak of Mount Carmel. There he bowed down on the ground and placed his head between his knees.
Elijah (to his servant): 43 Go now, and look in the direction of the sea.
Servant (returning to Elijah): I did as you asked, and there is nothing in the direction of the sea.
Elijah gave him the same instruction seven times, “Go back, and look in the direction of the sea.” 44 The servant did as Elijah requested each time; and on the seventh time, he told Elijah, “A minuscule cloud, as tiny as the hand of a man, is ascending from the sea.”
Elijah: Go quickly, and give a message to Ahab for me: “Prepare your chariot, and leave quickly before the rain gets torrential and keeps you from traveling.”
45 The sky became filled with dark monstrous clouds, the wind grew wild, the heavy rain fell, and Ahab traveled quickly in his chariot to Jezreel. 46 The strength of the Eternal filled Elijah. The prophet pulled up his garment around his thighs and sprinted ahead of Ahab the entire way to Jezreel.
11 1-2 By the time Peter and his friends from Joppa returned to Jerusalem, news about outsiders accepting God’s message had already spread to the Lord’s emissaries[a] and believers there. Some of the circumcised believers didn’t welcome Peter with joy, but with criticism.
Circumcised Believers: 3 Why did you violate divine law by associating with outsiders and sitting at the table with them for a meal? This is an outrage!
4 Peter patiently told them what had happened, laying out in detail the whole story.
Peter: 5 I was in Joppa, I was praying, and I fell into a trance. In my vision, something like a huge sheet descended from the sky as if it were being lowered by its four corners. It landed right in front of me. 6 It was full of all kinds of four-footed creatures that we would call unclean—I could identify mammals, snakes, lizards, and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice say, “Get up, Peter! Kill these creatures and eat them!” 8 Of course, I replied, “No way, Lord! Not a single bite of forbidden, nonkosher food has ever touched my lips.” 9 But then the voice spoke from heaven a second time: “If God makes something clean, you must not call it dirty or forbidden.” 10 This whole drama was repeated three times, and then it was all pulled back up into the sky.
11 At that very second, three men arrived at the house where I was staying. They had come to me from Caesarea. 12 The Holy Spirit told me I should go with them, that I shouldn’t make any distinction between them as Gentiles and us as Jews. These six brothers from Joppa came with me; and yes, we entered the man’s home even though he was an outsider.
13 The outsider told us the story of how he had seen a heavenly messenger standing in his house who said, “Send to Joppa and bring back Simon, also called Peter, 14 and he will give you a message that will rescue both you and your household.” 15 Then I began to speak; and as I did, the Holy Spirit fell upon them—it was exactly as it had been with us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what Jesus had said to us: “John ritually cleansed people with water through baptism,[b] but you will be washed with the Holy Spirit.”[c] 17 So, if God gave them the same gift we were given when we believed in the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, who was I to stand in God’s way?
18 There was no argument, only silence.
Circumcised Believers: Well then, we must conclude that God has given to the outsiders the opportunity to rethink their lives, turn to God,[d] and gain a new life.
Just as the experience of the Holy Spirit transforms that small community of believers into the church at the beginning of this book, the presence of the Spirit’s work among these outsiders, the ones who were not a part of God’s covenant with Moses, demonstrates that they, too, are part of the church. This isn’t what many expected, and questions about inclusion of outsiders consume the early life of the church.
19 The believers who were scattered from Judea because of the persecution following Stephen’s stoning kept moving out, reaching Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Until this time, they had only shared their message with Jews. 20 Then some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had become believers came to Antioch, and they began sharing the message of the Lord Jesus with some Greek converts to Judaism. 21 The Lord was at work through them, and a large number of these Greeks became believers and turned to the Lord Jesus.
22 Word of this new development came to the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate. 23 He arrived and saw God’s grace in action there, so he rejoiced and urged them to remain faithful to the Lord, to maintain an enduring, unshakable devotion. 24 This Barnabas truly was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith. A very large number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Barnabas soon was off again—now to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 He found Saul and brought him back to Antioch. The two of them spent an entire year there, meeting with the church and teaching huge numbers of people. It was there, in Antioch, where the term “Christian” was first used to identify disciples of Jesus.
27 During that year, some prophets came north from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 A prophet named Agabus stood in a meeting and made a prediction by the Holy Spirit: there would be an expansive, terrible famine in the whole region during the reign of Claudius. 29 In anticipation of the famine, the disciples determined to give an amount proportionate to their financial ability and create a relief fund for all the believers in Judea. 30 They sent Barnabas and Saul to carry this fund to the elders in Jerusalem.
1 Praise the Eternal!
Praise and glorify the name of the One who always has been and always will be;
praise Him, servants of the Eternal!
2 Join in the chorus, all you who minister in the Eternal’s temple;
in the courts of our God’s temple,
3 Glorify the Eternal, for He is good!
Sing praises, and honor His name for it is delightful.
4 For the Eternal made His choice; He selected Jacob as His own;
He claimed Israel as His possession.
5 Now I know this: the Eternal is great; His power is unmatched.
Our Master is above any so-called god.
6 He does whatever He pleases,
in heaven, on earth,
in the seas, and in all the ocean depths.
7 He draws up the clouds that rise over the whole earth,
He causes rain and the lightning to strike,
and He summons the wind from His storehouses.
8 He took the lives of Egypt’s firstborn,
human and beast alike.
9 O Egypt, He worked wonders and signs before your eyes,
signs against Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s servants.
10 He destroyed nation after nation
and killed mighty kings:
11 Sihon, the Amorite king;
Og, the king of Bashan;
and even all the kingdoms of Canaan.
12 He conquered their land and gave it as an inheritance—
an inheritance for His people, Israel.
13 Eternal One, Your name is everlasting.
Your legacy, Eternal One, will be known through all the ages.
14 For the Eternal will judge His people,
He will show compassion to those who serve Him.
15 The nations have idols of silver and gold,
crafted by human hands!
16 They shaped mouths for them, but they cannot speak;
they carved eyes into them, but they cannot see;
17 They placed ears on them, but they cannot hear;
they cannot breathe, not even a puff of air from their mouths!
18 The artisans who made them
are just like them,
and so are all who mistakenly trust in them, no exceptions.
19 House of Israel, praise the Eternal;
house of Aaron, praise the Eternal;
20 House of Levi, praise the Eternal;
all those who revere the Eternal, praise Him!
21 Blessed be the Eternal from Zion,
the One who has made Jerusalem His home.
Praise the Eternal!
12 Better to face a mother bear stripped of her cubs
than to encounter a fool caught up in his foolishness.
13 Those who repay good with evil
bring unrelenting trouble upon their families.