Relationships – Jezebel and Elijah

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

  • 1 Kings 16:29-33

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

  • 1 Kings 17:1

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”
Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

  • 1 Kings 18:1-15

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

  • 1 Kings 19:1-2

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”
Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”
“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’
“And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’
“Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”
(There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

  • 1 Kings 21:17-29

Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”
He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

  • 2 Kings 9:30-33

A Quote

[1 Kings 21:23; 2 Kings 9:34, 36] ”Jezebel was singled out for judgment because of her initiative in driving Ahab in the promotion of Baalism (v. 25). Elijah’s prophecy concerning her was literally fulfilled in 2 Kings 9:10, 30-37. …
“Jehu recognized Jezebel’s royalty, while denying that she deserved to be the queen of Israel. …
“Where and how Jezebel died fulfilled Elijah’s prophetic oracle (1 Kin. 21:23).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

First, the relationship between Jezebel and Elijah is almost non-existent.  Jezebel sought to kill God’s prophets in Israel, and Elijah was one of them.  After Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel which resulted in four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah, all who dine at Jezebel’s table were bested by God and, at least the prophets of Baal were killed (nothing said about the prophets of Asherah), it would be easy to see why Elijah was promoted to public enemy number one.  Second, with a price on his head, Elijah goes to the king and prophesies that Ahab and his family line will be destroyed, and dogs will eat the remains of Jezebel.

Neither of those things are conducive for a meaningful “relationship”, but from the standpoint of good versus evil, we see a complete lack of any relationship.  Any move to have a relationship would be a compromise.  Elijah could not compromise and still be a prophet of God.  Jezebel was so into Baal worship, and worship of other false gods, that she considered herself “righteous” in her own right, thus not willing to bend or compromise.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

With Jezebel having an eerie control over Ahab, you can imagine that Jezebel was nearby when Elijah made his proclamations.  The drought was the first big one and then the ultimate destruction of Ahab’s family line being the other, at least for four generations.

To explain that “four generations” comment, Athaliah, wife of Jehoram, who established herself as queen of Judah upon her son’s death, tried to kill all her children and grandchildren, but Joash was protected by the priests and became king at a young age, ending Joash’s grandmother’s rule.  In the Matthew genealogy, Matthew left out those “cursed” generations, allowable in the Hebrew way of doing such things.  But those later generations of kings, not under the curse, would still have the bloodline of Ahab through Athaliah, just watered down a great deal.

Did Jezebel’s heart skip a beat when Elijah prophesied many years before her death that she would be eaten by dogs?  Or did it simply fly into another rage?

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

Since there was no workable relationship between these two, the entire history of that period is a gap, but for Jezebel to maintain her power, she had to isolate the king from anything like the prophecies of Elijah.  For Elijah to stay true to God, he could not give in to Jezebel at any point.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

There are people these days that are so far gone toward the evil side, they have done as Jesus said, blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  They are essentially pure evil, but like Jezebel, they think in a twisted way that they are righteous, within their way of thinking.  Even agreeing to disagree, if that is something that is possible, would be a compromise.  Distance may be the only option, along with a lot of prayer.  The one who has closed all doors to any reasonable conversation about God may be lost forever, even though they are still breathing, the lure of evil is too strong.  But you can pray for those that the evil person comes into contact, especially those that the evil person controls.

The saying “if there is still breath, there is still hope” may not always be the case, but you trying to solve the issue is impossible.  This is a case of God’s omnipotent power having to come to bear, to face evil directly, and we must always consider God’s perfect will.  It is hard to take when those we are praying for are close to us.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
  • Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.

A Closing Prayer

We look to You for guidance.  When is someone too far gone?  It is not for us to determine that, but when we have confronted evil many times over, we need Your guidance in finding the wisdom to move on, praying for them as we do.  We also need the wisdom to know that we can set a good example and we can teach, but salvation comes only from You and the work of the Holy Spirit in that other person’s life.  In the end, it is up to each of us to accept the gift that You offer freely.  And Lord, I think I know one reason that we will have You wipe away our tears. There is no crying or pain in Heaven, but as we leave this earth and breath our last in our present bodies, we might just weep for those who can never be in Your presence forever.  And we have Your promise that You will wipe away that lingering tear.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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