Jezebel was an actual woman who opposed Elijah the prophet, but behind the natural woman was a spirit that has continued through the centuries. This teaching will explore who the spirit of Jezebel is, and how she currently affects the church.
The Church of Thyatira
Jesus issued a strong rebuke to the church in Thyatira because they were tolerating Jezebel. The spirit of Jezebel had gained access to a female leader in the church (please note that the spirit of Jezebel is gender neutral and can also take possession of men). This female leader took the office of a prophet unto herself and began teaching many corrupt things within the church: “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” Revelation 2:20 NKJV
We would do well to understand that Jesus is rebuking the church for tolerating this leader. Jesus will hold believers accountable for tolerating leadership that is controlled or manipulated by demonic spirits. We live in a culture where leaders continually teach on authority and obedience to leadership, and we are afraid to question leadership. However Jesus encourages us to judge leadership rightly. He actually commended the church in Ephesus for judging those who said they were apostles, but were lying (Revelation 2:2).
We should be judging those in leadership, for our own safety. If the church in Ephesus would not have judged the so called "apostles" that came to them, the church could have fallen under the sway of dark demonic power. It would have endangered the welfare of everyone in the church. When we judge, we must do so with maturity, having our senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). I am not suggesting that we yield to the spirit of suspicion, but rather we become mature enough to discern rightly.
Jezebel in the Modern Church
I have personally seen legitimate leaders in the church who were under some level of influence of the Jezebel spirit. These kinds of leaders never allow the people that "see" to get too close to them. They are threatened by those who have their senses trained, and have an understanding of spiritual things. These leaders risk exposure if they allow certain people to get too close, so they keep them at a distance.
The reason that Jezebel is such a threat to leadership in the church is because she has a lust for position, power, and influence. She will seek to gain access to the leaders just as in the church in Thyatira. Once Jezebel gained access in Thyatira, she began working on her influence over the believers. As the believers submitted themselves to her leadership, they got lost in the spell of her witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22).
The believers in Thyatira were probably very humble and submissive. They saw that there were a few things wrong in this "prophet's" heart, and they recognized a few errors in her teaching. But their desire was to be good spiritual sons and daughters, and they didn't want to question their leadership. They rationalized that even leaders aren't perfect, so they decided to show Jezebel what they thought was love and mercy.
But something wicked happened when the church of Thyatira yielded to this spiritual mother's leadership. They came under the sorcery of Jezebel. As the church willing yielded to this spiritual leader, they unknowingly yielded to the spirit behind her. Once the believers were under the influence of Jezebel, their understanding become foggy. Then confusion set in as the witchcraft worked against them. The believers could no longer make decisions, or hear the Lord clearly. The communication among themselves was confused, and their prophetic giftings waned. These are the exact things that happen to Elijah when he was assaulted by the witchcraft of Jezebel (1 Kings 9).
When a congregation yields to a Jezebelic spiritual leader, they come under the influence of the spirit of Ahab. Jezebel controlled and manipulated Ahab (1Kings 21:7-14), and Ahab willing yielded himself to her control. Once believers are under the influence of the spirit of Ahab, deception starts to set in. They lose their spiritual discernment, and confusion is prevalent. Believers then become increasingly more dependent on the leader.
The Jezebelic leader will then require believers to submit completely to his/her leadership. Believers will be used by Jezebel to build her ministry and make her successful. Equipping the saints for the work of ministry may be talked about by Jezebel, but it's never the priority. Jezebel's vision is the priority. And even though some level of equipping believers may be done by Jezebelic ministry, believers are never actually empowered and released into ministry. Ahab doesn't get empowered under these demonic ministries, Ahab gets controlled. Jezebel will never raise up and release leaders, because she is too threatened by real gifting and anointing. She is extremely jealous and envious.
Jezebel will not stop until she has total control of the believer. She will convince whole congregations that hearing from God on a personal decision isn't enough. Believers must submit decisions to her for "counsel," because she can hear God more clearly. Jezebel never trusts believers to hear God for themselves. She will use her influence in the believer's life to cause them to yield to her will; even if her will is opposed to God's will. She does not care for the destiny of the believer, but only for herself.
Jezebel must keep her influence over the people, so she gives them false prophecies. Ahab (the congregation) delights in false prophets and false prophecies, so he hears them gladly (1 Kings 22). Jezebel may prophecy to the church and say, "I saw a vision of people leaving the church. Right after people left, the Holy Spirit started coming in power. You don't want to be one of those who misses a move of God!" She digs deeper into Ahab with her deceptive prophecies of manipulation, and Ahab loves her so.
Ministries controlled by Jezebel are usually given over to various levels of pride, and are very insulting as Jezebel herself was (2 Kings 9:30-31). These leaders operate in haughtiness of spirit and beat the sheep down with their words. They will even go as far to insult the sheep on social media, and condemn them for not coming to church. Through these manipulative tactics, Jezebel reigns supreme over her little kingdom (congregation). And she is so proud of herself, and of her seat of authority in the church.
Leaders who are under the influence of Jezebel, usually worship idols as she worshiped (1 Kings 16:31). Many times it is the idol of "ministry." These leaders focus on ministry, and not on intimacy with the Lord. They may talk consistently about intimacy and the presence of the Lord, but they spend the majority of their time doing ministry. Even though the congregation may have the impression that the leader spends long hours in the secret place, the Lord Himself hardly ever sees the Jezebelic leader there. Jezebel is a master of deception.
Jezebelic leaders sometimes have the sins of whoredoms and immorality buried deep in their hearts, which causes them to be seductive in nature (2 Kings 9:22, Revelation 2:20). It may be that the leader is entangled in a sexually immoral relationship without the knowledge of his wife or the congregation. Maybe the leader is bound in pornography. Or possibly the leader hasn't engaged in any act at all, but simply enjoys going to all the young women during the worship service and placing his hands on them. Holding them like a "spiritual father". Pressing his face against the head of a pretty young married woman and whispering, "Your Papa in Heaven loves you."
Jezebel is very hard to detect in the church. She is a master at staying hidden. When in a position of leadership, she will use her witchcraft to stay concealed. When a minister comes to preach from out-of-town, the Jezebelic leader will adorn himself/herself with a thick mask of makeup (2 Kings 9:30). Unless a traveling ministry is extremely discerning and walking in higher levels of the Spirit, they will be fooled by the disguise. Only by sitting under a Jezebelic ministry for an extended period of time, can her true colors be recognized.
During the shepherding movement, Jezebel gained control in the church and did much damage to the people of God. The shepherding movement was hallmarked with an unhealthy control by leadership. Men were making disciples unto themselves, and requiring their disciples to seek their counsel for all major decisions. Leadership had to approve of the decisions of believers. Recently the Lord has shown me that the same spirit of control that operated in the shepherding movement is rising in the church again. This time through the spiritual father/spiritual son movement. We must note that spiritual fathers/sons is a completely Biblical concept if it is done in the Spirit and not in the flesh. However, Jezebel has crept into this movement through the back door to gain control again. Leadership who is under the sway of Jezebel will teach on spiritual fathers/sons, and encourage the congregation to become spiritual sons and daughters. The congregation may willingly and humbly come in alignment with this teaching, and become spiritual sons. However the Jezebelic leadership will never treat the congregation like spiritual sons. The congregation will only be treated like slaves. These "spiritual sons" will never be close to Jezebelic leadership or invited over to their house for dinner as true spiritual family would be. Jezebel only desires to dominate, she really doesn't want them as family.
One of the saddest things is that leaders who are controlled by Jezebel are sometimes completely blind to it. They honestly do not know that Jezebel is operating through them. They are so entangled in her sorcery, that they themselves are deceived. The longer they operate in ministry under her influence, the greater the deception becomes. The greater the deception becomes, the more controlling and manipulating they become to the congregation. The more manipulated and controlled the congregation is, the deeper the hurt and emotional trauma. Jezebel is truly horrible.
Believers who sit under Jezebel for a long period of time will become deeply wounded. Jezebel causes believers to be dependent on her, which is the opposite of true five-fold ministry. Jezebel sows seeds of wickedness into the hearts of her congregation by subtly stating that anyone who leaves her ministry is unfaithful. She might not come right out and say this, but it is permeating the air of the congregation.
Some believers will eventually break free from the spirit of Ahab, and gather enough strength to leave the congregation. Usually by this point, these believers have been spiritually damaged and need deep inner healing. If they do not receive inner healing by the Holy Spirit they will become "the walking dead" in the church. It is imperative that these people seek out ministries that can help them, or spend time in the Lord's presence until they are completely healed of their spiritual hurt.
Jezebel and Elijah
Jezebel's greatest enemy is Elijah or a person called to an Elijah-like ministry. Jezebel always seeks to control and kill the prophets (1 Kings 18:4), but she has a harder time doing this to Elijah-like prophets. Elijah, by nature, is a trouble-maker to Jezebel and Ahab (1 Kings 18:17). He has a warring nature that cannot make peace with her and her witchcraft. Elijah hates the spirit of Jezebel and the spirit of Jezebel hates him. Elijah will not be content until a Jezebelic leader is removed from his/her seat of authority, and the Jezebelic leader will not be content until Elijah is silenced. And so they war in the spirit realm.
In the modern church, Jezebel seeks to "kill" the prophets by cutting off their voices. Under her spiritual covering, the anointing of the prophets will diminish. Prophetic revelation of prophetic people will decrease greatly under her ministry. Jezebelic leaders have the capacity to hook prophetic ministries and entangle them in her deceptive web. She may give them a place to operate in "her" church, but it will always be a very small place. She only gives prophetic people a place to function in order to keep them happy, never to actually empower them. Jezebel will never give them her platform of influence and never release them into their own ministry. She wants control. She justifies this to the prophet by showing him/her that they are not mature enough. Only she is mature enough for ministry, and her children of course.
If Jezebel cannot kill the prophets, she will be satisfied with the prophets "hiding in caves" (1 Kings 18:13). These are the prophets who will not address Jezebel because they are afraid of her. She is in the seat of authority and these prophets delude themselves into believing they must submit to her leadership. Jesus contradicts this high and lofty stronghold that's exalts itself against the knowledge of God by rebuking the church for tolerating the spirit of Jezebel (Rev 2:20). Other types of prophets are more likely to tolerate Jezebel simply because they are not as confrontational in nature as Elijah-like prophets. Essentially they hide in their cave and shut their eyes to the Jezebelic issue going on in the congregation. These prophets are more easily controlled and manipulated by the demonic spirit, because they justify in their hearts that it is not their calling to deal with this spirit. However Jesus' words are very clear to His church, as He rebukes us for permitting Jezebel to continue in her leadership role. But it seems that some prophets would rather obey the teaching of men over the teaching of God (Acts 4:18-20).
Elijah-like prophets hate how Jezebelic leaders are spiritually damaging people. They have seen the hurt and pain in the eyes of believers who have left Jezebel's congregation. They enter into confrontation mode against this spirit operating through the leader, because they love the people of God and don't want to see them hurt. From outward appearances, the Elijah-like prophet may seem hard and unloving. He is often misjudged by believers and prophets with a different calling. However, if we would heed the Lord's advice and not judge by outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7); we might understand the motivation of these Elijah-like prophets better. For their motivation is love.
Other prophets have a tendency to believe they are operating in love by submitting to Jezebelic leadership. However, by doing so they are disobeying a direct command from Jesus Christ (Revelation 2:20). By obeying Jezebel over Christ they are actually operating in rebellion. They are demonstrating that they love men more than they love God, and are therefore unfit to be disciples of Jesus (Matthew 10:37). These prophets believe that they are operating in love and mercy by serving Jezebelic leaders, but it is a deception. They are actually operating in a humanistic form of love and mercy. True love is obedience to Christ's word. We must pray that these prophets would come out of the "caves" and join the battle against Jezebel.
Elijahs will always issue Jezebelic leadership a strong warning. Repent of your sins of manipulation and control, or suffer the death of your ministry (1 Kings 21:23). Most assuredly, if leaders under the influence of Jezebel do not repent, their influence and ministry will be removed from them. Jesus does give Jezebel time to repent (Revelation 2:21), but if the leader does not repent of his/her involvement with the Jezebel spirit; the leader's ministry will surely die. People will begin leaving the church until her congregation is small. Only the people who love the spirit of Jezebel more than the Lord will remain under her spiritual covering. These are her eunuchs (2 Kings 9:32).
The spirit and power of Elijah is coming to rest on a select company of believers just as it rested on John the Baptist (Luke 1:17). One of the functions of this anointing is to tear down the strongholds of Jezebel in the church. This company of Elijah-like prophets will not rest until Jezebel is dethroned from her seat of authority in the church. They will pursue her relentlessly until her power and control is broken. Those leaders who are under Jezebel's power should be afraid of these men and women moving in the spirit and power of Elijah, for they will surely be challenged and exposed. Elijah rejoices to see Jezebel lose her authority and influence over God's people. May her judgment come soon, so that God's people may be set free!
Jezebel did get into Elijah's head for a time (1 Kings 19), but the current generation of Elijahs will not as easily make the same mistake. Not because the current generation of Elijah-like prophets are better, but because they have honored Elijah like a father and learned from him. By honoring the fathers and learning from their mistakes, we share in the Heavenly reward together for we are not independent of one another (Hebrews 11:40).
Jezebel and John the Baptist
The ending of John the Baptist's life and ministry is one of the most shocking in all of scripture. John was the greatest man born of a woman, but Jesus said that the person who is the very least in the Kingdom of Heaven would be greater than John (Matthew 11:11). Note that Old Testament saints and New Testament saints alike are apart of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 8:11). We will be ranked from least to greatest according to how well we knew the Lord, became like Him, and how well we stewarded what He gave us while on the earth.
John was not a reed shaken by the wind, and he was not a soft weak man. However something tragic happened to him while he was in prison. Somehow he yielded to the control and influence of Jezebel. John had rebuked Herod for his evil deeds, and for committing adultery with his brother's wife Herodias (Luke 3:19). Because of this challenge to this Jezebelic woman and her Ahab, John was locked up in prison.
While in the prison, the burning shinning lamp became vulnerable to Jezebel's witchcraft. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah, for the Father had told him that the Messiah was the one who he would see the Spirit descending from Heaven and resting upon (John 1:32-33). John thought Jesus was going to set up His Kingdom on the earth, and get him out of the prison cell. Jesus didn't do things the way John thought that He would, and John became offended (Matthew 11:6).
As John let himself go into being offended with Jesus, Jezebel began to take hold of John. She used the open door in John's heart of offense toward God, to gain access to the prophet. Then confusion hit the prophet's mind. He began to feel insecure and emotionally drained. John's thoughts were now cluttered and his prophetic vision waned. He could not see clearly anymore, and he could not remember the words that the Father spoke to him in the wilderness during his preparation for ministry. John became utterly bound by the seductive spirit of Jezebel.
John ended so sadly. He sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus and ask if He was the One (Messiah), or should they look for another (Matthew 11:1-3). You can see the offense, anger, and bitterness in John's question. Are you the one, or should we look for another? Essentially John was saying to Jesus, "You must not be the one because you are leaving me bound in prison. You are setting all the other captives free by healing the sick and casting out demons, but not me. What kind of Messiah would leave his own cousin imprisoned when He has the power to get me released. Are you the one or should I be looking for another who is actually going to care about me, and get me out of this prison cell?"
Because of the level of revelation and understanding John was given, his judgment was severe. John knew better, yet he somehow yielded to offense and Jezebel. John was saved and went to Heaven, but he is one of the least. He should have been one of the greatest in Heaven, and my spirit is saddened over such a tragedy as this. May we learn from John's mistake, and not let Jezebel gain entrance through offense with God. He is not going to do things how we think He is. He will allow things to happen in our lives that are painful and don't make sense. However we must trust that He is always good, and that even the bad things allowed in our lives for our own good. And ultimately it's not about us. It's about us bringing glory to Him.
The Judgment of Jezebel and the Church
“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:20-23 NKJV
In Thyatira, a woman was placed in a leadership position in the church. She called herself a prophetess, and was engaged in teaching subtle false doctrines. She probably did not come right out and say that it is acceptable to practice sexual immorality. It was probably something a bit more subtle such as, "We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We are sinners and we make mistakes, but God is so merciful. Some of you have fallen into sexual sins time and time again. Listen, it's okay. Your Papa loves you. He knows your heart and He always forgives. Some of you may never be free of your sexual sin, but Jesus died on the cross for you to take away your sins. God's love and His mercy for you are so overwhelming. Never condemn yourself, Jesus doesn't. He is a God of grace!"
The Jezebelic leader in Thyatira gave the people permission to stay in their sins, and encouraged others to fall into compromise. She did not teach the gospel, which is repentance of sins. She simply taught on God's love and mercy. Her distorted grace message swept through the church and polluted many Christian souls. This leader had many in the church committing spiritual adultery with her. She also may have had a number of men committing adultery with her in the natural. This Jezebelic leader also had many spiritual children who adhered to her teaching, and reproduced her ministry.
King Jesus gave this church leader time to repent from her entanglement with Jezebel and she did not. Therefore the sovereign King issued a judgment against this leader. Jesus Himself threw this woman into a sickbed. Her judgment was physical suffering by some kind of disease, because she did not repent. Let us remember that this is New Testament Christianity and New Testament judgment. The judgement continues. Unless those who have been committing adultery with Jezebel repent, they will suffer great tribulation. And Jesus himself will kill Jezebel's spiritual children (her disciples) with death. The modern church that tolerates Jezebel in leadership can expect the same judgment as the church in Thyatira. Jesus is good to His word. He will fully carry out everything that He says He will do.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”” I Peter 4:17-18 NKJV
Freedom from Jezebel
Let me first state that this teaching is not a license to rebel against leadership or dishonor leaders in any way. It is a license however to discern if Jezebel is operating through leadership, and come out from her control. Jesus encourages us to Judge what is right (Luke 12:57). Once we judge what is right, we are responsible for acting upon what is right.
If you are under the influence of Jezebel, the first step is to come out from under her covering. Leave her. This may be hard to do if you have come under the influence of the Ahab spirit. This spirit is completely dependent on Jezebel, and is emotionally attached to her. The Ahab spirit is "spiritual family" with the Jezebel spirit. If someone under the influence of an Ahab spirit thinks of breaking away from Jezebel, they are condemned with thoughts such as, "A true spiritual son would never leave this family. If you leave it proves you are really an orphan. Family doesn't give up on one another. Real family doesn't leave each other. If you leave this congregation it just proves that you are not spiritually mature, and you only want to do your own thing."
The spirit of Ahab will use every manipulation in the book to keep you under Jezebel's influence. And some believers will sadly continue to yield to Ahab's demonic reasoning. Something in them simply wants to be controlled by Jezebel. Some believes have simply become dependent on her. But you must turn fully to the Lord and ask for His grace to empower you. Listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of God. Ignore Ahab and leave Jezebel.
Before you can leave, you may need to break the power of the Ahab spirit. Simply repent of your sins that created an open door, and your sin of tolerating Jezebel. Repent for any generational sin, and ask Jesus to cleanse you from sin. Then break the power of the spirit of Ahab in the name of Jesus. Command the spirit of Ahab to come out of you until it does. Then repeat these same simple steps and break the power of the spirit of Jezebel. Command her to come out of you and break her influence off of your life. Break the power of her witchcraft that has come upon you. Wage war in the spirit realm until these issues are dealt with. Pray it through with the Lord until you feel complete victory. If you are unable to gain any freedom then you must connect with a disciple of Jesus who has some experience in deliverance.
After you are completely delivered from these demonic influences, you must receive inner healing from the Holy Spirit. Your heart will still be greatly wounded from all the spiritual trauma, and you will need to be made whole so that Christ can live an overcoming life through you. Seek out someone who can minister to you in the area of inner healing. You can also receive inner healing by simply going before the Lord. The Lord has healed me of many things while I have been siting in silence in His manifest presence. He is good, and He will show you a path in which to get help.
It does us well to know our enemy. We must be cautious and prepared for battle. Jezebel took out one of the greatest prophets to walk the earth (the Baptist). She hindered Elijah for a time. She also nearly destroyed a mighty revivalist by the name of Evan Roberts. She lured Evan away from the public stage of revival by her enticing deceptive words. The revival waned. The enemy is not stupid. He knows how to take down spiritual giants. We must go to the secret place and go before the throne of grace. Only Christ can keep us on the right path. And He will only do so if we stay near to Him. If we begin to drift away from intimacy with Him, we risk being exposed to the attack of Jezebel.
Ty Unruh (2015)