Revelation 2: 18-29
‘To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
Nevertheless, I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, “I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.”
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations –that one “will rule them with an iron sceptre and will dash them to pieces like pottery” – just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Yesterday we looked at the first of the three main ways the enemy attacks the church from the inside - false teaching.
The second method of attack is Self-Appointed Leadership
“I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.” (2: 20-21)
Here we have her, the infamous Jezebel, a name synonymous with leading men astray into sexual sin. We find her first in the Old Testament, in the book of 1 Kings where she marries Ahab, the King of Israel and then introduces the worship of foreign gods such as Baal.
And now, we meet Jezebel here again in Revelation 2. I don’t think that there was literally actually a woman called Jezebel who was part of the church in Thyatira. That would have been a bit obvious - 'Hi, I’m Jezebel, do you want to go out for a drink?'
I’ve at times heard people talk about certain people, and they say something like: "She has a Jezebel spirit." Or I’ve read books describing how we need to guard against these Jezebel women who want to lure us away from God.
But actually, I think that’s too simple and naïve a picture of what Jezebel really represents. I believe Jezebel is much more than a type of woman who seduces men to lead them astray. Rather it’s a picture of a type of person, male or female, who seeks power, prominence and authority but hasn’t been given it by God. They are self-appointed rather than God appointed. Notice it says here – Jezebel ‘calls herself a prophet’. She is self-appointed.
Jezebels will never come under authority or submit spiritually to those whom God has appointed because they have a proud, hard heart. Look at 2: 21: “I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.” They always think that they are in the right.
Jezebels, in in their attempt to derive authority, tend to do one of 2 things – they attach themselves to God’s appointed leaders so that the leader becomes dependent on them or they subtly undermine God’s appointed leaders and put themselves forward as someone who should really be leading.
The original Jezebel in the Old Testament had no authority of her own over Israel, but she used King Ahab, she controlled and manipulated him, and she derived power through him, to gather those of like mind around her, to lead God’s people into sin, and intimidate those who stood against her like Elijah the prophet.
Jezebels – male or female – draw people to themselves, not Jesus. They want people to be dependent on them. They appear very spiritual, gifted, and acts as though they just want to help and bless people. They say everything you want to hear. They often use flattery and false humility. But underneath it all they are manipulative, controlling, and only have one mission and that is to get their own way, no matter what the cost. And they leave a trail of destruction in their path.
Look at what Jesus says to those who refuse to give into or tolerate the spirit of Jezebel:
“To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations….”
Jesus says: "Jezebel’s authority is self-appointed. I have real authority and I’ll give it to you."
When God appoints you to any position or role or leadership, you don’t need to grasp for authority or try to make a name for yourself. He gives you the authority and we are then called to steward that authority with humility and with an awareness of the heavy responsibility that comes with it.
Later, in 3:7 Jesus says this:
“What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Let God open doors for you as He sees fit. Don’t try to force what God hasn’t endorsed.