False Women Prophets In The Bible
Jezebel of Thyatira
Revelation 2:20 (CEB)
20 But I have this against you: you put up with that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. You allow her to teach and to mislead my servants into committing sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols.
It is not clear whether “Jezebel” was this woman’s actual name. The name “Jezebel” had become common parlance, even in that day, for “wicked woman,” in memory of the famously villainous wife of King Ahab, 1 Kings 16-22. There is also some question whether this woman was even an actual prophet—Jesus said only that she called herself one.
However, it is clear she had influence over the Church and led them astray much in the way the ancient prophet Balaam’s hired women did to Israel during the Exodus—
“These very women, on Balaam’s advice, made the Israelites break faith with the Lord in the affair at Peor, so there was a plague among the Lord’s community.” (Numbers 31:16)
Balaam’s story is found in Numbers 22-24, and his demise in Numbers 31. Balaam had been hired by a Canaanite king to curse the Israelites. But God was so powerful against him that finally Balaam not only admitted defeat, he was used by God to actually bless the Israelites, causing him to lose completely his promised reward. Before he left, Balaam gave some advice to the Canaanite King Balak.
Though Balaam hadn’t been able to curse Israel, he knew how to defile them, and seduce them into sin so awful that Jehovah would judge them. He suggested to Balak, and to the Moabite and Midianite princes who were with him, they should put together a feast in honor of Baal, there at Peor, and invite the Jews to attend.
The feast would of course include all the rituals attendant to the worship of Baal, not just the pageantry, the food, and the wine. But also the sex. Of course, since the Moabites were brothers to the Israelites through the ancient family tie of Abraham and his nephew Lot, and the Midianites had become allies years before through Moses’ in-laws, the Israelites were already warmly disposed towards them, and accepted their invitation.
The Israelite men became sexually involved with Moabite women, who then invited the men to come to more of their religious feasts. In order to please the women, the men ate at the feast, and went through the rituals of worship (read: more sex). Though the dreadful Chemosh was their chief god, they also worshiped Baal, which was more fun. He was their fertility god, provider of rain, abundant harvest, and abundant flocks. Since he was the god of fertility, worship of him involved religious prostitution.
God had a right to become angry, and evidently sent a plague that infected the people who were involved with this apostasy and adultery. Jesus’ warning carried overtones of the same to come to the church in Thyatira.
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.