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The Church at Thyatira

Revelation 2:18-29

 

Jesus gives a report to the seven churches. For some of the churches the report was good, for others it was bad.

 

The seven churches are:

  1. The church at Ephesus
  2. The church at Smyrna
  3. The church at Pergamos
  4. The church at Thyatira
  5. The church at Sardis
  6. The church at Philadelphia
  7. The church at Laodiceans

 

The report covered the following areas:

  1. God’s observations of their work
  2. Their weaknesses
  3. The areas where there were problems
  4. Their strengths
  5. The actions they needed to take to bring corrective action
  6. The consequences if they failed to take corrective action
  7. The rewards they would receive if they endured to the end

 

To the church at Thyatira Jesus said:

  1. I know your works, and charity and service and faith and patience, and then he said works again.
  2. He said and the last to be more than the first. Their last works were greater than their first works. This sounds like a good report; it appears that they were doing well. They had works, they had charity, they were giving to others, providing service and they had faith and patience. It sounds like this church in Thyatira was making progress and the last works they were doing were more than what they had done in the beginning.

However, Jesus said he had a few things against them. It is because of the woman Jezebel.

Jezebel:

  1. She called herself a prophetess
  2. She was teaching the people bad doctrine; she was teaching:
  • fornication (spiritual unfaithfulness to God)
  • and eating things sacrificed to idols

He was saying you as a church are doing well. When Jesus talks about the church he is not talking about one particular group of believers. Because during this time there were house churches and people were meeting in different places. In the beginning, there was one doctrine and everyone spoke the same thing. The churches were not divided as much as they are today. There were not 33,000 different denominations of winds of doctrine. Therefore when he is talking about the church he is talking about the baptized group of believers in Jesus Christ. So, Jesus is telling this group of believers in Thyatira that he had something against them.

So where did this church in Thyatira have its beginnings? As we know from reading the book of Acts the Apostle Paul was responsible for planting many churches through Asia.  If we read in the book of we find that there was a woman named Lydia, Acts 16:13-15 “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” The scripture says that she worshiped God and God opened her heart to attend to the things that Paul taught. That means that God opened her heart to take care of the things that Paul was teaching. Her heart was pricked by God and she listened and gave heed to those things. After God opened her heart she was baptized and her entire household was saved. And what did he teach? He taught the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He taught what we must to do be saved, what is necessary to receive the fullness of God. Lydia was like a lot of people, she did not know the whole truth. She was like Cornelius in the 11th chapter of the book of Acts. He worshipped God and gave alms but God had to send Peter to Cornelius so they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And after Paul and Silas were released from prison they went back to Lydia’s house and after they had seen the brethren they left. From this, we can see that somehow a church was established in Thyatira. They were doing very well for a while, they had works, they had charity, they were giving to others, providing service and they had faith and patience.

But however, later we read that Jesus said he had something against that group of believers in Thyatira. Revelation 2:20  “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee” When we read the 20th verse we can see that they allowed this woman Jezebel to teach “which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” 

Why did Jesus use the name, Jezebel? To discover that we must go to the book of I Kings chapter 16 and read the account of Ahab and Jezebel, she was the queen and he was the king of Israel. She worshipped idols, Baal to be exact. Some of this worship involved the sacrifice of children. This was an abomination in the eyes of God. She was the daughter of one of the gentile kings. Her husband Ahab descended through a line of kings that provoked God to anger because they did evil in the sight of God. Because of Solomon’s sin, God took the kingdom away from him and he divided it. Ten tribes were taken away, but God allowed the tribe of Judah to stay because of the promise he made to King David.

Jeroboam the servant of Solomon was the person God gave the 10 tribes to and when Solomon died one of his sons became king. He made the people's burdens harder and they rebelled. Jeroboam caused the people to sin and he caused them to worship idols. He was worried that if they went back to the house in Jerusalem, them the people’s hearts might turn to Solomon’s son. I Kings 12:25-33. He made two golden calves, ordained priests who were not of the tribe of Levi, he ordained a feast but not when God commanded it to be and he sacrificed on the altar he had built. This continued on right up to Jeroboam. Not only did he commit terrible sins before God but he took a wife from among people who were idol worshipers of Baal. After he married Jezebel he served Baal and worshipped him. He built an altar and a grove for Baal and also built a house for him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” I Kings 16:31-33

Because of what Jeroboam did the people were led more and more into idolatry worship and this continued through his descendants until we get to King Ahab. The scripture says he did even worse than Jeroboam when he caused the people to sin even more.

Characteristics of Jezebel

  • Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord leaving only 100. I Kings 18:4
  • She had Naboth killed because he refused to give Ahab his vineyard. She forged letters in Ahab’s name which declared that Naboth be charged with blasphemy and be stoned to death. I Kings 21st chapter
  • She tried to kill Elijah when she heard he had killed the priests of Baal.
  • Because of her, the worship of Baal became common among the people.
  • She was a conniver, a deceiver, and she used her power and the authority that she had to steal, kill, destroy, and take what she wanted. If anyone came against her she would go after them because she was determined to get retribution. Not only that but she caused the people to sin and go further and further into idolatry.

There are many Jezebels in the church today. These people are doing the same thing that Jezebel did. When we go back to the book of Revelation this is why Jesus said he had something against this group of believers. They were allowing this woman who had the spirit of Jezebel to teach the people idol worship and to eat things sacrificed unto them. Maybe she was teaching this because of what Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians chapter 8. Now, this spirit of Jezebel can inhabit and influence both men and women. Any time you see a person behaving like who has these characteristics and is causing the people to sin, beware. Any time you see a person who is teaching doctrine that is not true and which is causing people to stray from the word of God you must be careful and take a close look at what they are teaching and preaching.

In Revelation 2:20 Jesus says, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess.” This woman in the book of Revelation called herself a prophetess of God, she was saying she hears from God and she is speaking for God.  She was saying that she is his mouthpiece. God had a problem with that because the doctrine she was teaching was against his word.  Jesus says,To teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” When Jesus is speaking of fornication he is not necessarily talking about sexual sin, he is speaking about anything that turns you away from God. Anything that you give more importance to other than God, anything that you put before him, these things can become an idol in your life. Because it is about your relationship, you can’t have a relationship with other gods and the only true God. If God is going to be your Lord and God you cannot have another god, this is spiritual unfaithfulness to God. Jezebel was teaching them (Christians) to commit fornication which is spiritual unfaithfulness to God. Not only were the people sacrificing things to idols but they were also eating the food that was sacrificed. This was unacceptable and sin in the eyesight of God.

Paul said in Galatians 1:8&9, But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Paul is speaking about false teachers teaching and preaching doctrine that was not the true gospel. Paul said in verse 6 and 7 that he marveled or was amazed that they were so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” This is what this woman in the book of Revelation was doing, she was perverting the gospel, she was teaching the people things that were not of God, and she was telling them that it was fine to do these things. This woman was doing much wickedness. Just as Jezebel in the book of Kings did much wickedness in the sight of God and in the end she was killed and the dogs ate her body and licked her blood and there was nothing left for them to bury.

Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” This is what many people are doing today. Saying that the word they are teaching is from God, they are teaching people that doing the best you can is OK, that it is not necessary to do any better than what you are doing because we are living under grace and if you just try that is all God requires. He knows your heart and you don’t have to be holy. But Jesus said in vain do they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9.  This is why it is imperative that we study to show ourselves approved unto God, that we will know when someone is teaching doctrine that is not from God.

Now, when we look in the book of I Kings we see another characteristic of Jezebel. She killed many people but we don’t have to kill someone physically; we can kill them with our words. We can kill them with the things that we say, we can assassinate their character, we assassinate them by talking about them and we kill them by stabbing them in the back. We do all of this with our words. We can kill people emotionally; we can bring death to them. We can speak death or life over them because the bible says in Proverbs 18:21, “ Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

When we go back to Revelation 2:21 Jesus said, “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” God is a loving God, he is a merciful God, and he always gives us the opportunity to repent because he wants us to get it right. God gave this woman Jezebel an opportunity and time to repent but she did not repent. He said, Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” Revelation 2:22

Revelation 2:23, Jesus said he would kill her children with death, and “all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Jesus is speaking to us today. If we do these things, if we commit fornication if we become drawn away to other gods then he will judge us and give to us according to our deeds.  

Revelation 2:24,But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.” There were some people in Thyatira who were not drawn away with Jezebel; there were some people who were holding onto the truth. They were doing what was right and pleasing in the eyesight of God. To these people, God said he would not put any other burden upon them.

Jesus had such a problem with the Christians in Thyatira because they had the ability to stop this woman, they could have confronted her with the word and said we will not listen to your lies. They could have told her that she was a false prophetess, they should have stood up to her but they did not. This is the same problem Jesus has with many Christians, they have the truth but they will not speak out against the evil and wickedness in our society. When they know someone is not speaking and teaching truth they will not speak against it.

Jesus then gave them instructions:

Revelation 2:25, But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. Jesus is saying, the truth that you have received, hold on to it. Keep it; don’t let it go, hold it tight until I come.”

 

Revelation 2:26-29, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Not just hear with our ear, but hear with our spirit and with our heart what is being taught.

 

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