Repairing the Altar

Repairing the Altar

By Rev. Tim McNeily

I Kings 18:38-39 “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God: the LORD, he is the God. ”

The book of I Kings 18 tells the story of the showdown on Mt. Carmel. Israel, Elijah and the prophets of Baal gathered on top of the mountain for a contest that would be decided by fire. It was a classic battle between good and evil, righteousness and sin, godliness and ungodliness.

History tells us that this mountain where the people now worshipped Baal had been a high place where sacrifices to the one true God had been offered in times past. Elijah found the remains of an altar that had once served as the platform from which God was worshipped by sacrifice.

He found an altar that had been torn down and forsaken and forgotten by most and began to rebuild a place of worship. He could not offer his sacrifice upon the existing altar because it was polluted by the prayers that had been offered to Baal. This sacrifice required the rebuilding of the old altar, the return to what had been in the past.

Elijah used 12 stones to rebuild the altar of God, one for each tribe in Israel. Each stone had its place and each was required to build an altar that could hold a sacrifice. If one had been missing, there is the possibility that the altar would have been uneven or unsteady and would not have held the sacrifice. Everything had to be returned to its rightful place. For the fire to fall, there had to be preparation and
rebuilding and a return to the worship that ad brought the blessings of God upon His chosen people.

Just as important as the sacrifice is the altar upon which it is laid. We live in a world that will literally give their bodies to save a redwood tree or to protect a spotted owl. They are willing to sacrifice, but the problem is the altar upon which they decide to offer their sacrifice and to whom it is offered. The Apostle Paul said, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” I Cor. 13:3. If our sacrifice, no matter how great it may be, is not offered for the right reasons or on the right altar, it profiteth nothing.

There are some stones that must be a part of our altar if our sacrifice is to be accepted and the fire to fall in our lives. Our lives must have consecration and dedication to the work of God. Holiness is still a vital part of our altar and important for the acceptance of our sacrifice. The altar still requires a consistent prayer life and afflicting our soul with fasting before God. We must have a desire to give to the work of God of our finances, time and efforts. These are important stones in our altar. Our doctrine is a pillar that cannot be removed or changed. It is a foundational stone in the altar. There must be a genuine love for the lost, a burden that brings us to our knees and a vision that brings us to our feet. These stones are vital for an altar that is acceptable in God’s sight.