“Christ’s Message to Thyatira Part 1: Jesus vs. Jezebel”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.18-29 Part 1
Revelation 2. A pew research poll conducted about this time last year found a shocking statistic.
A majority of Christians (57%) say physical intimacy between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable. That includes 67% of mainline Protestants, 64% of Catholics, 57% of Protestants in the historically Black tradition and 46% of evangelical Protestants.
Same survey…. Half of Christians say casual intimacy …just 7% drop off from the previous statistic… half of Christians say casual intimacy … defined in the survey as intimacy between consenting adults who are not in a committed romantic relationship – is sometimes or always acceptable. Six-in-ten Catholics (62%) take this view, as do 56% of Protestants in the historically Black tradition, 54% of mainline Protestants and 36% of evangelical Protestants.
One out of 3 evangelicals take that view. A majority of so-called Christian people believe intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable.
And from our text this morning, this means that a majority of Christians, in effect, follow Jezebel.
My desire this morning as it is every Sunday morning is to preach every passage as if it were written to us.
Imagine if I, the angel or messenger of our church… imagine if I received this very letter yesterday and I were to read it to the gathered church the next morning. Last night would have been sleepless.
Revelation 2:18–29 18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Jesus vs. Jezebel. Half of the space given to this letter is given over to the condemnation of this church. And this is an ominous letter…its spirit is not joyful, it’s not glorious… it’s terrifying. It ends encouraging to the faithful few, but it is basically menacing and threatening.
So, since that’s the spirit of the letter, that’s the way we preach. There are glorious passages that the focus is wonderful and exalted, and joyful! This isn’t one of them.
Jesus begins with his self-description…
Jesus’ Self Description (v.18)
Revelation 2:18 18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
ILL: People have misconceptions of Jesus. Many picture him as the meek and mild one, with the lamb in His arms. He is gentle, there is no doubt.
But many people also picture him as the mamby pamby grandfather figure in the sky rocking on his rocking chair. The “Big man upstairs” they call him.
TRANS: Nothing could be further from the truth. He is the son of God!
Son of God
“These things saith the Son of God.” Now, Jesus is likely referring to a certain Old Testament passage in which the Messiah is referred to as the Son of God. And that passage is Psalm 2.
Jesus refers to Psalm 2 in our text, in Revelation 2:26-27…
Revelation 2:26–27 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, [here’s the quote from psalm 2] to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Now, let’s turn to Psalm 2 to see the quote that Jesus is quoting.
And since Jesus already refers to this psalm in this letter to Thyatira, it is likely that He’s referring to the psalm here also, when He speaks of Himself as the Son of God.
And when you get to Psalm 2, if you look at verses 8-9, you’ll see that it’s the same wording as in Rev. 2:26-27.
But let’s go ahead and read this psalm and see if the spirit is any different then the letter to Thyatira…
Psalm 2:1–12 1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Ps. 2 is also a threat. The Son gets the nations and He breaks them with an iron rod. He is angry, righteously filled with wrath.
Jesus is the Son of God of Psalm 2. It is He with whom we have to do.
TRANS: Now, back to Rev. 2:18… and let us consider His eyes…there is something captivating about people’s eyes…Jesus’ eyes are here described…
Eyes of Flame of Fire
Revelation 2:18 18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire…
Picture that for a moment… let it sink in…eyes like a flame of fire… John actually recorded this earlier…
Revelation 1:14 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
John saw Jesus with these eyes!
Interestingly, Dan. 10:6 has a similar description of one, which could be Christ, …and he prophesied the tribulation period. That of course is described in detail in this book, the book of Revelation.
Daniel 10:6 6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
Notice Daniel’s response in ch. 10…
Daniel 10:8–10 8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. 10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
Daniel is greatly humbled.
It is interesting, that His eyes are their own light source… He needs no external illumination… He sees all.
John 2:25… “He doesn’t need that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. “ And Revelation 2:23 23 … I am he which searcheth the reins/minds and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
He knows the thoughts of the wicked how they revile and rebel, he knows that sinners are insurrectionists against Him and His rightful rule, and Jesus knows people’s attempts to suppress the truth, and their desire to shut out the light and love the darkness… Their vain reasonings they employ to excuse their sinful thoughts and motives and actions…all is naked and laid open unto him with whom we have to do. He sees all with eyes of flames of fire.
And He sees the churches and those in the churches and He knows to what extent we need this letter.
TRANS: From His head and eyes, now to His feet…
Feet as Burnished Bronze
Revelation 2:18 18 … his feet are like fine brass;
We’re not exactly sure what this is other than the fact that it is a pure metal alloy, likely of copper and zinc. This metal was used for the military.
So here you have pure, unrefined feet made out of metal used in battle.
Since feet can have the idea of movement in the Scripture (cf. Luke 1:79; Acts 5:9; Rom. 3:15; 10:15; Heb. 12:13) it does seem to give a picture that Christ, the pure and holy one, is ready for battle against those who would profane His church.
That is a terrifying proposition! That means that each of our lives matter before God and that being a part of His church is a very serious thing! Membership isn’t to be taken lightly and those who choose sin over the purity of the church should fear. And it affects all of us!
TRANS: So Jesus isn’t pictured here as the gentle shepherd or as an uninterested grandfather in the sky. He has flames for His all-seeing eyes and feet made of military metal ready to strike.
Nevertheless, He does commend the church in verse 19…
Jesus Commendation (v.19)
Revelation 2:19 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Not everyone in the church was to be judged. We know that from…
Revelation 2:24–25 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
And so there seems to be at least a small group of Christians, perhaps larger, who are faithful to Christ. There are 4 main descriptions of their work and the various aspects of their work had been increasing.
Let’s look at it…first is their love…
They were diligent to selflessly care. They were sacrificially committed to each other. They were patient when wronged, kind when ill-treated, not jealous of each other’s gifts, not using each other for personal gain, but these actual Christians in the church were rolling out the red carpet for each other.
Thyatira is a compromised church as we’ll see, but it has in it those who genuinely love others. That can be confusing, but that goes on today also. Some churches we wouldn’t want to fellowship with because of their doctrinal and moral compromise, but inside they may be at least some there who have genuine love for each other.
That’s what was going on here. They recognized the great love of God in Christ Jesus and how He shed His precious blood for guilty sinners that He might redeem them and bring them into His family and call them His very own siblings and to be children of the Father. And then they took that glorious love of God and poured it out into others’ lives… “You’ve loved me…may I love others with the same love with which you’ve loved me!”
TRANS: they loved… and second, v.19 says they served each other.
They cared for each other materially, meals, clothes, care, counsel… they served each other materially and spiritually. They sacrificed their time, energy, money for the sake of helping others.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure
With Thy favor, loss is gain
They lovingly served each other…
TRANS: Next, the Lord commends them for their faith…
They trusted Christ in the midst of difficulty, they believed Him to keep His promises, and they expressed that faith in prayer and song…
Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.
TRANS: Final commendation is their patience… or better, their perseverance.
They kept going! Through ill treatment and even though others said all kinds of evil things against them, they kept going, they kept trusting and serving Jesus.
And not only that, they were growing…
Revelation 2:19 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
The last was more than the first! What that means is that they were growing in each of these areas. Seems like a church we’d want to be a part of.
TRANS/ILL: And so it’s fascinating that a church like this could also be so compromised.
Thyatira is a compromised ministry, but there are those who are faithful. Like many churches where the people tolerate sin, but for some it’s obvious, they love each other. This could describe so many churches today.
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of LGBTQ affirming church-related organizations, including Catholic organizations, Lutherans, and Baptists. Could there possibly be in some of those churches, those who are born again? The Lord knows.
But this same kind of compromise is found in churches that refuse to practice church discipline and won’t confront its members about their sin.
And so this can describe evangelicalism as well as many independent Baptist churches also. So many evangelical churches that say they believe in salvation through grace alone by faith alone, but nevertheless tolerate false teachers and fornication in their midst, like what Thyatira was doing…
Jesus Condemnation of Jezebel (v.20)
Revelation 2:20 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
EXP: because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel. The idea is that they are tolerating her.
The church tolerates of a false prophet
Who do they tolerate? EXP: Jezebel from OT; calls self a prophetess
They are tolerating an actual woman and her name here is Jezebel. The only other Jezebel in the Bible is Ahab’s Queen in 1 Kings 16. She was a Phoenician worshiper of the god Melqart, the Tyrian Baal, and her staff numbered 450 of his prophets, and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah, by the time Ahab was king (1 Ki. 18:19). She persecuted God’s true prophets. Through the worship of Baal, she also led God’s people into cult prostitution (2 Ki. 9:22).
FUNNY: Now, given who the Jezebel of the OT is, the Jezebel of Thyatira is probably not actually named Jezebel; it is probably not her real name.
Who would name their baby Jezebel? I remember when my wife and I were thinking up names for our children and we went through the Bible and I have to tell you, that Jezebel never made our list of options.
So it is likely that this Jezebel of Thyatira is simply an influential woman who is leading God’s people astray into idolatry and fornication.
EXP: her teaching/influence.
She is clearly influential, and her teaching has spread to many.
She calls herself a prophetess our text says in verse 20, clearly indicating that she is not a prophet, but she simply calls herself one.
APP: You know … false teachers don’t have a sign on them that says ‘false teacher.’ They are charismatic, sincere, attractive, they are often wealthy, and are great public speakers.
And they lead people to commit idolatry and fornication.
This is the false prophet. He abuses the church with his false teaching and seduction. He may abuse those in the church and commit fornication with men, women, or even children.
Or there are those men women who claim to have entered heaven.
There is one lady who claims to have entered heaven and says that she saw 20 foot Bigfoots and unicorns.
These are false prophets. False prophets can sneakily enter into an assembly or on the Internet and gain a following because they claim to have received special revelation from God. Or there are those who would teach the Bible even but begin to abuse God’s people.
1 John 4:1 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
And as we discussed in the previous letter to Pergamum, we cannot tolerate idolatry and fornication.
Galatians 5:19–21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, … 20 Idolatry, … drunkenness, …, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Neither can we tolerate Idolatry… there is sense in which our hearts are constantly struggling with idolatry, but it’s so easy let societies vices overcome our lives…
For example, the pursuit of money, drugs, alcohol, or pornography…can easily take over the life of a professing Christian.
Churches today tolerate false prophets and the sins they lead people into. It’s not ok to live in a love for money, pleasure, drugs, drunkenness, and fornication. Many churches tolerate these sins; we can’t and we won’t. Even those churches who have v.19 on their record can tolerate evil. We need intolerance for sin.
Christ, the one with the eyes as a flame of fire, can spot a fake. He can spot the hypocrite, who confesses to know Christ but with his life he denies Him.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Revelation 2.18-29 Part 1
Hypocrisy in the church. Our Jezebel here claimed to be a prophet and was not … she claimed that she received revelation from God and did not. She gathered a following and many people were seduced and led into sin. She was a charlatan a fake a hypocrite.
Now, are you living in sin, and you think nobody knows? What if we were to examine your life today… what if the one with eyes of a flame of fire and feet with burnished bronze were to reveal to all of us here your pet sins that you tolerate?
Would we conclude you’re a hypocrite, a fake? Are you following the ways of a Jezebel?
Before arriving back here in Illinois, in Canada I was studying about the revitalization of the church. And one author noted that wherever there is a need for revitalization, there is a need for repentance of sin.
Revelation 2:21 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Of course, you all did not call me here to be your pastor so that some of you could continue in your hypocrisy and continue hiding any sin. If you are hiding sin and tolerating it in your own life, you need to get that right. Perhaps you have been excusing over weeks months or even years pornography or other sexual sins… Perhaps you are tolerating an addiction of some kind, whether it’s substance abuse like alcohol, prescription drugs or the like, or an addiction to food.
Jesus died for all these sins… let’s not forget that … but don’t hide if from Him… He has all-seeing eyes… don’t live a hypocritical life. Let’s come clean, let’s get it right, let’s see Christ do amazing things here at Bethany. Let’s be a part of His glorious kingdom and be about His business. Let us not invite His judgment.
If you need help, you’re struggling, and you need to come clean, come and let’s talk, let’s get things right, let’s get you the help you need, and let’s see how the Lord can use you and make you fruitful for Him for all eternity.