This week we are going to begin to take a look at one of the most infamous women in the bible. First lets look at her history a little, then the main point of the study, then some of the legacy she left. There are so many lessons to be learned from her story that this will take 3 weeks.
The writer of 1st kings is the first to tell us anything about Jezebel chapter 16 verses 30 and 31 say; And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. The Zidonians worshipped a goddess named ashtoreth and Ahab was not the first king to take a wife from them, 1st Kings 11:5 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: but this women had a strong personality and Ahab a weak one, she would end up virtually running the northern 10 tribes.
Elijah comes out of nowhere and declares that there would be no rain until he said so, and guess what, it quit raining 1st Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. Drought takes a while to have an effect and sometime in the third year Elijah shows up again for a showdown 18:1. And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. In the meantime, or perhaps even before Elijah's proclamation, Jezebel had killed every prophet of the true God she could find, 1st Kings 18:44. For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) 18:13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? The nature of false religion is to eliminate the competition and there is a good reason for that, the father of all false religion is the devil. While his minions may struggle for who gets the biggest piece of the pie, they are on the same team, even if they don't know it. Though they might fight one another they will always do their best to utterly destroy God's true representatives when they get in control. Thank God that He and any obedient servant constitute a majority as we will see.
Elijah confronts Ahab concerning the spiritual condition of the nation . 1st Kings 18:17-20 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
Notice that even though Jezebel was the problem Elijah was sent to Ahab. Ahab was the authority that God had established and even if he chose to abdicate that authority to his wife he was responsible for what occurred nonetheless. Remember the garden when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, their eyes weren't opened till Adam joined her disobedience and ate as well. There is a great kingdom principal here that we will (God willing) examine fully at another time. Also notice that Ahab blames the trouble on Elijah because Elijah had obeyed God and declared His judgment for Israel's sins. People who cling to their sin frequently blame the inevitable consequences on those who try to correct them. As Jesus said the light has come and they prefer darkness, which will always destroy them.
Elijah calls for a showdown on mount Carmel, 850 false prophets against one true with the people as a witness. He then preaches a short sermon, 18: 21-24 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, it is well spoken. I'll shorten the story for this study but if you are not familiar with it you should read it because it is interesting. The false prophets call upon their gods all day and get no answer, Elijah calls on the true God once and gets an immediate answer. The people acknowledge the true God and Elijah has the false prophets killed then prays for rain, end of problem right? It is never that simple, because as long as sin has a root it will grow, in this case the root was working through Jezebel.
1st Kings 19:1-4 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. Elijah had just faced down 850 of the devil's minions and won, you would think that he would be full of confidence yet one message from Jezebel and he flees to the wilderness and prays to die. Again i will shorten the story to stay on this subject. Elijah goes to the mountain of God where Moses received the 10 commandments and has an encounter with Jehovah. It is interesting to note that after this encounter Elijah never runs from trouble again even when Ahab's son sends soldiers to apprehend him (2 Kings 1:9-15).