“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel…” (Rev. 2:20) “Jezebel” is a name that is reviled throughout Scripture and Christian history. Parents would no more name their child “Jezebel” than they would name their child “Judas Iscariot.” We see her as an idolater queen in Israel in 1 Kings and 2 Kings, and we see her name denounced as a false and seducing prophetess in the Book of Revelation. What does she represent?
Beyond her historical identity in ancient Israel, Jezebel has come to be known as an “archetype,” that is, as a model or standard, of wickedness—specifically: seduction, manipulation, idolatry and murder. She represents a hatred of authentic prophecy and religious authority. As such, “Jezebel” is a human name for a satanic strategy—a strategy that depends on our fear, lust, weakness and lukewarmness to succeed. Studying that strategy, noting where, how and why it works, is the first step towards overcoming that evil design.
Saint Ignatius Loyola, calling Satan “the enemy of our human nature,” compares him to a general preparing to lay siege to a fortress. The general attacks on the weakest side. Likewise, Satan “…studies from all sides our theological, cardinal and moral virtues. Wherever he finds us weakest and most in need regarding our eternal salvation, there he attacks and tries to take us by storm.”
Satan deploys the Jezebel strategy similarly, looking particularly for emotional wounds that can afford entry into our soul. The Jezebel strategy uses seduction and manipulation against the weak and doubting, techniques that are ineffective against the strong and obedient. In other words, when our pain is allowed to sour into self-pity, the Jezebel strategy is ready to go to work.
Alcoholics Anonymous knows this. Their quip against self-pity describes the process accurately: “Poor me! Poor me! Pour me another drink!” (Alternatively: “If you had a life like mine, you’d drink too!”) The Jezebel strategy will dry your tears and kiss your bruises; the next step is to take you by the hand and lead you to where you should not go.
What can we learn from all this? Everyone is wounded. We cannot afford to let our spiritual wounds to be become infected. We mustn’t let our wounds to fester into the fever of resentment and self-pity. If we’re not vigilant, we leave an opening for the Jezebel strategy to gain entrance. If we don’t resist the seductions and manipulations of Jezebel with boldness and holy obedience, then, Saint Ignatius Loyola warns, “…no wild beast on earth is more fierce than the enemy of our human nature as he pursues his evil intention with ever increasing malice.”
Holiness, humility and healing are intertwined. Our weaknesses and wounds can be stumbling blocks on our path to holiness. We must have the humility to admit our need before the Lord and ask for his healing.
If we repent of our sin without asking our Lord for healing, we’ll commit the same sins repeatedly. Repenting without getting healing for those wounds which are the roots of sin is like trimming the tops of weeds and then becoming surprised that the weeds grow back. Sin more easily takes root in places where our hearts have been wounded. If we want to be free of our habitual sins, we must find healing for our hearts. We can’t receive healing if we don’t ask for it. The first step for the healing of our hearts, essential as a remedy for sin, is to look at the crucified Lord and then to see and name our wounds so that we may offer them to him.
There is another step, one which is often overlooked. The wounds in our souls must be filled in with goodness, virtue and grace. Therefore, repentance, real conversion, true transformation in Christ, is a matter of holy desire. It’s a matter of body, soul, commitment, will, mind, grace and blood. Any other account of conversion is a fantasy, an attempt to still play at being sinners, who can only play at being saved. The Jezebel strategy would rob us of our holy desires, and set our hearts upon the false promises of murderous idols.
This week, read through 1 Kings and 2 Kings. Take note of how the person of Jezebel is the embodiment of the satanic Jezebel strategy. Then meditate on the terrifying imagery of the Lord’s punishment for the followers of Jezebel in Revelations 2. Jesus says that we must be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16) Only then can we complete our task, which is both to resist the Jezebel strategy, and then to defeat it. I will be writing more about that in the coming weeks.
When I write next, I will speak of another satanic strategy that works hand-in-glove with the Jezebel strategy. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.