By A.T. Walker
While on the island of Patmos, John saw the Lord Jesus Christ, who instructed him to “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” In 7 Churches, we will be looking into these letters to see what Jesus has to say to these churches…and what he maybe saying to ours.
To the Church in Thyatira
The third letter is addressed to the church in Thyatira, located about 45 miles southeast of Pergamum.
“The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
The Son of God. What a title to hold! Many who hold important titles have “pulled rank” on those in lower positions of authority. But all earthly titles such as “president” and “king” are weak and beggarly compared to the title “Son of God”. There is only One who holds it and He is the One with fiery eyes and feet like bronze (Revelation 1:14-15). If there ever was someone to listen to, this is the One. The One with fiery eyes that burn through to search the hearts of men. The One with feet like bronze. He is unmovable, unshakable, and undeterred by the plans and schemes of mere men. This is the Son of God!
“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”
The marks of the Christian life are love, faith, service, and patient endurance, and the church at Thyatira displayed these wonderful traits. In Revelation 1:13, we see Jesus walking amongst his churches, and being the Great Shepherd, He has watched and seen the works and growth of His church. What a comfort to know that Jesus is so keenly aware of the state of his churches. Keeping such a close eye on his bride, he not only sees her beauty and growth, but sees the things that are dangers and threats to her.
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”
We all want to fit in. We all want to be liked. And out of those desires, some will compromise their beliefs in order to win approval from society. Unfortunately, some churches even fall into this pit. Some of the church at Thyatira had been seduced by a “prophetess” named “Jezebel” (possibly given this name symbolically, given the wicked history of that name bearer; See 1 Kings 18-21 and 2 Kings 9 for examples). Claiming to speak the words of God yet leading His people away into sin is the very definition of a false prophet. How does Jesus expect his church to react to the presence of a false prophet? We are not to tolerate them. The Greek word for “tolerate”, aphiémi, used here means “to give up, keep no longer” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Giving a false prophet a voice in your church is the same as giving Satan a foothold, it always ends badly. Thyatira had allowed Jezebel to corrupt the minds and hearts of some in the church and lead them into sin.
“I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.”
Oh, how patient and merciful is our God! The Lord has given Jezebel time to repent, but this is the stubbornness of a sinful heart.
“Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. 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.”
After repentance has been rejected by the “prophetess”, it was offered to her followers. Jesus promises plagues and death for Jezebel and her “children”, or those who were once believed to be “sons of God”. These have proved their confession to be a false one, and have become “sons of Jezebel” in the eyes of Jesus.
“But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.”
Thyatira was the smallest of the seven churches, but received the longest letter. Just another example of Jesus putting the last first. Jesus isn’t a numbers guy. Church attendance has no bearing on how much care and attention Jesus gives a church. The faithful in Thyatira were known by Jesus. He knew of their loving, faithful service and patient endurance…and He required nothing else from them. This is the work that the Church must continue in until Jesus comes back for His bride.
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Jesus closes His letter by making a promise to the faithful in Thyatira, to the “conquerors”. Now, some take this as a moment to puff up their chest and pat themselves on the back as if the conquering was brought about by their strength and endurance. Never, ever forget…We are only conquerors because of Christ the conqueror.
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37
The Father has given all authority to Christ, the Conqueror and King, and for His faithful followers, He allows us to reign with Him:
“It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Beyond all the the spectacular gift that Jesus blesses His followers with, in the end, we get the greatest gift imaginable…We get Jesus, the Morning Star!
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16
John Piper once asked the question:
“If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever say, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”
If you could have authority over nations and rule with an iron rod, would you be satisfied if it came without the Morning Star? Jesus is everything and without Him, there is nothing. He is our reason and purpose. If your reason for wanting to go to heaven is for all the gifts and not the Giver, then I suggest you take some time to consider where you stand with God. In the end, you may find yourself empty handed…
“No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter who does not in some measure behold it here by faith.” John Owen