Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/44/d93618075/htdocs/www.sabangDisciples.org/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Thyatira: The Church of Diligent Perseverance

 

7 Churches in Revelation: (Part IV)

by Pastor AJ Camota

 

Revelation 2:18-29

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’—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.

 

When researching the church in Thyatira, I found that this particular passage is the least preached upon among the letters to the seven churches in Revelation.  Those who have preached or written about this passage speculate that it is least referenced due to lacking archaeological findings as well as supposed minimal infringement, tolerance being the main sin addressed in the passage.  Yet of all the letters to the seven churches, in spite of the fact that Thyatira is the smallest city, this particular letter is the longest.  I believe that this should definitely not go overlooked.

Little is known about Thyatira.  It’s other major reference is in Acts 16:14.  Here we find Lydia listening to Paul’s message in Philippi.  She was a dealer of purple cloth and a worshipper of God.  Scholars do not debate much over the possibility that Lydia had a role in bringing the gospel back to Thyatira.  These short details fall in line with certain facts we know about the city.  We know that this city was known for its numerous trade guilds, wool, and dyeing industry.  The fact that Lydia was a woman also shows that at least some women may have also had freedom and mobility in pursuing careers.

Another detail about this city’s trade guilds is that being a part of the guild was crucial for being a successful business.  The problem was that it also required following the pagan religious practices connected to the guild.  So if a person came to know Christ as their Savior, they were faced with the decision of hiding their newfound beliefs in the Lord, abandoning Him altogether, or professing Christ and risk becoming a social outcast.  However, it is important to note that the recipients of this letter did not engage in pagan religious practices.  That is not the sin that Christ addresses with them.

 

I.             Sin Is Addressed

The sins that are committed are noted in verses 20-21.  However, looking through verse 23, we can see there are three groups of people that have committed offenses.

A. Jezebel

B. Those who fell into temptation (v.22)

C. Her children (v. 23)

 

Jezebel is not the actual name of the false prophetess.  It is the nickname Christ is using, making allusion to Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. (I Kings 16) This nickname may also be a way to refer to the fact that the church allowed Jezebel to become as attached to the church as one’s wife.

Jezebel misled Christians into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  The sin of many Christians has been that of self-indulgence.  Wanting to feed the flesh, Jezebel seemed to offer Christians a way to practice sexual immorality while keeping their integrity in tact.  What Jezebel was teaching was the notion that we would be better equipped to fight evil if we were more knowledgeable.  This is what Christ refers to in verse 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.” In using the term, “so-called deep secrets,” Christ brings to light the futility of the notion that one must indulge in evil in order to fight it.  The truth is that the Devil is a bottomless pit and diving into his ways would just send a person on a downward spiral.  Even giving Satan an inch of ground in our lives brings him one step closer to grabbing hold of us.  So what seemed to be very enticing about the teaching of Jezebel and her children, the idea that one could indulge in the flesh and still remain holy, instead showed that false spiritualization leads to carnality.

There is still a fourth group, the ones to whom this letter is addressed.  They are the ones who did not buy into the false teachings.  Christ acknowledged the things that they have been doing right.  However, they are not completely without fault, 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.”

Tolerance and compromise are necessary in order to display the love of Christ.  Marriages and brotherly love would not function without them.  They can be exercised in a way that develops the other person you are dealing with.  However, our text shows us that there is definitely a line that is drawn concerning tolerance.  When we read verse 20, we see that it is Christians who were being led astray.

John 21:16 “Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

Part of loving God includes loving his children, his sheep, the ones whom He has entrusted us to care for as the main ministers on Earth after Christ ascended to heaven.  When the church failed to stand up for orthodoxy, their silence passively encouraged Jezebel.  Christians then felt that their compromise was justified and then carried this message to other people.

Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

Here is the picture.  People who bore the Christian name were living unrighteous lives.  When they carried the message that they could live that way and still be committed to Christ, more people bought into the idea.  When this is what is happening, tolerance is no longer an insignificant matter.  There is more damage being done by compromised Christians than people believed.  It was not the work of one false prophetess.

The mistake of the church in Thyatira is the reverse problem of the Ephesian church who had a zeal for orthodoxy, but not much love.  The Thyatiran church showed love for God and patience for His people.  The problem was that they also showed patience for their errors, which became their own mistake even without participation of it.

II.            Christ Is Proclaimed

This letter is awesome because it is completely saturated with images of who Jesus is.  These words fall in line with everything else we see about the true God in Scripture.  We can remember that there is nothing about God that is unlovable.  Therefore everything we learn about God brings us to loving Him more.

A. Jesus is the Son of God. (v.18) Christ notes that these words are of the Son of God.  This is in direct opposition to Jezebel, who proclaimed to be a prophet.  Christ has been given authority and is calling Jezebel a fraud.  If there were any questions before, there should not be one at this point.

B.  Jesus is All-Knowing. In verse 19, Jesus reminds the church that He sees all and knows all, that none of their goodness goes unnoticed.  In verse 18, Christ states that His own eyes are like blazing fire and He searches hearts and minds. He knows our actions and He sees our sins.  More than that, in everything we do, He knows our motives.  He knows if we have tolerated sin because we fear orthodoxy will offend those we care about.  He knows if we have fallen into temptation because of the lust of the flesh.  He knows if we truly value His gospel.  He knows if we have prioritized other contrary beliefs above His own words.

C.  Jesus is Just. There is no excuse for sin.  It would be against the nature of God if He lest sin merely slide.  He is just to the point that the place of sin will also be the punishment. I will cast her on a bed of suffering.”

D.  Jesus is Merciful. Verse 21 reminds us that God gives us the opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness.  While God is slow to anger, consistent unrepentant rebellious sin that abuses His patience will anger the Lord.  Christ also refers to the adulterous relationship.  This sheds light on how Christ sees us.  He loves us like a Father loves His children, but He also loves us like a husband loves his wife.  Upon salvation, we willingly offered our lives to Him.  We are rightfully His.  Jesus is saying that when these Christians fell into this falsely spiritualized sin, when we compromise orthodoxy, we have committed adultery.  Still, even though He knows and feels the weight of being cheated on, He offers forgiveness for those who repent.

E.  Jesus is Eternal. (v.23) All churches will know that He was always, presently is, and will forever be Lord.  This is not reserved for the church in Thyatira.  This was not reserved for the existent churches of the time.  The authority of Christ is eternal.

F.  Jesus is Powerful. (v.27) Jesus says about Himself, “He will dash them to pieces like pottery.” This picture is made complete with the image in verse 18 where Jesus’ feet are like burnished bronze. The tone suggests that His powerful feet will stomp, crush, and tread over the opposition.

G.  Jesus is King. (v.27) Jesus quotes Psalm 2:9 to remind everyone that He is the messiah.  He did not come in the fashion that anyone expected, but nothing changes the fact that Christ is the champion that the Old Testament was always referred to.  He is King.  In the end, He will surely be victorious.

III.          Hope Is Steadfast

Revelation 2:25hold on to what you have until I come.”

In light of who Christ is, we remember that we have hope.  Christ knows that these times we live in try our souls.  He also knows that times will only seem darker and darker.  But He never leaves us and He never fails.  The one thing Christ told the church in Thyatira to do: Hold On.  This is due to the fact that even though we have taken hold of Christ, the enemy is desperate to gain ground in order to shake us loose.  This message is after all entitled, The Church of Diligent Perseverance.  But there is no such thing as perseverance without an opposing force.

There is hope.

Christ notes in verse 19, the fact that they are doing greater things than they were in the past.  He also offers hope in saying the things you will do in the future will be greater still.

When Christ says to hold on to what we have, He means to hold onto Him.  He knows that as dark as is may seem, He is still there if we would reach out and hold on.  He also means to hold on to the True gospel of Jesus Christ because any watered down version of it will only loosen our grasp of our Lord.

When Jesus says to hold on until He comes, He offers hope because He is saying that conflict will surely end.  Verse 26 states that those who overcome and do His will until the end will rule with Him in His millennial reign.

The last detail offering hope to those who persevere is that He will give the morning star.  Researching through Scripture, this can reference many different and awesome things.  When we receive the morning star, we receive the immortal life that allows us to be with our loving Savior forever.  It is also a reference to Christ Himself, so when we receive the morning star, we can have more of Him and experience deeper communion and intimacy.  Receiving the morning star also reminds us of the fact that we are lights that shine for the glory of God.  We can more and more reflect Christ in a way that people are drawn out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Hold onto Christ. Persevere.