Church of Thyatira
Sin will always justify itself. It will always find reasons to satisfy its desires and lusts. Sin will try to convince us that it is okay to look at porn, commit adultery, cheat on our taxes, and lie so others will think better of us. And sin will alway promise that we will not get caught.
But here in our fourth letter we see that sin is not secretive. In verse 18 we read, “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” What does this image mean? This vision is very similar to the one we read about in Daniel 10:6. There Daniel sees a man with eyes like flaming torches and legs that gleam of burnished bronze who will bring judgment on the pagan nations. Is this a Christophany? Perhaps. Here in Revelation, Jesus is described in the same way as in Daniel and we see that He is going to bring judgment on those who live in rebelliousness. The fact that Jesus has eyes like flames of fire ought to tell us that He does see all things and His legs of burnished bronze are ready for trampling those who do not repent. Furthermore we see in verse 23 that Jesus searches minds and hearts and will give to each of us according to our works. In verse 19, Jesus commends this church. He says that He knows their works, love, faith, service and perseverance. He has seen that their works have continued to increase and are greater than when they first began. I love this. Jesus sees us. Jesus is not absent from the church but He perfectly knows the church. He sees all that we do. He truly is the perfect groom.
Now in verse 19 we move into the rebuke. Evidently this church has tolerated the teachings of the woman Jezebel. Now I don’t think there was an actual woman named Jezebel in the church, but this woman represents the O.T. woman named Jezebel. In the O.T. Jezebel led people into idolatry (worshipping the false god, Baal) and committing acts of sexual immorality. In verse 24 we see that her teachings were most likely promising a knowledge known has the “deep things.” But these deep things were not from God but from Satan. This is a common practice of false teachers. False teachers can be very persuasive because they appear to know something we do not know. But we must be wise and see that this knowledge does not come from God and His Word but often thought experiential and mystical means.
So what is going to happen? Verse 21 says that Jezebel has had time to repent but has refused, therefore she will be thrown “onto a sickbed.” And if those who have followed her do not repent they will be thrown “into great tribulation.” In verse 23 we see the end result of those who refuse to repent, they will be killed.
Why will Jesus bring such severe judgment on this church? In verse 23 we read, “And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” This church thought that being loving meant being tolerant of all lifestyles and teachings. But Jesus shows us that real love is not measured by tolerance but by holy obedience. Jesus will rain down judgment on the unrepentant in this church as an example for other churches. Jesus will not tolerate tolerance when it comes to sin.
Now there are some who have rejected this false teaching. What are they called to do? Jesus say in verse 25, “Hold fast to what you have until I come.” Jesus is calling the church to remain faithful and continue to grow in works, love, faith, service, and perseverance (v.19).
And the reward is that is we who continue to live faithfully will be given authority over nations and will rule with Jesus with a rod of iron. Jesus shares the very authority that He has been given with those who believe in Him. To be a follower of Jesus is not be a lowly person in the Kingdom of God but is to share in the rule of God. Jesus also promises that they will be given the morning star. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus will call Himself the morning star. So here we see that those who persevere in faithfulness will be with Jesus. Jesus is the true ruler of the world and the King of all creation and He is the one we will spend eternity with.
There are many points of application in this text. We could look at the importance of eldership and guarding against false teaching. We could look at the difference of holiness and tolerance. We could look at the failing promises of sin and the true satisfying promises of God. We could look at the joy we have that Jesus is with us and sees us and we are never alone. We could look at the joy we have in knowing that no sin escapes the eyes of Jesus. We could look at the necessity of church discipline. We could look at the necessity of repentance. This letter is surely has a message for every church.
Photo by Shyn Darkly