A Walk Through Revelation - Part 7

Letter #4
To the Church in Thyatira
Revelation 2:18-29

Ruins of Thyratira - creative commons image

18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’[a]—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:18-29
Jesus begins the letter to the church Thyatira by identifying himself as the Son of God and describes his eyes like blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze. What a powerful and almost frightening image of Jesus. Most often he is depicted as a sweet, gentle, loving person...and he was, but there is a mighty and powerful side to the Savior as well. The part that hates sin and those who lead others into sin. His judgement will be swift and horrifying toward those who reject God's grace.

First Jesus commends those who make up this church...

I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Revelation 2:19
 He complements them for their deeds (good works), their love, faith, service and perseverance, then he points out that they were doing more than they did at first, which means they were growing. God is pleased when we accept Jesus as our Savior, but that's not enough. While there is nothing more we can do to receive salvation, we are instructed thoughout the Word to continue on a path of spiritual growth.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-3

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16

Are you continuing to grow in your knowledge of the Word and God's will for your life?

 Next, Jesus points out something that disturbs him greatly about the church in Thyatira. They...

tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

This is not a specific woman named Jezebel, but as we can tell by the description of what she does - spreading a teaching that misleads Christian believers (my servants) into sexual immorality and idol worship. This is the same condemnation that Jesus raised toward previous letters we've read.

It's interesting that Jesus puts a label on this practice, calling it Jezebel. The only real person we read about in scripture named Jezebel was the pagan wife of King Ahab in 1st & 2nd Kings. This is what we know about Queen Jezebel...
  • She was a self-proclaimed prophetess, a devout worshiper of Baal, which involved idol worship, sexual idolatry and witchcraft.
  • She influenced King Ahab to begin worshiping and serving Baal, to set up an altar for Baael and build a temple to Baal
  • She was busy killing off the true prophets of God
  • When Elijah challenged her 450 prophets to prove the power of Baal and failed, Jezebel swore to spend the rest of her life hunting down Elijah to kill him.
  • She schemed, lied, had a man falsely accused and put to death by stoning just so Ahab could have the man's vineyard that he wanted.
  • Jezebel was thrown from a window, trampled by horses and eaten by dogs until only her skull, feet and hands were left - as Elijah had predicted.
Does this leave any doubt in your mind as to how much God hates idolatry and sexual immorality and those who lead God's people into these things?

 When Jesus mentions Jezebel here in this letter, he is not referring specifically to that Jezebel, but the spirit of Jezebel - anyone who spreads false teachings and entices people to sin against God and promises that they have been enlightened by God and will show you the "deep secrets" of God.

The gripe he has against this church is that they tolerate Jezebel - the spirit of Jezebel. They tolerated people among them who lured people into false teaching and gross sin. It was their tolerance that Jesus admonished them for.

Have you become too tolerant?

I'm NOT talking about hating people who sin. We all sin. I'm talking about being tolerant about false teachings and being tolerant of a culture that lures people into sin - especially leading Believers into sin. The relaxed (to put it mildly) standards of today's culture says it's okay to indulge in ungodly behavior as long as you don't go too far. Many Christians have bought into that philosophy. The problem is if Jesus condemned the tolerance of this kind of behavior, imagine how he feels about the practice of this behavior.

Jesus concludes this letter by encouraging the Believer who have not been led astray to hold on, to be victorious and do His will until the end. To those Believers he promises to give them authority to  rule over nations and to give them "the morning star."

I was a little stumped on just what the morning star meant, so I dug around and found a great explanation from Barnes' Notes on the Bible...

"The idea seems to be, that the Saviour would give him something that would resemble that morning planet in beauty and splendor - perhaps meaning that it would be placed as a gem in his *diadem, and would sparkle on his brow - bearing some such relation to him who is called "the Sun of Righteousness," as the morning star does to the glorious sun on his rising. If so, the meaning would be that he would receive a beautiful ornament, bearing a near relation to the Redeemer himself as a bright sun - a pledge that the darkness was past - but one whose beams would melt away into the superior light of the Redeemer himself, as the beams of the morning star are lost in the superior glory of the sun"
*diadem - a jeweled crown or headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty.
 I'm up for that!

 Watch a video about the Church at Thyatira

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