A corporate spiritual stronghold gets control of a city or nation when the religious and political leaders all participate in a common sin, such as pride, intimidation or manipulation to enhance their leadership. This corporate sin allows the evil spiritual powers behind it to gain spiritual control of the city or nation.

Unfortunately, church leaders often collude with the civic leaders to enhance their power. If Christian leaders have participated in the same sins, the evil spirits can claim that the leaders have surrendered their authority to them on behalf of Jesus. They can refuse to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it claims authority given ďin the name of JesusĒ.

Manipulation Intimidation Control

Over the years, many people have warned about the dangers of a Jezebel spirit, but that is only half the problem. Ahab and Jezebel became one when they married and began working together, so we have to look at both to identify the spirits that controlled them. Emphasising Jezebel is a mistake, because it puts the blame on women by suggesting that seduction and witchcraft are the cause of the problem. Jezebel could only bring her witchcraft to Israel, because Ahab gave her authority in the nation. The real problem is usually not seduction and witchcraft, it is manipulation and control, with a bit of intimidation thrown in for good measure.

I refer to this corporate spiritual stronghold as MIC (Manipulation Intimidation Control). This spirit works mostly through men, because men hold most of the positions of authority in the various business, political and religious organisation that operate in a city or nation. When leaders slip into manipulation and intimidation to keep tricky situations under control, they unwittingly give the MIC spirit authority in their organisation or church. Those who submit to these leaders also open themselves to the MIC spirit. This broad base of authority makes this spirit hard to beat.

Fruit of Manipulation Intimidation and Control

The MIC spirit produces bad fruit. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel used manipulation and intimidation to keep control over their people, so we can learn about the MIC Spirit from their behaviour.

1. Kills the Prophets

The MIC spirit attacks people who resist its control and intimidation. It seeks to kill the prophets and other people who oppose it.

2. Breathless

The Holy Spirit and the MIC spirit cannot work together. People in an organisation or church that is influenced by the MIC spirit will find themselves spiritually breathless, because the Holy Spirit is quenched. When Elijah stopped running from Jezebel and Ahab, he was exhausted (1 Kings 19:3-9). God hid him in cave until his strength was restored. People with strong giftings will find themselves shut up in caves and unable to function.

3 Blocks Healing

The MIC spirit inflicts sickness on those who come under its power. Jehoram King of Judah married a daughter of Ahab (and possibly Jezebel). After Elijah wrote a letter challenging his immoral behaviour, he was struck with an incurable disease of the bowel and died (2 Chron 21:18-19).

Sickness is the favourite weapon of the MIC Spirit (Rev 2:22). It seems to be able to resist the name of Jesus and block prayers for healing.

It refuses to surrender to the name of Jesus,
because it was given a place in the name of Jesus.

If Christian leaders have given the evil spirit permission to be there, it can claim that they have surrendered their authority to it on behalf of Jesus. It can refuse to surrender to the name of Jesus, because it claims authority given ďin the name of JesusĒ.

This stronghold seems to have the power to resist the gift of healing. This is why many prayers for healing have not been answered. People have blamed God, but the real cause is the MIC spirit.

4. Weak Pastoral Care

Ahab sent Obadiah out to find hay for their horses (1 Kings 18:5). Ahab and Jezebel cared more for their horses than they cared about their people who were starving to death. They should have been killing their horses to feed their people. In an organisation where the MIC spirit is strong, pastoral care will be poor. The leaders will be so focussed on their ministry and the tools needed to support it that people who are suffering and hurting will often be neglected.

5. Fear and Dread

The MIC spirit has the ability to feed fear and dread into people who oppose it. After his victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah was attacked by fear and dread, so he fled for his life (1 Kings 18:3). People who are afraid are easier to manipulate and control. Fear allows ruthless leaders to gain greater political power.

6. Money Manipulation

Leaders influenced by the MIC spirit will be tempted to use money (or people with money) to get what they want. Ahab took gold and silver from the Lordís temple and used it to bribe the King of Aram to withdraw his attack against Israel. Using the Lordís wealth in this way is a serious sin.

7. Compromise to Survive.

When they come under attack, the leaders influenced by the MIC spirit will compromise to survive. When Jezebel and Ahab were attacked by Aram, they offered their silver and gold and the best of their children to the invader to appease him. This appeasement led to further demands, which they eventually had to resist (1 Kings 20:1-12). Compromise is always tested. Leaders who compromise to get things done will eventually be tested and required to compromise again. Even when he won a victory, Ahab could not avoid compromising with his enemies (1 Kings 20:30-34) The MIC spirit makes leaders vulnerable to compromise with evil.

8. False Accusations

Leaders under pressure of the MIC spirit tend to make false accusations. Ahab accused Elijah of being a trouble maker.

When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?"
Prophetic people are often accused of being trouble-makers when the real problem is MIC spirit harassing an insecure leader.

9. Political and Religious Collusion

The MIC spirit loves political alliances. Ahab and Jezebel formed an alliance with the King of Israel to attack Damascus (1 Kings 22:4, 2 Chron 18:1; 22:5). Our only alliance should be with the Lord. Christian leaders should be careful about collusion with political authorities to advance their cause because it can lead to compromise. Ahab colluded with religious power. Jezebel had 400 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah sitting at her table every day. Their religious power strengthened Ahabís ability to intimidate people.

When religious and civic leaders collude together, they strengthen each otherís power. Instead, the church should be acting prophetically and challenging civic and business leaders.

10. Decline

The consequence of the MIC influence in Israel was that God began to reduce its size.

In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel (2 Kings 10:32).
An institution that is controlled by the MIC spirit will shrink in size, even though good things seem to be happening. The leaders may appear to be effective, but the fruit will not follow.

Power Messages

Jezebel often worked in the background by sending messages to get Ahabís work done. These messages were mostly lies intended to intimidate. Sometimes they were flattery to entice.

When Elijah killed the prophets of Baal, she sent a message to him, warning that he would be dead in a day. That was a lie, because his life was in God's hands, but it still had the desired effect (1 Kings 19:2).

She dealt with Naboth by sending a letter to the nobles and elders of his city. The letter lied about his character, but told the city leaders what to do. They carried out her instructions (1 Kings 21:9).

When Jehu came to kill Jezebel, she called out her message. This time she used flattery, but Jehu was too ruthless to be taken in (2 Kings 9:31).

The MIC spirit has stifled the gift of healing by delivering a negative message to Christians living in the city. When a person who has been prayed for by the church dies, it prompts people to say,

God does not heal everyone.
God could have healed them, but he chose not to.
It was Godís will that they died.
These words are not true, but grieving Christians often believe the negative message and blame God for the death of the person that they loved. By doing this, they unwittingly take offence at God. In a city where the leaders have taken offence at God, the Holy Spirit cannot do many miracles. Nazareth took offence at Jesus, and he could not do any great work there (see Rock of Offence).

Negative Power

Mark 6:5 is an amazing verse. ďDunamisĒ the Greek word for explosive power is used twice, with a negative.

And he had no power (dunamo) in that place to do any mighty work (dunamis).

Jesus was the Son of God, who had come down from heaven. The Holy Spirit had come upon him when he was baptised. Yet in Nazareth, he had no power (dunamo) and he could do no mighty work (dunamis).

Why was Jesus powerless? The cause was the declarations made by the people for Nazareth in the previous two verses, denying that Jesus was the son of God, and denying his wisdom.

Where did this man get these things?Ē they asked. ďWhatís this wisdom that has been given him? What are the remarkable miracles he is performing? Isnít this the carpenter? Isnít this Maryís son (Mark 6:2-3)?
Negative declarations by people with authority in a place can shut down the power of God. The MIC spirit cannot shut down the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is much too strong for that. What this spirit can do is speak messages to people with authority in a town or city. If they accept and declare this negative message, they have authority to shut down the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how Jezebel killed Naboth (1 Kings 21:9).

The MIC spirit gives a false message to the leaders of the church when people they had prayed for died.

God can decide not to heal a person.
God does not heal everyone.
When the leaders declared these words, the power of the Holy Spirit was shut down. He has no power in the place, nor can he do any mighty works there.

Church leaders have authority in the city. When they are praying for people to be healed in Jesus name, their words from the past seep down and stifle the Holy Spirit. When they get defeated by MIC Spirit and a person they were praying for dies, the leaders of the church build a Rock of Offence, which quenches the Spiritís power even more.

Mode of Operation

The MIC spirit operates in several different directions.

1. Leaders

The leader of the organisation or church can be deceived into using manipulation and control to get their vision fulfilled. When they face opposition, they slip into intimidation to overcome it. A leader can use their spiritual authority to intimidate people into following their guidance. For example, they might warn the person that they will lose their ďcoveringĒ if they reject their leaderís advice. Usually, it will be more subtle.

The leaderís vision is good, so they believe that the end justifies the means. They get to build something for God, but they do not realise that they have unwittingly allowed the MIC spirit into the foundation of their work. It will keep popping out to harm it.

Leaders will often get their way by sending subtle messages to the people opposing their vision. These messages will often be delivered by loyal supporters. For example, when a person is troublesome, the leader might say the right words to the right people, to ensure they are side-lined. Or they can make sure that they do not know what is going on.

All church leaders should look at themselves and ask if their control of people is opening the doors for the MIC spirit. If it has been part of their life for a long time, they might not be able to see it and will need to ask a wise person who can see more clearly. That person will not be a wise friend who only sees good in them. It will more likely be that pesky wise person on the fringe who is often a nuisance because they always ask annoying questions.

2. Loyal Supporters

The leader will have loyal supporters who back him. They may see the manipulation and control, but will turn a blind eye to support the cause. They will sometimes be able to dampen down the worst effects of the spirit of control and tone down the intimidation.

Obadiah was in charge of Ahab and Jezebelís palace. He managed to hide a hundred prophets in two caves. Yet he still had to do Ahab and Jezebelís dirty work, and hunt down Elijah when he had prophesied the drought (1 Kings 18:3-5).

This is the dilemma faced by a close supporter of a leader under the influence of the MIC spirit. They will often have to choose between loyalty to their leader and doing the right thing.

3. Members

The members of the organisation or church are expected to submit to their leader. They must support the leaderís vision, or move out. However, they do not get to flourish in their ministry.

There were a hundred prophets in the land of Israel in Ahab and Jezebelís time, but they had to hide in caves. Israel was in tumult, so it needed prophets, but they were not effective, because they were shut away in caves.

In an organisation or church where the MIC spirit has control, the gifts and ministries of many members will be stifled. If they are used, they will be distorted to support the leaderís vision. Many will be frustrated and feel like they are shut up in a cave.

4. Opposition

People who oppose the MIC spirit will be attacked. These attacks can often be quite ruthless. Elijah had to cross the Jordan and go into the desert and hide, because Ahab and Jezebel were trying to kill him. People who oppose the MIC spirit will often find themselves shunted into the wilderness.

Jezebel stirred up scoundrels to speak lies against Naboth when he refused to hand his vineyard over to Ahab. They accused him of hating God and the King. The MIC spirit will often use gossip and lies against those who oppose the leader it controls.

5. Prophets

Wise prophets can expose the MIC spirit, but they should expect intense opposition. When Jehoshaphat and Ahab got together to war against the king of Aram, the court prophets urged them on. When Jehoshaphat asked for a real prophet, Ahab said there was one called Micaiah, but he always prophesied bad things.

Miciah said that he saw a spirit of deception agreeing to manipulate Ahab into war. Micaiahís words were fulfilled and recorded permanently when Ahab died. An arrow shot at random hit his back where he had no protection and killed him. He was actually slain by the manipulation and control of the MIC spirit that led him into the wrong battle.

Micaiah opposed the MIC spirit, but ended up in prison for his troubles.

Vulnerability

People who belong to an organisation in which the leaders (usually one leader) rely on manipulation, control and intimidation are vulnerable to the MIC spirit. This is true regardless of whether the organisation is a business, a government agency, a church, the city council, or a club or society.

Any church where control and manipulation are at work is not safe, because the MIC spirit has authority to resist the name of Jesus and shut down the gift of healing. We need to be alert,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:8-9).
When the principalities and power have such a stronghold over a city, attacking them directly is unwise. We need to be careful about confronting the MIC spirit, because we may not have authority to deal with it if civic and religious leaders have put it there.

In his book, ďThe Needless Casualties of WarĒ, John Paul Jackson gives a number of examples of sincere Christians taking on spiritual power that they did not have authority to deal with. Each one received a severe spiritual beating.

Jackson says that these spirits are hard to deal with because they operate in the second heaven, but that is wrong. They are hard to defeat because they have been given a place by people with political authority. One young girl had seen a demonic principality sitting on the dome of the college administration building at the place where she had begun studying. Within a week of engaging in warfare against the spirit, she was struck with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and eventually had to leave her studies behind.

The management of the college had authority over it. They had far more authority than the young girl. They had given the spirit permission to be there, perhaps unwittingly. To attend the college, the girl had to submit to the college management. This put her under the authority of the spirit that controlled the college, so she was beaten up.

The city fathers and spiritual leaders in a city have far more authority than ordinary Christians, no matter how strong their faith. When Christians stand against the MIC spirit, the greater authority of the leaders who have given this spirit a stronghold in the city nullifies their limited authority. Civic and religious authority trumps the limited authority of ordinary Christians.

Defeating a Corporate Stronghold

A corporate spiritual stronghold is put in place when civic leaders submitted to a powerful evil spirit in the past. Because it was given a place by corporate leaders, its power has to be broken by current corporate leaders. The people with the authority in the city or nations have authority to break its power. The people of the city or nation are under the authority of their corporate leaders, so they cannot remove the spirit, if the leaders with authority give it permission to remain.

Jezebel and Ahab represent collusion between religious and political leaders. If Christian leaders are in agreement with political authorities when a corporate stronghold is being established, it becomes very strong and difficult to break. It can resist prayers "in the name of Jesus" because it claims to have been given its place of authority "in the name of Jesus".

If the religious and civic leaders of the city agreed to renounce the stronghold that is controlling their city, it would lose its power. However, this is unlikely to happen. They will find this difficult as they would have to give up the use of manipulation, intimidation and control. Some leaders who have relied on these for a long time would find it hard to function without them.

Fortunately, God had another way that he can defeat the MIC stronghold. He can do it by bringing enmity between the political and religious leaders and breaking their agreement with each other. That is what happened in Israel.

Prophetic Failure

The spirit of Manipulation and Intimidation for Control (MIC) is hard to beat.

Slower but Better

When Elijah recovered, God gave him a strategy that would undermine and destroy the MIC Spirit without the need for head-on confrontation by prophets or people.

God used Miciah, a prophet in Judah, to release events that resulted in Ahab being killed (1 Kings 22). When Elijah recovered in the cave, God told him to anoint three people, who would bring down Jezebel (1 Kings 19:15-16).

Godís strategy took a long time to be fulfilled. About fifteen years went by before Jehu became King of Israel and killed Jezebel, Ahabís children and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 9-10).

Political Defeat

Ahab represents political power Jezebel represents religious power. Her power was safe as long as she had the support of King Ahab and his sons. Elijah's prophetic activity broke that support by anointing a new generation of leaders in Israel. The young men surrounding Jehu were ruthless and arrogant. They trusted their own strength, so they did not care about the power of witchcraft. These haughty young men had lost respect for Jezebel, so they were glad to support Jehu in defeating Jezebel (2 Kings 9:12-13).

When Jehu approached Jezebel's palace, some eunuchs threw her over the wall and she died when she hit the ground. Her body was crushed by Jehu's chariots rushing past. The dogs licked some of her blood from the walls, as Elijah had prophesied (2 Kings 9:32-33). The eunuchs were political organisers within Israel. They switched their allegiance to Jehu because they could see that Jezebel was finished.

Jezebel had gained authority when King Ahab and the other leaders of the nation gave her authority. She lost her authority when the people with political power changed their allegiance. Jezebel's corporate stronghold in Israel was destroyed because her authority was gone. A staunch prophet people had confronted her head on, but had been unable to remove her. A small group of ruthless political leaders who refused to collude with her did it easily.

The power of the MIC spirit will often be broken when God brings division between the political and religious leaders that have colluded together in the city. Fracturing their agreement will undermine and weaken the authority of the MIC spirit. This enmity might be prompted by Christian leaders speaking prophetically to the political powers in the city. However, it will not be effective until the political powers turn and attack the religious leaders in the way that Jehu and his friends attacked Jezebel. Division between political and religious leaders will significantly weaken the authority of the MIC spirit in a city. The weakened corporate stronghold can then be defeated by bold and faithful prayer.

. If this is what God is doing, we can expect to see secular political leaders making further attacks on key Christian leaders. They should be prepared because the attacks could get quite nasty. The most serious attacks will come from the eunuchs, the bureaucrats who have no authority in their own right, except for their place in the bureaucracy and their skills in working it.

Ruthless Political Power

Jehu was ruthless in attacking the religious powers that dominated Israel. He tricked the prophets of Baal into believing that he was on their side. He announced.

Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live (2 Kings 10:18-19).
Jehu was "acting deceptively in order to destroy the servants of Baal". When all the prophets of Baal had gathered in their temple, he got someone to check that none of the servants of the Lord were there (2 Kings 10:23). Then when an offering was made to Baal, Jehu ordered soldiers that he had stationed at the entrance to go in and kill them all. When the prophets were all dead, the soldiers burned the temple to the ground (2 Kings 10:24-27).
So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel (2 Kings 10:28).
This is a warning that when secular political powers turn against the religious organisations controlled by a MIC spirit, they will be deceptive. They will pretend to be on the same side as the Christians to entrap them into speaking bluntly or acting unwisely, but will then use their words and actions against them. Once they have been entrapped, the political leaders will be ferocious in the attacks on them. The leaders of God's people will need wisdom during this season when dealing with political powers.

Key to Protection

The key to protection is for two or three people in the organisation or church to stand together and resist the MIC spirit in unity.

By submitting to each other, two or three people can create an island of safety within a dangerous organisation.