That Woman Jezebel
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16. That Woman Jezebel
Revelation 2.18-23a

"To the Thyatira church angel write: These are the Son of God's words, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, love and faith, 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 eating 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 suffering bed, and I will make those who commit adultery with her intensely suffer unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead." (Revelation 2.18-23a)✞

Why is food sacrificed to idols?

Thyatira RuinsThyatira city was a frontier town forty miles southeast of Pergamum, famous in its day for its trade guilds. Its members may have been involved in the Saturnalia festival meals worshipping Saturn and the Thyatira idols in the pagan temples. The priests offered the meat to idols there. The temple marketplace then sold on the leftover flesh. Thus arose the criticism of eating "food sacrificed to idols" in Revelation 2.20. Eating food bought from the temple market may not have been wrong, but it could upset sensitive weaker Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus reminded the people of "Thyatira" that he was "truly God's son" rather than Apollo or the Emperor. "Sons of God" under the influence of "Jezebel" are "Idols." Only Jesus can hold the title of "God's Son."

Who was Jezebel?

Cloth DyeingThat woman Jezebel forces her evil influence on the Thyatira Church. She may be the same cruel and evil person as the historical Jezebel or another with the same characteristics. "Jezebel" lived in Thyatira, a city with many trade guilds, in some respects, like unions. These were powerful and controlled those who worked in the cloth-making, dyeing, pottery industries, and other trades there. Paul's first Philippian convert in Acts 16.14 "was a woman named Lydia from Thyatira city, a purple cloth dealer." "The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message."

Why was Jezebel so wicked?

Thyatira Bowl"Thyatira" was an ancient Greek city in Turkey's far west and a secular city. The woman mentioned in the "Thyatira church" was teaching and actively encouraging sexual immorality and may have been named "Jezebel." On the other hand, John of Patmos may have used her name to symbolize the evil she was promoting, typical of the historical "Jezebel." The original Jezebel was Ithobaal I of Sidon's daughter and the wife of wicked King Ahab (BC c871-c852) in Israel. Her name meant, "Where is the prince," referring to a "ritual summoning of the god Baal." She came from Sidon and encouraged the worship of the pagan deities Baal and Asherah. She endeavored to kill the traditional worship leaders of Yahweh, but she met a final gruesome death when she was thrown from a window by her servants, and wild dogs ate her flesh!

What does it mean to be a Jezebel?

Queen JezebelGod called the Thyatira Christian community to repent for tolerating and being led astray by Jezebel, the false prophetess. She was a historical person and a pagan Israeli queen. In 1 Kings 16.31, we read King Ahab "not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar in Baal's temple that he built in Samaria. Ahab made an Asherah pole and aroused the Lord God's anger, more than all the Israeli kings before him. Jezebel was one of the evilest women who ever lived. To be called "a Jezebel" was an offense for any woman. The scheming and treacherous Jezebel introduced pagan customs into Israel's pure religion. This new Jezebel in Revelation is doing the same thing to the Thyatira Christian Community. Jezebel is more concerned about her selfish pleasures than Thyatira's Christian believers' needs, concerns, spiritual purity.

Why did Jesus praise the Thyatira community?

ThyatiraThe Thyatira letter praises this small Christian community's virtuous growth but admonishes them for accepting this false prophetess. Even though she seals her fate, her followers hope for repentance. The church does not tolerate involvement in Satanic powers or knowledge and is angry with sexual immorality. The Good Shepherd cares for all his church. Jezebel is unwilling to repent, but God allows us to repent and follow him. Only our stubbornness stands in our path!✞

"Who was that woman Jezebel?"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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