Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Every time I write about the Book of Revelation, I always remind my readers that this is a highly symbolic prophetic book, full of rich metaphoric imagery and Apocalyptic Language. As often as I say that, many people insist on reading the book of Revelation literally and also projecting the events into our future. We also easily forget the lessons we learned from the Book of Daniel, where beasts and idols represent Kings and Kingdoms, and instead turn to a literal interpretation. We must be mindful of the time indicators, the audience relevance and allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.
To my understanding, the Book of Revelation is the Apostle John’s olivet discourse, written before the destruction of the Jerusalem in 70AD. I am well aware there is debate on the dating of the book, but I’ve been convinced of it’s early dating and it’s message to the early church. John is describing what will unfold as God’s Judgment comes upon the Jewish and Roman nations for the death of Jesus Christ. The book is a prophetic warning from Jesus to the seven churches to break ties with Rome and Jerusalem, or partake in the Judgement that is coming upon them (1 Thessalonians 2:16).
Just as Jesus Christ describes himself to each church in various facets, “…he that holdeth the seven stars… (Revelation 2:1)”, “…the first and the last.. (Revelation 2:8)”, “ ..the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire..” etc. In that exact same way, Jesus Christ is identifying the early enemies of the Church, the Judiazers and the Gnostics. He identifies their allegiance to Jerusalem by mentioning, “..where Satan’s seat is… (Revelation 2:13)”, “…but are the synagogue of Satan… (Revelation 2:9)”, “…them of the synagogue of Satan… (Revelation 3:9)”. And secondly he identifies the Roman Gnosticism as the works of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6, Revelation 2:15).
It is in this dialogue from the Lord, we discover a reference to Jezebel (Revelation 2:20). Now we know this is not a literal person, for the Jezebel mentioned in the books of 1st and 2nd Kings was long since dead. Similarly, the fact that included in the verse, we see that Jesus is rebuking the church for eating things sacrificed to idols, yet Paul in a previous letter, already stated that there is nothing wrong with eating food offers to idols, least it cause stumbling of a brother (1 Corinthians 8:4-13). It was not the eating that was the issue, it was something was causing the brothers to stumble.
Similarly, fornication in the prophetic language, talks of Spiritual unfaithfulness. As the nation of Israel many times in the past has been accused of spiritual unfaithfulness by taking on other gods and taking on the idolatry with other nations. (Ezekiel 16:15, Ezekiel 16:26, Ezekiel 16:29) Israel is accused of “playing the harlot (Jeremiah 3:1, Jeremiah 3:8, Ezekiel 16:28, Hosea 2:5), and having gone after many lovers, which is other gods.
Ezekiel 16:36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy [Israel] filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;
Unlike the Epistles, which are letters of clear instruction, in the prophetic language, sexual imagery is used when speaking of spiritual immorality. That is not to say that sexual immorality is not of concern in these churches, but more importantly we must understand the imagery being used to help us identify what the Lord is saying through John.
Now, taking what we learned from my last post, showing the character of Jezebel, I believe the best candidate for what the early church was dealing with, was the spiritual influence from Jerusalem towards the early church, being pushed from the Judaizers.
The Judaizers were obsessed with maintaining control of the Temple System and the prestige that they held among the people (Galatians 6:13). Secondly, they claimed to have spiritual authority, and tried to gain influence in the churches and claimed to speak for God. They were willing to lie and manipulate their laws to kill Jesus (Mark 14:55, John 8:40), the Apostles (Acts 23:12) and many of the early Christians (Acts 8:1-3). They were blind to what God was doing through Christ and the early Church (John 16:2). And most importantly of all, they hid behind the grandeur of the Temple and the Law of Moses, to mask their true intents.
In closing, while I do not discount a person can have the character of Jezebel today, taking verses from the book of Revelation to try to match them to a person as a sign of the end times, is a gross misrepresentation of the text. As we have seen, from the clear account in the Books of 1st Kings and 2nd Kings, we see what Jezebel is, and what it is not. Lastly, we examined the book of Revelation, in it’s context to show that the best candidate for the 1st century church, was the influence of Jerusalem.
Gary DeMar talking about understanding Prophecy 101.