Part 1 in the Series:
The Spirit of Jezebel
By Don Enevoldsen
I don’t usually give much attention to personal prophecy. They are usually uplifting, encouraging words (usually), but so general in content that they don’t really mean much. “God will bless you.” “You will have the victory.” That sort of thing. Maybe they’re from God or maybe they are fellow believers wishing me well. Either way they’re nice to hear, and spoken at the right time, they are valuable. But I wouldn’t make any life-changing decisions on the basis of most of them.
However, on December 12, 1993, I experienced something a little different. I should point out that while I’m a little skeptical of most personal prophecy, I have seen the real thing often enough and I’ve been both the recipient and the vehicle of such words enough times to be convinced there is something to it. Though it is often abused and even more often innocuous. Scripture is still the standard through which everything must pass. But there is a place for confirmation of biblical principles from other sources. December 12, 1993 was one of those nights.
The speaker was Michael Ratliff. He used to come into the Phoenix area a few times a year and hold meetings where he taught (usually for an hour and a half), and then spent another couple of hours speaking prophetic words over people that he called out of the audience. That night, he pointed to me as asked me to stand.
What made this prophecy different was the amount of intimate detail involved. This is not the place to go through it, but I will say that nearly all of it came to pass over the next few years. It was not so much a call to change the course of my life as a validation of the direction I was heading. Machael Ratliff could not have known any of the details he spoke. Indeed, no one in the meeting, even the people who knew me, could have known most of the details.
One sentence puzzled me, though, for many years:
“The Lord says I am breaking down the house of Ahab that’s been against your family and your forefathers for generations, and the Jezebelian kind of thing and disorder that’s been against many of your relatives.”
I had heard the term “Jezebel spirit” for as long as I could remember. (You can’t be in church every week from the age of 9 without hearing it at some point.) I thought I knew what it meant. Occasionally when people said it, they meant someone who taught false doctrine, but usually the phrase referred to sexual looseness or promiscuity. For most people, a Jezebel spirit is a spirit of seduction.
This idea derives from a couple of biblical sources. First is the story of Jezebel in 1 Kings and 2 Kings, as well as the reference to her in Revelation 2:20-24. Revelation describes her as “that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess,” and who “misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
From this connection with sexual immorality, the description of her death in 2 Kings 9 was interpreted in the context of seduction. In that story, Jehu set out to kill her and her family.
“When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window.” (2 Kings 9:30)
Jezebel was assumed to have put on her most seductive makeup and clothing in an attempt to lure Jehu away from his mission, taking on the image of a prostitute in the window advertising her wares. Hence the common phrase “painted Jezebel.”
These two passages of scripture were combined to give a picture of Jezebel as an immoral, sexual temptress. Most often, in church circles, the term was used in reference to a sexy woman who flirts too much, especially when the object of her attention is the pastor or some other church leader. A Jezebel spirit described a woman who tempted others, particularly leadership, to fall into sin through adultery.
This was my understanding of a “Jezebelian kind of thing.” And it puzzled me because as far as I knew, there was no adultery anywhere in my family tree. If there had been, then it was kept pretty quiet. We had black sheep in the family, just like everyone, but the influences of Jezebel were just not obvious. You would think if a “Jezebelian king of thing” was that serious, there would be more evidence of seduction.
So I set out to find how, where and when this attack came against many of my relatives, and what I could possibly do about it. The answer was not obvious.
Until last year (2014). As part of an ongoing study of Revelation, I spent a few months working through the message to the church of Thyatira, where Jezebel is mentioned. What I discovered has turned my understanding of the subject upside down, and made me realize I’ve encountered this spiritual manifestation frequently. As have many I have known, including my family.
That is the subject of this series. I hope to share my findings, and open the eyes of others to what I’ve seen. Over a few weeks, we will walk through my study, pretty much as I stumbled onto things, and I will show how Jezebel looked in the church to which I was attached.
For the moment, suffice it to say that a Jezebel spirit was not at all what I had thought. While sexual immorality might be attached, a Jezebel spirit does not, by definition, have anything to do with sex, except as adultery is a metaphor for unfaithfulness. There is certainly seduction involved, but the seduction is not sexual. It is the temptation of power, status, position and entitlement. Those are things that have come against my relatives for generations. And those were the things that defined the culture of the church where I was a member of the staff.
As I learned the real root of the problem, I realized that when Jesus spoke to the church of Thyatira about Jezebel, the real issue was the house of Ahab, her husband, not her. Jesus did not warn her. He warned those who tolerated her. That distinction, as we will see, makes a world of difference. As it turns out, I had spent a considerable part of my life tolerating Jezebel. But that has changed.
As you will see.
Next, Part 2: Toleration and Intimidation
Do you have an additional thought on this subject? Please join the discussion and share your insights.
9 thoughts on “A Jezebelian Kind of Thing”
I absolutely cannot wait to hear what more you have to say on this subject. Count me in as a student.
Delighted to have you as a student, Jerry, though with your own biblical scholarship, I trust you will contribute to the conversation. As I develop the subject, I expect you will find much that resonates.
Reading a theological treatise today, I came across a brief mention of morality and morals. It reminded me of how ill-defined and wrongly-used that term is in today’s Christian world. The word should define the action and not the other way around. That is to say, people call some actions “immoral,” when they don’t have good working definition of what morality is. I think listening to you will shed more light on my own quest.
That’s an interesting question, and I think it is my quest as well. So often, in my experience, “moral” just means justification for what I want to do. We cloak it in religious terms, but it doesn’t really get to the heart of what morality really is. If there is an absolute right and wrong, it seems we ought to be able to find a viable, workable and sensible definition. I trust that we will zero in on it somewhat as we discuss the subject.
Jerry, I’m excited to hear more about this too. I’ve heard Don teach on this a few months ago and he’s shared his findings with me as he’s discovered them so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all develops. It’s one of the most interesting and applicable teachings I’ve heard in a long time.
Just don’t give it away, Christina. I’m trying to build literary tension here. 🙂
Don, he he! I’ll do my best not to give it all away as long as you agree to do a new post every week. And take me to Starbucks. I’ll do better focusing on other things if I have a latte.
I was in a church for 30 years where leadership placed themselves above the congregation. Because I questioned many of their practices, I was shunned by many. I didn’t fully understand until my Sister clued me in at what was being said about me behind closed doors. Because I was never completely accepted, I turned outward & began to share Jesus with the unsaved & disciple them. That didn’t set well with leadership. I guess they felt threaten because I was considered a loose cannon. Praise God, He led me out of that! Because of what I experienced & by getting into the Word, I found the liberation of following Jesus, only. He us the only one we will stand before, in that Day!
I’m thankful you escaped, Theresa. Abusive leaders hate it when anything is not under their direct control and I’m always amazed at the lengths to which they go to make sure nobody gets out of line. And if you do persist in questioning them, they are very quick to get rid of you. It’s really remarkable how consistent abusive churches are. Like they all have the same script to work from.