1 Kings 18:33 MEANING

1 Kings 18:33
(33) Fill four barrels--or pitchers. The filling of these at the time of drought has naturally excited speculation. A ready surmise, by those unacquainted with the country, was that the water was taken from the sea flowing at the base of Carmel; but a glance at the position and the height of the mountain puts this not unnatural surmise out of the question, as difficult, if not impossible. Examination of the locality has discovered a perennial spring in the neighbourhood of the traditional scene of the sacrifice, which is never known to fail in the severest drought. From this, no doubt (as indeed Josephus expressly says), the water was drawn, with, of course, the object of precluding all idea of fraud or contrivance, and bringing out strikingly the consuming fierceness of the fire from heaven, so emphatically described in 1 Kings 18:38.

Verse 33. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood [Rawlinson says "He obeyed, that is, all the injunctions of the law with respect to the offering of a burnt sacrifice (see Leviticus 1:3-9), and adds, "He thus publicly taught that all the ordinances of the law were binding on the kingdom of Israel." But it is very probable that the priests of Baal had done the same things. All sacrifice involved such manual acts. Cf. Genesis 22:9, where the same word עָרַך is used. No doubt the prophet did everything in an orderly and regular way; but the people could hardly learn a lesson of obedience from such elementary acts as these, and the less so as the law provided, that the sacrifice should be offered only "by the priests, the sons of Aaron" (Leviticus 1:8), and Elijah's ministrations, consequently, might seem to warrant or condone the ministrations of Jeroboam's intrusive priesthood. That they did not lend any real sanction to those irregularities is clear, however, to us. For, in the first place, priests were not to be had, all having long since left the kingdom. In the second place, the higher commission of the prophet embraced within itself the authority for all necessary priestly acts. Cf. 1 Samuel 16:2. Elijah acted, as Grotius well observes, jure prophetico, minoribus legibus exsolutus, ut majores servaret], and said, Fill four barrels [Heb. כַּדּים. Cf. 1 Kings 17:12. It designates the ordinary water-pitcher, generally carried then, as now, by women: Genesis 24:14-20; Judges 7:16; Ecclesiastes 12:6] with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. [The water, as already remarked, was doubtless brought from the adjoining spring (though it is clear from ver. 40 that the Kishon was not dry, and Thomson thinks that its sources, and particularly the fountain of Saadieh, furnished the supply). "In such springs the water remains always cool, under the shade of a vaulted roof, and with no hot atmosphere to evaporate it. While all other fountains were dried up, I can well understand that there might have been found here that superabundance of water which Elijah poured so profusely over the altar" (Van de Velde, 1. p. 325).]

18:21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood,.... Just in such manner as sacrifices usually were:

and said, fill four barrels with water; either from the brook Kishon, or, if that was dried up, from the sea; for both were near this mountain, and so to be had, though a time of drought:

and pour it on the burnt sacrifice; that which was intended to be one:

and upon the wood: wherewith it was to be burnt, and so made unfit for it; and which would make the miracle appear the greater, when fire came down and consumed it.

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