Bonnie and Clyde ∙
[Ahab] married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. – 1 Kings 16:31
1 Kings 18:14-46
14 And now you say, “Go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
16 Ahab went out to meet Elijah.
17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.”
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were perhaps the most notorious American criminal couple of the twentieth century. They were known for their bank robberies and murders. While they preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations, their criminal pursuits were bounded only by geography. Their gang swung in a circle skirting the edges of five midwestern states. They exploited a state “line rule” that prevented officers from pursuing a fugitive into another state’s jurisdiction. Their cagey escapades captured the hearts of much of the American public. They became the focus of the media from 1931 and 1934 during the Great Depression.
They did not hesitate to shoot anyone who got in their way, whether it was a police officer or an innocent civilian. At first, they were treated as folk heroes. But eventually, their cold-blooded murders turned the public against them. This ultimately led to their demise. They were killed in May 1934 during an ambush by law officers.
But Bonnie and Clyde had nothing on Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were the most notorious husband and wife team in Scripture. Wickedness and idolatry marked their murderous and infamous reign. But their supreme sin was disavowing the worship of the Lord God Almighty. In its place, they substituted the worship of Baal. For the first time in the history of the northern kingdom, the worship of Yahweh was replaced with idolatry. “This represents a quantum leap in the history of apostasy” (Rice).
Paganism now reigned in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. The light of the Father’s truth was nearly extinguished. The prophets of God had contracts on their heads, compliments of Ahab and Jezebel. And the prophets had to flee for their lives. But Jezebel was not satisfied with going after the Father’s prophets, she wanted to exterminate all of His followers. Darkness overshadowed the land. This continued for 14 years until the Father raised up His prophetic challenge.
These were the days of Elijah!
Elijah, the prophet and servant of God was raised up, to directly confront and remove the darkness from the land. Often, he was fearless. He boldly confronted Ahab and reproved his sin.
What goes around comes around. The Father’s prophets had been targeted for extermination. But the Father had other plans. He put out contracts on the heads of the prophets of Baal. Elijah was sent to execute His judgment.
Elijah’s words and deeds are almost legendary.
REFLECT & PRAY
Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when the Father has their back.
Father thank You that even in the darkest times, You always have a plan.
In the Old Testament, the prophets were referred to as God’s servants. They had many functions. Elijah was tasked to confront and overthrow. He was totally equipped for the job. Every time the Father’s power or authority was required, it was provided. When you read the stories of Elijah, you might be prompted to ask the question, “how can this possibly happen?” The answer would always be the same, “then a miracle occurred.”
But how? What was Elijah’s secret? It was all in his name, Elijah means “Yahweh is my God.” He stood in “The Presence.” Elijah stood before the Lord God Almighty whom he served (1 Kings 18:15). The Father’s power flowed through him. He was the channel, the conduit of the Father’s mighty, miraculous work on earth.
Can we be like Elijah? Absolutely! But that is a story for another day.
Was anything special about Elijah, the man? Was he a superhero? Did he accomplish his mission because he had superpowers? The Bible provides an unequivocal answer: No!
James 5:17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!
After God had used him dramatically and powerfully, Jezebel’s threats panicked him, and he ran away like a frightened dog with its tail between its legs (1 Kings 19:1-3). Further, he was given to complaining and whimpering.
Romans 11:3 “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
You have heard of “The gunfight at the OK corral.” But what about the firefight at Mount Carmel? The Father had arranged this mountaintop event as Elijah’s showdown with the pagan prophets, all 950 of them. It was the fight of the century, that is, the eighth century BC. Elijah challenged the pagan prophets to a public contest.
Before there was the NFL and trash talk, there was Elijah “smack talking” the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Elijah was the Y-team, Yahweh. His opponents were the A-team, 400 prophets of Asherah, and the B-team, 450 prophets of Baal. There was a total of 950 guys against only one! But Elijah, “Yahweh is my God,” had them surrounded. He had them exactly where he wanted them. Just remember, if Yahweh has your back, that is all you need!
All of the contestants arrived at Carmel. Elijah issued the challenge. It is quite simple really. An animal was laid on a wooden altar. No fire was provided. That task would be the responsibility of the one true God
1 Kings 18:14-46
Elijah laid out the ground rules. “Call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” (1 Kings 18:14).
1 Kings 18:25-29
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you.”
26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.
27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”
28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.
29 They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still, there was no sound, no reply, no response.
It was now Elijah’s turn. He wanted everybody to be sure that he had no tricks up his sleeve. So he had the sacrifice and the altar totally drenched with water three times. All eyes were glued upon Elijah and the altar. What would happen next? Whose God is God?
1 Kings 18:36-38
36 Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command.
37 O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
38 Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!
1 Kings 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The LORD – he is God! Yes, the LORD is God!”
The LORD – He is God! Yes, the LORD is God! The Lord God of Israel, the Almighty answered with fire from heaven.
About 3000 years later, it is said that Elijah was given a nickname. Of course, there is no way to verify this. But it is rumored that in the nation of Israel down to this day, some folks still call him Elijah-Houdini the prophet.
One thought on “Bonnie and Clyde ∙”
Today’s reflection almost nudges out “The Great Fish Story” of February 26, as my all-time favorite!
The title “Bonnie and Clyde” is funny, but exquisitely appropriate!
I had to laugh when I read, “But Bonnie and Clyde had nothing on Ahab and Jezebel.”
Other one-liners that get today’s point across with a smile:
[God’s prophets had] “contracts on their heads, compliments of Ahab and Jezebel”
“These were the days of Elijah!”
“…the OK Corral”
“… the fight of the century – the 8th century B.C.”
“… trash talk” and “smack talking”
How pleasantly surprising that we can learn the latent truth of the word of God with reverence and respect, and chuckle and laugh at the same time!
And no, I didn’t miss the spiritual point. I don’t even want to think about life without the Lord, Who is God.