“Exposing the Irregular, Irascible, Insidious, and Irreconcilable”
While working on a worthless degree back in the 70s, I’ll never forget a professor and shrink who explained why some people are so irregular, irascible, insidious, and irreconcilable: “The problem people in your life are usually constipated. That’s why they dump on you.”
I think that’s one of the few things I remember from my academic career; or as poet, professor, and pastor John David Burton wrote in Naked in the Street, “Years of school prompt my distrust of and disinterest in the academic” (1 Corinthians 1 provides more context).
Anyway, that memorable moment in another otherwise forgetful classroom came to mind while consoling a pastor betrayed by someone that had been his most trusted associate for almost two decades; also noting their wives were “best friends” as their children often played together.
The particulars provoking betrayal aren’t important because, uh, none can be identified.
So often in our fallen world and lives, relationships are ruptured even tortured often ruined without any discernable reason.
People just seem to fall out of love or even like with each other.
Gump was right: “_____ happens!”
There have been times in my life and ministry when I’ve tried to listen and communicate with someone that has become so different from the person that I knew by confession, conduct, and countenance that I’ve been tempted to demand, “In the name of Jesus, come out of her/him!”
Paul’s befuddlement about such pejorative transformations to obsessions even possessions caused him to ask, “Who bewitched you?...I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him” (see Galatians 1-3).
There are people that seem to throw away relationships so easily and forget we are distinguishably His by grace, mercy, and forgiveness wrapped in agape so perfectly modeled in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.
My guess is you know what I mean because you’ve been there and done that sometime in your life and ministry.
While I may be wrong and I’m just scratching the surface of spiritual warfare, I am increasingly convinced the Jezebel spirit has a lot to do with it; and when I speak of that spirit, I am referring to character traits of that wickedly cunning, controlling, deceptive, manipulative, seductive, and apostate queen and Ahab’s wife in 1-2 Kings that seems to “bewitch” or oppress/possess people previously experienced as Godly or wanting what God wants with Jesus as the model and Bible as the manual.
An Abbreviated Historical Context
Jezebel was Ahab’s wife and proved to be anything but Godly unless it came to other gods while defying, disrespecting, and disobeying God.
Ahab, considered to be the worst of all Israel’s bad kings (1 K 16:30), married Jezebel and both “proceeded to serve Baal and worship him (1 K 16:31).
Switching genders to the tune of the Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” Jezebel had emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual control over Ahab.
In short, he was whipped.
Prophets were slaughtered, false gods were worshipped, and the righteous were persecuted.
Jezebel even mocked her king with jokes about his manhood and leadership in order to instigate the stealing of Naboth’s vineyard along with his murder prompted by lies about crimes that he never committed (1 K 21).
Of course, “the One who is in us is greater than the one that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and Jezebel, like all that reject God, ends up badly with a grizzly death forecast by Elijah who drew her rage for his victory on Mount Carmel over Jezebel and her false prophets (1 K 18, 19, 21, 2 K 9).
Yet as we see back then and even today, Jezebel and those living in her spirit wreck lots of havoc in the meantime.
The goal of Jezebel and those bewitched/oppressed/possessed by her spirit is to destroy relationships; and while the spirit operates in government, education, media, and wherever two or three aren’t always gathered in His name, families and churches seem to have been especially targeted.
I think of the renowned traditio-historical scholar of Biblical exposition William Barclay who often spoke and wrote about people that cannot control churches often determine to destroy them.
Summarily, remembering Paul’s counsel to expose not entertain=enable=fuel the irregular, irascible, insidious, and irreconcilable (Ephesians 5:11), there are Jezebelian character traits to note as we guide and protect as undershepherds to the Good Shepherd.
The spirit is about advancing personal or corporate agendas rather than advancing the Kingdom of God.
Just like the sad story of Naboth, the spirit will menace, falsely accuse, slander, and savage anyone that gets in the way of its agenda; or as a wise old elder once said to me about a Jezebel in our church many years ago, “She/he is your best friend as long as you kiss her/his ___ and go along with everything she/he wants.”
Paul was right on about this spirit and its relatives: “Such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and by smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” (Romans 16:17-18).
James 4:1-2 was specific about their selfishness: “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.”
I’ll never forget this part of a chilling exit interview in a former church with a minister that resigned upon my recommendation with session concurrence and then spent years trying to defame me and destroy the church: “It’s not that I’m losing control and power but all of these new members and staff and…”
Anyone living through the hyperbole, hysteria, and histrionics of CCPC19 and TDS knows how fear is used to manipulate and control.
Fear has always been the best tool of darkness to control people and manipulate their compliance.
“If you don’t, you’ll…You can’t get along without…What will you ever do without…You can’t live without…You’ll never get along without…”
That’s totally opposite of the preponderance of God’s witness to us through Holy Scripture about intimacy with God gifting us to endure challenges and overcome fear: “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Indeed, love not fear is the compelling motive for the Godly: “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…We love because He first loved us” (1 John 18-19).
With Matthew 15 and 23 in mind, the Jezebel spirit is into meaningless idolatries; and God knows we know God knows we know churches are especially filled with them and if I have to explain that to you, as bikers like to say, you wouldn’t understand anyway.
This manifests when we’re dominated, manipulated, and controlled by the fear of not being obsessed with grammar, bulletins, newsletters, flower arrangements, carpet color, oil or wax candles, sign-sign-everywhere-a-sign-do-this-do-that-can’t-you-read-the-sign-?, antependia, vestments, litanies, liturgies, and all of the rest of that stuff that the Kingdom of God does not rise or fall upon rather than concentrating our energies and emotions on WHO is the Church’s one foundation.
When OCD dutifulness to religious incidentals distracts us from Jesus as our foundation, focus, and filter which means our dutifulness has become an idolatry of religious self-gratification, Jezebel’s family has taken upon residence.
God knows we win in the end.
Every Jezebel ends up cast out and devoured (2 K 9:30-37).
In the meantime as we battle Jezebel and her family for souls, put on that armor of Ephesians 6:10-20; or as we like to say on the Corner of Lincoln and Main, “If you want to stand strong, stand with Jesus!”