Revelation 2:18-29 NLTse (18) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze: (19) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. (20) “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman–that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet–to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. (21) I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality. (22) “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. (23) I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve. (24) “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them–depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you (25) except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. (26) To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. (27) They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. (28) They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star! (29) “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
By the time Jesus gets to the letter to Thyatira, things take on a more serious note. Thyatira received two descriptions of Jesus, His eyes of fire, and feet like polished bronze. Jesus tells them, He has seen the love they had for Him, as well as their faith and patients. Jesus also sees how they have been improving. Jesus’ sight is not a once a week, or once a month ordeal, but a constant process.
But Thyatira has a problem. They were watching a false prophet compared to Jezebel leading people away. As usual, Jesus compares that departure to adultery, which is having an affair with another partner while married. What are some of the details we’re supposed to notice about Jezebel?
Jezebel was the daughter of a pagan king. She married Ahab, one of Israel’s kings and led him into the worship of Baal. She appointed her own prophets and ran her own worship services. Her prophets were eventually defeated and killed by Elijah. Eventually Jezebel lost her life, was killed and eaten by dogs. A short overview of Jezebel doesn’t begin to explain the problems Christians faced while living among some of the world’s worst pagans in a lawless age. Against all those odds, their faith and love for Christ kept growing. They had an idea of how to choose between a productive and destructive road.
That was the beginning of the Christian era. Paul referred to it as the last days. No one will deny, Jesus sent them prophets, teachers, leaders, signs, angels, and occasionally, a personal appearance. Today it seems we are left on our own, with the exception of leaders and people claiming to be teachers. When did all of that change, and who changed it? There is no record of any change in the Bible. There was an absence of communication for about four hundred years after the temple was rebuilt, and Jesus’ birth. There were a number of books written by prophets when Israel was exiled and needed an increased number of visions. But what about today? Have we reached such an advanced age, we no longer require contact with Jesus, or the protection He offers?
The devil didn’t go away. Entire countries are still controlled by Satan. Leaders are still influenced by Satan into making poor decisions. Some governments look at the people they tax as a never ending source of income for themselves, friends, families, and business associates. Today people look at that as business as usual, an expected byproduct of life. In Jesus’ life time, they looked at those taxes as oppression. Today we are happy to chose which people tax us, and write up new tax laws. Israel split up over taxes right after Solomon’s reign. That led them down a slippery path when Israel’s new king introduced a few ideas he learned in Egypt. Israel went straight back into bondage without crossing the wilderness. That trip across the wilderness was only necessary to reach the promised land, not to loose it.
Jesus was going to allow the Jezebel style of church and state union to continue. Jesus didn’t condemn that union, or government control over religion. It was to stand as a contrast to the New Testament form of religion a handful of people were introducing to this world. We know that’s still true today. Except today, we have a new set of contrasts. They don’t call the worship of money, and self reliance a religion anymore. Today they call it, “freedom from religion.” It still disgraces God, ignores Jesus, discards every message from Heaven, and in some cases, involves spending large sums of money to disprove any claim there is a God. Most of the world is influenced by the very threats Jesus warned about in the letter to Thyatira. People chose to go their own way. People chose to mix the true faith early Christians had with the idolatry Jezebel spread throughout Israel. Today we just give it different names, and say, “those warnings were for other people in a different time.” Today we fall for the same deceptions Jesus warned the early churches about. We lack the cooperation those letters stressed. Most people have a dimmer view of Heaven than any of those single churches were given. But today a lack of Heavenly guidance is referred to as success and growth, a higher degree of understanding that cannot be clearly defined or explained. We’ve traded the manna from Heaven for a mixture of spiritual food offered to demons and idols.
Jesus asked them to hold onto what they had until He returned. All those early Christians died, and Jesus hasn’t returned. What were they supposed to hold onto, and doesn’t that statement show, this letter, and the others are for our benefit?
Thyatira was also given two visions of Heaven that included the Morning Star, and authority. How did they interpret that authority and leadership Jesus promised them? Did they look at it on a physical or spiritual level? Was that authority a symbol? If so, what did it point to? Later John identified Jesus as the Morning Star. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16 NLTse). If the Morning Star was a symbol, what about the rest of the promise?