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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 9, 2014

Revelations 2:18:28

  1. Introduction to Thyatira. Thyatira was the fourth church that Jesus refers to in the book of Revelation. Thyatira was located about 35 miles southeast of Pergamum. It was a very small city, but a busy commercial center. It was on a major road of the Roman Empire, and, because of this, there were many carpenters, dyers, sellers of goods, tent makers, metal workers, and other tradesmen. Everyone who worked there was a member of one or more trade unions/ guilds. It was very difficult for the tradesmen and women to make a living unless they were a part of one of these guilds. Each guild had its particular guardian god/false god and as a member, you would be expected to attend all its functions and participate in its activities which included offerings, feasts and often immoral behavior all in worship to the guild’s idol god. The members of the church in Thyatira were torn between making a living on the one hand which meant having to be part of the guilds, and on the other hand staying faithful to Christ and his standards. In a city whose economic life was dominated by trade guilds the believer would be faced with the problem of compromising on an almost daily basis.

  2. Verse 18. Jesus starts this letter out describing himself as the Son of God, a kingly title from Psalm 2 referring to a King making judgment. He also describes himself as one who has eyes like flames and feet like white bronze. This description is also found in chapter one, and we know it to mean that he has eyes that can see all things even in the dark, and he has feet that can crush in judgment. Flames are most useful in the dark. When things are dark, bright flames make everything visible. Jesus is sharing that he can see in the dark. Jesus is highlighting that he can see behind closed doors and in dark places in which people are used to hiding their sinful behavior. Bronze was the hardest metal known of at that time and is often used to speak of judgment. These images of metal and fire are not accidental. These were familiar terms to the metal workers of Thyatira. The city was known for the brass armor made there. A coin of Thyatira showed Hephaestus, the divine smith of the Greek pantheon, hammering a helmet on an anvil.

  3. Verse 19. Jesus gives this church a glowing evaluation. He acknowledges their work, love, faith, and ministry. They are recognized for even doing more than before. I must admit that I would love to hear this from the Lord.

  4. Verse 20. Even though the Lord commends the church, he has a stem word of correction for this church. Jesus tells this church what he sees. He sees a woman in the congregation who calls herself a prophet of God, but is really a false prophet. This woman taught that the people could participate in the sexual perversion of the trade gods. Jesus calls her a Jezebel. Jesus reached back to the story of the prophet Elijah, King Ahab, and his evil wife Jezebel (see l Kings 16:28-2 Kings 9:37), who lived in northern Israel around the latter part of the ninth century B.C. Ahab was the eighth king of Israel, and he did evil in the sight of God. He married a Canaanite woman, Jezebel, who was the daughter of a pagan priest named Ethbaal, who himself worshipped Baal. Jezebel was a priestess who worshipped the goddess Astarte (later called Aphrodite by the Greeks and Venus by the Romans). Ahab brought Jezebel to Samaria, the capital city of the northern tribes, and she brought her gods and Baal priests with her in the hope that the Jews would compromise some of their beliefs. Baal was a fertility god, and Baal worship services included using male and female temple prostitutes in ungodly sexual practices to appease him. According to 2 Kings 9:22, she was personally involved in sexual immorality and witchcraft. Jezebel ranks as the most evil woman in the Bible. She symbolizes people who totally reject the one and only living God and promote their own gods, causing their followers to enter into idolatry and all the sexual immorality connected with their sacred rites. "There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife" (1 Kings 21:25). The Jezebel in the church of Thyatira was a self-appointed prophetess. It appears that she was encouraging the Christians to become deeply involved in the life of the trade guilds and their various unholy activities of sexual immorality and idolatry. She also encouraged the eating of meat that was used in idol worship. The trade guilds were worshipping and giving honor and devotion not to the one and only living God, but a god of their imagination, an animal, or a demon. Before the Romans or Greeks would go to their pagan temples to worship their gods, they would stop by the local meat market and purchase some part of a slain animal to offer as a sacrifice to be burned before their gods. When the pagan purchased meat and offered it to the idols, he knew he was involved in worshipping spirit beings from another world. The apostle Paul stated that those who worship idols are in reality worshipping demons (see l Corinthians 10:20).

  5. Verses 21-23. Jesus states that he has given her plenty of time to repent, but this woman is not willing to repent of her sins. God had shown patience and mercy to this woman within this church, with the hope that she would come to her senses and repent of her sins. But finally Jesus saw with eyes like blazing fire that she was unwilling to repent of her spiritual adultery. Jesus saw that things had reached the point that some severe discipline needed to be applied to this person, her spiritual children, and her followers. Our Lord did not call Satan to bring some punishment upon her, but he stepped in personally. First he warned that he was going to place Jezebel, who had lain on a bed of sexual pleasure, on a bed of physical and emotional suffering. Then the Judge of all the earth moved in with judgment against her followers (her children), telling them that they would experience intense judgment unless they repented. There is no hiding sin from the presence, love, and power of our glorified Lord and Judge. (See Psalm 90:7-9) God calls us to be holy and that has not changed.

  6. Verses 24-28. There was a godly remnant of believers within this church who chose not to follow the teachings of this self-appointed prophetess whom Jesus called Jezebel. They were not lured away from Christ by Jezebel who taught the "deep things" of Satan (see 1 Corinthians 2:10). Be aware of preachers who have some new knowledge or some deep knowledge especially if it gives a license to sin. Jesus tells the church that if they stay faithful they will overcome and be given authority. Jesus wasn’t saying that they were in danger of losing their salvation, he was reminding them of the rewards that they could look for in view of what they had to give up for the faith. The faithful of the church needed to be reassured that their faith would be vindicated in the end. He also states that they will receive the morning star. In 1 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16 our Lord Jesus is called the Morning Star. The morning star is the one that appears just before the dawn, when the night is the darkest. To those within the church of Thyatira who had rejected the person called Jezebel and her teaching of darkness would receive the Bright and Morning Star, Christ himself, and in his power they would be able to shine in that dark city.

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