The Corrupt Church - Thyatira
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to [g]repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. 24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
It’s a bit weird for a church to be called a “corrupt church”. Sadly, this was the title of this church in my Bible. While looking for a good title for this message, I came across one that said, “Jezebel church”. Ouch!!!
Basically, this church was contaminated from the inside. It was influenced to go against the teachings of God. So…just like the other churches that we have covered so far, this church received a letter from our Lord. Contamination or influence can be a part of our everyday life.
We can be influenced in a good way or we can be influenced in a bad way. So, we have to be really careful on the things that can influence us greatly. Like I had mentioned… we can be influenced in good way or a bad way.
Let’s visit this church of Thyatira and see what we can learn from them…
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:
As always, Christ reveals himself in a special way to the church being addressed. We have seen in the past that the description used is always relevant to the situation they are in. In verse 18 he describes himself as the “Son of God.” This is the only place in Revelation that this title is given to Christ, though it is used often throughout the gospels. It comes straight out of
Psalm 2:7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
It is also mentioned that, “The Son”, (Jesus) “has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass”.
The images of flaming eyes also reminds us that God’s eyes are penetrating, seeing everything, knowing everything. Nothing can be hidden from His sight.
17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
And, also mentioned by the writer of the Book of Hebrew…
13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
So…it is very clear, that Christ can see everything. NOTHING, can ever be hidden. And His eyes are “flaming”!!! Flame can through the dark to see what needs to be seen or it can also mean that the Lord is in anger.
“His feet like fine brass”. Bronze was the hardest metal known of at that time and is often used of to speak of judgment. Christ was therefore angry… so angry that He was preparing for judgment. We’ll talk why the Lord is angry in a minute, but before we do, God recognize that there were some good things in this church. This church was well commended…
19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
WOW!!! These are good qualities right!!! “love, service, faith, and patience”. If we were just to look at this church, with these qualities, we can say that this church was doing a very good job. Close to perfection. They were a growing church. “as for your works, the last are more than the first”. In the NIV translation, “and as for your works, the last are more than the first”. So, they were a faithful, loving, growing church.
Somewhere along the way, this church was contaminated from the inside. Even after all of Gods commendation to this church, God still judged it fairly. After all, our God is a JUST, God.
Even if they started out good, the rest of the way started to fail. Someone took over, and God is angry, “eyes like a flame of fire”. God tells them their offence…
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Despite the growth and the apparent faithfulness, love and ministry seen in the church, they were being misled doctrinally and spiritually. There was a woman who Jesus called Jezebel who was calling herself a prophetess but was misleading the people.
What is a prophet? .... The simplest definition of a prophet is one who speaks for God. This can either be foretelling the future or forthtelling the Word of God. A true prophet has authority because their words come from God either through direct revelation or straight from the Word of God. A false prophet has mislaid authority which does not come from God. This so- called prophetess in Thyatira was not a prophet at all. Why? Because what she was proclaiming as coming from God, was contrary to God’s word.
Now…its never made clear that she was the pastor of this church. While working on this message, I started asking myself…where was the leaders of this church? Where’s the pastor, the deacons of this church? How did she get a way with such an influence to this church? How did this church allow it to go so far? We just read, that they were good at one point…faithful!
How did they get to this point, as to make God mad and to cast judgement upon this church.
However or whatever she did, she had a good influence to this church. Perfect example of women pastoring a church, again…its not clear that she was a pastor, but she had a very strong influence on this church. It also made me think, of how other churches around the world with women pastors missed to read this story.
Like an apple with a worm in it. This church looked good on the outside, but inside it was rotten. We often look at other churches and say - God is really doing something in their midst - they are loving. Look at all the people flocking to their services. They are reaching out to the community and really making an impact. People are changing. But you can’t judge a book by a cover.
We rush to hear speakers of big churches thinking that they must have it all together because their church is growing. We soak up everything they say and accept it because they must know what they are talking about. Thyatira, was a growing church, a thriving church, filled with love and faithfulness, but they were rotten on the inside because they were following wrong doctrine. “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”. (1 Timothy 2:12) What happened to that command? Where was all the men of this church, that they allowed it to get this far?
Anyway…lets get in this deeper. Who is this Jezebel and what kind of power does she have over this once, faithful church. What was this wrong doctrine that this prophetess was teaching? We read in Vs 20 that it she led people to sexual immorality- fornication and eat food sacrificed to idols, both of which were clearly condemned in the Word of God.
It is likely that this prophetess was teaching that it was alright to be part of the world. No shocker there right! If it happened then it will…and is happening now. She has convinced them not to worry, “God has told me it was alright! (Prophetess) It is alright to go and be a part of the world and participate in the immoral and idolatrous worship that occurs, after all live by grace and are not under the law anymore.” OUCH!!! And who were the rest of the church to disagree with what she was saying? She did claim to be a prophet!
The name Jezebel conjures up thoughts of a very seductive women using her flair to entice men into her bed. The real Jezebel was nothing like this. She was a queen of Israel at the time when Elijah was a prophet. She was a wicked woman and was the pagan daughter of a pagan king and had no business being married to Ahab, the King of Israel. When she became queen, she turned the heart of her husband, then the hearts of Israel to the worship of Baal. Influence the king, then the people. She was smart, cunning, she knew what she wanted and she took it. Her first official act, as recorded in Scripture, was to kill the prophets of the Lord (1 Ki 17:4). She was no seductress… her ways were blatantly against God. She did away with God’s spiritual leaders and replaced them with the prophets of Baal. She was definitely not to be messed with.
Do you see the similarities here between the Jezebel of Old Testament times and the prophetess in Thyatira? Both tried to replace God’s authoritative word with a poor substitute. How often do we do a similar thing? And again…I am just blown away, shaking my head, as to how some present churches are allowing the same thing to happen to Gods church! Did they tear off this part of the Bible? Anyway, let’s continue…
“Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works”.
“Sickbed”, meaning death. A warning is given to her and to the church. You see…God is just, He is fair. He gives everyone a chance to repent. The Church of Thyatira was tolerating evil. Now, the Lord confronted them with this sin! Make no mistake, tolerating evil is sin—heinous sin! What is worse, when a congregation tolerates evil, it means that all within the assembly must share in the condemnation when it is pronounced.
The Lord seems to indicate that Jezebel was at least a superficial follower when He says, He gave her time to repent. However, whether she was a believer or merely or just a pretender that have always sought to invade the churches, this woman refused to repent. Specifically, this woman refused to repent of her sexual immorality.
The immorality of this woman had mentioned the birth of children. It is not possible to say with any degree of certainty that God is not speaking of physical children, however, I doubt that He is speaking of physical children. Because Jesus is addressing a spiritual entity, the Body of believers gathered in Thyatira, it seems apparent to me that the Jesus has in view spiritual children, (disciple) spawn that adopted Jezebel’s attitudes, spiritual seed that had embraced the rebellious evil she embodied.
Rather than policing their ranks, the congregation accepted the act of wickedness, thus diluting the righteousness that should have marked them. The Puritans were certain that one of the marks of a true New Testament church was discipline. They were undoubtedly correct in this assessment. One of the dark marks against the churches of this new age is that we are unwilling to discipline fellow believers. Consequently, we Christians at the end of this Church age love evil through our neglect. So…the result of that neglect, the whole church, this body of believers in Thyatira…ALL OF THEM, will face the same consequence…the same judgement!
Jezebel doctrines teach that something evil can be good. Homosexual marriages are okay as long as they are based on love. Same as being yoked to an unbeliever. Seeking after material possession is okay as this is a sign of God’s blessing. Doing away with the bible is okay as long as you are in communion with God. All these are evil but seem to be good.
24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ as I also have received from My Father.
“to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden”. The letter is addressed to those within the congregation who refused to give approval of wickedness. It was not just that they were obstinate or that they did not long for church harmony, it is that they recognized error and their spirits in horror at the thought of participating with this evil. There were saints then, and there are saints now, who are unwilling to exchange truth for harmony. There are quite enough professed Christians who are willing to tolerate just a little bit of evil in order to avoid unpleasantness or division. Stand firm if you know that you are obedient to Gods commands.
The Helper “The Holy Spirit”, has come! He restrained Christ’s true followers who were found among the Congregation at Thyatira, He kept them from sin. He now works in your life in the same way. If we are faithful in Gods commands, His promise to the true believers of this church, and the true believers of this age is this, “I will put on you no other burden”. Remain faithful, stay in the path of Gods words and persevere. “But hold fast what you have till I come”.
This is all by Gods power that one can endure. Believe in Gods truth, believe in Gods faithfulness in your life, and you will learn to flee from a spirit of Jezebel, and flee from the traps of the enemy.
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations”. Christ promises that if the true believer perseveres, He will grant them a share in His messianic kingdom. Over which He has already received authority to rule. They will receive authority as He has received authority and will rule over nations. Those who remain faithful till the end will reign with Christ as promised.
Our last verse:
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We heard it hear again church. 4 churches now. Three condemned, so far one faithful. (Smyrna)
Let us learn from our brothers and sisters of these churches that we have learned so far. Let’s learn from their mistakes and hopefully, never receive a message from the Lord that says… “But I have this against you”. Gods words are all we have in this fallen world. We cannot join them because the world says it ok. We still have a lot of work to do. Let us let God be our guide and finish this race!!!
Let Us Pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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