Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 18

God sends fire to accept Elijah’s sacrifice

1 Kings 18:38

God’s answer to Elijah’s prayer was sudden and complete. God sent fire to accept the sacrifice, the animal that Elijah had offered to God. However, God did even more than that. In that fire, God accepted everything, including the entire altar, the stone platform that Elijah made for the sacrifice. Elijah built that altar with 12 large stones. There was one stone for each of the 12 tribes (family groups) in Israel (18:31). So, God was showing that the whole of Israel belongs to him. Israel’s people had done many wrong things – but God still accepts them as his holy nation. He only wants them to turn from their wrong deeds and to turn back to him (Jeremiah 31:31-37; Romans 11:25-27).

Afterwards, nothing remained of the altar that Elijah had built. God’s people could never offer their sacrifices on that altar again. God had directed Elijah to build that altar only for use on this one extraordinary occasion. However, God was not providing a second altar at Carmel, to be like the one in Jerusalem. God’s law was that his people must offer their sacrifices at the temple, God’s house in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 12:5-14). That was the place that God had provided for the sacrifices of all of Israel’s people (1 Chronicles 22:1).

This was such an impressive event that the people would remember it for the rest of their lives. However, it was not different in its purpose from the ways that God constantly works in people’s lives. Constantly, God is giving people opportunities to turn back to him. That was the purpose of this extraordinary act of God, also.

Next part: The people declare that they will serve the true God (1 Kings 18:39)


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