Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 18

Elijah tells the people to pour water on his sacrifice

1 Kings 18:33-35

Elijah killed the animal to offer it as a sacrifice, a special gift to God. Then he arranged it on the altar, the place to burn the sacrifice. In this, he was acting much as Israel’s priests did (Leviticus 1:3-9). They too put wood round the sacrifice, to help the meat to burn more easily.

The Bible does not tell us whether Elijah was a priest. It seems likely that he was not. He did not offer this sacrifice by means of the laws that God gave to Moses. Rather, he was acting as God’s people did in even earlier times (for example, Genesis 15:9-17). God himself would show that he approved of Elijah’s extraordinary actions.

Then Elijah did something that Israel’s priests never did. Near the top of the low mountain called Carmel, there is a plentiful supply of water. Even in dry weather, the water continues to flow from an underground source. Israel’s people would have drunk from it during that day. Now, Elijah told them to bring water, and to pour it on his sacrifice. He repeated this instruction twice more, and each time, the people brought more water. In the end, everything was very wet. Water even filled the hole that Elijah had dug round the altar.

By the time when Israel’s priests usually offered their sacrifice, everything was ready. It was clear to everyone that such a wet sacrifice could not burn by any natural method. That sacrifice would only burn if God himself sent the fire.

Next part: Elijah acted by God's special command (1 Kings 18:36)


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