IN HEBREW JEZEBEL MEANS BOTH "Baal is husband" and "inability to cohabitate." Jezebel refuses to partner with anyone because she is allied to Baal, a false lord. She wears the pants; she leads, she controls, she rules. She shares nothing with no one.
In the example of the church in Thyatira, it was Jezebel's claim—not that of the people of the church in Thyatira—that she is a prophetess:
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
—Revelation 2:20, italics added
—Revelation 2:20, italics added
The fornication into which she is seducing the faithful in Christ can be literal, sexual, or spiritual. The people in the Thyatiran church were either seduced by her persona, or fearful of her manipulative personality—or both.
So WHAT IS JEZEBEL'S AGENDA? False religion, false doctrine, and most of all, the undermining of authority. Anywhere you find a Jezebel you will likely find weak men with passive authority. A Jezebel spirit feeds on Ahabs—weak men, men-fearers, and men-pleasers. She goes after leadership with the intent of rendering it useless, powerless, and lifeless. Using any means necessary, she lures people away from a true spiritual covering—from their pastor and from their church—and entices them into her sphere of influence. The tools of her trade can range from false prophecy to flattery and even sex. She fiercely defends her little kingdom and fosters unusual dependence from her followers. Her groups are literally covens of witchcraft, but of course the Jezebel spirit would never reveal that overtly, so the covens are often referred to as home groups or Bible study groups.
Above all, a person exhibiting a Jezebel spirit resents strong male leadership. Often her repulsion results from a dysfunctional relationship with her physical father. The father may have been absent, or he may have been physically or sexually abusive. Although never justified, it explains how she became so resentful.
Troubled by the helpless feelings of her past, she yearns to control her environment. Her Bible study group presents a platform for undermining the leadership of her church. Even her prayers seem to resound with the resentment she feels toward those in leadership: "Father, show our pastor the deeper things You're revealing to us." She is committing sedition—"the undermining of God-delegated, constituted authority with the intent to overthrow." We use another word for it—treason.
In a nation, it is punishable by death. People who commit sedition will never say, "I'm here to undermine your leadership." Neither does Satan wave his arms, telling the Christian where he is and what he plans to do.
Galatians 5:20 lists sedition as a work of the flesh. Therefore, people that participate in this sin will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The subtle, stealth-like attack upon the church through sedition has caused many church splits. It has destroyed relationships, created dissension, and fueled the fight in church wars. Any attempt to undermine the spiritual authority of church leaders is sedition.
Jezebel is an expert at undermining leaders' authority. Jezebel drives God's anointed leaders to discouragement, despair, suicide, and even depression just as she did the prophet Elijah. After Elijah called fire down from heaven and ordered the Israelites to slay the false prophets of Baal, Jezebel decided to go after him. Here was an anointed prophet, running for his life, beseeching God, "Lord, kill me. I am the only one left; just kill me." Many leaders encounter deep periods of loneliness and discouragement during which they despair of life. They may never share their feelings even with their wives or closest friends. Unbeknown to them, they may be dealing with a powerful Jezebel spirit that seeks to dominate and control.
Before Satan comes after the sheep, he first comes after the shepherd. Then he gets the sheep. Zechariah 13:7 says, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."
Leaders bear the impact of Satan's attack before the rest of the body does; because when the leaders fall, the sheep are scattered! That's exactly what Satan wants. He'll take one leader for a thousand sheep. This is why Paul admonished the church to pray regularly and fervently for those in authority.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for... kings, and for all that are in authority.
—1 Timothy 2:1-2
Those in authority come under attack due to the nature of the position they hold.
Not long ago, I received word about a pastor who spent thirty years in one city building a church of three or four thousand people. One day he walked out of the house, left town, and faxed his wife for a divorce after thirty years of marriage. She had no idea anything was even wrong. Now, people can say, "Oh, what a wicked...." Hold it! Thirty years invested in the kingdom of God; thirty years with one woman, no adultery, no immorality, no lack of integrity; great church—what happened? Jezebel happened!
Both Jezebel and Lucifer cause church splits, broken marriages, and destroyed lives. We should not cast these casualties out of our fellowships; instead we should go after them and seek to bring them back to God. Such a man can be rescued, delivered, and saved before he incurs the wrath of God. But under the control of Jezebel, he doesn't know he can be redeemed, and so he despairs and does foolish things. Worst of all, the rest of the body judges him without even knowing the details.
DYSFUNCTIONAL, DEFENSIVE, AND NOSY
MORE TIMES THAN NOT, a person with a Jezebel spirit comes from a dysfunctional family background. Jezebel feeds on dysfunction. Usually in the family history one can find alcoholism, abuse, mental illness, parental domination, or some other sort of dysfunction. It is not uncommon for Jezebel to be sexually unclean or to have some other sexual perversion in her life. Because she is dysfunctional, dysfunctional people are attracted to her. But beneath the seedy veneer lies a person with deep hurts and wounds.
When she is challenged, Jezebel becomes defensive and reacts with hostility. She lashes back with guilt-ridden accusations such as, "You're not praying enough. You're not submitted to authority. You're in rebellion. How could you do this to me? I love you! I've given you my life!" With aggression, she will intimidate, quote Scripture, and try to make those who challenge her feel inferior. She is skilled at talking people out of challenging her seditious ways, but when they walk away they feel dirty because they know they have been used.
Another characteristic of the Jezebel spirit is that she must know everything going on in the church—from top to bottom. She is very nosy and thrives on information. Because she wants to know about everybody—their ministry, their marriage, their children, their jobs, their problems—she concerns herself with church matters that are none of her business.
At times it may be difficult to detect the spirit of Jezebel at work in a church. She may masquerade as care, concern, intercession, support, or a number of other positive characteristics. Jezebel is a master at disguising her tactics.
Gossip is one of the biggest threats to the spiritual life of any church. The old "Christian grapevine" is a favorite tool used by Jezebel. The sins and failures of many church members easily become common knowledge at the church prayer meeting: "Let's pray for Brother So-and-So; he's been seen doing such-and-such" or "Let's intercede for Brother and Sister Marriage-In-A-Jam, they are having troubles again." I can just see the smirk on Jezebel's face as her influence lands right on the noses of these "intercessors."
DEALING WITH JEZEBEL
JEZEBEL, WITH HER EVIL SCHEMES and tactics, will have a toxic affect upon the church if she is not dealt with swiftly and thoroughly. There are two methods of dealing with Jezebel which will stop her influence and expel her from your midst.
1. Confront Jezebel head-on, using strong spiritual authority to rid yourself—and your church—of her influence.
We cannot sit idly by, watching Jezebel at work in our churches and in the lives of our friends and fellow believers, wishing she would just go away. Her intent is to undermine the spiritual authority God has given to the leaders He has placed over a church, and she will stop at nothing in order to get her way. Stand up to her, confront her sin, render it useless with the authority God has given to you, and stop her influence in your midst.
2. Live in submission to God, and teach those under your spiritual authority to live in submission also.
Submission is the solution to sedition. When a woman is submitted to her husband, Jezebel's tactics cannot affect that marriage. When a man is submitted to the leadership of his church, he will not undermine that authority with seditious words and behaviors. When a body of believers is submitted to its leaders, that church will grow and develop into a beacon of light in the dark, sinful world around it.
Like any label, the term Jezebel is easy to apply to situations or persons but not so easy to remove. In his book Growing in the Prophetic, Mike Bickle urges those in authority to beware of hastily throwing around labels such as Jezebel. He writes, "Too many women who have a leadership gift are labeled Jezebels simply because they clash with a man who has a controlling personality."1 Sadly, many of us respond to others out of our own insecurities. When we do, casualties are not far behind.
At the end of the next chapter, you will learn how to deal further with Jezebel and with her partner in crime—Lucifer.