Our grandmother from yesterday’s Bible passage was a horrible woman. Her concern was very much for herself to the point of seeking out her grandsons and destroying them so she could have the throne. It should not surprise us to find that her mother is none other than Jezebel of the Old Testament. Queen Jezebel and the lessons we will learn from her today are a warning. When we don’t follow the way of the Lord, we don’t just coast through life. Much damage follows in our wake and being given over to our own drives and desires can be quite a scary thing as we will see in the life of Queen Jezebel. 1
Jezebel is the daughter of the king of Tyre (a city in what is now Lebanon) and her great contribution to society was to try to introduce the worship of Tyrian Baal as the state religion of Israel. Yes, the state religion of God’s people. Any prophet who didn’t forward the cause of Baal was put to the sword. She had a bounty out on the head of every man of Yahweh to the point that they were being hidden away in caves. ‘While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.’ 1 Kings 18: 4
Jezebel’s husband King Ahab is the 7th king of Israel, but it is she who rules the nation. This one verse in the Bible says it all. 1 King 21:25 ‘There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel, his wife.’ What a horrible epitaph. Who wants to be known as the wife who urged her husband on to do evil? I encourage you to read the following passages to get a full picture of Jezebel and her wicked endeavors which include:
- She was involved in both idolatry and witchcraft. 2 Kings 9:22
- She threatened Elijah, the prophet of God saying, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’ [dead prophet] 1 Kings 19:2
- She slayed as many prophets of the Lord as she could find. 1 Kings 18
- She rebuked her husband and demanded that he ‘act like a king’ 1 Kings 21
- She orchestrated a death in order to secure a vineyard that the owner didn’t want to sell. 1 Kings 21
- She wrote letters to the elders and nobles of the city telling them what they were to do and how to do it. 1 Kings 21
- She became a standard for wickedness, and as such is mentioned again in Revelation, as returning and seducing God’s servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Rev. 2:20
The lesson from this woman of the Old Testament is a warning. If we choose to not obey the Lord, we will affect far more lives than just our own. The grandma who slaughtered her grandsons learned at the feet of her mother Jezebel.2 How we live is what we will teach our children. We are all very familiar with how parents’ actions and words get repeated in the kindergarten classes of their little ones! Now, our choices are not going to be as drastic as in the life of Jezebel. I doubt any of us will pursue ministers of God to have them killed or write a letter to the mayor of the city telling him what to do. But we will have an effect on our family. Our lack of zeal for the things of God will affect our marriages. The next generation will grow up under the influence of our attitudes, actions and apathy. We have all heard it said, ‘she is just like her mother,’ ‘he takes after his father,’ and even ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Whether it is the evil of setting up altars to Baal or teaching our children to worship at the altars of selfishness, greed and apathy, our actions will affect those around us.
But don’t lose heart. Did you know there is another who pursued men of God to see them imprisoned and put to death?
‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.’ Acts 9:1,2
Yes, the apostle Paul, writer of about one third of the New Testament basically started out the same way. It was after his encounter with the living Christ (Acts 9:3ff) that he became such a blessing and example for us to follow. God, in His goodness, always provides a stop and reboot if we humble ourselves, confess and start the journey again with our eyes on Him. As we daily encounter the living Christ and let Him lead and direct our lives through His Word, our epitaph will be one of honour to Him.
Our woman of the Old Testament is Jezebel. May we remember her example as someone NOT to follow. May we be stopped in our tracks when we go astray, and instead be used by God to impress the next generation and those around us with truth and blessing, to the glory of God.
1 Queen Jezebel married King Ahab. Ahab was a wicked king and is probably best known for the battle between his god, Baal, and Elijah calling on Yahweh at Mt. Carmel. Grandma Athaliah is either their daughter, or King Ahab’s sister. Thus, Jezebel is either the mother or sister-in-law of wicked Grandma Athaliah.
2 It is unclear if Jezebel is her mother or her sister-in-law. Either way, her wicked ways and lack of concern and love for family has been passed on to the next generation.