The Compromise of Jezebel
But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols.
Jesus issued this rebuke in the letter to the church in Thyatira. While He praised them for their many works of love, faithfulness, and endurance, He had one thing against them: their tolerance of the woman, Jezebel. In order to fully understand this rebuke, one needs to understand both the story of Jezebel in the Old Testament and a history of the city of Thyatira.
Jezebel was the wicked wife of King Ahab of Israel. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, where Baal worship was prevalent. When she married Ahab, she exalted Baal worship in the land alongside the worship of Yaweh. She did not try to exclude Yaweh; she merely added alternatives to worship, which she heavily endorsed. Religious rituals of Baal worship often included temple prostitution and child sacrifice. Baal was believed to be a god of rain, fertility, and prosperity, all of which attracted Jezebel. She was evil and deceitful and even killed their neighbor, Naboth, because Ahab wanted his vineyard, which Naboth refused to sell to him. She was self-centered and loyal to no one but herself. In the end, her own subjects threw her out a window when Jehu came to take over as king. Upon God’s judgment of her, the dogs ate her flesh so there would be nothing to bury and no memorial left to her.
Thyatira was a city along the Asian trade route and centered to the East between Pergamum and Smyrna. Paul established a church there in his missionary journeys. Thyatira was known for their many artisans, including coppersmiths and dyers. Lydia was a woman convert who worked as a dyer and seller of purple cloth. These artisans of various industries established guilds – much like a labor union – where they met regularly and engaged in Asian pagan practices. The guilds were much like a religion themselves, and they would gather in temples to eat meals together that were sacrificed to idols. As a Christian, the pagan practices of the guilds were strictly prohibited. As a business owner, however, it was practically impossible to make a living if you were not a member of a guild.
Archaeological excavations of the city of Thyatira, found in modern day Turkey, revealed a shrine to the prophetess Sambatha or Sambethe. This “prophetess” was believed to have supported participation in the guilds within the Christian church. In Revelation, Jesus refers to the woman, “Jezebel,” probably as a reference to this ungodly “prophetess.” He exposes her as a false teacher and is angry the church has tolerated her, indicating she should have been thrown out. Bible scholars seem to agree this Jezebel taught that participation in the guilds was acceptable in God’s eyes because He understood the need to make a living and that He condoned sexual immorality. Her teaching certainly caused many in the church to compromise their beliefs in godly character, and God would judge those who participated with her.
Whenever Baal worship or the name, Jezebel, are mentioned, you can count on three things to exist: a love of money or wealth, sexual immorality, and deceit. God’s word clearly teaches against all three, and we have become increasingly tolerant of them in the church. They are all signs of compromise, which God calls idolatry. We must come to a place where we hate evil and banish it from our lives. Grace does not cover sins we befriend and choose to keep; grace is designed to help us overcome sin. We can either let them go, or God will judge us, as He warns in the letter to the church at Thyatira. Since “Jezebel” seemed to like beds, Jesus pronounced judgment for her of a permanent sick bed, where she could no longer teach or practice her evil.
I challenge you today to search your hearts, as I am mine, and rid yourself of any signs of compromise. If the world has influenced you in any area more than the standard of the word of God, repent and turn it over to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Walk free from the things that hinder your relationship with God and your destiny. God gives grace, but He also wants us to be holy. He gives grace to us so we can become holy – not as an excuse to remain in sin. Resist the teaching of Jezebel and kick her out of your life! God is pleased with your works of love, faithfulness, and endurance. Continue in Him, and hold on to the truth you have. Compromise is not an option of holy living; compromise is an invitation for judgment.
Have a blessed day!