One of the strongest admonitions of the Mosaic law to the nation of Israel was straightforward: idolatry will bring destruction to the people. Even if your very wife should secretly entice you to worship other gods, you are to expose her and be the first to cast the stone to end her life (Deu. 13:6-11). Such detestation of idolatry requires an even deeper devotion to the worship of the one Creator, the God who has redeemed, which may be why such warnings are a surprise to many who call themselves Christians today. The kind of radical, solitary worship that Scripture represents has been transformed into a weekly feel-good experience rather than a life-orienting mandate.
This forms part of the background for why Jezebel is a watchword in Scripture for evil. A quick summary of her life shows her to be an idolatrous woman who did exactly what the law warned against. She brought the worship of Baal into Israel, and, as is always the case, then proceeded to murder the servants of the true God. She exercised the power of her position for evil, not for good. God prophesied her end, and brought it about in such a fashion as to memorialize her judgment for ever. Her body was left lying in the streets, and was eaten by dogs. This was so that she would not be given a proper burial, and her infamy would be known amongst the people.
Let’s be honest. Twenty-first century Christian leaders in the West, in general, do not really believe this happened. The mythologizing of the Scriptures, and especially of the Hebrew Scriptures, is so widespread that the historical reality of such events is really not believed in the “mainstream” denominations. So-called “red letter Christians” are likewise scandalized by such narratives, and inevitably reduce them to errant reflections of less enlightened generations. And in much of evangelicalism, the Hebrew Scriptures are viewed more as a source of stories for the children rather than “God-breathed” as Paul described them. Sadly, many who sat in the pews of churches in 2019, and who now feel like they are doing God a favor by giving an hour on Sunday to a web-meeting, do not even know the story, as they have never actually read major portions of the Bible, and have never heard a sermon on such a “disquieting” set of texts.
Is it wrong that Jezebel has become a watchword for idolatrous, nation-destroying evil? If you think so, you need to take it up with Jesus, for He used her name when dictating His epistle to the church at Thyatira in Revelation chapter two. In verses 20-23 we read,
But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My servants astray, to commit acts of immorality and to eat the food of idols. I gave her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her acts of immorality. So look! I will cast her upon the sick bed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds. I will strike her children with death and all the churches will know that I Myself am the one searching the minds and the hearts and I will render to each one according to your works.
While there could have been a woman with that name in Thyatira, it is far more probable the Lord is using a well known name from the Hebrew Scriptures (Revelation is soaked in imagery from the Tanakh) to refer to a false prophetess as part of her condemnation. And note her activities: she leads Christ’s servants astray by false teaching concerning worship (eating things offered in sacrifice to idols, something directly connected to the historic Jezebel) and sexual immorality (Baal worship often included this as well, of course). What is more, she knows what she is teaching and doing is evil, but refuses to repent of it. It is Jesus, the King of the church, who brings swift and sure judgment upon her, and those who are polluted by her teachings.
Jezebel has come to our attention over the past few days with reference to Vice President Kamala Harris in the United States. Dr. Tom Buck observed that, in response to people promoting Harris as a role model, it would be unlikely that the children of Israel would do so, despite her being a woman in a position of power. His point was obvious: emulation should be based upon character and worldview, not gender and assigned authority. While this was an obvious given in Western culture only a few decades ago, it is no longer “in fashion.” Character, morality, worldview consistency have all been demoted to irrelevancies. It is all about oppression, power, intersectionality now.
Pastor Dwight McKissic has led the charge against Dr. Buck for daring to make a basic, biblical observation, choosing instead to make this a racial issue, something completely missing from the Jezebel narrative, Jesus’ use thereof, or Dr. Buck’s comments. But, we live in a day when the most effective means of attack is to play the race card, even if everyone knows, in their quiet moments, that such a move is absurd on its face.
But more disappointing than the “woke” willingness to jump on even the most decrepit bandwagon is the fact that Christian leaders, rather than recognizing the depth of evil represented by the new regime and by Kamala Harris’ promotion of unfettered abortion, gay marriage, and unlimited destruction of boys and girls in the mind-numbing evil of “transgenderism,” actually think using the same comparative example Jesus did is “disappointing and uncalled for.” Those are the words of the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Daniel Akin.
It would not do for Dr. Akin and all those who have been promoting “woke” ideology in the Southern Baptist Convention to attempt to actually argue this point. That would involve actually recognizing what Jezebel did, how Jesus applied these things in a church context in Revelation two, and then comparing Jezebel’s actions to Kamala Harris’. So, Jezebel led Israel to rebel against God’s law; the Jezebel prophetess in Thyatira introduced teachings leading to sexual immorality. Kamala Harris is supporting, and, if necessary, will provide the tie-breaking vote for, the so-called “Equality Act,” which will seek to enshrine the destructive, rebellious, sinful concept of “transgenderism” in American law. One could then look to abortion, infanticide, homosexuality, the profanation of marriage, etc., and once again the validity of the comparison and warning would be established. Delving into Harris’ worldview is the last thing those defending the woke movement want to do.
But I would like to ask the reader: would Elijah have understood saying anything along the lines of, “I do not agree with Jezebel on many issues”? Could John have managed to type, “While I do not agree with prophetess Jezebel on many issues”? If Dr. Akin would be straight up front in regularly and loudly warning his constituents about what is coming from Harris’ hand in the form of persecution against Christians, including against every single school and seminary that will not bow the knee in full compliance and in fact celebration of transgender “rights,” we might at least excuse the anemia of his “do not agree on many issues” line. We could even interpret the second sentence about God working in and through them for His great glory to be a reference to His judgment upon sinful leaders who, like Herod in Acts 12, were struck down by God for his arrogant idolatry. But I do not see this kind of bold proclamation of God’s law on these matters, and the sinfulness of the rebellion of those who pervert God’s ways, coming from those who are “woke.” I do not see them warning the Bidens and Harris’ or even Trumps of the world about the coming judgment, something John the Baptist did (with his final breath), as did Peter, Paul, and the host of early Christians. Without that, the bold assertion of “disagreeing on many issues” hardly seems worthy of the keystrokes it takes to record it.