1 Kings 18:30
And Elijah said to all the people, Come near to me. And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(30) The altar of the Lord—evidently referred to as well known, and here accepted by Elijah as having a true sacredness. The exclusive consecration of the appointed sanctuary at Jerusalem, if ever as yet thoroughly recognised, was now obviously broken down by the religious severance of Israel.

1 Kings 18:30. Elijah said, Come near unto me — Come away from these impudent deceivers to me, and expect from me the satisfaction of your desire. He repaired the altar of the Lord — An altar which probably had remained from the time of the judges; at least, it had been built by some of their ancestors, for the offering of sacrifices to the God of Israel, which was frequently done in high places, of which, it is probable, Carmel was once one of the most eminent in the whole kingdom. This altar Elijah now repaired, because it had been broken down, doubtless, by some of the Baalites out of their enmity to the true God, whose temple they could not reach, and therefore showed their malignity in destroying his altars. “Both Tacitus and Suetonius speak of the God of Carmel, whom Vespasian went to consult when he was in Judea; but they tell us, that there was neither temple nor statue upon the mountain, except one altar only, plain, but venerable for its antiquity. The altar of Carmel seems to have had its original from this altar of the true God, which the ancient Hebrews first erected, and Elijah afterward repaired; and which even the heathen held in such veneration, that when they came to be masters of the country, they would not so much as place an image by it.” — Dodd.18:21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.And they prophesied - Compare 1 Kings 22:12. The expression seems to be used of any case where there was an utterance of words by persons in a state of religious ecstasy.

Until the time of the offering etc - Rather, "Until toward the time." Elijah had built his altar by the actual time of the offering 1 Kings 18:36.

21-40. Elijah said unto all the people, How long halt ye?—They had long been attempting to conjoin the service of God with that of Baal. It was an impracticable union and the people were so struck with a sense of their own folly, or dread of the king's displeasure, that they "answered not a word." Elijah proposed to decide for them the controversy between God and Baal by an appeal, not to the authority of the law, for that would have no weight, but by a visible token from Heaven. As fire was the element over which Baal was supposed to preside, Elijah proposed that two bullocks should be slain and placed on separate altars of wood, the one for Baal, and the other for God. On whichever the fire should descend to consume it, the event should determine the true God, whom it was their duty to serve. The proposal, appearing every way reasonable, was received by the people with unanimous approval. The priests of Baal commenced the ceremony by calling on their god. In vain did they continue invoking their senseless deity from morning till noon, and from noon till evening, uttering the most piercing cries, using the most frantic gesticulations, and mingling their blood with the sacrifice. No response was heard. No fire descended. Elijah exposed their folly and imposture with the severest irony and, as the day was far advanced, commenced his operations. Inviting the people to approach and see the entire proceeding, he first repaired an old altar of God, which Jezebel had demolished. Then, having arranged the cut pieces of the bullock, he caused four barrels or jars of water to be dashed all over the altar and round in the trench. Once, twice, a third time this precaution was taken, and then, when he had offered an earnest prayer, the miraculous fire descended (Le 9:24; Jud 6:21; 13:20; 1Ch 21:26; 2Ch 7:1), and consumed not only the sacrifice, but the very stones of the altar. The impression on the minds of the people was that of admiration mingled with awe; and with one voice they acknowledged the supremacy of Jehovah as the true God. Taking advantage of their excited feelings, Elijah called on them to seize the priestly impostors, and by their blood fill the channel of the river (Kishon), which, in consequence of their idolatries, the drought had dried up—a direction, which, severe and relentless as it seems, it was his duty as God's minister to give (De 15:5; 18:20). The natural features of the mount exactly correspond with the details of this narrative. The conspicuous summit, 1635 feet above the sea, on which the altars were placed, presents an esplanade spacious enough for the king and the priests of Baal to stand on the one side, and Elijah on the other. It is a rocky soil, on which there is abundance of loose stones, to furnish the twelve stones of which the altar was built—a bed of thick earth, in which a trench could be dug; and yet the earth not so loose that the water poured into it would be absorbed; two hundred fifty feet beneath the altar plateau, there is a perennial fountain, which, being close to the altar of the Lord, might not have been accessible to the people; and whence, therefore, even in that season of severe drought, Elijah could procure those copious supplies of water which he poured over the altar. The distance between this spring and the site of the altar is so short, as to make it perfectly possible to go thrice thither and back again, whereas it would have been impossible once in an afternoon to fetch water from the sea [Van De Velde]. The summit is one thousand feet above the Kishon, which nowhere runs from the sea so close to the base of the mount as just beneath El-Mohhraka; so that the priests of Baal could, in a few minutes, be taken down to the brook (torrent), and slain there. Come near unto me; come away from these impudent deceivers to me, and expect from me what satisfaction you desire.

He repaired the altar, which by the people’s help was quickly done; the materials being all ready, and very slightly put together, only for the present occasion.

The altar of the Lord; which had been built there by some of their ancestors for the offering of sacrifice to the God of Israel, which was frequently done in high places, of which this was none of the least eminent ones; but being for some time neglected, it needed reparations.

That was broken down; either, first, By the priests of Baal at this time, who leaped upon it to that end; of which See Poole "1 Kings 18:26". Or rather, secondly, By some of the Baalites, out of their enmity to the true God, whose temple, because they could not reach, they showed their malignity in destroying his altars, 1 Kings 19:14. And Elijah said unto all the people, come near unto me,.... And observe what I do, and what will be done at my request:

and all the people came near unto him; left the prophets of Baal to themselves, and took no more notice of them, but attended to what the prophet should say and do:

and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down; which had been set up when high places and altars were allowed of, while the tabernacle was unsettled, and the temple not built; this is supposed to have been erected in the times of the judges; though, according to a tradition of the Jews (d), it was built by Saul, see 1 Samuel 15:12 but had been thrown down by the idolatrous Israelites, who demolished such as were erected to the name of the Lord everywhere, and built new ones for their idols, 1 Kings 19:10. Benjamin of Tudela (e) says, that on the top of Mount Carmel is now to be seen the place of the altar Elijah repaired, which is four cubits round.

(d) Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. (e) ltinerar. p. 37.

And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
30. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down] On the top of Carmel had been one of the high places where worship was paid to Jehovah, after the manner of the worship in the wilderness, till the place which God had chosen became known and the Temple built there. The custom of worship at such spots was continued for a long time after Solomon’s date, and Elijah here treats the altar as a specially sacred erection, to be restored in Jehovah’s honour.

The LXX. omits this clause here, but introduces one very similar in 1 Kings 18:32.Verse 30. - And Elijah said unto all the people [He has now done with the priests. They have had their opportunity; his turn is come], Come near unto me. [Hitherto they had gathered round the altar of Baal, and some, it may he, had joined their prayers to those of the priests (ver. 24). In ver. 21, he "drew near" - same word - to them. Now they must stand round the altar he is about to build. He will have "eyewitnesses and ear-witnesses" (Keil). There must be no suspicion of imposture.] And all the people came near unto him And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. [It has been already suggested that this altar may have dated from the time when there was no house built unto the name of the Lord. But it is just as likely that it had been restored, if not raised, by some of the "seven thousand who had not bowed their knees unto Baal," or by some of the faithful remaining in Israel after the calf-worship and the hostility between the two kingdoms had made worship at Jerusalem an impossibility. Anyhow we can hardly be mistaken in holding that this was one of the "altars" (1 Kings 19:10), thrown down" by command of Ahab or Jezebel. Elijah's repairing it was an act of profound significance. It showed him as the restorer of the law and the true religion.] As the people adhered to their undecided double-mindedness, Elijah proposed to let the Deity Himself decide who was the true God, Jehovah or Baal. The prophets of Baal were to offer a sacrifice to Baal, and he (Elijah) would offer one to Jehovah. And the true God should make Himself known by kindling the burnt-offering presented to Him with fire from heaven, and in this way answering the invocation of His name. This proposal was based upon the account in Leviticus 9. As Jehovah had there manifested Himself as the God of Israel by causing fire to fall from heaven upon the first sacrifice presented in front of the tabernacle and to consume it, Elijah hoped that in like manner Jehovah would even now reveal Himself as the living God. And the form of decision thus proposed would necessarily appear all the fairer, because Elijah, the prophet of Jehovah, stood alone in opposition to a whole crowd of Baal's prophets, numbering no less than 450 men. And for that very reason the latter could not draw back, without publicly renouncing their pretensions, whether they believed that Baal would really do what was desired, or hoped that they might be able to escape, through some accident or stratagem, from the difficult situation that had been prepared for them, or fancied that the God of Elijah would no more furnish the proof of His deity that was desired of Him than Baal would. In order, however, to cut off every subterfuge in the event of their attempt proving a failure, Elijah not only yielded the precedence to them on the occasion of this sacrifice, but gave them the choice of the two oxen brought to be offered; which made the fairness of his proposal so much the more conspicuous to every one, that the people willingly gave their consent.
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