Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.”
Song of Solomon 4: 16
“Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces…Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell. Almost every true believer’s experience contains the record of trials which were sent for the purpose of shaking the spice tree.”
Today’s Study Text:
“As if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took for a wife Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah (idolatrous symbol of the goddess Asherah). Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.”
1 Kings 16: 31-33
“How To Identify Jezebel”
“Worship reminds us of values the world makes us forget.”
How would I go about identifying who Jezebel was or what Jezebel was all about?
Who or what do I worship?
How does worship relate to Jezebel?
“They that worship God merely from fear, would worship the devil, too, if he appear.”
“A man (or woman) can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling ‘darkness’ on the walls of his (or her) cell.”
C. S. Lewis
With respect to my dear mother, she is the individual who first introduced me to a woman named Jezebel. It happened when I was encouraged by some girlfriends at school to update my fashion statement by “ratting” my hair and wearing white lipstick.
If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’ll remember this time in your own history. On this particular day, I had decided to incorporate my new “in-look” into my beauty routine.
All it took was the scrutinizing eye of my mom, followed by these words, “I’m not having my daughter leave this house looking like a little Jezebel,” to let me know that I wasn’t going to get out the door with my fashion-forward paint-job and hair-do! The fact is, for most people, women and men alike, the name Jezebel brings up an image of a harlot whose lips are smeared with a bombastic color and whose eyes are painted with a glow-in-the-dark shade which shouts out to anyone in sight -- I’m a villain on the prowl.
Unfortunately, like so many faces of evil, from the Devil to Jezebel, these purveyors of wickedness are frequently portrayed as cartoonish characters who serve only to hide the real danger that lurks when we knowingly or unknowingly associate with individuals or find ourselves filling our minds with information that is bred in a world of sinfulness. And yes, even Jezebel, whoever or whatever she is, can be disguised in such a way we don’t even know or understand how dangerous Jezebel is to our spiritual well-being.
Over the last few weeks, we have taken time to study the way God led Elijah, every step of his journey, even to the foreign country of Phoenicia right to the city of Zarephath. There we would actually expect to find some “evil” woman in the land of Baal, yet what we come upon was a widowed mother whose hospitable heart was fertile ground for the seeds heaven had planted. She was just waiting for the watering and harvest Elijah brought when he arrived at the gate of her city and found her literally starving to death for physical food and hungering for the Bread of Life as well.
Now we are going to take a few days to study about Jezebel. And rather than finding her in the country ruled by her dad, she shows up in Elijah’s world as queen of the ten tribes of Israel. Not where you would expect a Baal-worshipping zealot to live. But this only goes to show us exactly why Jezebel can be so hazardous to our spiritual health, for Jezebel pops up in unexpected places all the time and creates unexplainable havoc.
Sadly, it was King Ahab who sat on the throne of Israel, and whose power it was that brought Jezebel into the lives of God’s children in the first place. The hand that was to be leader, both politically and spiritually was the very hand who brought Israel to its knees -- and not in a good way. For Ahab not only introduced Israel to Jezebel, he brought her god into Israel’s worship as well.
So I ask this question. One I’ve spent months studying about. “If Jezebel is so deceptive yet so alluring, how do we, you and I, go about identifying who or what Jezebel is?” Because as we will uncover in the next few days, Jezebel’s antics didn’t just affect her household. No, her evil influence oozed out into the entire country of Israel and Judah as well. Her tentacles encroached into not just the political world, but right into the individual homes and lives of the citizens of Israel. It wasn’t as if you could say, “What happens in the palace in Samaria stays in Samaria!” Absolutely not! Especially when Jezebel’s little hit squad murdered nearly all God’s prophets. And don’t forget, for 3 ½ years Elijah lived with a target on his back, too, put there by none other than Jezebel herself.
As I began to look into the identifying characteristics of this wily woman, it became immensely clear, from God’s word, that there was one central identifying quality which defined Jezebel above all others. It was who she chose to worship. The object of Jezebel’s affection; who she gave allegiance to; as well as who she adored is what defines this fanatical woman.
Just to be clear, the dictionary defines a fanatic as, “one having excessive zeal for or irrational attachment to a cause or position.” It should not surprise us to learn that the word “fanatic” has its origin in the Latin word “fanaticus,” inspired by a false god. And Baal-worship certainly followed this same pattern. But there’s more to understanding Jezebel’s character and we find this out when we take another look at today’s study text.
For a start, the author notes that it wasn’t a “light thing” for Ahab to choose to travel the same path Jeroboam did as the first king of a divided Israel. If we recall, it was Jeroboam who introduced the worship of two golden calves to the people of Israel. These “idols” were placed in Bethel and Dan. Jeroboam’s philosophy began with making worship easily accessible to the people. No longer did they need to travel to Jerusalem when they wanted to worship. They had a center right in their own neighborhood. What’s more, the Bible states that Jeroboam, “also made houses on high places and made priests of people who were not Levites” (1 Kings 12: 31, Amplified Bible). But Jeroboam went even a step further when he replaced the feast days instituted by God with his own man-made feasts. Under Jeroboam, worship became easy, convenient and fun -- all rolled into one. Sound familiar?
By the time Ahab climbed up on the throne, what was sacred, God-ordained worship had become a gross spectacle, filled with sensual acts and perverted thoughts. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a worship that in any way resembled what God had instituted. In fact, as I studied the word “worship,” as it appears in both the Old and New Testaments, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word “worship,” means “to pay homage to God, to fall down humbly, to reverence.” Does this remind you of anyone we’ve studied? How about our friend, God’s prophet, Elijah, on top of Carmel praying for rain. What a vision of respect we are witness to as Elijah bowed before his heavenly Father. If we turn to the New Testament, we’ll find that in the Greek text, the word “worship” means, “to fawn, to crouch, to reverence and adore.” The Greek goes even further by referencing the act of bowing and kissing a hand, and this may be where the act of kissing the ring of an earthly ruler came from for it is a symbol of worship. Albeit a misplaced form of worship!
With the arrival of the heathen queen in Israel and the false god she brought along with her, the entire focus of worship was redirected from the heavenly to the earthly; from the holy to the sensual; from the sacred to the profane.
I was greatly enlightened by the words of William Temple, whose thoughts on the worship of God open up to me, and hopefully to you, too, a clearer way for us to perceive the identifying marks of Jezebel, because what we find at the heart of Jezebel’s behavior and thoughts is the matter of worship. It was worship which exposed Jezebel for what she truly was -- a fraud, peddling a man-made notion that how we worship, when we worship, and where we worship doesn’t matter at all. In contrast, William Temple lays out the qualities of worship which give reference to God and bring adoration to His name. Here are his words on worship: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
How much clearer could it be? My worship of God should cause me to:
1. Bring my conscience in unity with God’s holiness.
2. Fill my mind with God’s truth.
3. Remove all vileness from my mind so I focus solely on God’s beauty.
4. Open my heart to God’s love.
5. Devote my will to God’s purpose.
Any worship which doesn’t bring the focus of my adoration under the umbrella of God’s holiness, truth, beauty, love, and purpose falls under the category of false worship. And if we recognize this fact, we’ll have no problem identifying Jezebel, but staying as far away from her clutches as we can.
“Worship brings ever deepening and expanding dimensions of God-at-work in our world. Worship, in a very real sense of the word, opens a doorway to the power of His presence, confounding dark powers and overthrowing sin’s destructive operations.”
“O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,
Bow down before Him, His glory proclaim;
With gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
Kneel and adore Him; the Lord is His name.”
J.S. B. Monsell
Prayer of Adoration
“Still my soul, that I might pray Thee
Calm my mind, that I might hear Thee
Light my vision, that I might see Thee
Unveil my heart, that I might truly love Thee.
Bend my knee, that I might adore Thee
Loose my tongue, that I might exalt Thee
Come within, that I might know Thee
Give me wings, that I might ever sing Thee.”
Dr. Karen A. Eshelman
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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