There is an interesting passage in Revelation 2 featuring the example of the woman Jezebel. At first glance, this looks like she is simply an immoral woman who causes people to live in sexual sin. But I believe the Lord’s selection if this name is leading us to something deeper. Let’s read about this woman and see what the Bible teaches!

Revelation 2:20-24 NASB

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.”

Wow, that is a stinging rebuke! We need to look closely at this Jezebel and see what her character was, and what she represents. I truly believe this is a name that God gave to this woman because the Jezebel of the Old Testament (1 Kings 16-21) had some very distinct attributes that will illuminate our understanding of this passage.

Here is what Easton’s Bible Dictionary says about Jezebel:

“This was the “first time that a king of Israel had allied himself by marriage with a heathen princess; and the alliance was in this case of a peculiarly disastrous kind. Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man, passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship, she spared no pains to maintain idolatry around her in all its splendour. Four hundred and fifty prophets ministered under her care to Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [R.V., ‘prophets of the Asherah’], which ate at her table (1 Kings 18:19).”

So what we have here in Revelation 2 is a woman who is enticing people to mix Christianity with idol worship. She had led many into spiritual adultery. Notice Jesus does not say “she convinces them to go naked, or to have sex with each other”. Instead it says she leads them into worshipping idols. God considers this nothing less than spiritual fornication! That’s why Jesus chose to call it “acts of immorality”. He calls those who join her in this admixture of religions adulterers. We are the bride if Christ and he has the right to expect faithfulness. Even the word in the original languages carries this meaning.

g4203. πορνεύω porneuō; from 4204; to act the harlot, i.e. (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practice idolatry: — commit (fornication).

Jesus then describes those who have resisted her as those who “have not known the deep things of Satan”. Elsewhere, Paul had written that this who sacrifice to idols were sacrificing to demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). He also describes those who join with the temple harlots in Corinth as joining themselves to demons. So in context, and with Scripture interpreting Scripture, we can see that, rather than just a woman teaching loose sexual ethics, this passage is a warning against mixing paganism with Christianity. Judgment is upon those who do such.

Yet often in today’s world we see people bringing in so-called truths from other religions and slapping a Christian name on it. We import the religion of humanism, and by adding some Christian slogans, we have a God who is all about your success and self worth. We employ the world’s marketing strategies like spiritual entrepreneurs in order to increase the church’s bottom line, but pray first so that we can pass it off as a God given strategy. This should not be the case! The Church should reject such innovations as the spiritual fornication that they truly are! Otherwise, we run the risk of being like Jezebel and seeking to make our faith more inclusive of error.