You may have heard someone refer to a person of distasteful character as a ‘Jezebel.’ But what does the name Jezebel mean? Easton’s Bible Dictionary refers to Jezebel (the daughter of a king of Tyre) as a “heathen” princess, and describes alliance with her as “peculiarly disastrous.” Further, she is said to have “stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel.”
An alternate description given by Merriam-Webster is someone who is “impudent, shameless, or morally unrestrained.”
What is Jezebel known for in the Bible?
In Chapter 16 of 1 Kings, Jezebel played the part of queen as the wife of king Ahab, but also took the part of religious leader by endorsing the worship of Baal.
Jezebel used her religious influence to the detriment of the spiritual lives of the people, who were greatly divided between support for Baal and the Lord. Elijah ordered the gathering of all the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a contest between Baal and the one true God. Jezebel planned and orchestrated the murder of the prophets of God who directly opposed the people’s worship of Baal.
Additionally, Jezebel was full of rage and deceit. She was lustful in her conspiracy to have Naboth executed so Ahab could possess his vineyard.
King Ahab desired the vineyard of his neighbor Naboth. When his request was denied, Jezebel contrived a plan for Naboth to be charged and executed for blasphemy by forging an order purportedly signed by the king. She cemented the plan by setting up the testimonies of two witnesses who would falsely swear as to Naboth’s guilt. The conspiracy was successful and Naboth was executed.
What are the characteristics of ‘the Jezebel spirit?’
When reading Jezebel’s story she reveals herself to be revengeful, lustful, savage, cunning, influential, murderous, and sinful.
Christ refers to the person of Jezebel as a spirit in the second chapter of Revelation. In Revelation 2:20, our Lord spoke directly to the angel of the church in Thyatira, saying: “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.
Revelation 2:20-21 continues with, “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.”
What lessons does the story of Jezebel teach?
The story of Jezebel and her accompanying spirit should serve as a warning to believers as to the intended targets of this spirit and the resulting consequences.
In Acts 15:20, the Gentiles who turned to God were instructed to abstain from food polluted by idols, sexual immorality, and the meat of strangled animals and from blood. Further, we are assured in Acts 15:29 that it’s beneficial to abstain from these practices (“You will do well to avoid these things.”)
In the KJV, we see the Jezebel spirit has the desire to “seduce [believers] to commit fornication” and “eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
So, beyond Jezebel’s infamous sins, what does it mean to be ‘a Jezebel’ today, and how do we avoid behaving like her? Here are 6 ways:
1. Avoid sexual immorality.
Sexual immorality leads to the destruction of the family. The consumption of idols forces the believer to stray from his first love of Christ and her bride of the Church. In Ephesians 5:3, Paul warned that sexual immorality, impurity, and greed affects our spiritual ability to lead.
He realized the temptations and the great dangers of sexual immorality, by providing instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”
A weak family institution leads to a weakened relationship with God. In 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are to “be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing hinders your prayers.”
2. Don’t exact revenge.
The Jezebel spirit also teaches the believer to be aware of the spirit of revenge. Jezebel was enraged and threatened by God and his prophets. She was compelled to order the killing of all of God’s prophets. Additionally, she felt scorned by the refusal of Naboth to sell his vineyard to her husband king Ahab.
The spirit of revenge is contrary to the fruits of the Spirit and is not conducive to a strong relationship with Christ. In 1 Peter 2:23, we remember Christ, who “when they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
When we act in the pursuit of revenge, we seek retribution for acts against us personally. Sinful actions are violations against the will and teachings of God as well as His righteousness. By seeking and desiring revenge, we are placing ourselves in the position of God as the offended party.
3. Refuse to practice idolatry.
Most of us do not have Baal idols in our prayer closet. However, idolatry is anything we put above our relationship with Christ. In Colossians 3:5, we are taught to, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
In 1 Kings, we see how Jezebel effectively endorsed and prescribed the worship of Baal to the people of Israel. In 1 Samuel 15:23, idolatry and iniquity are paralleled with stubbornness just as the sin of witchcraft was deemed rebellious. The Israelites allowed stubbornness to separate them from the worship of God. The verse continues by confirming, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
When one rejects the word of God, the person also rejects His place of authority to fully guide every walk of his/her life.
4. Stay alert and prayerful.
The people of Israel were confused and conflicted as to whether to worship Baal by following the Ahab regime, or to worship the one true God. We are guided in 2 Timothy 2:15 to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
Additionally, the greater our prayer life, the greater the awareness we have of God’s direction for our life. In James 5:16, we are instructed to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
5. Listen to God’s voice.
Because of Jezebel’s influence and power within and among the people of Israel, Elijah thought it beneficial to challenge the Baal prophets. He felt the great display of his God’s might and the silence of Baal would touch and lead the people into repenting and forgoing the idol worship.
The people were indeed impressed by the show and force exhibited by God, but quickly returned to idol worship thereafter. Their return greatly saddened Elijah who retreated to the wilderness under a juniper tree.
The Lord came to him in his “pity party” and told him in 1 Kings 19:11: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then, scripture tells us, “a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.”
Following these and other physical acts, the Lord spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice” which instructed Elijah to return on the way to Damascus and anoint Hazael to be king over Syria and to “Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.” (1 Kings 19:15-16)
God still speaks in a “small still voice.” To hear God’s voice, we have to be still with a clear mind.
6. Be knowledgeable of God’s true Word.
As mentioned in Revelation 2:20, the Lord took issue with the church at Thyatira for her tolerating “that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.” The church was tolerant of her practices and beliefs.
We are warned in 2 Peter 2:1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who brought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. ” He continues in 2 Peter 2:2 with, “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
Jezebel had a detrimental effect on every institution of which she was involvement. She ruined the both the personal and political life of her husband king Ahab and led the spiritual downfall of the Israeli people.
Similarly, the spirit of Jezebel that is evidenced today seeks to defile the believer spiritually and physically. A Jezebel spirit endorses the lusts of the flesh and neglects the worship of our Lord in spirit and in truth. Her ways are false and fraudulent, yet cunning and believable for those who are susceptible. Staying vigilant in your commitment to, knowledge of, and pursuit of God’s sovereignty over your life, work, family, and society can help protect you from a ‘Jezebel’ influence.