Elijah's Contest with King Ahab from I Kings 18
Elijah's Contest with Ahab
You can read this story in I Kings 18
Ahab, the king of Israel, had turned from the Lord and was worshipping a false god named Baal. The people of Israel were also worshipping Baal. Elijah, God's prophet, decided he needed to do something about this idol worship, so he challenged Ahab to a contest. This contest would show all the people who the one true God was.
Elijah explained how the contest would work: Ahab would gather all the prophets of Baal together. They would place an offering on the altar and pray to Baal to send fire to burn the offering. Elijah would also make an altar to God, and he would pray and ask God to send fire on his offering. Elijah said that whichever God would answer the prayers and send fire on the offering is the true God.
The prophets of Baal prepared their offering, and all day and night they prayed to Baal. They leaped around their offering and even cut themselves, calling out their prayers louder and louder. But nothing happened to their offering. It did not burn. Finally they decided to give up and let Elijah have a turn.
When Elijah prepared his offering for the Lord, he did something very unusual. He dug a trench around his altar and poured twelve pitchers of water on top of his offering. It was drenched in water! Do you know why Elijah soaked his offering with water? Have you ever tried to burn something that is wet? Elijah wanted to show the people that the true God could send fire and burn an offering that is saturated with water.
After Elijah prepared his offering, he prayed to God. He told God that he wanted Him to send fire on his offering so that the people would know who the true God was, and so that they would turn their hearts back to Him.
As soon as Elijah finished praying, fire fell from heaven. It not only burned the offering, but it also burned the wood, stones, and dust around the altar, and it licked up every bit of water in the trench around the altar! When all the people saw what the Lord had done, they fell on their faces and cried, "The Lord, He is God!"
Ruth and Boaz from Ruth 1-4
Ruth and Boaz
You can read this story in the Book of Ruth
The book of Ruth is a small one, only 4 chapters long. But packed into this small book is a wonderful story of love, loss, romance, and God's amazing providence through it all.
The story begins with a famine, or severe lack of food, in Israel. A man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, fled from Bethlehem to the land of Moab to find food. While there, Elimelech died, and his two sons married pagan women from Moab, named Ruth and Orpah.
Tragically, Mahlon and Chilion both died in Moab as well, leaving the three women alone and destitute. Back in Bible times, women had no way to provide a living for themselves, and when they were widowed, they were often doomed to a life of poverty.
Naomi received word that God has blessed her homeland with food again, and decided to return home to Bethlehem. She urged her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to remain in Moab. Orpah listened, but Ruth was loyal and could not be convinced to abandon Naomi.
When the two women arrived back in Bethlehem, the city was excited to see Naomi again. Naomi shared her bitterness about what had happened to her in Moab. She had no idea what blessings God had planned to shower on her!
Ruth asked permission to go and gather barley grains that the reapers have dropped on the ground, a process called gleaning, so that they might have food. While Ruth was working hard gathering this food, a man named Boaz noticed her and asked his servants who she was. He learned that she was a woman with strong character, for she remained loyal to her mother-in-law, and she had been working diligently in the fields. He showed great kindness to her and ensured that she was well-taken care of while she worked in his fields.
When Ruth arrived home that evening, Naomi learned that Ruth had met Boaz. Naomi praised the Lord for His goodness, for Boaz was a wealthy relative of Naomi's! Naomi gave Ruth specific instructions as to what she must do, and Ruth followed them. Afterwards, Ruth and Boaz were engaged!
There was one thing to attend to first, though. According to the custom of redemption, the closest living relative was entitled to marry Ruth, and there was a relative closer than Boaz. Boaz went to meet him, and informed him about Ruth. The two came to an agreement that Boaz would be the one to marry Ruth.
God blessed their marriage, and Ruth gave birth to a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David. This David became King David, the greatest king of Israel, and ancestor of Jesus Christ. King David was Ruth's great-grandson. What a remarkable privilege for a woman who was of pagan birth to be placed in the ancestral line of King David and Jesus Christ!
While this is a brief outline of the major events in the book of Ruth, there is so much more to this rich story of God's divine guidance in the affairs of men. As you read through this short book in the Old Testament, take the time to notice all of the circumstances that God arranged in this beautiful true story. We can be grateful to know that He still works this way in our lives, "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13
The Temptation of Jesus from Matthew 4:1-11
The Temptation of Jesus
You can read this story in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus lived on the earth. Even though He was fully God, He was also fully a human man. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus faced temptation in all the same ways we do, yet He was without sin.
Two of the four gospels share a detailed account of some of the testings that Jesus faced. They also tell how He withstood the great tempter, Satan himself. We can learn a lot from what Jesus said that can help us to have the victory when we are tempted, too.
Jesus was led up by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. For forty days and nights, he fasted. This means that He did not eat or drink at all for over a month! You can imagine how weak and tired He must have been.
Then, when Jesus was at His weakest, Satan tempted Him three times. The first temptation focused on Jesus' physical needs. The devil said that if Jesus really was the Son of God, then He should command the stones on the ground around Him to be become bread. Did Jesus have the power to perform this miracle? Of course He did! Was He very hungry? Oh, yes.
So, did He do it? To understand the answer, we need to read what Jesus said to Satan. He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, saying that man is not to live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Jesus knew that God provided food to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness, and He was telling Satan that He was trusting God to provide for His needs. He did not need to prove to Satan who He was, the devil already knew. And, He did not need to perform a miracle in order to eat. God would provide.
Did you know that the devil can quote Scripture, too? In his second attempt to get Jesus to sin, he quotes from Psalm 91. The problem was that he used the verse in a way that was backwards to what it really meant. He had taken Jesus up to the highest peak on the temple wall, and tempted Him to throw Himself down so Jesus could prove God's promise that He will take care of us. Satan was trying to cast doubt on God's promise. Jesus replied, again, with a Scripture, except that Jesus used His Scripture in the way it was originally intended. He quoted again from the book of Deuteronomy, this time chapter 6, verse 16, which is a commandment not to tempt the Lord your God. Just because we can trust in God does not mean we should deliberately do a foolish thing in order to make Him prove His faithfulness. Jesus knew that and rebuked Satan.
In his final try to get Jesus to sin, the devil took him to the top of a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and promised to give them all to Jesus if He would just fall down and worship the devil. Jesus sent him away, rebuking him with words from Deuteronomy 10:20, a commandment to fear and serve God alone. It is a grave sin called idolatry when we worship anyone or anything other than God.
Immediately after that, the devil left Jesus alone, and the Bible tells us that something wonderful happened. Angels came and took care of Jesus. God did fulfill His promise in Psalm 91. But unlike Satan wanted, Jesus did not have to deliberately put Himself in danger. All He did was to obey, and God rewarded Him.
There are so many things that we can learn from this Bible story, but perhaps one of the most important is that Jesus used the Bible when He was tempted. He knew a Scripture He could use each time Satan tried to get Him to sin. We can live like Jesus by studying the Bible. Then, when the tempter comes to us when we are weak, and tries to get us to fall, we will be prepared to answer him with Scripture. James 4:7 promises that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us, just like he did from Jesus.
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