This post is the finale of the Proverbs 31 Family series!
The thesis of this series has been that: men and women influence each other in faith and effectiveness; that our fates in ministry are tied; that our purpose is united beyond position.
So let’s talk about Jezebel! And Ahab. What couple better exemplifies the assertions above? In the worst way possible, of course, they do.
Jezebel influenced Ahab to worship her gods. She was the one killing the Lord’s prophets, yet it was Ahab who was present at Mt Carmel. And for what Jezebel overheard (because she wasn’t actually there), about what happened at Mt Carmel, she cursed Elijah.
Influence. Outcomes tied. United beyond position.
Men and women, in relationship, create a dynamic. What might only be latent potential in each, takes form and life together.
Ahab married Jezebel. He brought her in. He gave her influence in Israel. She was a foreigner, a princess, a priestess, loyal to another kingdom, evangelist of other gods, and relishing the opportunity to exert demonic dominion over Israel just given the chance.
And, she gave Ahab a platform for the evil that was already in his heart: “He began to bow down in worship to Baal. First Ahab built a temple and an altar to Baal in Samaria. Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him,” 1 Kings 17:31-33.
It could be speculated that the depth of Ahab’s depravity might not have been drawn out without Jezebel.
The magnetism of relationship is so powerful that the Proverbs 31 Queen Mother was wise to take such care in describing to her son, the king, the kind of woman to seek out as a partner in ruling.
The Proverbs 31 Queen Mother knew that the whole of a relationship is greater than the sum of its parts– as is its force, its magnitude, its gravity.
“No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshipping idols,” 1 Kings 21:25-26.
There is possibly no “spirit” that is so recognized among Christians today as the “spirit of Jezebel.” Her influence is renown and recognizable in relationships even now.
In terms of spiritual warfare we can look at calamity, misfortune, sickness, loss, disappointment, oppression, war, and other uncontrollable phenomena as workings of the enemy to undermine a Christian’s resolve. Yet, I think that the most pervasive and wearying form of warfare that we see is, in fact, in our relationships.
I think this hostile form of gorilla spiritual warfare is the kind most described in the Bible as well.
Jesus experienced the warfare that takes place in intimate friendship when he told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely human concerns,” Matthew 16:23.
Peter had made a zealous comment that surely Jesus would never go to the cross! Yet his comment burdened Jesus rather than shouldered Jesus’ burden. Of course, Jesus the man, his corporal being, did not want to die– as per Gethsemane– and Peter was making it harder for Jesus to remain in his resolve. So he rebuked him– as Satan!
Peter was being used by Satan to wear Jesus down, to keep him from his passion, to put a thin wedge of doubt into his mind. Peter might actually have been in use as the second temptation of Christ that we are told about in Luke 4:13: “When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.”
Was Peter that next opportunity?! What a terrible thing for a friend– or a wife– to be: the next opportunity of the devil to temp your loved one away from their God-given purpose.
If we weighed every one of our words and assessed each of our conversations, I am sure that we are all, at times, Jezebels and Peters.
We have all at a point entertained a conversation that influenced the evil already in a friend’s heart to flourish and bear fruit. We have all probably given a loved one the “easy-out” word of encouragement that made it even harder for them to keep at the hard right over the easy wrong.
This concept of spiritual warfare within relationships, and specifically within conversations, is the topic of my blog series coming January 2019, titled, “Too Much Talking: Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Job.”
I’ll be exploring how Job remained blameless through all manner of loss- his home, his possessions, his children, his health, even losing his wife’s respect– yet it was in conversation with his friends that he was the most tempted to blame God.
His friends were the most insidious influencers that the Accuser sent to undermine Job passing “the test.” The power of conversation can never be taken too seriously.
Proverbs 10:19– “When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
I hope you’ll join me in January 2019 for “Too Much Talking: Spiritual Warfare in the Book of Job.” In the meantime, this fall, I’ll be publishing contemplations on the Biblical Fall Feasts and several essays on the Liturgical Holidays. The first of my Fall Holiday series will be posted in time for Rosh Hashanah next week!