This week we are reading about Jezebel. Please read Chapter 8 of Liz Curtis Higgs’ book Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn From Them. Jezebel is portrayed as the instigator in the contest between King Ahab of Israel and the prophet Elijah for the religious soul Israel which spans 1 Kings 16:28 – 2 Kings 10:31. Jezebel’s place in the narrative occurs primarily in 1 Kings 18-21 and 2 Kings 9.
The story and character of Jezebel present us with a wonderful opportunity. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (1914-2003) who was the Russian Orthodox Bishop for Great Britain, writes “Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, ugly, and distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met and saw the beauty hidden therein. And what he did was to call out that beauty.”
It is easy to read the story of Jezebel and see everything that is wrong, ugly, and distorted in her life – she kills the prophets of God, she seeks revenge on Elijah, and she procures perjured testimony so that an innocent man will be stoned and her husband can take his property. Ahab has fifty sons, yet it is her sons – Ahaziah and Jehoram – that succeed their father Ahab. She is power-hungry and brooks no dissent. She is vile and contemptuous.
The challenge for us, however, is to call out the divine beauty (no matter how hidden or disfigured) that exists within Jezebel. This is what Jesus does for us. As you think about her story, think about where her beauty and goodness lie. Where is the goodness in her religion, in her family life, and in her politics? By looking at the world from her perspective, this goodness should come into focus. More importantly, we must see her beauty in her mere existence as the image of God in whom God’s wisdom lives and moves and has her being.
This is the very exercise to which Christ is always calling us in our relationships with others. The requirement that we must love our enemies and those that persecute us (Matt. 5:38-47) is nothing less than for us to see God in those others and to call out the beauty therein. Hopefully, as we discuss Jezebel tonight we can develop our abilities to see the beauty in all people, but especially those whom we (used to) hold in contempt.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken cacciatore. Discussion at 6:45. Hope to see you here, and please bring a friend.
Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer, do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see.Søren Kierkegaard, “Works of Love”