“Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord.” 1 Kings 18:31-32a
Israel had become divided, not only as a nation, but also in their affection for the Lord. Giving their attention to idols had overshadowed their identity as God’s unique people. They needed restoration with God and with each other. So as the prophet Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord, he reminded Israel who they were. Likewise, when we remember our identity in Christ, it lays the foundation for family restoration and unity.
The name “Israel” was Jacob’s covenant name, which is foundational to the identity of God’s chosen people. Elijah chose one stone for each of the twelve tribes, symbolizing God’s covenant to each one through their shared name.
In a similar way, the name “Christian” describes our identity as believers. Our covenant relationship with Jesus is the foundation for godly lives, marriages, and families. 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When He is the foundation of your home, you can function victoriously in a world that opposes God’s plan for the family.
Next, notice that Elijah used the twelve separate stones to build one altar in the name of the Lord. Their identity as God’s chosen people unified them in worship. Unity and identity still go hand-in-hand. Salvation unites individual believers with Christ (Romans 6:5-6.) But it also unites us together in spirit for the same purpose. Philippians 2:1–2 instructs believers, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
If we desire family restoration, then we need to remember our identity in Jesus Christ. We can talk about our differences as brothers and sisters in Christ. He is the only firm foundation for marriages and families to stand strong when the world attacks God’s plan. When each family member has the mind of Christ and is intent on God’s purposes, then our homes reflect the love, compassion, and joy of Christ.