The Deep Things of Satan

Part 9 in the Series:

The Spirit of Jezebel

By Don Enevoldsen

IMG_0921The previous segment of this series led to some comments that compelled a detour into a related subject, divorce and remarriage, resulting in an entirely different series that interrupted our examination of the spirit of Jezebel. The time has come, however, to complete this study. We have covered some significant aspects of how that spirit operates, but there are still a few other things to consider, as well as some modern day examples.

The last verses of Revelation 2 provide some closing observations to the church at Thyatira. In addition to the implications of voluntary associations, banquets, food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality, the message also referred to “Satan’s so-called deep secrets.” (Revelation 2:24). As might be expected, status was a dominant feature of “deep secrets.”

Religious secrets created a hierarchy of status in the ancient world and became a significant tool for maintaining status. The more of the sacred and secret arts a person knew, the more aloof he could be from the commoners, those who were not good enough to be initiated. The phrase “Satan’s so-called deep secrets,” or ta bathea tou satana, “the deep things of Satan,” implied the practice of secret rituals into which only those of greatest prestige could be introduced.

Secret rituals or knowledge were especially prevalent in certain “mystery” religions, of which the worship of Isis, the Egyptian version of Jezebel’s patron god, Astarte, was a prominent example. (Lucius Auleius, in The Metamorphosis 48, describes his initiation into the “pure secrets” of the worship of Isis. See also Plutarch, Morals, “Of Isis and Osiris” 9; Pausanias, Description of Greece 4.33.5. Mystery rites included the worship of Dionysus, Bacchus and Mithras, among others.) Only the initiates of the inner part of worship were allowed to learn the secrets. To share any of the mysteries, once initiated, was the most heinous of crimes and, in many cases, carried a death penalty. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 3.9; Livy, The History of Rome 31.14.7-8; 39.13.4-14; Pausanias, Description of Greece 4.33.5)

The desire for secret knowledge was not limited, however, to the mystery religions. There is evidence in both Christian and gnostic texts of the practice. Inherent in the knowledge of mysteries was status and privilege, something that was not limited to pagan religions. The Apocryphon of James provides an example of the kind of “insider” entitlement that deep secrets were intended to convey.

Since you asked me to send you a secret book which was revealed to me and Peter by the Lord, I could neither refuse you nor speak directly to you, but I have written it in Hebrew letters and have sent it to you—and to you alone. But inasmuch as you are a minister of the salvation of the saints, endeavor earnestly and take care not to recount this book to many—this which the Savior did not desire to recount to all of us, his twelve disciples. But blessed are those who will be saved through faith in this discourse.

According to the spurious writer of this manuscript, only James and Peter were entrusted with this special revelation, which was too sacred for the common people and even for the other ten apostles. The Gospel of Thomas put it succinctly: “Jesus said, ‘It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries.’” (The Gospel of Thomas 62) Learning the mysteries, the deep secrets, was taken as an indication of worthiness.

The various images surrounding the name of Jezebel in the message to Thyatira all pointed to leadership willing to perpetrate any misuse of power to maintain position and status. The warning from Jesus, however, was directed to the Ahabs of the church, those who not only tolerated the abuse of authority, but supported and participated in it under the guise of submission and with the same motive of maintaining prestige.

Some indication of the seriousness of tolerating Jezebel can be seen in the manner in which Jesus introduced himself. Verse 18 is the only place in Revelation where Jesus is identified as “Son of God,” the title that denoted both his power and his authority. Demons called him by that title when they feared he would torture them before their time. (Matthew 8:29) When the disciples saw Jesus walk on water and witnessed the winds die down instantly, they responded, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33) This was the title of one with ultimate authority and power, presented to Thyatira in juxtaposition to Jezebel’s claim to power.

Jesus also presented himself as unimpressed with position and titles. With penetrating, burning eyes, he “searches hearts and minds” (Revelation 2:23), seeing beyond appearance, title or position and discerning the reality behind behavior. He threatened to “repay each of you according to your deeds” (Revelation 2:23), phrasing that links behavior directly to the motive behind the action.

For those who had not been willing to accept Jezebel leaders, Jesus did not impose a heavy burden. He simply encouraged them to “hold on to what you have.” (Revelation 2:25) Refusing to tolerate Jezebel was not presented as something difficult. The Greek word for “learned” in verse 24 is ginosko. It basically means to know, but includes aspects of learning, perceiving, discerning and ascertaining by examination. In essence, standing up to Jezebel could be as basic as not learning her way of doing things, and in the process, persisting in behavior that is ethical, moral and right.

In return for their enduring commitment, they would be given the very authority Jezebel and her followers sought, the same authority the Father had given Jesus. (Revelation 2:26-27) With that authority, believers would rule the nations with an iron scepter.

They would also be given the “morning star.” (Revelation 2:28) Interpretation of this promise nearly always goes in one of two directions. Either the “morning star” is defined as Satan, referring to his name, Lucifer, which means “shining one,” as in Isaiah 14:12, or the morning star is interpreted as Jesus, who is later called the morning star in Revelation 22:16.

I would suggest, however, that the image relates directly to Jezebel, given her association with Astarte. Astarte, along with her counterparts, Isis in Egypt and Ishtar in Babylon, was linked to the morning star. Engravings of Ishtar often include the morning or the evening star somewhere over the image of the goddess. The authority given to those who overcame would include authority over Jezebel, the morning star.

Ultimately, the refusal to tolerate Jezebel meant embracing truth with right motives. Those who strove for the truth would find the authority and the power to persevere and to overcome.

The words of Jesus to Thyatira concerning Jezebel have a direct bearing on how we view abusive, self-entitled leaders in church. I’ve encountered some of the worst, and have only recently come to grips with how to respond to them. Next week, I’ll go into more of my own experience to illustrate how the message to Thyatira can be applied to our lives. One thing I am sure of is that the spirit of Jezebel has not gone away.

Next, part ten: What I Lost and Gained Standing for Truth

Go to the beginning of the series, The Spirit of Jezebel: Part 1, A Jezebelian Kind of Thing

Do you have an additional thought on this subject? Please join the discussion and share your insights.

The Deep Things of Satan

8 thoughts on “The Deep Things of Satan

  • January 17, 2016 at 9:20 am
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    Interesting you should send this study on this date. On Saturday I will continue our weekly Bible Study and we will be dealing with that very topic, Christ’s messages to the seven churches. Thanks.

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    • January 17, 2016 at 10:47 am
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      It’s interesting how often you and I are studying the same things at the same time, Jerry. Seems to happen a lot. I guess great minds really do think alike.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 11:23 am
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    Much of what we are experiencing in church today is not church at all. It is actually “the church business.” I have noticed many churches are linked to other churches and they help to keep all of the pastors bust by providing them with “speaking engagements.” I call them speaking engagements because they certainly aren’t preaching to the people. Humans today still wrestle with the same issue which Eve had and that is a spirit of “me.” Not wanting to do it God’s way, but resorting to doing it “my way.” This autonomous spirit is the root cause of so much hurt within the church. So-called church leaders are more obsessed with building their “brand” than they are with tending to the sheep.

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    • January 19, 2016 at 4:39 pm
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      Well said, Eric. The self-entitled generation of “me” has done great harm, without question. And welcome to the conversation.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 12:01 am
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    more should be said about this verse to 2 classes:

    1) people ‘in the Chrich’ who either knowingly or mostly unknowingly participate in Masonic activities or have an interest in the ‘new age’ or gnostic discourses / reituals / doctrines

    2) occultists. the blatantly lost & often demoniac (possessed or influenced) people who have been so blinded by the likes of the rosicrucians, oto, kenneth grant, enochian, qabbalah, musical acts like ghost or tool or such –
    who are unaware the simplicity of the Grace in Christ is both more illumining (in a real sense) & more purely powerful.

    God bless.

    consider writing something on this & sending it to occultists magazines as challenge to their pride – which having been lost & into i can say will provoke a response & might actually get at least a spot in a publication or 2 – if for no other fact than them wanting to make fun or supposedly prove you wrong.

    that way at least a few people might hear the truth of the Christ of God & not the lies of Satan.

    God bless and keep you and yours.

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    • July 18, 2018 at 9:51 am
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      An excellent suggestion, Nathan. I’ll consider that. I lived in Hollywood for seven years and I was amazed at the degree to which people (including evangelicals) conflate various spiritual beliefs, which includes all of the ones you listed above. The mantra I heard over and over was, “I’m more spiritual than religious,” meaning they liked to dabble with spiritual things, but not beliefs that challenged the status quo. In other words, they did not want to change in any way that required giving up their selfish agendas or pleasures. And then we wonder why the church is so anemic.

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  • December 2, 2018 at 5:03 pm
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    Thank you for this series of an actual Biblical and historical understanding of the Jezebel spirit. I left a church a few months ago that I felt operated in this spirit, but the resources that I found were often lists of symptoms that lead one towards a witch hunt, instead of towards the truth of the matter. I share many of your experiences – hidden truths about actual situations with leaders, only the leader’s perspective is given to the congregation, shunning of those who leave, threats of losing positions (we were actually told that “God would send someone else to replace us”), and so much more.

    I also shared your experience of being accused and that’s when my inner witness began to sound alarm bells. With my eyes opened, I would pray and study the scriptures and I was given insight. During this time, I was accused, in a roundabout way of operating in a Jezebel spirit. I later told the leader, in private, about the things that I prayed about and the insight that I received about some things that were not right – namely that she needed healing and how this lack of healing was leading to others being hurt (members were confiding in me, but I did not reveal this to her to avoid further controversy) – only to be told that I needed deliverance from pride because the “student does not know more than the teacher”. And then, she preached about it from the pulpit and performed deliverance on everyone in the church from pride.

    I never returned after that Sunday. It was clear to me what was happening and I could not, in good conscience, continue to participate. I informed her of this and she told me that God was not finished with me and that I was not released from the church, but I did not return. My attempt at a quiet exit was made quite loud and my assigned prayer partner was aware of my concerns but was of no assistance to me. I heard the same thing that you post about here – submission (or failure to submit) to leadership, if I leave the church I’m leaving God, God would not lead you away from a church with no church to go to so you’re being led of the devil and so on. But, anyway…

    THANK YOU! Because this is helping tremendously in my healing. I’ve been voraciously reading your series since I found your website yesterday evening. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on deliverance ministry. My experience with it in my last church leads me to believe that it diminishes the finished work of the cross by placing the focus on works of sanctification. Thank you again. I can’t wait to read other articles here.

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    • February 24, 2019 at 1:20 pm
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      Thanks for your candid comments, Katrina. I’m always amazed at how consistent this kind of abuse in in the way it is perpetrated. Everyone I’ve heard from who went through church abuse has an almost identical story. It’s like they’re all reading from a script.

      Regarding deliverance ministry, that is a relatively complex question. Deliverance itself is the ministry of breaking some sort of demonic hold on someone that they have been unable to break on their own. I have seen it done right (and been involved in it) on occasion, but it seems that when a church focuses on deliverance, they tend to forget that it is only a step in setting someone free. It starts to become a validation of how spiritual they are and the motive seems to shift from genuine ministry to an attempt to put their spiritual power on display. They usually seem to develop an obsession with demons, which naturally leads to less attention given to Jesus. I’ve also noticed that in my experience, demons tend to congregate where they get a lot of attention. It doesn’t take long before there are all kinds of issues that don’t need to be there. I would be wary of any ministry that claims there is never any need for deliverance, but I would be even more wary of any ministry that talks about little else.

      Reply

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