Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Discerning Jezebel - Revelation 2:18-24

Jezabel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Naboth's Vi...Image via Wikipedia (Sir Frank Dicksee)
Elijah, Jezebel, Ahab at Naboth's Vineyard
Revelation 2:18-24

The Bible tells us that the End Times will be marked by the conflict between darkness and light (Isaiah 9:2; John 1:5; 8:2; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor 6:14). Satan is using every scheme (Isaiah 32:7; 2 Cor 2:11) to oppose the church (Matt 16:18) in finishing the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). 

One of those schemes, the Revelation tells us, is the controlling spirit the Lord calls Jezebel. Jesus of course is alluding to the biblical Queen Jezebel who was married to King Ahab of Samaria (northern Israel) found in 1 Kings 16-22 and 2 Kings 9. She attempted to combine the worship of Baal with worship of the Lord and stamp out all true worship, influencing her husband in it (1 Kings 16:33). Jezebel was responsible for the killing of Naboth and stealing the vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-16) and succeeded in killing all the prophets except Elijah whom she wanted dead (1 Kings 19:2). She was so evil she was singled out to die and be eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:33-35). 

Ahab and Jezebel are representatives of the old Baal and Asherah religion, a partnership of rebellion and stubbornness, of witchcraft and idolatry (1 Sam 15:23). Jesus warned the church of Thyatira in the last days not to tolerate the spirit of Jezebel (Rev. 2:20). Some commentators see this Jezebel describing either a literal woman in the Thyatiran church in the first century, or the Church of the Middle Ages. Many, however, see symbolic or spiritual phraseology.[1] Both of these interpretations could be possible and Jesus still be speaking about a spiritual reality of wickedness in the church. 

The Jezebel spirit is an obstruction to restoration, revival, Gods’ order, and authentic faith. It is a system of control, manipulation, and intimidation that seeks worship. An Ahab cooperates with a Jezebel in letting her have her way and not pursue what God has purposed or planned. The historic Jezebel used fear to manipulate and control Ahab and send the prophet of God’s word, Elijah, running for his life.

Some characteristics of Jezebel at work in the local church:
  • Craving attention, promotion, recognition, seeks teaching/leadership positions to gain control (Rev 2:20)
  • Appearing to serve God, but it is an inroad to gaining control and a different agenda
  • Playing religious games and camouflaging a desire for control with religious talk
  • Often claims to have heard directly from God and the church should do what they say
  • Searches the church for allies and gains power through political alliances
  • Relentlessly criticizes organizations and leaders with exaggeration
  • Manipulates or disregards male leadership and resents credible, mature believers
  • Betrays leadership through probing their personal lives for weakness, then blackmailing them 
  • Feels elitist – others are less spiritual. Often knows and uses Scripture to their benefit
  • May appear loyal, pretends submissive and humble for strategic advantage
  • Appears repentant, but hides from true heart repentance
  • Vaunts strength of self and pride of achievement and gifts
  • Places guilt and shame on others, uses partial truth to destroy reputations, undermines self worth and confidence of others
  • Uses emotions, silent treatment, and pouting to advantage
  • Plays individuals, groups, and friends against one another to destroy relationships
  • Talks and pulls strings behind others' backs, claims to be misunderstood when challenged
  • Fear of the Lord is absent, opening the door to their destruction
Jezebel’s greatest enemies are God’s authentic leaders who reveal her and speak against her, like Elijah. This spirit sets itself against them, but the real enemy is the Word of God. Jezebel’s chief fear is repentance which brings the presence of Jesus, cleansing the church, and bringing purity and power, defeating her control. 

We respond to Jezebel by distinguishing between the person and the spirit. Be compassionate toward the person under Jezebel control. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open her eyes and bring her to repentance. But have no sympathy toward the Jezebel spirit. If you challenge or confront Jezebel, it will erupt in rage and fight you. It will get even, often attacking a weakness in your life.

You can overcome Jezebel through prayer, repentance and tenacity, changing your actions and responses to be more Christlike, and resisting everything that prevents you from overcoming (Rev 2:26). 

God may have shown you that you have operated in this Jezebel way of control. Thank Him for opening your eyes to it. Repent on your knees to Him. Renounce Jezebel and surrender to Christ’s control. Seek a trusted friend to pray with you about this. 

Perhaps you have been a victim of Jezebel. Avoiding or ending a relationship is the simplest way to break free of Jezebel’s control. When that is not possible because family or work is involved, be alert, wise, and ask the Lord for discernment to understand Jezebel’s tactics and wisely and quietly meet or sidestep them. Do not submit or compromise, but show the love of Christ as he directs. Develop a deep prayer life and intimacy with Christ. Submit yourself to God and obey His Word. Ask for prayer and pastoral counsel as needed.


[1] John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1966), 73-5. 

Main source: Sylvia Gunter, Prayer Essentials for Living in His Presence (Birmingham, AL: Father’s Business, 2000), vol. 1