Scriptures

23. Jezebel, Quite A Character

Introduction

By Jamie Romero

Jezebel

‘Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So, I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.’ Revelation 2:20-23

The name has come to be used as a synonym for a wicked woman, Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians. She married Ahab who reigned over Israel. Throughout the reading of 1 and 2 Kings, we see how her influence caused Israel to pull away from God. Ahab came to be known for evil during his reign, 1 Kings 16:30 / 1 Kings 16:33.

‘Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.’ 1 Kings 1:16-30-33

What do we know about Jezebel?

1. She grew up as a worshipper of Baal. 1 Kings 16:32.
2. She had royal lineage. 1 Kings 16:31.
3. She had boldness, courage, and strong leadership abilities.
4. She drew people away from God and committed murder.
5. She did not let anyone, or anything get in her way.

We typically do not think of positive traits when considering Jezebel’s character, yet if we consider her uncanny ability to hold strong (boldness), push forward no matter the obstacle (courage) and order/lead others we might find some similarities to ourselves.

Do any of Jezebel’s personality traits match your own? Are you ever strong-willed, unwilling to admit you’re wrong, eager to take charge, sharp-tongued or slow to relinquish control? If we had the uncanny ability to be bold in God’s name as Jezebel was in Baal’s name, how might we go about our day (or lives) differently?

‘While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets.’ 1 Kings 18:4

Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, 1 Kings 18:4. Do you believe Ahab was urged into a life a crime by his wife? Do you believe there was anyone who questioned Jezebel, tried to lead her to God or stand up to her?

‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.’ 1 Kings 18:18

We see that Ahab was reminded of his abandonment from the Lord. What checks, and balances are necessary for you to avoid falling away from God?

‘Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’ So, Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’ Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’ Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’ So, they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So, they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’ ‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again. ‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!’ Then Elijah commanded them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!’ They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.’ 1 Kings 18:19-40

What are your thoughts surrounding v19 about those ‘who eat at Jezebel’s table’?

‘Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’ 1 Kings 19:1-2

What does the language regarding Jezebel’s response say about her? Do we ever consider our responses to situations or lack thereof, in light of the consequences we may face?

Have you ever wanted something someone else had? Sure, at some point all of us have. Small or large, we know our eyes should be on heavenly things rather than earthly, material items. The Bible has a lot to say about jealously.

‘But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.’ James 3:14-16

‘So, Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’ He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, ‘Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?’ 1 Kings 21:4-5

We find that Ahab longed for Naboth’s vineyard. After not obtaining it, Ahab grew sullen and angry. Jezebel came in and saw her husband in this state and wondered why he was sullen and would not eat. She was far from consoling or pointing out all the other great wonders they had. She seemed to laugh, belittle and sneer at his behaviour.

‘Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite’, 1 Kings 21:7

What do you take away from her statement? Do we see any advice from Jezebel, or did she just take control? Up to this point, what can we say about Jezebel ruling over her husband?

‘So, she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him.’ 1 Kings 21:8

Clearly, we can see Jezebel take control as she wrote letters in Ahab’s name.

‘Then they sent word to Jezebel: ‘Naboth has been stoned to death.’ As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, ‘Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.’ When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.’ 1 Kings 21:14-16

We read in the verses following that Naboth lost his life. Word was then sent to Jezebel of Naboth’s death and Jezebel instructed Ahab to

‘Get up and take possession of the vineyard…’.

Elijah prophesized about Ahab and Jezebel’s death. At this point, Ahab’s finally came to his senses (temporarily) but Jezebel stood firm.

‘As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, ‘Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?’ He looked up at the window and called out, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. ‘Throw her down!’ Jehu said. So, they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot. Jehu went in and ate and drank. ‘Take care of that cursed woman,’ he said, ‘and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.’ But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, ‘This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’ 2 Kings 9:31-37

We read here about how Jezebel’s life came to an end. What sticks out to you in these last few verses?

What lessons can we learn from Jezebel?

1. Jezebel chose to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Breaking tradition is not always easy, yet our own past doesn’t have to hold us back. Ultimately, God is our Father. Let’s look forward, not backward.

‘A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.’ Psalm 68:5

Are there children in your circle of influence who parents have a highly negative spiritual influence on them? What is your responsibility in such cases?

2. Jezebel’s marriage to Ahab was common yet uncommon. Wives are not called to rule over their husband.

‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.’ Ephesians 5:22

‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ Ephesians 5:25

What are ways husbands and wives can encourage one another? What are ways you have recently encouraged your spouse? What can you learn from Ahab and Jezebel’s relationship?

3. Jezebel’s leadership was not favourable.

Judging by the way she was shoved forward to the window, the servants were happy to get rid of her. If we are given skills/talents to lead, let’s do it with compassion and grace.

Are you in a leadership position and how is your leadership viewed? Do you have traits like those of Jezebel, yet use them in a positive way in the name of the Lord? How?

4. Jezebel was concerned only for herself and those following Baal.

If we lose sight of God’s plan for us and follow our own, we lose sight of our reward.

Is there a time in your life where you put God on the back burner? What did you learn from that experience? What are the ways we can help others when we see them putting self, worry, material items, etc. before God?

5. Repentance.

Was Jezebel beyond repentance? Why or why not? We know that we have a loving Father in Heaven. What makes it hard for us to repent?

It is important to know that our story is not over. Jezebel chose to continue her path of idolatry which trickled down to Ahab and led many astray in Israel. While Jezebel had many favourable qualities that could have been used for good, she used them to destroy others and herself. We have to take proactive steps to prevent traits such as Jezebel’s from dominating our life.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your word and how it provides us with tangible examples on how to live. Please help us to heed those examples and follow your will. We are grateful for the power of choice in our lives and we pray that our choices are ones that will be pleasing in your sight. God, please help us to shine your light where there is darkness. May we strive to love as you love and spread your word without hesitation. In Christ’s name, Amen.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."

Isaiah 55:8

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