1 Kings 18:30
ESV - 30 Then 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 had been thrown down.
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Elijah was commissioned by God as a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel beginning in 1 Kings 17. At the time that he was commissioned, Israel had had a series of evil kings ever since the ten northern tribes of Israel had broken away from the two southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) following the death of Solomon, who was the last king to rule over a united Israel. (This division occurred as a punishment from God for the idolatry that characterized the later years of Solomon's reign, as described in 1 Kings 11.) However, even after Israel split, the ten northern tribes continued in idolatry. Eventually, Ahab became king of those tribes (1 Kings 16:29). Aside from personally practicing idol worship, Ahab also married Jezebel, the daughter of the king of the pagan Sidonians, who led him further into disobedience to God. In fact, 1 Kings 16:33 says that Ahab did more to anger God than all the other evil kings of Israel who had come before him. Because of this extended period of idol worship, by the time that Elijah was sent to confront Ahab about his sin, the worship of God had largely been forsaken by the ten northern tribes, and any altars that had formerly been built to Him had fallen into neglect and disrepair, and were thus not suitable for the offering of sacrifices to God. (According to 1 Kings 19:18, only 7,000 worshipers of God remained in the northern kingdom, out of a total population estimated as being between four and five million.) As a result, when Elijah challenged Ahab to a contest on Mount Carmel (located along the southern boundary of the Israelite tribe of Asher) between the God of Israel and the false gods that were worshipped by Ahab and Jezebel (as described in 1 Kings 18:20-40), the altar that had previously been built to God at that location had to be repaired by Elijah before Elijah could use it to offer a sacrifice to God as part of that contest.
First, see the big picture outline and then the explanation: The Triumph of Faith Elijah on Mount Carmel. Carmel—the fruitful place: certainly fruitful for God. 1 Faith’s Challenge—he presented a fair challenge 1 Kings 18:24 2 Faith’s Confidence—he was certain his God would act. 1 Kings 18:30 Inviting the people to approach and see the entire proceeding, Elijah 1st repaired an old altar of God, which Jezebel had demolished. Or the prophets of Baal had destroyed (1 Kings 19:10) Or the people of Israel had disassembled the altars of Israel, including this one, throughout the land (1 Kings 19:10). In any case, Elijah rebuilt it and sanctified it.
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