I saw a chiastic structure in today’s reading:
1 Kin 17:1-18:46
1A: 1 Kin 17:1-24, No rain except at Elijah’s word;
1B: 1 Kin 18:1-16, Prophets of YHVH executed;
1C: 1 Kin 18:17-24, The God who answers by fire, He is God;
1D: 1 Kin 18:25-29, The vain supplication of the prophets of Baal;
CENTRAL AXIS: 1 Kin 18:30-35, Elijah repairs the altar of the LORD and drenches it and the burnt offering with water;
2D: 1 Kin 18:36-37, The effective supplication of Elijah the prophet of YHVH;
2C: 1 Kin 18:38-39, God answers by fire, the people declare He is God;
2B: 1 Kin 18:40, Prophets of Baal executed;
2A: 1 Kin 18:41-46, Rain at the word of Elijah.
The central axis often turns out to be something other than what the human mind might expect! In this case, we might expect the main point of the narrative to be God’s dramatic consumption of the sacrifice after it had been drenched with water. But that is not it!
Elijah did two things in the central axis: he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been broken down, with twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes, of whom the LORD had said, “Israel shall be your name.” And then he prepared the burnt offering, by drenching it with water!
God’s response was to rain down fire from heaven and consume the burnt offering!
Why is this significant? Elijah is a prophet from Ephraim (Gilead is in Ephraim) whom the LORD sent to restore the northern kingdom, the kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes) back to the LORD. He is a prophet who performed miracles by the Spirit of God unlike any other before him, probably even more than Moses. Elijah’s ministry is characterized by the Spirit, as Moses’ ministry is characterized by the Law.
So Israel is in idolatry and is needing to be restored to the LORD, and to accomplish that restoration, Elijah rebuilds the altar of the LORD, the thing that symbolizes more than any other, man’s worship of his God. Elijah rebuilds the platform for Israel to worship YHVH. That is a ministry of the Spirit, and is something the Spirit is doing in the earth today! The Spirit is restoring to God’s people, Jew and Christian alike, the foundation stones of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the realization that Israel is our name!
(Christians, i.e., Gentiles, do not replace the Jews. But we, the wild olive tree, have been grafted in among the Jews, the cultivated olive tree, so that God’s people become one tree, named Israel, with the root of Messiah Yeshua, Rom 11:16-24, Eph 2:11-22) .
The second thing that Elijah does, is to drench the burnt offering on the altar with water! The moving of the Spirit is often symbolized by water in the Scripture. He is the river of life, He is the former and the latter rain, He is living water, the deep deep well springing up to eternal life! And it is we who are the burnt offering – the olah, the whole burnt sacrifice, who Paul implores to present ourselves living on the altar of God (Rom 12:1). It is a ministry of the Spirit, to draw us as living olahs on the altar of our God, to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. This Spirit- inspired and Spirit- led pure worship of the Holy One is something the Spirit is doing in the earth today!
The Spirit is also characterized by fire, for Yeshua baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luk 3:16)! We become as burning bushes, burning with fire but not consumed, from whom the word of YHVH proceeds. When the altar of the LORD is rebuilt, and we as living olahs have been drenched with the living water of Spirit- filled and Spirit- led worship of our God, then God answers us by fire! The fire of revival, restoration of hearts toward Him, many ignited with fire, burning but not consumed! The fire of the pure preaching of the word of God in truth with boldness, the pure witness without compromise of His saints! The fire of miracles, signs, and wonders in the earth, testifying to all that YHVH alone is God!