King Ahab and Jezebel can be found in the book of Kings and are largely associated with Elijah the prophet. Ahab was the seventh king of Israel since Jeroboam I, the son and successor of Omri. And Queen Jezebel, his wife, was a Sidonian woman and daughter of Ethbaal. Ahab became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa, king of Judah, and reigned for twenty-two years (1 Kings 16:29) around 871–852 BC.
Ahab and Jezebel’s apostasy
The king and the queen were both wicked before the Lord and led the people to idolatry and sin. The king erected a house for Baal in Samaria and made an Asherah pole for pagan worship. Thus, “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
Jezebel’s father was a high priest of Baal. Josephus calls him the priest of Astarte, who slew Pheles, king of Tyre, founded a new dynasty and reigned over Tyre for 32 years (Against Apion. 1. 18). Jezebel’s pagan priestly origin accounts for her fanatical devotion to spreading this false religion in Israel. After her marriage to Ahab, she cut off the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4). But Obadiah, a faithful steward for Ahab, saved 100 of God’s prophets by hiding them in a cave (1 Kings 18:13–14).
Elijah’s message to the king and queen
In judgment to their apostasy, the Lord sent Elijah His prophet to Ahab and Jezebel with a message saying, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Baal was worshiped as the source of life and blessing. But now Israel was to see that Baal could not provide these blessings.
Queen Jezebel, enraged over Elijah’s message shutting up the heavens that they might not rain, was determined that the prophet and all who associated themselves with him in the service of God should be killed.
At the end of the drought, Elijah faced Ahab and the king said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). The truth was that the king and his wife were the reason of this drought and not the prophet. Elijah said to the king: “I have not made trouble for Israel . . . but you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals” (v. 18).
The victory on Mount Carmel
When the Lord revealed that He is the true and only God at Mount Carmel and Elijah killed Baal prophets (1 Kings 18), Jezebel issued a death threat against God’s prophet (1 Kings 19:2). And Elijah fled from her. Sin filled Ahab’s heart, but Jezebel caused it to burn. It was through the influence of Jezebel that Ahab worshiped Baal (1 Kings 16:31), killed the prophets of God (1 Kings 18:4), driven Elijah to exile (ch. 19:2), and finally murdered Naboth and stole his land (1 Kings 21:7, 15).
God’s judgement on Ahab and his wife
During a war with the Syrians, King Ahab, who had disguised himself, was hit by a random arrow that struck him between the joints of his armor and he died (1 Kings 22:34,35). As for Queen Jezebel, her eunuchs threw her out of the window of her house and shed died and the dogs ate her body (2 Kings 9:30-37).
Jezebel resembles the apostate church
In the NT, John the Revelator referred to Jezebel’s idolatry at the church of Thyatira: “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.” As applied to the Thyatira period of Christian history, the figure of Jezebel represents the power that produced the great apostasy of the medieval centuries – the Papacy (Daniel 7; Revelation 2:18).
In His service,
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