Question: “What is the story of Ahab and Jezebel?”
Answer:King Ahab and Queen Jezebel served as leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of much evil in the land. King Ahab was a Jewish king who married a Sidonian woman named Jezebel and became involved in worshipingBaal, the god of her people. Ahab built a house to Baal in the capital city of Samaria and made an Asherah poleas a tool of pagan worship. We are told, “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
Jezebel was likewise known for her evil actions. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. After her marriage to Ahab, her first recorded action was cutting off the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4). Obadiah, a God-fearing officer in Ahab’s court, noted that Jezebel killed many prophets, despite Obadiah’s efforts to save them: “Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?” (1 Kings 18:13–14).
It was during the time of Ahab and Jezebel thatElijahwas the prophet in Israel. Satan had his couple on the throne, but God had His man in the field, performing miracles and leading a revival against Baal-worship. The three-and-a-half-year drought that Elijah prayed for was part of God’s judgment on the wickedness of the nation and its leaders.
When Elijah confronted Ahab near the end of the drought, the king said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). But Ahab had it wrong. Elijah was not the one bringing trouble on the land. The prophet corrected the king: “I have not made trouble for Israel . . . but you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals” (verse 18).
After Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and had them killed at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), Jezebel issued a death threat against him (1 Kings 19:2). The queen went on to plot against Naboth, the innocent owner of a vineyard that Ahab coveted. Jezebel had Naboth killed so the king could confiscate his land (1 Kings 21), and she prodded her husband into many other wicked acts besides: “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited” (1 Kings 21:25).
Ahab’s death was predicted by the prophets Elijah and Micaiah (1 Kings 21:19;22:28). Jezebel’s gruesome death was also predicted by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23). True to the prophecy, Ahab was killed in a battle with Syria. Later, Jezebel was thrown from a tower, “and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her” (2 Kings 9:33). Then, “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 9:35). Just as Elijah had said, the dogs ate Jezebel.
InRevelation 2:20Jezebel’s reputation lives on as Jesus speaks against thechurch at Thyatira: “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.” The woman’s name in Thyatira was probably not literally “Jezebel,” but her immorality and idolatry in preying upon God’s people was very Jezebel-like.
Both Ahab and Jezebel were leaders of God’s people who forsook the Lord and served other gods. The royal couple earned a reputation for sin and violence, and they both suffered violent deaths as part of God’s judgment on their actions.
Question: “What is the Jezebel spirit?”
Answer:There is a variety of opinions about what constitutes a Jezebel spirit, everything from sexual looseness in a woman to the teaching of false doctrine—by a man or a woman. The Bible does not mention a Jezebel spirit, although it has plenty to say about Jezebel herself.
Jezebel’s story is found in 1 and 2 Kings. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre/Sidon and priest of the cult of Baal, a cruel, sensuous and revolting false god whose worship involved sexual degradation and lewdness. Ahab, king of Israel, married Jezebel and led the nation into Baal worship (1 Kings 16:31). Ahab and Jezebel’s reign over Israel is one of the saddest chapters in the history of God’s people.
There are two incidents in the life of Jezebel which characterize her and may define what is meant by the Jezebel spirit. One trait is her obsessive passion for domineering and controlling others, especially in the spiritual realm. When she became queen, she began a relentless campaign to rid Israel of all evidences of Jehovah worship. She ordered the extermination of all the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4,13) and replaced their altars with those of Baal. Her strongest enemy was Elijah, who demanded a contest on Mount Carmel between the powers of Israel’s God and the powers of Jezebel and the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18). Of course, Jehovah won, but despite hearing of the miraculous powers of Jehovah, Jezebel refused to repent and swore on her gods that she would pursue Elijah relentlessly and take his life. Her stubborn refusal to see and submit to the power of the living God would lead her to a hideous end (2 Kings 9:29-37).
The second incident involves a righteous man named Naboth who refused to sell to Ahab land adjoining the palace, rightly declaring that to sell his inheritance would be against the Lord’s command (1 Kings 21:3;Leviticus 25:23). While Ahab sulked and fumed on his bed, Jezebel taunted and ridiculed him for his weakness, then proceeded to have the innocent Naboth framed and stoned to death. Naboth’s sons were also stoned to death, so there would be no heirs, and the land would revert to the possession of the king. Such a single-minded determination to have one’s way, no matter who is destroyed in the process, is a characteristic of the Jezebel spirit.
So infamous was Jezebel’s sexual immorality and idol worship that the Lord Jesus Himself refers to her in a warning to the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). Most likely referring to a woman in the church who influenced it the same way Jezebel influenced Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality, Jesus declares to the Thyatirans that she is not to be tolerated. Whoever this woman was, like Jezebel, she refused to repent of her immorality and her false teaching, and her fate was sealed. The Lord Jesus cast her onto a sick bed, along with those who committed idolatry with her. The end for those who succumb to a Jezebel spirit is always death and destruction, both in the physical and the spiritual sense.
Perhaps the best way to define the Jezebel spirit is to say it characterizes anyone who acts in the same manner as Jezebel did, engaging in immorality, idolatry, false teaching and unrepentant sin. To go beyond that is to engage in conjecture and can possibly lead to false accusations and divisiveness within the body of Christ.