“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” – Revelation 2:20.
Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians (1 Kings 16:31). Jezebel is an evil woman in the Bible as Revelation 2:20 (above) points out.
Here’s the cliff notes on the story. Queen Jezebel worshiped Baal who was the chief pagan god when the Israelites first came into the promised land. God was already angry about the level of idol worship and witchcraft, and had ordered the prophet Elijah to stand up against them (1 Kings 16: 22-33). Ahab made matters worse by marrying the already forbidden Jezebel in the first place, and began to serve Baal along with her (v 31). It was only a matter of time before she began to kill off God’s prophets and replace them with false prophets. When the pagan prophets met Elijah at Mount Carmel, an amazing thing happened. Elijah had set up two altars…one dedicated to Baal and one dedicated to God. The prophets of Baal called on their god to send down fire and consume their offering. They went to extremes. When Elijah called upon God to send fire down to consume the sacrifice on his altar, fire came down from heaven immediately and consumed the offering. This infuriated Jezebel and she swore to kill Elijah in revenge. Poor old King Ahab sat idly by and let all of this go, although he learned how to manipulate Jezebel to satisfy his own selfish desires as demonstrated in the story of Naboth.(1 Kings 21:1-15).
Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel located near the palace of Ahab. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange, I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” After Naboth respectfully said no, Ahab sulked and refused to eat (1 Kings 21:1-4) In verses 5-7, Jezebel came in, asked what was wrong and listened attentively as her husband explained his problem. “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!” So, she wrote letters in her husband’s name and ordered Naboth to be stoned to death! He was surely killed, and without a shred of guilt, Ahab went down and claimed the vineyard. Afterwards, Elijah prophesied that Ahab and his descendants would be killed and that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs (1 Kings 21:17-24).
Three years after Jezebel had Naboth stoned, Ahab died in battle. His sons died soon thereafter. Elijah’s successor, Elisha appointed Jehu to be his successor, that he may destroy Ahab’s descendants as a punishment for the way Jezebel had treated God’s people. Then, he ordered Jezebel’s own servants to throw her out of that very window, sprinkle blood on the walls and trample upon her corpse. Later when the servants went to bury her, they found only her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands. Her flesh had been eaten by dogs, just as Elijah had prophesied (2 Kings 9:35-36).
The main lesson from Jezebel’s life is that the deeds of a few can adversely affect a whole nation. Her biggest claim to fame was actually her possession of power through manipulation and control. But God is the one who has the ultimate control. “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
- Are there people in power today that frighten you? If so, why?
- What temptations do Christians face that seek to convince us that we are in control? What fears do some people, including Christians, have about something or someone other than themselves being in control?
- How should the fact that God is in control alleviate our fears? What do our fears indicate about our willingness or ability to let God be in control?
- What are some ways we can daily relinquish our lives to God’s sovereign control?