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Elijah’s Odd Altar

Many of us are familiar with the confrontation that Elijah had with the prophets of Baal which ended the drought in Israel. Few of us have probably considered his altar.

In 1 Kings 18, we read the story of Elijah appearing to Ahab after three years of famine and drought in Israel. He told Ahab to gather the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Asherah and bring them, along with all the people of Israel, to Mount Carmel where they would have a showdown.

The false prophets spent most of the day consuming their time with trying to conjure up an answer from their demonic false gods. (Have you ever asked why they were willing to accept Elijah’s challenge at all if they had not had success before in producing fire from demonic power?) God stopped any answer from coming, even though they went to the point of cutting themselves and letting their own blood flow as a sacrifice.

When Elijah’s turn came, he repaired the altar of the Lord. Scripture tells us that he took twleve stones, one for each tribe of Jacob.

Wait a minute! Twelve stones? What was Elijah doing? Didn’t he know that there was no longer a single kingdom? Wasn’t he aware of the fact that Israel had seceded from Judah long ago? Had he forgotten that there were two kings, two kingdoms, separate agendas and even serious rivalries going on?

No. Elijah knew all that. But his action here was a prophetic realization that God IS the God of Israel. He is the God of all twelve tribes, just as James in the New Testament writes “to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.”

God is a God of restoration. He is a God of relationships. And even in the midst of a divided kingdom, His prophet worshiped Him in spirit and in truth with an understanding of the unity that God not only desired but would FULFILL ultimately in His own Son.

Though he ministered in the midst of division, disloyalty and dissension, Elijah ministered in the SPIRIT of unity, holiness and restoration.

What about you? Where do your loyalties lie? With denominational affiliations or with the body of Christ? What are you building? Your kingdom? Some other man’s kingdom? Or God’s kingdom?

Elijah had the ear of heaven because heaven had HIS ear. He refused to let circumstances dictate his obedience to the God of the covenant. How easy it would have been for Elijah to simply toss out two of the stones as unnecessary: “They’re no longer with us. We parted ways. We no longer see eye to eye. Their doctrine is different.” Instead, he honored God by honoring the covenant — and the people of the covenant.

It’s too convenient to try and fight demonic powers and strongholds while trying to worship at an altar with ten stones. But convenient is not always effective OR effectual.

Live God’s vision, even if you never see it in your lifetime. Even if you are the only one who believes it. Even if you are called “the biggest troublemaker in Israel.”

The world will believe and know that God is the Father and that Jesus is His Son who was sent by God when we live and walk in unity.

Live God’s vision.

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