What is a Jezebel?

The Question

What is a Jezebel?

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The Answer
Part 1: History of Jezebel
Part 2: Jezebel in Revelation

History of Jezebel (Part 1)

Isn’t it interesting that a woman who was married to an ancient Israelite king thousands of years ago was so infamous that her name continues as a common negative byword today? Even those who don’t know what a “Jezebel” is, know that it is something you don’t want to be called. Here’s the story.

Ahab was a king over Israel after the kingdom split into Israel and Judah. The Bible says he did evil in God’s sight more than those who went before him (which is saying a lot because some of them were pretty evil). One of the evil things he did was marry Jezebel. “It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.” (1 Kings 16:31)

The entire story of Ahab and Jezebel is worth reading in 1 Kings 16-22 and 2 Kings 9. Part of the big story though is that there was a showdown between the prophet Elijah representing the true God and the prophets of Baal representing their pagan gods. Elijah challenged them through a very interesting test and Baal lost big time! Jezebel was not a happy camper because these were her gods and she was a true believer.

Jezebel was a dominant controlling woman who definitely wore the pants in her marriage. She did not just wish to personally continue serving her own gods; she wanted Baal on an equal footing with Israel’s God. She demanded her husband erect an altar to Baal in Samaria (Jews were told to worship in Jerusalem only). He acquiesced, thereby provoking “the Lord God of Israel (more) than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:33)

So what is a Jezebel? People use the term for many things but usually mean someone who is manipulative, controlling, and brazenly apostate within some religious context. Being a Jezebel is also often associated with witchcraft and worship of false gods. It is a terrible epithet indeed.

Jezebel in Revelation (Part 2)

God pretty much confirms that there is a “Jezebel spirit” when he mentions the name in the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible and the one about end time things. “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20)

What does this mean? There are those who claim to stand for God but really lead others astray into false worship of false gods. They may look good for a time but they are corrupt and they corrupt anything in their path. The Lord often compares his people to sheep and sheep are unfortunately gullible and too easily led. Watch out! God is saying, “Don’t fall for it! You will end up over a cliff of destruction.” The words in Revelation are directed to the church of Thyatira, one of the seven churches to receive special messages of commendation and warning. All the elements of churches then still exist today so those words of rebuke are for us too.

Here’s the reward for steering clear of Jezebel as given to the church of Thyatira: “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.” (Revelation 2:26)

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