Shameless: Jezebel

Introduction: The famous Jezebel is the notorious wife of the equally notorious king Ahab. So what did Jezebel do that has made her name become synonymous to wicked and ungodly behavior? She was driven to eliminate Israel’s faithful servants of God. Evidence of Jezebel’s cruel desire to wipe out the worship of God in Israel is reported in 1 Kings 18:4: “Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord.” The threat of Jezebel is so great that later in the same chapter, Elijah summons the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a contest on Mt. Carmel to determine which deity is supreme: God or Baal. Most people know the story, but you can read it in 1 Kings 18. It was not really a fair contest and the prophets of Baal were first humiliated and then killed. After Elijah’s triumph on Mt. Carmel, King Ahab returns home to tell Jezebel that her prophets are dead. Jezebel sends Elijah a menacing message, threatening to slaughter him just as he has slaughtered her prophets: “Thus and more may the gods do if by this time tomorrow I have not made you like one of them” (1 Kings 19:2). So frightened is Elijah by Jezebel’s threatening words that he flees to Mt. Horeb. Despite what he has witnessed on Carmel, Elijah seems to falter in his faith that the Almighty will protect him. Elijah forgets that God is in control.   

Bottom line: Control leaves God out of the equation.

Something To Talk About:

Jezebel epitomized the spirit of control and manipulation. As a result of Jezebel’s desire to control:

  1. Led her husband away from God: Jezebel had considerable influence over her husband. 1 Kings 21:25 tells us, “ No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites.” God’s Word says that Ahab “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him.” (I Kings 16:30). Jezebel led Ahab to serve and worship Baal (I Kings 16:31) slew the prophets of the LORD (I Kings 18:13) and desired to have the prophet Elijah killed (I Kings 19:2). Jezebel led her husband to punishment and destruction.   
  2. Wrongly influenced the next generation. 2 Kings 9:22 says, “….how can there be peace as long as the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother, Jezebel, are all around us?”  Jezebel was no ordinary woman. Such was her demeanor that she attracted immediate attention. In Revelation 2:20, we read:”But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols.” At first glance, we probably are a little confused. Jezebel – didn’t she die back in second Kings? How can Jezebel be threatening the church in Thyatira? Because others were and continue to be under the spiritual control of the same demonic influences that controlled Jezebel of old. Jezebel introduced false worship so intense that all but 7,000 Israelites converted to her religion.
  3. Led to her death: 1 Kings 21:23 says, “And regarding Jezebel, the Lord says, ‘Dogs will eat Jezebel’s body at the plot of land in Jezreel.”  She was thrown out a window and left dead in the streets. And when the king ordered to bury this cursed woman: “But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. (2 Kings 9:36) Jezebel had sown to the wind, and reaped the whirlwind. Many of the godly in Israel must have felt that while Jezebel held evil sway over the land, the mills of God seemed to grind slowly. They came to realize, however, that they grind exceedingly sure as Jezebel encountered a terrible and divine retribution. 

Questions:

  1. Have you ever had people exert control over a part of your life?  Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. The root of Jezebel’s wickedness was embedded in idolatry. Idolatry consists of an excessive admiration or devotion to something false. What forms might idolatry take not only in the wider world, but also in the Christian community?
  3. What kinds of things tend to function as potential idols in your life — someone or something other than God to which you ascribe ultimate worth? For example, it might be a longed-for relationship, a certain income level or a standard of living, or a desired possession. In what ways, small or large, does this someone or something turn your heart away from God?
  4. What does the lopsided battle between Jezebel’s 450 prophets and the lone prophet Elijah say about the nature of spiritual power? How have you experienced God’s power at work in your own life despite the odds against you?
  5. Years passed before Ahab and then Jezebel faced God’s promised judgment. In the meantime, Jezebel may have lulled herself into thinking she had defied God without consequences. How is her story a cautionary tale about what happens to those who defy God?
  6. What can we do to ensure someone is not asserting undue influence and control over our lives? 

Take One Thing Home with You

And when Elijah heard it, he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13) That is a good question. God had not misplaced Elijah and wondered about his geographical location. The question was why Elijah had chosen, why he made the decision to be where he was. The short answer was he was afraid and ran away. He was afraid of Jezebel, he was afraid of Ahab. He feared for his life so he ran away.

At least he thought he was running away. In reality, he was getting renewed, getting restored, and getting revived. Elijah ran to the mountain of God, the Holy Place, and into a cave as a place of refuge. If you are going to run, run to our Lord, take refuge in Him. The Psalmist writes, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2) When we run to Him, we can find hope, help, safety, security, and a renewed sense of purpose.

So ask yourself the question: what are you doing here?  When God asks this question, He always has a new mission in mind. If you read the end of this chapter, you discover that God was not through with Elijah because there was much for him to do.  One of those things was to make way for a new generation, become a mentor to Elisha so that Elisha would know how to serve God, and unite those followers into an army which would keep the faith with the Father.