Jezebel: Unusual Missionary

She was born in Sidon with a silver spoon in her mouth, raised a princess and lacked nothing. Her father, a regicide, was both king and high priest, with the powers of life and death over his subjects. Their god was Baal.

As she grew, she loved the benefits of her noble birth. However, she also became increasingly intrigued by the varied rituals she attended with dad in the shady groves of Astarte on the hilltops. In time, she began to participate in the orgies and witchcrafts that formed integral parts of the worship of Baal and the fertility goddess. She enjoyed it, relished it, believed in it and became increasingly persuaded that Baal was the panacea for the world. 

 

She desired everyone, especially young women, to know the “highs” she had experienced. In her thinking, this was just what the world needed. Her name was Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians (see 1 Kings). Her name, Jezebel, meaning “chaste, free from carnal connection,” was everything she was not. The name belied the person: “a zealous idolater, extremely imperious and malicious in her natural temper, addicted to witchcrafts and whoredoms, and every way vicious.”1 When Ahab, king of historically monotheistic Israel, came asking for her hand in marriage, she sensed the tug of destiny. Somehow, through her marriage to Ahab, and her position as queen, she would “evangelize” Israel. She could import her cohorts, convictions, priests and prophets into Israel. Her ministry had begun.

Ahab did what was evil in the LORD's sight, even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough to live like Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to worship Baal. First he built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:30-33)

 

Unusual Missionary
Jezebel was a “cross-cultural, tentmaking missionary.” Her vision was to establish exclusive Baal worship in Jehovah’s own Israel. Her ministry platform was her position as housewife and queen, with the influence that went with both. Together with a retinue of prophets, all supported and sustained by her (I Kings 18:19 says “they ate at Jezebel’s table”), Jezebel pursued her mission relentlessly, even succeeding in driving God’s prophets underground! If Israel had been another nation, “missionary” Jezebel would have succeeded in foisting her version of reality on the people.

At the 1997 Tentmakers Consultation at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois, USA, the term “tentmakers” was defined as “Christian witnesses from any nation who, because of their skills or expertise, gain access and maintain themselves in another culture with the primary intention of making disciples for Christ Jesus and where possible, establish and strengthen churches.” Don Hamilton offers this definition for tentmaker: “A Christian who works in a cross-cultural situation and is recognized by members of the host culture as something other than a religious professional, and yet in terms of his or her commitment, calling, motivation and training is a missionary in every way.”

 

Take away “Christian” from the above definitions and Jezebel perfectly fits the description. She gained access into and maintained herself in another culture through marriage, but with the primary intention of making disciples for Baal. She was recognized in the host culture as something other than a religious professional. She was queen; however, “in terms of her commitment, calling, motivation and training” she was a missionary for Baal in every way. Nobody needed to send “support” or “raise funds” for Jezebel: She not only sustained herself, but used all instruments of her office to advance the cause of Baal.

Jezebel’s passion for Baal was unsurpassed: she threw her all into propagating Baal. Matthew Henry notes that “this one strange wife debauched Israel more than all the strange wives of Solomon.” She used her influence and the vast resources that attended her position to preach Baal. Where persuasion failed, she resorted to ruthless repression. She did whatever she had to do to ensure Baal prospered. Adam Clarke2 lists the following high points of Jezebel’s ignoble “ministry” in Israel:

 

  1. She was the idolatrous daughter of an idolatrous king.
  2. She practiced it openly.
  3. She not only countenanced it in others, but protected it, and gave its partisans honours and rewards.
  4. She used every means to persecute the true religion.
  5. She was hideously cruel, and put to death the prophets and priests of God.
  6. And all this she did with the most zealous perseverance and relentless cruelty.

 

Amazing Possibilities
What would happen for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ if every Christian did for the Kingdom of God what Jezebel did for Baal? What could happen if every believer used their God-given platforms to advance the gospel (within righteous limits) akin to how Jezebel used hers to advance Baal?

 

I live in northern Nigeria, in an area of the country that is within the 10/40 Window. Here, Islamic fundamentalists have destroyed scores of churches and slaughtered (literally, in many instances) multitudes. I see firsthand the kingdom-consciousness of Muslims. To them, “to live is Allah, and to die is gain.” Their jobs and businesses are unapologetically committed to enthroning Allah and the teachings of Islam. They build mosques on government property, with government funds, and must leave work to pray several times a day. Whatever positions they occupy—including government or political appointments—are tools to propagate Islam.

 

It was in this manner that Nigeria was smuggled into the Organization of Islamic Conference, an umbrella body of Islamic nations, when a Muslim was head of state. It is this kingdom-consciousness—a willingness to lay down all to serve the purposes of Allah—that is behind the current wave of terror they are spreading around the world. Western societies, hedged in by the twin evils of hedonism and humanism, stand helpless before such sacrifice.

 

To Change Society: Rethinking the Great Commission
Many Christians are the very antithesis of the above. To remain politically correct and accepted, they do everything to hide their Christian identity in the marketplace. The idea that the Church can change the world from inside the Church is not biblical; the early Church knew they needed to invade every facet of society with the gospel if the Great Commission was to be fulfilled.

 

Here are some things we could do to begin to mobilize the silent majority for the final harvest in the nations:

 

1. Understand that the vast majority of the lost we are sent to are not in the church. More people go to hospitals than to church. In my days in medical practice, patients trooped in. Standing for Christ in that setting, we organized evangelism in the wards and ministered to patients and their relatives caring for them. We were taught in our Christian fellowship in medical school to treat the whole person (they called it "holistic medical practice")—not just the body. That meant addressing both the soul and the body. We saw many saved and blessed as we ministered. In private medical practice, we witnessed to patients and saved the lives of several babies whose mothers had come seeking abortions.

 

The world we are called to reach is in society, in hospitals, classrooms and colleges, markets, etc. The good news is that Jesus already has people in these areas. They simply need to be trained to minister effectively.

 

2. “Reformat” our minds as to the true nature of our secular jobs. Sola Adebayo, director of The Kingdom Projects, which trains and sends tentmaking missionaries, lists some divine objectives for our secular jobs. Adebayo reminds us that our jobs are not just a means of livelihood but (a) a means of becoming rich for eternity, (b) a divine smokescreen for covert kingdom operations, (c) a divine tool and (d) a platform. God would still feed us if we could not find jobs, so getting something to eat could not be his primary design for planting us in the marketplace. He has strategically located us there as his witnesses. If every believer understood this, the gospel would be inescapable and the unsaved would meet it in offices, schools, shopping malls, on the airwaves, etc.

 

3. Lose the dichotomy between sacred and spiritual. We are integrated beings, not divided into a holy, spiritual part and an unholy, secular component. We are not redeemed to serve the Lord part-time; we are all full-timers, wholly purchased by the blood of the Lamb. The prophet Daniel was neither a pastor nor a full-time preacher; however, the depth of the prophecies that came out of his walk with God was extraordinary. Although he was thousands of miles from home, his light shone in the marketplace and witnessed for the God of Israel.

 

4. Take responsibility for the territories where the Lord has planted us. See yourself as the missionary in your office, at school, at your clinic. You are the “pastor”; your co-workers are your “pulpits,” your congregation. God is wanting you to help change their eternal destinies by channeling his love and saving power to them. Our pastors are not responsible for the lost souls around us; we are the agents of the kingdom.

 

5. Begin to systematically equip Christians to witness for Christ in the marketplace. This massive but untapped missionary force already in place should be trained on effective strategies, including lifestyle and friendship evangelism. If Christians are taught to lose their perception of the workplace as intrinsically evil and begin to see it as their God-given territories for conquest, we could see a massive ingathering of souls into the Kingdom of God.

 

As the Moravians used to say, “The Lamb that was slain is worthy of the results of his suffering.” As God’s people, let us each take a stand for him in the fields where he has planted us.

 

Stand up! Stand up! For Jesus
Ye soldiers of the cross
Lift high His royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army shall He lead
Till every foe is vanquished
And Christ is Lord indeed.