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Saturday, 3 August 2013

you tolerate that woman jezebel: spiritual deception in the last days

JEZEBEL AND AHAB: BAAL WORSHIP VERSUS WORSHIP OF THE LORD

Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. (1 Kings 16:30-32)

Prior to the reign of Ahab, King Solomon’s drift into idolatry set the scene for Israel’s spiritual degeneration, eventually resulting in Israel’s split into two separate parts, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Jeroboam son of Nebat became king of the northern kingdom and he replaced the true worship of the Lord with idolatry. He made two calves of gold (Exodus 32), built houses on high places (places of idolatry) and he also replicated the festival at Judah. Ahab committed the same sins and set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal (the Canaanite storm god) which he had built in Samaria and he also made pole(s?) dedicated to the goddess Asherah.

The often used phrase "to walk in the sins of Jeroboam" was the negative example held up time and again against the evil kings of Israel. Ahab had gone down the wrong path and followed his immediate predecessors by committing the same sins. It was not ‘a light thing’ to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, but if that wasn’t bad enough, Ahab’s marriage to the Baal worshipping Phoenician princess Jezebel took him to a different level of wickedness. He earned the dubious reputation of doing more evil than any of his predecessors:

There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. (1 Kings 21:25; 1 Kings 16:30-33)

Ahab was probably insecure in that he felt that he needed to make alliances with other nations to strengthen his position as Israel’s king. It appears that his marriage to Jezebel was for political reasons to strengthen relations between Jezebel’s father Ethbaal, king of the Phoenician empire and northern Israel. He was looking for his security in earthly alliances, something which always involves compromise. Ahab was also very selfish and immature. When he failed to acquire Naboth’s vineyard he went home resentful and sullen - He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat. (1 Kings 21:4) Jezebel clearly had the knack of keeping Ahab happy by getting him what he wanted.



The Chilling Character of Jezebel 


· Jezebel was an enemy of Yahweh.

· She was idolatrous – Baal worship and Asherah worship

· She was a murderess – Jezebel killed off the prophets of the Lord. (1 Kings 18:4,13) The true prophets of Yahweh were her principle victims so that she could inflict Baal worship onto the population by force.

· She instilled great fear causing the remaining hundred prophets to hide for their lives in a cave. (1 Kings 18:13)

· The way that she acquired Naboth’s vineyard for Ahab is very revealing:

She was unscrupulous, clandestine, subversive and sinister; she had no respect for the rights and wishes of others; she was guilty of plotting and scheming against the innocent, involving others in her evil plans with lies and deceit producing false witnesses; she abused her power, stopping at nothing to get what she wanted, the result being Naboth’s death. (1 Kings 21:7-16)

· She patronised 850 false prophets of Baal and Asherah who ate at her table. (1 Kings 18:19)

· She issued a death threat to Elijah and instilled great fear in him. (1 Kings 19:2-3)

· She incited Ahab to do evil. (1 Kings 21:25)

· She was guilty of many whoredoms and sorceries ( witchcraft) - When Joram saw Jehu, he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" He answered, "What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?" (2 Kings 9:22)

· She was a seductress and attempted to beguile Jehu - When Jehu came to Jezreel,Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. (2 Kings 9:30) {see also Proverbs 7 - the adulterous woman}

· She was described by Jehu as a cursed woman. 2 Kings 9:34

THE WHEAT AND THE TARES





THE BOOK OF REVELATION - THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA 


Jezebel’s name comes up again in the book of Revelation:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20) .....But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call "the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden;only hold fast to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:24-25)

The church in Thyatira is commended for their love, faith, service and patient endurance (Revelation 2:19). This seems like a glowing report, but their toleration of "that woman Jezebel" meant that the judgement of God would result unless those involved in it repented. In contrast the Ephesian church is commended for not tolerating evildoers, that is by testing and exposing false apostles (Revelation 2:2). Some in the church at Pergamum who live "where Satan’s throne is" are also following false teaching by holding to the teaching of Balaam and the teaching of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:14-15). Jezebel, the Nicolaitans and the teaching of Balaam have the same traits and the terms seem to be interchangeable. Nico means to conquer and laitan means laity, and so the meaning is to conquer or subdue the laity. There are a number of heretical factions within the end time church(es) claiming to have divine insight who are in fact agents of Satan. The phrase "the deep things of Satan" are attached to the name of Jezebel, so we can expect the traits of the historical Jezebel to be present in the end time church. There are many warnings in the bible about spiritual deception. The avoidance of testing and exposing false teaching is as good as condoning it and those leaders who turn a blind eye are culpable before the Lord. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1) The wonderful gift of prophecy comes with awesome responsibility - the true church absolutely must have the gift of spiritual discernment for its survival (1 Corinthians 12:10).

The specific errors are: Food sacrificed to idols and fornication (Revelation 2:14, 20). The Apostle Paul advised that food itself is neutral and that Christians should not be paranoid about eating food sacrificed to idols. There are some mixed messages to unravel about food sacrificed to idols in the New Testament. Participation in an idol feast would be wrong and this may be what Paul is alluding to at times (Romans 14:14; 1 Corinthians 8:4-8; 10:20-21, 25-27; see also Acts 15:29; Revelation 2:20). Some have linked this verse to Roman Catholicism and the doctrine of transubstantiation i.e. the doctrine that the whole substance of the bread and wine changes into the substance of the body and blood of Christ when consecrated in the Eucharist. The doctrine of transubstantiation would not have been known to the apostles, though it is indeed a wicked doctrine which perverts the sacrifice of Christ who died "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). It seems to me that this error of "food sacrificed to idols" was being committed by the literal church of Thyatira in some other way as it pre-dates the Roman Catholic doctrine by several hundred years (The Council of Trent in 1551), though of course it may also have prophetic implications for Roman Catholicism as some assert. The whole point is that whatever draws us away from true worship of the Lord is spiritual fornication and that there is no separation between the physical and the spiritual as in Gnosticism. Paul taught that nothing is unclean in itself but earthly desires are idolatry: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (Romans 14:14; Colossians 3:5). This follows on from what Jesus Christ said: …..whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man.For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:17-19) Balaam’s error is also greed…. for the sake of gain (Jude 1:11). The money preachers of today are one example of Balaam’s error.

FALSE PROPHETS TODAY 

False prophets have always been with us and they are certainly here today. Jesus Christ warned that false prophets are a major sign of the end of the age:

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (Matthew 24:11 See also Matthew 7:15; 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1.

As with Jezebel, true prophets and prophecy are usually the first thing to be attacked by antichrists, albeit in a very subtle way. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church discourages the study of Bible prophecy as a distraction. He quotes Jesus out of context in his book ‘The Purpose Driven Life’: Anyone who lets himself be distracted [by Bible prophecy] from the work I plan for him is not fit for the kingdom of God (Living Bible). This is an unbiblical statement considering that prophecy takes up 27% of the Bible and that the church has been given the gift of prophecy by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:3). Jesus actual statement had nothing to do with prophecy: No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62) This is how devious the enemy is in our world today and this is exactly the kind of deception Jesus and the apostles warned about in advance.

Religious syncretism is another problem. Ahab’s alliance with Baal worship is comparable to political correctness and the Interfaith movement at the expense of the one true God. While we tolerate the "mixture" of different belief systems we are actually tolerating ‘other gods’ which are an abomination to the God of the Bible (Exodus 20:3). Christianity stands alone and apart from all other religions in that it claims the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as God’s Son and Saviour: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) We can’t have it both ways; If the Bible is right, then all other religions must be wrong or vice-versa. A choice has to be made one way or the other - we cannot justifiably hold both opinions together:

And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Ba'al, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

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