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1/20/2009

Understanding Jezebel

"Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist. Be on your guard..anyone who does not abide in the teachings of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. Do not...welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person." 2 John 1:7-10

In the O.T., she was the Priestess-Queen from Tyre married to Israel’s King Ahab. As a daughter of a foreign king, no doubt trained from birth, she could be described as being politically forceful and astute, she exercised a real position of authority (based on her use of the a royal seal and her hosting the false prophets at her own table), and being committed to, and actively engaged in, her pagan faith. As a religious leader (priestess) in this pagan religion, she actively promoted it, threatened the prophets of God, played host to the priests of the pagan faith, led the worship in this pagan faith, and actively persecuted the prophets of God. (Brenner, Athalya. The Israelite Woman. JST, 1985).

The next instance of the name, crops up in Revelation 2, where it is symbolically to represent a false leader in the church at Thyatira. The characteristics of this false leader are claiming prophetic authority to teach “fornication” and “to eat meat sacrificed to idols.” The person represented by the term Jezebel (it may be a man or a woman) has emerged from a church filled with good works (love, faith, service, and patience endurance, and obvious growth in discipleship).

Several ideas of interpretation exist concerning the book of Revelation. One is that the messages of the book are directed more to the time period and not to future events. If that is the case, it is known that several strands of Gnosticism and Montanism (an ecstatic philosophy of personal revelation and prophesy) were at work in the communities around Thyatira. It is also interesting to note that the terms “fornication” and “meats offered to idols” are in Acts 15:22-29 where the Jerusalem Council asked that of all the new Gentile believers they only follow those “essentials”.

So it seems most logical that the “Jezebel” of Revelation was a person who was promoting a “different Gospel” (based on one of the philosophies mentioned) and was tolerated by the otherwise worthy church. The mention of the terms “fornication” and “meats offered to idols” would seem to indicate the issue was doctrinal. The person, the “Jezebel” (male or female), was preaching a false doctrine and being tolerated. Perhaps, even as Ezekiel was frightened off by the first Jezebel (in 1 Kings 17), this Jezebel was frightening off or intimidating people (even true prophets) by their attitude of hyper-religiousness via these new revelations or special knowledge. The “orthodox” was being overtaken by the Gnostic and its hyper-mysticism and special knowledge teaching or the Montanist super-revelation and emphasis on the supernatural.

Instead of being some ‘demon” or “spirit”, as some teach, the Revelation Jezebel would seem to suggest that the church had forgotten the teachings of Jesus that a tree is known by its fruit, of Peter that the believer must test the teaching of the false teachers and prophets, and the reminder that “all scripture” is given for “instruction”. There is no need for secret teachings, mysterious rites of initiation, or “new revelation” and to allow such teachings , as John states, "does not have God."

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