Monday, February 13, 2012

The Spirit of "Jezebel"

"Thoughts About Jezebel" and "On Jezebel & Thyatira"
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Thoughts About Jezebel
By Cherry Brandstater

Since the first time I heard the term “A Jezebel Spirit” it made me uneasy. I had no idea what it meant. I was told that it was a controlling, manipulative person. Whenever it was applied it was always in reference to a woman who was not in step with the will and wishes of leaders who wanted their own way to prevail. It just didn’t sit well with me.

As I observed the charismatic movement that I had come to love over the years it became evident to me that even though the ones using the phrase added the caveat that it could refer to a male as well as a female, it almost never was directed toward the males. Unfortunately, the church is no more kind than the world is when it comes to characterizing a woman who is decisive and capable as controlling, opinionated and manipulative while a man with the same characteristics is considered to be discerning and possessing the quality of leadership. There was something wrong here. I actually had a hard time grasping the whole concept of the “Jezebel spirit.”

So who was the Jezebel that this spirit is supposed to have inhabited. It turns out that there are two Jezebels in the Bible. Surprise, surprise. The first one to appear is in the Old Testament. Ahab, king of Israel married her. She was a heathen woman from Sidon. Here is what Ahab was like (even before he married Jezebel),
“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 provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.”

1 Kings 16:30-33 (NIV)
Doesn’t really sound like Jezebel was dragging him around by the nose into evil, does it? They were co-regents. Both had power. Both were evil. Ahab led the people into the worship of false gods, even to the point of sacrificing children. He led the way in bringing in the heathen religions of the region and Jezebel worked right alongside him to wipe out the worship of the true God by destroying the prophets. They were a team with one purpose. So is the traditional “Jezebel spirit” interpretation valid? I think not.

The second Jezebel is found in Revelation:
“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. 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.”

Revelation 2:20-21 (NIV)
If we take this apart to find the implications we see that this Jezebel calls herself a prophet. In other words, God did not send her. God did not call her a prophet. She called herself a prophet. That is wrong. It is sin and it is common. But the sin that is being called out here is that of the church of Thyatira. They were tolerating the false prophetic without correction. The church allowed her to continue to preach and to teach as if she were hearing from God.

The false prophetic led the church into sexual immorality (where have we seen this?), and into all the practices of the false religions around them – spiritual adultery. I believe that this is the Jezebel spirit for which the church is called to be alert in these days and not be taken in by every person who claims to be prophetic.

Paul said that when one prophesies ALL are to carefully weigh what is said. All too often we have abdicated our responsibility to do so because the one speaking has a following as a prophetic voice. We have twisted the words in Chronicles, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm" (1 Chronicles 16:22).
"Spiritually Abused"
We have construed them to mean that we do not have a responsibility to weigh what they say against scripture. They become untouchable and anything they say must be from God. This is a dangerous precedent that does not get good marks in the word of God.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”

Jeremiah 23:16 (NIV)
It’s especially hard to weigh a word carefully when it is what we were hoping to hear.

If there were false prophets then, surely there are prophets today who speak from their own minds and not from God's. It IS our responsibility and privilege to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us as we “weigh carefully” what anyone puts forth as a word from the Lord whether they are our next door neighbor or someone with a well-respected “prophetic” ministry. The word of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will be our surest guide.
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On Jezebel & Thyatira
By Ramone Romero

Usually "Jezebel" is seen today as a sort of self-proclaimed prophet or teacher who tries to draw people away from established church leaders to themselves instead. While that often happens in churches, it does not fit the original "Jezebel" in scripture.

Her name meant "not exalted", and throughout her life she did not seek her own exaltation or disciples, but rather she fought (and abused God's people) so that her husband (Ahab) and her children (future kings of Israel) would be exalted and honored by the people. She wedded herself to Ahab and served him. Instead of trying to get what she herself wanted, she used her abusive ways to try to get for Ahab the things that his heart coveted.

Jezebel seemed to have been particularly irritated at the prophets of God because she wanted them to be in submission to the king (for example, her son repeatedly demanded that Elijah come before him according to his own timing instead of Elijah's or God's). She wanted "God" and all of His children in submission to the top leadership.
"Building Darkness"
So in Revelation, when Christ said that "Jezebel" was tolerated at the church in Thyatira, we shouldn't assume that "Jezebel" was a prophet or teacher who was trying to gather people away from leadership to themselves or their own teachings. The exact opposite was true with the Biblical "Jezebel"—she wanted people to submit to leadership more than to God! "Jezebel" in Thyatira was a person or spirit that promised deep revelations and spiritual secrets ("food") if people submitted to the abuse and misuse of the church's authorities.

The bottom line of "her teachings" is to serve the idols of your heart. Jezebel appeals to the heart's fleshy desire for greatness and exaltation, promising "deep secrets" that will help you get what your heart desires (in God's name, of course!). But the authority that Christ gives is different, not based on the fleshy desire for "more." Christ's way of authority is simply love and service. The greatest is to be the least, not a "benefactor" who lords it over people. Love thinks not of itself.

It's all about Jesus and His love. Making it about anything else makes God seem far away, so that you have to "know this" or "submit to that" in order to "get to" Him or get to some "increase in authority." Subtly it replaces God with idols and distracts from loving one another. In contrast, Christ said that He put no extra burdens on His people; the gospel and His command to love as He loved us are enough. Anything else is added weight.

Christ wants His spiritual children to be able to recognize true spiritual authority for themselves, instead of being forced to submit to it. He will teach His own true authroity to those those who have not accepted "her" abusive ways and profited in fruit ('children') from "Jezebel." His authority does not make sense in the ways of the world, but that is the way of the Cross.

Read more about the biblical "Jezebel"

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See also: "Jezebel's Secrets"

5 comments:

  1. More about the biblical "Jezebel"

    Jezebel didn't introduce idolatry to Ahab or seduce him into it—as Cherry pointed out, he already was doing worse than any other king in Israel. Like her name ("Not exalted"), biblically Jezebel was actually not focused on getting glory for herself. Even her final words show this: When Jehu came to deal with her, she said, "Did Zimri have peace, who murdered his master?" (Or, "Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?")

    Initially it looks like she wanted to seduce Jehu, but her words tell different. She was citing reminding Jehu how Zimri, an official of King Elah, led a rebellion and killed Elah and then set himself up as king, but was in turn killed only seven days later by a commander of the army, Omri—Ahab's father, who then became the next king. (Jezebel showed complete, unwavering devotion to Ahab and his family!)

    Like Zimri, Jehu had just killed his master, Joram king of Israel (Ahab's son). Jezebel was rebuking Jehu for rebelling against his master, and trying to scare him by saying that just as God had judged Zimri, so too Jehu was in store for the same fate. Her painting up herself shows that this was her method of "seduction."

    The common interpretation of what "the Jezebel spirit" is derives from reading the letter to Thyatira without comparing it to Jezebel's history in the Old Testament and finding the common denominators. But if we don't look at the historical Jezebel to understand the reason Jesus mentioned her name, we're not going to interpret the Thyatiran situation correctly.

    As a result of this, generally we tend to read situation at the church of Thyatira as if Jezebel came from outside. We don't consider even that Jezebel was already inside and was a leader in Israel, and we look at "Jezebel" as being a spirit in people who tries to seduce leaders to lead them astray.

    But the historical Jezebel "urged Ahab on" in his ways, instead of leading him in her own ways. She urged him to serve the idols of his heart, and she beat down any of God's people who opposed Ahab. She upheld the king and his authority over all else, and put down those those against him or displeasing him as if they were against God. Even the accusations she had spoken against Naboth are relevant: that Naboth cursed God and the king. She had people accuse him of rebellion!

    Because Jezebel killed off God's prophets, we tend to look at "Jezebel" as if it is the same thing as "a spirit of control", but the equation isn't there in Scripture. She was someone who egged on Ahab, and got the things for him that he wanted (Naboth's vineyard, etc.). When she wielded his authority, it was still in service to him and what he wanted. And when she put down people, it was because they weren't giving Ahab what he wanted.

    Her war against God's prophets can be seen in the same terms: She thought that the prophets should obey the king first, before God. (Her son Ahaziah illustrated this by demanding that Elijah come down and appear before him, at his own timing instead of Elijah's or God's timing.) And when she was killed, the question of whether Jehu was doing God's will or not was irrelevant to her; the most important thing to her was that Jehu had rebelled against his master Joram, Ahab's other son.

    Some people have seen "Jezebel" in the persecution of Herod the Great against the infant Jesus, and this actually fits the same bill. Herod was upset (and other leaders in Jerusalem, according to Matthew) because it was said that Jesus was king. Jesus was a threat to Herod's authority, and also to the authoritative establishment that the Jewish leaders had going on.

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  2. P.S.

    In the letter to Thyatira, the punchline Jesus talks about is Him giving His authority. This speaks directly to Jezebel's claims: "Jezebel" says that spiritual authority is in "leaders" and that you must obey to be blessed, or risk being cursed. But Christ says, "No, that's not My authority! I will give each of you My authority who overcome by faith alone" (see 1st John 5).

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  3. This is all great stuff! Wish a large portion of the body of Christ would open their eyes and be healed in Jesus' name!

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  4. I just found a treatment of the John/Elijah/Jezebel subject that I had written several years ago, tucked away in my unsent email "drafts" folder. I suppose I never sent it out then, for reasons I can't remember. But it looks very ready to be read now, so here it is: "Understanding the Spirit of Elijah"

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Be blessed in His heart today! His heart is for you!