There are many messages woven through God’s redemptive story. One of them the is continually brought through His megaphone is “Remember! Remember! Remember!” The Israelites were quick to forget God’s faithfulness and spendthrift grace to them over the years. Elijah was opposed to the accepted standards of the day, a time when the belief in many gods was normal. Finally Elijah said, “Enough already,” and staged a challenge against the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah at Mount Carmel. The rules were simple: each side would offer sacrifices to their God without building a fire. The igniting of the fire was left to the strongest God, who would thereby reveal Himself as the true God. The 850 went first. They tried everything under the sun to get their gods’ attention—screaming yelling, cutting themselves, and whistling “Sweet Home Alabama” but in the end, no fire. When it was Elijah’s turn he drenched the altar with water to emphasize the point. When the God of Israel consumed the sacrifice with fire from above, He followed that up by sending rain to end a three-year drought.
That night when the Israelites went to bed the day’s events went with them. As Tom Waits once said, “Their memory’s like a train: you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away, and the things you can’t remember tell the things you can’t forget, that history puts a saint in every dream.”