There is a woman from scripture who was the epitome of evil; her name was Jezebel.
“In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jereboam, the son of Nebat, the the took as his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshipped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:29-33)
Jezebel brought her pagan worship to Israel and Ahab was enslaved, indeed her name means ‘Baal exalts’. She was responsible for the massacre of many of God’s prophets at that time. She was a wicked and manipulative and controlling woman, determined to get her own way. Ahab was king of Israel when Elijah set up an altar to God in opposition to the prophets of Baal. Fire fell from Heaven to consume the offering on Elijah’s altar even after it had been thoroughly soaked with water. The prophets of Baal called on their god to do the same with absolutely no result. Ahab ran home to tell Jezebel all that had happened and Jezebel was furious. She threatened Elijah and all the remaining prophets of God with death. Notice that it wasn’t Ahab who swore by the gods to destroy Elijah, it was his controlling wife. She was the power behind the throne. Ahab was weak and childish, and she took advantage of that.
I am sure you know the account of Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab wanted it for himself, because he wanted to plant a vegetable garden there, next to his palace. He made an offer to Naboth who immediately refused and so Ahab went home to bed, turned his face to the wall and sulked. So in stepped Jezebel and assured her husband that she would get the vineyard for him. Using her husband’s name she wrote to the elders of the city where Naboth lived, and basically commanded them to betray and kill Naboth.
I get the feeling the elders were terrified of this woman, because they did what she asked, and Naboth was stoned to death for doing nothing wrong other than being brave enough to stand up against the wimpish king and his wicked wife.
You can just imagine, after this wicked act, that Jezebel went to her husband and said, “Here you are sweetheart, I got it for you as I said I would. The vineyard is all yours and Naboth is dead. Go and plant your vegetables to your heart’s content and enjoy yourself, after all you are the king and you deserve it.”
“But there as no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” (1 Kings 21:25)
It is interesting to see that God held Ahab responsible for the death of Naboth, for it was he who should have controlled his wife and prevented this evil deed. To Ahab’s credit, he did repent in sackcloth and ashes and God’s wrath against him was allayed for a time. However, both Ahab and Jezebel died the deaths that God had foretold for them; Ahab in battle, and Jezebel thrown from her window. Ahab died some time before Jezebel and after his death she continued in her interfering and controlling ways, this time through her son. But her evil caught up with in the end and she met her grisly end.
She was not submissive to her husband, she took authority upon herself, she wanted her own way, in short she was the exact opposite of the way a Godly woman should be. Yes she was a pagan woman of the world and didn’t worship the God we know, but she is a good example of a wilful and controlling woman married to a man who allowed her to do what she wanted to.
She was not under authority!
See the contrast between Jezebel and Ruth, see the difference between her and the Proverbs woman?
The spirit of Jezebel is the spirit of control and witchcraft. In Rev 2 v 2-18 we see o type of Jezebel being mentioned by Jesus in His letter to the church at Thyatira: “Nevertheless I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds.” (Revelation 2:20)
Whether this was the true name of this controlling woman or not is a matter of debate, but whoever she was and whatever she represented, she seems to have had control over the city of Thyatira through the pagan worship of Apollo and she was successfully drawing people away from the Christian faith. Whatever the truth about her, it’s clear she was evil and Jesus was comparing her to the Jezebel of the Old Testament . It was the same spirit that controlled both of these women, and the same spirit is alive and well today, both out of the church and within it.
Although this letter is linked with the mediaeval period of history and the rising control of the Roman Catholic Church , it is also true for us today. These women wanted control, they wanted authority, and they gloried in their so called power. There is a sentence that has going through my mind whilst preparing this teaching, ‘A woman who is not under authority is dangerous!’
I have seen it again and again throughout my walk of faith. That’s why God has ordered things the way He has. He made us, He knows us, He knows our temptations and our weaknesses and also our strengths. We are different from men. God never intended us to be the same. He never intended for us to attempt to control others.
We all need to honestly look at ourselves in the light of God’s word.
Do we who are married truly abide under the arm of our husband and allow him to be our head? Do we truly, ultimately dwell under the authority of God?
“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is Saviour of the body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so live his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5: 33)
For those without a husband, this is the way we should be towards Christ Jesus. A submissive woman, under the authority of her Saviour and Lord is a beautiful woman, inside and out.
Whatever our situation, whatever our lifestyle, each one of us needs wisdom. God desires us to have wisdom, it is His gift, it’s not earned, learned or merited. It is this wonderful gift that helps us to be what God wants us to be. Oh, we all fail. We can be bad tempered and moody, we can say damaging things, opening our mouths before we engage our brain, but in the end we all have a choice as to how we will respond in any given situation. We need the precious gift of wisdom to help us hold our tongues when we need to and not strike back in anger when someone upsets us. We need wisdom to see how feeling sorry for ourselves is not what God requires of us. We need God’s wisdom to show us how to deal with the difficult situations we all face in life from time to time.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
God gives His wisdom liberally as a gift, but first we must ask for it.
A while back I saw a quote from Dave Hunt: “Many of the social, family, economic and spiritual problems that exist today, may be traced to the failure of women to properly understand and carry out their scriptural roles. Sadly, even many Christian women, deceived by the temporal and often illusory status that they may gain in the world, have forfeited fulfilment of their special and pivotal place in God’s plan. It’s so easy to exchange the truth for a lie.”
Let each of us pray for that special gift of wisdom from the Lord to help us understand our rightful place in our marriages, in the church and in the world, always looking to the word of God as our help and guide.
“And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone, I will make a help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
God’s blessing be upon you all,
Next time: ‘Bloom where you’re planted!’