5. Thyatira -- The Tolerant ChurchRelated Media
Editor's Note: a lightly edited transcription of the attached audio file will be found at the end of this originally written daily study guide. Appreciation for this transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
Thyatira was the smallest of the seven cities, but the one that received the longest letter. It lay about 45 miles to the southeast of Pergamum and was famous for its textiles, especially the production of purple dye and its trade guilds.1
This church was doing many things well, but they were being led astray by someone teaching false doctrine. Evidently a woman claiming to be a prophetess had been influencing some in this church to join the local trade guilds without which a tradesman could not work in Thyatira. This meant participation in the guild feasts that included immoral acts and the worship of idols.2
Sometimes the pressure of “fitting in” with the world is overwhelming, but we are to stand firm in our faith, trusting God to provide and to take care of us. We are also to stand firm on the truth of God’s Word and not tolerate those who disregard and distort it. As you study this letter to the church at Thyatira, be open to what God wants to teach you through the message to this church.
DAY 1: THE OVERVIEW AND DESCRIPTION OF CHRIST
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 2:18-29
1. What is your overall impression of this church?
2. This is the only time in the book of Revelation that the expression “Son of God” appears.3 What does this name infer and what are some possible reasons why it is used only with this church?
3. Christ is described in 2:18 as “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze.” (See also 1:14-15.) Flame-like eyes suggest discerning and severe judgment. “Burnished” means highly reflective.4 Why would this description of Christ be appropriate for this specific church?
4. The founding of the church at Thyatira is not mentioned in the Bible. However, as a note of interest, according to Acts 16:14, who is from Thyatira?
II. Looking Upward
5. What do these passages reveal to us about the character of God?
6. In what situations in your life does it bring comfort to know that God sees and knows your heart?
When does it bring anxiety?
III. Looking Deeper
As you read Psalm 139:1-16, list all the ways that God sees you and knows
IV. Looking Reflectively
“A church may feel satisfied with itself, have a good reputation in the community, or even with other churches. But the penetrating eyes of the Lord Jesus see it as it really is.”5
As God searches your heart and mind today, what would He find? What does your heart and mind dwell on?
As God looks at us with His penetrating eyes which see all things, would He be disappointed with us as a church? Would He be disappointed with you as an individual? If so, why?
DAY 2: THE COMMENDATION
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 2:19
1. What did He commend this church for and why are these qualities so vital to spiritual growth?
2. Compare and contrast this commendation with the commendation to the church at Ephesus (2:2).
3. What similarities with the commendation to Thyatira do you see in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11-12?
II. Looking Upward
4. How are the qualities of love, faith, service, and perseverance related?
5. In which of these qualities are you the strongest? In which are you the weakest?
6. What can you do to strengthen where you are weakest?
III. Looking Deeper
How does Paul’s commendation of the Colossian church in Colossians 1:3-8 compare to the commendation of the church at Thyatira?
In 2 Peter 1:1-9, what qualities does Peter encourage believers to pursue and why?
IV. Looking Reflectively
The Christian life should never become stagnant, but always dynamic and growing as we become more like Christ.
In what ways do you see progress and growth in your walk with God?
Thank Him for all He is doing in your life. If you feel you are stagnant in your walk, be honest with God and ask Him to “rekindle the fire.” What steps do you need to take?
DAY 3: THE CRITICISM
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 2:20-23
1. What is His criticism of this church and how does it compare/contrast with His criticism of the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:14-15?
2. What does this passage tell us about the woman “Jezebel”?
3. It is most likely that this woman’s name was not Jezebel, but she was called by that name because of the similarities to the Jezebel in the Old Testament.
A. What do we know about the Old Testament Jezebel from these passages?
1 Kings 16:30-31
1 Kings 18:4
1 Kings 18:19
1 Kings 19:1-2
1 Kings 21:25-26
2 Kings 9:22
B. How are the two women similar?
4. What will be the results for her and for those who follow her if she continues in her lack of repentance? What lesson can we learn from this?
5. What is the purpose in His judgment and why would that be important?
II. Looking Upward
6. There are those in the Thyatira church who are not only tolerating Jezebel, but they are also engaging in the sinful acts she is encouraging. How does a believer get to that point where he/she becomes so easily swayed by lies and sin?
III. Looking Deeper
Jezebel refused to repent and there would be consequences. Paul addresses repentance in Romans 2:4-11.
List the attributes of God in this passage and how they relate to repentance.
What are the results of an unrepentant heart?
IV. Looking Reflectively
Knowing that Christ will judge us for our deeds should bring fear to those who teach and practice false doctrine, but comfort and hope to those who love God and follow Him wholeheartedly.
Is He pleased with your deeds?
Are you causing another believer to stumble in any way?
Is there an area in your life where you are unrepentant?
Ask God to search your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). Confess any unconfessed sin (1 John 1:9). Meditate on Romans 2:4.
DAY 4: THE INSTRUCTION
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 2:24-25
1. What is His instruction to the faithful “remnant” in the church and what does this instruction mean?
2. What are some possible meanings to the phrase, “the deep things of Satan”?
3. We looked at Ephesians 6:10-17 when we studied the letter to the church at Pergamum and you listed practical ways to stand firm. Look at this passage again and describe the struggle we are up against as long as we are on this earth.
II. Looking Upward
4. What are some lies that the “world” and Satan convey to us that are contrary to God’s truth? Why do we sometimes believe them over God’s Word?
5. How have you experienced spiritual warfare in your life? How did you overcome it?
6. How do we in a practical sense “hold onto” or “hold fast” to what we have until He comes?
III. Looking Deeper
In Revelation 2:25, they were instructed to hold fast what they have until He comes (NASB). The NIV says, “Hold onto what you have…” What do these verses have to say about “holding fast”?
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
1 Timothy 6:12
IV. Looking Reflectively
“The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to God on the inside.” – Oswald Chambers6
Be careful. Don’t be subtly deceived by the practices and teachings of the world and Satan which are contrary to God’s Word.
What things in your daily life are you exposed to or involved with that might subtly distract or pull you away from a closer walk with the Lord? Yield these to the Lord and allow Him to have control.
Hold fast to Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word.
Are you holding strong or are you wavering? Meditate on Hebrews 10:23. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (NIV).
DAY 5: THE PROMISE
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 2:26-29
1. In verse 26, as Jesus begins to lay out the promises to the one who overcomes, what is different this time from all the previous verses addressed to the one who overcomes? What are some possible reasons why He included this in this letter?
2. What two things does Jesus promise to the one who overcomes?
3. According to Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6; and 22:5, what does it mean that He will give them authority and that they will rule?
4. In Revelation 2:28 He promises the “morning star” to those who overcome. According to Revelation 22:16, who is the morning star?
5. What exactly is He promising? (See also 1 John 3:2-3.)
II. Looking Upward
6. How does your life reflect the morning star?
III. Looking Deeper
The quote that Jesus used in Revelation 2:26-27 is from Psalm 2, a Messianic Psalm which tells how the Father gave the Messiah the rule over the nations of the world. This psalm is frequently quoted in the New Testament, where it is applied to Christ as the great Son of David and God’s Anointed.
What do you learn about His future reign from these passages?
IV. Looking Reflectively
No matter how dark life gets on this earth, we can always look forward to the hope of our future.
Are you ready for His return?
Ask God to show you an area of your life that needs refining and polishing in order to more fully reflect His radiance and glory to the world. Ask God to make you willing for Him to work in your life as He needs to.
Spend some time praising Him in light of today’s lesson.
Introduction to the message for Lesson Five – Thyatira – The Tolerant Church [Begin Transcription]
I want to show you a picture of my flowerbed in my backyard. It did not start out like this. It started out as a beautiful flowerbed which had mulch in it. The flowers and the plants were very well manicured. There was not a single weed in it just a short time ago back in the spring. It looked great.
One day I looked out the window and I noticed there was a weed growing in the flowerbed and I thought, “gosh, I have to pick that weed.” So, I went out and I pulled that little weed out. I was proud of myself, and went back in. A few days later I looked out and there was another weed over here. I thought, “I have got to go weed that out.” The process went on for a while.
Then one day, I looked out and there was a weed. I thought, “You know, I’m just tired today. I am so busy. I will worry about that when I get home from work tonight.” I got home from work and forgot about it. Then, I would look out on the weekend and I would go, “Oh there are a few weeds out there, but I just have too much to do. I cannot handle the weeds now. I will handle them later.”
Finally, after I don’t know how many months went by, I finally looked out there and I looked at this picture. At first I put gloves on and said, “Today is the day we are going to pull the weeds out.” I went out with my gloves on and I stood there and looked at this flowerbed. I just thought, “I cannot do it. Just forget it. I am just going to let it go.”
So, it had gotten so bad that to even pull a weed out was going to rip out the good plants—not that there was much left any more. So, it destroyed this whole garden. This whole flowerbed is destroyed by weeds. The problem was really two-fold: one, it was the weeds that were growing and the second problem was my lack of discipline and my lack of commitment to stay up with the weeds and to pull them out.
Well, this is a picture of what happened at the church at Thyatira. This church was very similar to the church at Pergamum that we studied last week. I found myself asking, God, “What is the lesson that You want us to learn from this church that you did not already teach us from the church at Pergamum?” I mean, what is different about this church that we did not see last week? I think to answer that we need to look at the overall progression of the churches. Starting with Ephesus, each church gets a little bit worse, except for the exception of two churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia. Smyrna was the suffering church and Philadelphia we will look at in two weeks. All the other churches got progressively worse as we go through these lessons. There was a downward spiral and that spiral finally hit its lowest point when we get to the very last church at Laodicea.
We started with the church at Ephesus, and they hated the teaching and the deeds of the Nicolaitans. They did not tolerate it. They were a church that stood strong and they did not tolerate evil men. They did not tolerate the teachings. Then, we move to the church at Pergamum and there were some there who held the teachings. They did not just hate it. They kind of moved downward and started to hold the teaching and believe the ideas of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. They compromised with the world.
Now, we move to the church at Thyatira. There are those in this church who not only believed that false teaching, but they are acting it. They are acting it out. They are living on it. The rest of the church is tolerating it, just like I did those weeds in the garden. This church has moved further along. It has gone a step further than the church we looked at last week. Apparently, they were not just a few people in this church that were engaging in these activities. It had begun to take a lot of root. In the last two churches, Satan had a great influence. If Satan cannot destroy the church by persecution, which he tried to do in Smyrna, and if he cannot destroy the church with heresy and false teaching, as he tried in Pergamum, he will try to destroy the church by corrupting it with evil. That was his strategy here at Thyatira. So, the lesson for us to learn, I believe, from this church is that:
If we do not deal with sin immediately, it will take over.
If we tolerate the weeds, if we do not pull them up and just let them go, they will eventually destroy what once was a beautiful garden. So, that is our challenge this week is pull those weeds up as they come up. Deal with sin when it springs up. Do not put it aside because if you do it will get out of control.
Well, go ahead and turn, if you will, to Revelation 2:18-29. As you are turning, I want to give you a little background on the city. Thyatira lay about 45 miles to the southeast of Pergamum. I have a map again to show you. We started down on the coast at Ephesus, moved up to Smyrna. Pergamum is the northernmost city that we have gone to. Now, we turn the corner and are coming back down to Thyatira. It was the smallest of the seven cities, but it was the one which received the longest letter. It did not have a strong political distinction like the other cities. It was not known for any great Roman temple dedicated to the emperor, but it was a prosperous trading center. It boasted numerous trade deals, which are like our labor unions today. Each field has its own patron deity, its feasts, its seasonal festivities which included sexual revelry. This was much more harmful than going to our office parties today. When we go to your husband’s work parties or when I used to go to the hospital parties, I would have to put up with a lot of drinking and alcohol and maybe some conversations that were not pleasant, but I never had to tolerate anything like what they had tolerated. There was immorality. There was idolatry going on. It was a hard place for Christians.
According to Acts, Lydia, one of Philippi’s most notable convert, came from Thyatira. She was a seller of purple fabrics and we find out that actually they were not purple, they were just called purple. They were really red fabrics. Thyatira was known for this “purple” fabric. She had evidently gone to the city of Philippi to do some business. While she was there, Paul was there and he preached the gospel. She came to Christ and was baptized and came back to Thyatira. By the time Revelation was written, this prosperous city had a prosperous church.
Well, this letter begins, as the other letters do, with a description of Jesus Christ. In Revelation 2:18,
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: (NASB)
Every letter begins with a description of Christ that is especially relevant for that church. There are three things I just want to point out really quickly about this description of Jesus Christ.
Jesus as Son of God
First, He is called the Son of God rather than the son of man. This is the only occurrence in the book of Revelation where that phrase, Son of God, occurs. Why this particular church? Why was He not called the son of man in this letter like he was in the others and everywhere else in the book of Revelation? The phrase, Son of God, emphasizes His deity. He is God. Because He is God, He has the right to judge and this church needed judgment. The title, son of man, is a side of His humanity. He is a high priest that sympathizes with us. He emphasizes with us. He can understand our struggles, but that is not what He was doing with this church. This church did not need comfort by Christ. They needed his judgment. So, he was coming not as a high priest but as a divine judge.
Jesus as having eyes like a flame of fire
The second thing about His description is that He has eyes like a flame of fire. This symbolizes the penetrating power of His vision. He sees the deepest part of our heart. He sees right through us, right into us. He knows our deepest thoughts. He knows our struggles. I was talking to a friend yesterday morning and I was telling her that probably the two words that have most hit me in this study are the words “I know.” I love it that He knows. Even when He knows my sin, I am really thankful because I do not want to go on ignorant of the sin in my life. I do not necessarily like to see it. It discourages me when I see it, but I want Him to show it to me. He has eyes. We might fool somebody else and we may make somebody else think that we are a certain way or that we have the right motives or that we are thinking the right things, but God knows. You cannot fool Him. He penetrates the heart. He knows every thought, every motive, and every attitude. Even though we may be saying words that make it sound like we are spiritual, God knows what is in our heart. He is the one who counts. So, this description emphasizes His omniscience, that He knows everything. What is Jesus seeing when He looks into your heart? Does it scare you? Do you fear or does it comfort you?
Jesus as having feet like burnished bronze
The third thing about his description is that He has feet like burnished bronze, shining bronze. These feet of bronze indicated strength for executing judgment. These bronze feet can trample sin under foot, severely punish that which is wrong. We talked about this the first week that bronze often symbolizes judgment in the Old Testament, particularly in the Old Testament tabernacle with a bronze laver. It is a symbol of his judgment and that is the emphasis here.
Three Characteristics of Thyatira
As we look at this letter to Thyatira today, I want to point out three characteristics of this church and why it is so important to deal with sin immediately. Why it is so important to pull those weeds up and soon as you see them spring up?
A Progressing Church
The first thing about this church which I want to point out is that it was a progressing church. Revelation 2:19 says,
I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. (NASB)
He commends them here in four areas: they were progressing; they had loyal faith; they were laboring; they were long suffering. These are great qualities. These are qualities that we should all want in our lives and in our churches. What makes it even better is that He says the deeds you are doing now are even better and greater than the deeds you did at the beginning. You are progressing. You are growing. We are seeing some spiritual fruits, some spiritual growth. It is a progressing church and if you stop here you would say, “I want to be part of this church.” It is the only one of the seven churches that was commended for its love. None of the other churches was commended for their love. What a great church to be a progressive, growing, loving church!
Yet, it is so vital to not let the weeds spring up and begin to infiltrate and take control. Jesus talked about this in Mark 4:19 when he talked about the parable of the soil. He talked about the thorns that choke out the Word: the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the desire for other things and that the result of this is that the Word becomes unfruitful. This church has to be careful because any progressive, growing church, if it does not deal with the weeds as they come up, will be moved by those weeds to an unfruitful state. That is why it is so important to keep the weeds out.
A Problem Church
Well, that leads us to the second characteristic of this church. It was a progressing church but secondly, it was a problem church. There were some problems in this church. All was not well. The first problem that we see is the tolerance of sin. In Revelation 2:20, he says,
But I have this against you that you, tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immortality and they eat things sacrificed to idols. (NASB)
The problem in this church centered around a woman called Jezebel. She was a dangerous weed that had begun to grow in this church. She was multiplying. She was spreading because they tolerated her. They did not nip it in the bud. They did not go out there and pull that weed up and she spread. She was evidently a very dominant leader. She probably had a very strong and persuasive personality that could cause people to follow her in such a way that they believed anything she said. They wanted probably to be with her. We do not know for sure, but, obviously, she was somebody with a strong enough personality that she could pull people and sway them away from the truth.
It is unlikely that her real name was Jezebel because most women would never name their daughters, Jezebel. If any of you are named Jezebel, forgive me. I hope you are not, but if you are, please forgive me. Jezebel has a negative connotation. So she probably was not named Jezebel. She was a wicked and dangerous influence in Thyatira like Queen Jezebel had been in the Old Testament.
If you did your study lessons this week you looked at some passages that describe Queen Jezebel. She was considered the most evil woman who ever lived. This is a wicked woman. She married the King of Israel, Ahab, and he should have never married her because she was involved in a pagan cult. She was probably a priestess in this cult. She killed off as many of the prophets of Yahweh as she could. She brought paganism into Israel. After Elijah had this great victory over the prophet of Baal he found out Jezebel was coming to kill him and he ran for his life. This man who was such a victor right beforehand all of a sudden is scared to death! This must have been some wicked woman. She is known for her evil, her witchcraft. She sought to contaminate Israel. Ahab, her husband, lacked the moral conviction and courage to stop her. He did not confront her. So, the name Jezebel suggests that this new Jezebel was corrupting the church in Thyatira much like Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, corrupted Israel in the Old Testament. She was probably influencing many in the church of Thyatira to engage in these immoral, idolatrous activities.
Thyatira had the opposite problem that Ephesus had. The church at Ephesus could not tolerate evil men or false teaching, but they did not have love. Now, here is a church that had lots of love, but they had become tolerant to false teachers. There needs to be a healthy balance in our lives and in our churches. We need to love, but we also need to not tolerate sin. I think Paul gives us a great guideline to live by in Ephesus 4:15 when he says, “Speak the truth in love.” Sometimes that is hard to do, but I believe God has called us to do that.
Well, they tolerated this woman in her sin and now these weeds are spreading throughout this otherwise healthy church. It starts with one little weed and then it takes over like that picture I showed you at the beginning.
The second problem in this church was the lack of repentance. In Revelation 2:21, he says,
I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. (NASB)
All of us have sin in our life every day. I do not think a day goes by that I do not have to confess something. Maybe it would be a thought or an attitude, but we all have sin and every church has problems. Every church has sin, but what matters is, how do we deal with it? What do we do with that sin we see? Do we ignore it? Do we tolerate it or do we confess it and turn away and leave in the opposite direction? Do we pull up the weeds when they come up?
God gave Jezebel time to repent, but she did not want to. She had a stubborn heart toward God. When you have someone in your church that you go to and you confront their sin and they refuse to repent and want to continue in sin, then we as the church have a responsibility to practice church discipline. That is where we pull the weeds up. We cannot just ignore it.
We also cannot just ignore sin in our lives. When God shows us sin, we need to decide if we are going to ignore it. Am I going to rationalize it and not call it sin? “Oh, that’s not sin.” “I am concerned about this thing, so I am going to gossip.” Do we rationalize it or do we just hit it head on and go, “You know what, that is a weed and I am going to go and pull that weed up. I am going to get it out of here.”
God does not show our sin to discourage us. There have been times which it has discouraged me because I think, “Oh, God, I hate what I see.” He does not show it to us to discourage us. He shows us sin so that we deal with it and so we will confess it and that we will move forward and move on. If we are going to move forward in our spiritual growth as an individual, as a church, we have got to deal with the problems as they come up. We cannot let them fester. We cannot let them spread like weeds. We have to pull them up as soon as we see them.
A Precarious Church
The third characteristic about this church is that it was a precarious church. It was a church which found itself in a dangerous situation. It was in a precarious situation teetering between two outcomes. The outcome would depend on who they chose to follow. Let’s look at the choices that they were facing. They could follow first Jezebel. Revelation 2:22-23 say,
Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (NASB)
He wanted them to repent. That was his charge to Jezebel and her followers. For those who would not repent, this is what is going to happen. This is what you choose – sudden and immediate judgment and intense suffering. The judgment would be so dramatic that he said all the churches will know that I am the one who searches hearts and minds. This is serious.
So, they are in this precarious situation choosing: “Am I going to follow Jezebel and this is the result or, as the second choice is, do we follow Christ?” Revelation 2:24-25 say,
But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who did not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them-- I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. (NASB)
Thankfully, there were some in this church who had not followed Jezebel’s teachings and they have not engaged in these immoral acts that she was leading people to do. All He asked them to do was to hold fast until I come. Hang in there. Do not give up because I am coming back. Stand firm.
This is the first mention in Revelation of the Lord’s coming for the Church which what I believe is the Rapture. He is referring to the Rapture here when He comes back for His Church before the seven years of tribulation.
He says that they have not known the deep things of Satan. We do not know exactly what He is referring to here by “the deep things of Satan.” Some have said it could be that she (Jezebel) is teaching them “that the only way to confront Satan is to enter into his stronghold. To experience the very depths of sin so that you will in turn know the very depths of God’s grace. So, come on, you have to know who God is by knowing what you are dealing with in sin.” Perhaps that is the kind of thing being referred to here. I like the other view though that pertains to the pre-gnostic teaching. Remember if you were here for our study of Colossians, we talked about the philosophy of Gnosticism. It was a philosophy that believes that the spirit and the body are separate. They are not together. So, she may have been teaching that “:you can go to the depths of immorality with your body and you will come out spiritually unscathed because your body is separate from the spirit.” That is the view I tend to lean toward, but I do not know for sure what he is referencing here. I know we do not want to go there. We do not want to hold those beliefs that take us into the “deep things of Satan.”
Two Promises to Thyatira
Well, he had two promises for those who chose to follow Christ. In Revelation 2:26-28 it says,
He who overcomes and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. (NASB)
Privileged to Reign
Two promises are given by Him to those who make the decision to follow Christ. First is that they are privileged to reign. I believe He is talking about that privilege to reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom when He comes back after the seven years of tribulation and He brings His church back with Him. As I shared the very first week, I believe in the literal thousand-year Millennial reign on this earth and that we will reign with Him. That is what He is talking about here. The word in verse 27 “for rulers” in the Greek really means “to shepherd” so it is not just talking about administering justice and being a tyrant. It is talking about being a shepherd, and using that rod both to deal with the sheep and to protect them. I do not understand how this is going to work out in the Millennium, but I know that I look forward to whatever God has there for us.
Given the Morning Star
The second promise he gives them is the gift of the “morning star” in verse 28. The scriptures do not explain this expression, but it may refer to the Rapture-- when Jesus comes back for His Church before the darkness of the Great Tribulation. When I lived in Dallas, I worked in Fort Worth my first three years. Fort Worth from my house to the hospital was a good hour drive. So, I would get up every morning and leave at 5 a.m. and it was dark. I would drive out of my garage, headed east to begin with, and I would always see the morning star. The light was shining in the darkest, coldest hours of the night. That may be what He is referring to here: “When you think it is the darkest, coldest hours in the Church, I will come back. I am the morning star. I will be there. You will see Me.”
This expression also referred to just Jesus Christ. He calls Himself the morning star. So it may be His return. But it also might be that when He comes back for us that we will be like Him and we will see Him in all of His fullness and glory. So He would be the gift itself.
I do not know what he is referring to exactly though, but I know I cannot wait. That is the one thing this book has made me long for more than ever. I cannot wait for His return, but at the same time there are people I love that I want to come to know Him first. So, there is that struggle.
This was a progressing church. It was a problem church. It was a precarious church because they would decide their destiny. They were teetering. Which way would they go? It is not known how many in the Thyatira church responded to the warning of Jesus Christ. But, tragically, this church as a whole, apparently, did not heed it because history records that this church fell prey to a heresy. They went out of existence by the end of the second century. This church’s light was completely snuffed out. When we have the tendency to look at this letter and just blow it off. We say, well, you know, I am not engaged in sexual immorality. It really does not pertain to me. I am not a false teacher. I am not following a false teacher. I am not worshipping idols. I do not think this letter has much in here for me. But, let’s not pat ourselves on the back too quickly.
Let me give a little history here. Commentators have pointed out that spiritual conditions during the Middle Ages were similar to those that existed in this church. In every church, I have tried to tell you a period of history that the church parallels. In this instance, it was the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were that period that preceded the Protestant Reformation. They are also called the Dark Ages because during those years not much good happened. Paganism and corruption were rampant. During the Middle Ages, the teaching of those in the Roman Universal Church exalted Mary, the mother of Jesus. People began to worship Mary. They began to worship statues of Mary. Many believe that the prominence of this woman, Jezebel, in Thyatira foreshadows that exaltation of Mary that began in the Middle Ages. Spiritual adultery began to take place in that time because people began to love someone else in the place of Jesus Christ— the one who they claimed to love. Every time that someone prays to Mary, every time someone places Jesus to the side and begins to worship or love or adore someone or something else, we have committed spiritual adultery— because as the Church we are married to Jesus Christ. He is the one who deserves our love or devotion, our faithfulness. When we begin to shift that worship and that focus and meditation to something else, we are guilty of spiritual idolatry and spiritual immorality.
Do you love anything more than Jesus?
So, in closing I want to give you two questions for you to ponder this week in your own life. First, do you love and worship someone or something else more than you love and worship Jesus Christ? When you put other things or people ahead of Jesus Christ whether it be a person that you just think is the most wonderful person in the world and no one can ever replace that person, be careful. It might be success. It might be power that need to be in charge. It may be materialism, financial security. It could even be ministry. Whenever we put something in His place, He becomes jealous because we are being unfaithful to Him. He should be our first and only love because He created it. He loves us. He died for us and one day He is coming back for us. He will not tolerate other lovers.
Do you have weeds in your life?
The second question – are there some weeds growing in your life that you need to deal with? Some weeds that maybe you have just sort of ignored and said, you know what, I just do not have the energy to deal with that right now. Tomorrow I’ll deal with it. Be careful because just like that garden at my house, it becomes overwhelming. The longer you wait the more it hurts. These weeds may be something just like a negative, critical spirit that just creeps in. Maybe they are jealousy or rebellion. Maybe they are gossip or just a lie that Satan has planted in your mind that is just starting to sprout and take root in your life. Pull the weeds up and do it today because if you do not, this picture of my garden is exactly what you are going to have in your life. You do not want that.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches. (Revelation 2:29, NASB)
Let’s pray. Father, I think you so much that you are a God who loves us just the way we are. Yet, You love us too much to let us stay there. Lord, I pray that if there are any weeds in our lives today that You would show us. That you would not allow us to tolerate them. That we would come before You and, Lord, that we would deal with those weeds today, that we would pull them up. Father, we love You so much. As we sing now, I pray that we would make this song our prayer in our commitment to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
1 Tom Constable, Expository Notes on Revelation [CD-ROM], 33.
2 Beasley-Murray, George Raymond. The Book of Revelation. New Century Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983), 89-90
3 Barker, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1146.
4 Constable, Expository Notes on Revelation [CD-ROM], 33.
5 MacArthur, New Testament Commentary, 97.
6 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 13.