The Weekend Word
To the Church in Thyatira – Part 1
- Think of what we have been doing. We are reading the mail of 7 first century churches. How easy is it to start thinking that our situation is different from theirs?
- Christians in 2018 are prone to think that their circumstances and those described here in Asia Minor in 95 have nothing in common.
- Can we today understand what they went through, their challenges? Could they know anything what future churches would go through?
- What if we went through their church experience in civil society? What if we were pressed to publically worship the President of the United States?
- What about the idea you could be fired from your job simply because you attend church on Sunday morning? Try to imagine being beaten and imprisoned or even executed because of your faith in Jesus?
- These Churches of Asia Minor were going through that – and so have many down through the centuries, even down to our present age. Churches in China in the recent past and churches in the Middle East today.
- Let’s continue where we left off.
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
- Son of God appears only here in Revelation – emphasis on the divine.
- Flames of fire = Fire usually depicts wrath, judgment, or purification.
- Fiery eyes suggest the Lord’s righteous anger over the agents of darkness.
- Feet = seems to be feet to be used as a weapon. To trample underfoot these same enemies.
- We need to understand that we lose some of the cultural understanding as Jesus refers back to writings 500 years before his own time. This is the reason that we need a strong background in the OT in general and the apocalyptic writings in particular.
19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
- A four-fold commendation – love, faith service & endurance. These four “deeds” are all tied together to describe the overall lifestyle of this church.
- What is that lifestyle? A continuing witness in the face of great tribulation.
- Not only that but they are getting better and better.
- This is sanctification, to stand strong in the face of adversity. However, today sanctification gets so misunderstood and we think that it is our changed outward life. We think we can tell how we are doing by looking to our works. More important we can tell how we are doing by looking at the works of others and making the comparison.
- Have you heard of or been in these circles before? Within groups there are made up Christian classifications and it is funny how we use them to separate the “godly things” and the “worldly things.
- The divide continues as we have the pride that we are not partaking in those things that the world does. We have the split between the really sanctified and the not so sanctified.
- It then expands to what some would call the “carnal Christian” (another made up term) – one who is saved because “once saved always saved” but not living a good, holy life. Labeled as Christians who are still in the flesh and are not fully sanctified holy ones. These people watch too much football, drink too much beer, watch too many R rated movies and listen to Rock N Roll.
- So what would you say to the self proclaimed “really sanctified”? I would answer and say, “you are a ‘too holy Christian’ who thinks too highly of himself for not going to football games and not having a beer while you do it. You have put yourself on a pedestal, it is a pure act of Phariseeism and we know what Jesus thought of the Pharisees.”
- To Jesus, sanctification is love, faith, service and patient endurance.
20 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.
- But… again we will see that the danger to the church is false teaching. The big problem with the false teaching then and now is that no one is willing to make the sharp division to say “I don’t care if it has some value to others or ‘blesses others’, it is wrong and you must stay away for your own protection.”
- The words of Jesus are pretty much I love your love but I hate your tolerance of false teaching and teachers. Jesus is not tolerant and he does not support such tolerance.
- Jezebel – who is Jezebel here and what trouble is she causing? You can read about Jezebel in the OT here – 1 Kings 16:31 – 2 Kings 9
- But the Jezebel, and I am sure Jesus used the name for poetic affect, was probably a female assistant pastor brought into the church to teach and she went off into false teaching. There are two things that Jezebel created as problems in the church that live on even to today. (this is not anti woman because we do see women working in the church during this time.)
- Jezebel represents practical religion. Look, if this god works for you, then sleep with his prostitutes – if this other god works for you then sleep with their’s also. Let’s worship many gods and gain favor and power.
- Who are the gods the church sleeps with today?
- The other is that Jezebel stands for and represents the sin of syncretism – a universalistic belief that all religions are of value and are able to be of benefit before god.
- Look at the culture through Hollywood, movies, TV, the internet. We need to remember, in days gone by, perhaps when we all were quite a bit younger, we had good & evil – today there is neither – we are to tolerate everything and everyone, believe everything.
- Look what we see being taught to young kids today – anti first article creation materials. The culture is catechizing us away from Christianity.
- How common is it for kids to be watching Friends and then advancing to Two and a Half men? This is the teaching of Jezebel.
- It is really difficult to recognize the American version of Jesus when compared to the Jesus of Revelation, the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus who is giving 2 thumbs up to everyone. The Jesus that people in America want to embrace is all grace, mercy and peace – everything happy.
- But this Jesus that we see walking among his churches is like I commend you for this and this, but you must fix this or you will die.
- Look what is happening to us – Jezebel, the culture is calling the church to unity, universalism, religious tolerance, religious open mindedness so that you would embrace these different systems of belief.
- But this Jesus calls for exclusivity – in the end, the church must be intolerant. The church cannot tolerate that which is against Christ’s work.