“Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it” (Exodus 20:24-25, NIV).
Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel” (1Kings 18:31).
“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight” (Joshua 4:2-3)
These stones are considered to be the stone pillars built according to the twelve tribes of Israel. The diameter of a pilar is 23.75”. Nine out of these twelve are standing at the site, but the remaining three have not been discovered. People wondered where these large white pieces of marble had come from, and they found a marble stone quarry nearby. 2.4km west of the foot of the mountain where the stone pillars were discovered, 2010m above sea level, 460m elevated from the stone pillars were the traces of a quarry and enormous pieces of marble.
Do we ever happen to find the altar to the Lord in our hearts neglected and in ruin due to our daily distractions? Elijah not only built an altar of stones to the Lord for the sake of the ten tribes of Northern Israel but twelve for the entire twelve tribes. How can we start building an altar to the Lord in our own lives? The stone pillars symbolizing the twelve tribes were built to remind the Israelites of the powerful God who rescued them and fulfilled His promises! The identity of God’s chosen people is found and solidly established by the covenant God entered into with them!