We continue our look at the story of Elijah and Jezebel. These two contrasting figures show us the value of fighting against temptation with courage and honor. Christianity has a call to power that is counter-intuitive to this world. Those who humble themselves are exalted, and those who exalt themselves are humbled. Scripture calls for us to resist, overcome, and remain humble. We join Tim in 2 Kings with the story of Elijah.
Elijah anoints Jehu but Ahaziah is King
Interestingly enough, God does say to Elijah, look, I’m going to give you a replacement, Elisha; and I’m going to ask you to anoint a different king. And then Elijah doesn’t do much before he hands that over. So Elijah is asked to anoint Jehu as king, but that’s not who’s king next. The next king after Ahab dies is Ahaziah.
This is in 2 Kings 1:2. Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers and said to them, Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.”
He’s going to go ask the Baal prophets, am I going to recover from this?
God tells Elijah, go and tell Ahaziah, is there not a prophet in Israel? Why are you asking the god of Ekron?
So Ahaziah says in verse 7, “What kind of man was it that who came up to meet you and told you these words?” So they answered him, “A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. So he went up to him; and there he was, sitting on the top of a hill. And he spoke to him: “Man of God, the king has said, ‘Come down!’” So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
And then that happens again.
And then the third band of fifty, the guy comes and says, “Please, please don’t kill us.”
And God says, “Go ahead and go with them.”
So he goes with them, and he pronounces to Ahaziah what is going to transpire to him, he’s going to die, and he’s going to be dispossessed.
And that’s what happens. Then Elijah goes up to heaven; and Elisha takes his place. Jehu becomes king. Jehu is going to be the one at whose hand Jezebel perishes.
So we see, with Elijah, that he had this tremendous victory, this amazing victory, then he just kind of blew it. But God says, look, OK, you’ve done awesome. I’m going to go ahead and let someone else in here. But before you go all the way, let’s rewind and replay, and let’s let the king threaten you, and you win.
It’s really cool. He has a recovery. Then God lets him pass the baton. So that’s really cool.
Jezebel gets Naboth’s vineyard for Ahab
So Jezebel’s going to meet her end through Jehu, but before we get there, let’s look at another episode. It’s the incident of Naboth’s vineyard. We see Naboth’s vineyard episode in chapter 21.
1 Kings 21:1. And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite—this is while Ahab is still alive—had a vineyard which was in Jezreel—The valley of Jezreel is the plain—you know it as Armageddon, the valley of Megiddo, Jezreel, it’s all the same thing. It’s up in the north part of Israel. next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Samaria, Israel, same thing. So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers—”
When Israel was given the land, and it was divvied up into parcels, God gave it to families for perpetual possession. It was a sacred thing for them. It wasn’t just an economic thing. It was for them and their posterity forever.
Naboth understands that. And he says, look, this isn’t just a piece of property that’s an asset. This is my family heritage. I’m not going to give this up.
So verse 4, So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
So here you have Ahab, the king who’s in charge of everything, but he can’t have this one thing. So he goes into a sullen state of despair. Have you ever done that, where you lose perspective?
The song Today is Beautiful, you might have heard, is a song about perspective. It’s written about one of our grandsons who was in Disney World. He was about three or four years old. And his sister, who is a year and a half older, is pushing the stroller. And she wouldn’t let him push the stroller. So he totally melted down. In Disney World! The happiest place on earth!
So you’ve got all these things around that are there to make you happy. “But I want the stroller! I want to push the stroller!”
That’s kind of what we do, isn’t it?
What Jezebel should have done is gone to Ahab and said, look, there’s two circles. You’re in the victim’s circle. You’re letting circumstances dictate your happiness. Get out of the victim circle and come over here to the circle of choice and live your values and make the best of circumstances.
Well, Jezebel’s point is not to make Ahab a constructive person. Her point is to make him dependent on her.
So what she does is she says, “Why are you not eating?”
He says, “Well, Naboth won’t give me his vineyard.”
No problem. She sets up this scheme where two worthless men go to a banquet, accuse Naboth of heresy, and go out and stone him.
Then she comes back in and says, “You can have your vineyard now. He’s dead.”
What Jezebel is doing here is using intrigue and violence in order to win favor.
She knows how to use fear. She knows how to use violence. She knows how to set up structures that create a patronage systems for herself where she has power and money rolling in. And she knows how to curry favor with those in power. Nice lady, huh?
Jehu has Jezebel killed
So now, let’s look at her demise.. In 2 Kings 9, we see Jezebel’s death. Now Jehu has dispatched Ahaziah, and he goes to the city.
2 Kings 9:30. Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window.
You’ve got the picture here. There’s a window in the gate in a walled city. She’s looking out the window, and she’s put on her full makeup and dolled up her hair.
Verse 31. Then, as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?”
Here’s what she’s saying: Zimri was a guy who had overthrown the king at an earlier time, and within seven days, Zimri had been overthrown himself. He didn’t have the adequate support.
Here’s what I think Jezebel’s doing: Jezebel is saying, you know, you don’t have the kind of support you really need to make this stick. Who is she suggesting he needs with her face all dolled up and her hair all dolled up?
Remember, she’s a madam. She uses sexual perversion as a business. She’s a manipulator. She knows how to curry favor with power. Seems fairly obvious to me that what she’s saying is you need to make an alliance with me, maybe even you should take me as your wife, and then we’ll do this together.
Well, Jehu looks up at the window and says, “Who is on my side? Who?” So two or three eunuchs looked out at him. And he said, “Throw her down.”
Some of the people closest to her, the eunuchs who would take care of the queen or the harem, they probably were tired of working for somebody like this. Wouldn’t you be? They see a chance, and they stick their heads out, and he says, “Throw her down.”
And they go and pitch her out the window, and she dies.
To fulfill the prophecy, dogs came and ate her and there was hardly anything left, her skull and her palms. That fulfilled the prophecy because God wanted to make very clear when people abuse their authority, when they have possessions of authority and they abuse to manipulate and control other people, that’s something that he really doesn’t like.
The sin of sexual immorality
You can see that Jezebel’s violent death is kind of mirrored back in our Revelation passage. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know I am He who searches the minds and the hearts.
The wages of sin is death. The consequences of sin is death. And sexual immorality is a sin that has a particularly adverse affect on us.
We can look at 1 Corinthians 6:18. I Corinthians 6:18 says Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Clearly we can commit sexual immorality and be God’s servants. But if we do, there’s a particularly adverse consequence to us, more than other sins. Perhaps it’s because we are feeding our appetites at the expense of others. We’re training our heart to be doing exactly the opposite of what God put us here to do, to learn to serve. We’re becoming a slave to our appetites and an obstacle to other people.
And what God wants us to do is exactly opposite. He wants us to be a pathway for other people and to master our appetites and serve him.
Revelation 2:23. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Actions have consequences. And we’re going to have consequences for our actions. He wants us to read, hear, and do. And what he wants us to do is to hold on to that which we know is true. And he wants us to resist corrupt authorities.
Verse 24. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan—
All these things Jezebel is doing: manipulation, using people’s passions to enslave them, currying favor with authorities for your self benefit, these are all Satan’s tools. These are the kinds of things Satan wants us to follow.
Being an overcomer is different than being a Christian
But he says don’t have anything to do with that. Just hold fast with what you have until I come.
Verse 26. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
Becoming born as one of God’s children is something that just happens at a point in time. It never goes away. Being an overcomer, a victor, means you have to run all the way through the tape. You have to run the race all the way to the end.
The way to power
And if you do, I will give him power over the nations—
What was Jezebel constantly seeking? She was constantly seeking power, prestige, wealth, fame, access to authority. What did she get? Eaten by dogs.
What God is saying is, that’s the world’s way. If you go for worldly power, you’re going to end up eaten by dogs. But if you will serve, if you will lay that aside, have nothing to do with it and serve others, including resisting perverse authority, the reward I’m going to give you is power over the nations.
Here he quotes Psalm 2:9. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.
This is clearly a messianic psalm. If you look up a little earlier you see…
I will declare the decree. (Psalms 2:7)
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My son,
Today I have begotten You,
Ask of me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
And that’s what’s quoted here. Jesus quotes this Psalm and then states at the end, “as I have also received from My Father.”
Jesus says I received power over the nations from my Father. If you will hold on till the end, I will give this power to you as well.
Everything Jezebel wants is for the wrong reasons, I will give to you because you have the right reasons.
The morning star
Finally, in Revelation 2:28. And I will give him the morning star.
Now, the morning star is an interesting phrase. Isaiah 14:12 says this. How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
It’s very possible that the very first morning star was Lucifer. And how was it that he fell, he who was cut down to the ground, who has weakened the nations? He says I’m going to be strong over the nations; he actually weakens the nations.
Isaiah 14:13. For you’ve said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Sounds just like Jezebel, doesn’t it?
Instead what Jesus says is—of course Jesus is the true morning star. And in 2 Peter 1:19 it says, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Proverbs calls the morning star wisdom.
It seems like the picture we have here is to be in great favor with God, to be in ascendency over creation, and to have a position of amazing authority. Of course Jesus has all that, and he wants to share it with us. To be a power over the nations. To be the first over nations. But that just goes to overcomers.
And the interesting thing to be the overcomer—resisting bad authority qualifies us to be a good authority. You lay your life down so that you may take it up. You give away power that you may be the most powerful.
George Washington was powerful because he gave up power
Arguably the most powerful man that’s ever lived is George Washington, because he fathered the most powerful nation that’s ever been. What was it that George Washington did that was so miraculous? He gave power. He gave it twice, at least twice: He surrendered his sword to the Continental Congress at a time where it did not look like a very good choice. He viewed it as the only way to perpetuate self governance in America.
Later, after he had been President for two terms, he stepped down and created a precedent of peaceful transitions of power.
King George commented something to the effect that, if he actually did what he said he was going to do, he would be one of the greatest men who ever lived. And he was.
That’s a picture of giving power that we may take it up. And that’s what God promises here.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
We have a great challenge today: Do we want to accept what Jezebel brings into the church? What Jezebel has in secular culture? What Jezebel offers us in government? Or will we resist?
Will we resist those ideas when they come into our church? Will we resist those ideas when they come into our family? Will we resist those ideas when they come into our government? For we are warriors. And we are to war spiritually.
But spiritual warfare isn’t just prayer. It’s also engagement. Never against people. But, we do engage people. We’re engaging the ideas behind those people, the forces behind those people.
What God wants us to do is stand. Stand for what’s true. Stand for what’s right. What God wants us to do is to be his witness. And what he promises us if we will do that to the end, he will give us amazing rewards. Behold I am coming and my reward is in my hand.