Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.”
Psalm 42: 5
“In ‘hope against hope.’ I wait, Lord,
Faced by some fast-barred gate, Lord,
Hope never says ‘Too late,’ Lord,
Therefore in Thee I hope!
Hope though the night be long, Lord,
Hope of a glowing dawn, Lord,
Morning must break in song, Lord,
For we are ‘saved by hope.’”
Hymns of Consecration and Faith
Today’s Study Text:
“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ And all the people came near him. And he repaired the old altar of the Lord that had been broken down. Then Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ And with the stones Elijah built an altar in the name and self-revelation of the Lord. He made a trench about the altar as great as would contain two measures of seed. He put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood and said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and the wood.’ And he (Elijah) said, ‘Do it the second time’… And they did it the third time. The water ran round about the altar, and he filled the trench also with water.”
1 Kings 18: 30-35
“Rebuilding The Altar”
“Saints are often drowsy, and listless, and half asleep, but the word and Spirit of Christ will put life and vigour into the soul.”
How would I have felt watching Elijah rebuild the altar of God, which was broken-down, and in disrepair?
Is there a sacred altar in my life which is broken down and needs repairing?
“Where the altars are broken, man stands with his back turned to God.”
M.B. Van’t Veer
“Do not forget that the aim God has in view in His grace and your redemption is to restore the broken bond of fellowship and love between Him and the sinner. True religion consists in this, that the soul should find its highest happiness in personal communication with God.”
It had been a long day, to say the least. The noisy and bloody prophets of Baal had at last worn themselves to a frazzle. All their hooting and hollering had done nothing to unearth their god -- Baal. Left alone and seemingly forgotten, Baal’s over- wrought prophets ceased their incantations and left the remaining time of day in the hands of Elijah, who called out for the people of Israel to come near him.
If you notice, this was the second time in one day that Elijah had asked for the Israelites to draw near. Now at the time of day when we are told in 1 Kings 18: 36, the “offering of the evening sacrifice” took place, the multitude watched in stillness as a lone figure began to rebuild the broken-down altar to God. Obviously, at one time in Israel’s history, a frequently used altar had stood on the top of Mount Carmel. But what had been a sacred place of worship to the Most High, had become littered with rocks that were tossed aside.
Without a rebuilding of the altar, there could not be a renewal of heart. This is why when Elijah’s turn came, as Dale Ralph Davis so clearly notes, Elijah “repaired” or “healed the altar of Yahweh that was torn down.”
I appreciate the way M.B. Van’t Veer, a pastor and author from the Netherlands, conveys the situation Israel found themselves in:
“The covenant people who (had) gone astray are called back to the altar of the Lord. That broken altar, the center of Israel’s worship, had to be repaired before prayers (could) be raised to God. Only when the altar (was) restored (could) an answer be awaited. The people now came to the place where the Lord could -- and would -- speak. The restored altar on which they offered a sacrifice could cry out to heaven for a revelation of God’s favor.”
There must have been a joyful spirit filling Elijah as he laid stone upon stone, rebuilding what had been thrown down during the time of apostasy. I like the choice of words F. B. Meyer uses to describe Elijah’s demeanor, “His faith was exuberant.” Then Meyer offers support for his perspective: “(Elijah) was so sure of God, that he dared to heap difficulties in his way. Knowing that there is no real difficulty for infinite power. The more unlikely the answer was, the more glory would there be to God. Oh, matchless faith! Which can laugh at impossibilities, and can even heap them one upon another, to have the pleasure of seeing God vanquish them -- as a steam hammer cracks a nut-shell placed under it by the wondering child.”
How else can we explain twelve huge barrels of water being poured over an altar? Talk about turning an impossible situation into a super-impossible endeavor -- just the kind of difficulty our heavenly Father loves to encounter on behalf of His children. A thoroughly wet altar -- what would God do with this challenge?
As the people of Israel witnessed the rebuilding of the altar, there was one other important element that must have caught the peoples’ eyes and it was the fact that the “new” altar contained twelve stones, representing not just the ten tribes which made up the nation of Israel, but instead, the number of tribes of both Israel and Judah -- combined. The altar was representative of a unified nation -- the covenant God promised to Jacob. A nation no longer torn apart. What a tremendous lesson for God’s people to have as the testimony of a “healed” altar – was also a testimony of a “healed” nation.
It brings tremendous encouragement to my heart when I think of Elijah on Mount Carmel, standing in front of a water drenched altar, facing circumstances you and I would call daunting. But as Raymond B. Dillard states, “in our own lives, when circumstances seem overwhelming and the difficulties seem beyond our ability to overcome or even cope with, God then shows us His glory and power. God’s power is shown most clearly in our weakness.” In the words of the Apostle Paul when writing to his friends in Corinth, he told them that God has renewed his heart with the message: “My grace is enough for you; for My strength and power are made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9, Amplified Bible). Let us always remember that, “Where our resources and efforts are insufficient, the glory and sufficiency of Christ shine ever so brightly.”
This was the message contained in a rebuilt altar to the God of heaven and earth. As the Psalmist David so beautifully exclaimed, “Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy; yes, with the lyre will I praise You, O God, my God!” (Psalm 43: 4, Amplified Bible).
“If worship does not change us, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Worship begins in holy expectancy; it ends in total obedience.”
“Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Centre and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!
Sun of our life, thy quickening ray
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.
Our midnight is thy smile withdrawn,
Our noontide is thy gracious dawn,
Our rainbow arch thy mercy’s sign;
All, save clouds of sin, are thine.
Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
Before thy ever-blazing throne
We ask no luster of our own.
Grant us thy truth to make us free
And kindling hearts that burn for thee,
Till all thy living altars claim
One holy light, one heavenly flame.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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