“The Unveiling of Jesus”
III. Chp. 2-3 The vision of His Church: (1:19b) “The things, which are”
II. Vs. 18-29 A corrupted sacrifice
The fourth letter is the longest of the letters but to the smallest of the seven cities. Thyatira was 30 miles south of Pergamos and 30 miles northwest of Sardis. It was a Roman military town full of trade guilds and its pride was the temple to Zeus the Greek sun god. In Acts 16:14 Paul says that it was the town where Lydia who was a seller of purple dye was originally from. The name Thyatira literally means “continual sacrifice” and the name fits well the historical time frame of the church of this era which is from 606 to 1500 A.D. also known as the dark ages. It was during this historical time that the crusades, inquisitions, the selling of indulgences and the embracing of pagan rituals above the teachings of Christ. For example:
- In 1229 the reading of the Bible outside of the priesthood was outlawed
- In 1545 tradition was made equal in authority to the Bible
- And although outside of the historical time frame, in 1870 the pope was declared infallible
Among the many false teachings stared during this time was the practice of the continual sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, (called the mass), instead of the once for all sacrifice for our sins, (Rom. 6:10, Heb 7:27, 10:10). This started the false teaching that at communion Jesus literally becomes the bread or host and it is only in our partaking of this continual sacrifice of Him that we appropriate His grace for the remission of our sins. According to this false teaching we are saved by works and not grace which contradicts the clear teaching of Eph. 2:8-9, Heb. 9:24-28. It was all of these aberrant teachings that lead a German monk who had regularly starved himself to satisfy the teaching of penance and contrition to read the book of Romans and to his amazement discover Paul’s clear teaching that we are justified by faith (Rom. 1:17). Martin Luther then wrote his letter outlining 95 false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Saint’s it is to this church that Jesus writes His letter of judgment but we too ought to hear what the Spirit has to say towards any area where we may have taken up a false system of worship.
Vs. 18 Author: This is the only time in revelation where Jesus emphasizes His deity and it is no wonder as it was during this historic time frame in Church history that they made the worship His mother Mary, of greater importance then the worship of Jesus. To this church He says His eyes are like a flame of fire and his feet like fine brass as He is the only One that sees all things, Jesus has the final say on all matters, not the false teaching that His mother Mary does.
Vs. 19 Approval: In this the longest of all the letters this one verse stands as Jesus’ only approval of the church. Unlike the Church at Ephesus where purity remained while love dwindled; this church kept on serving, loving trusting patiently. The problem was not their devotion but rather what their devotion was towards! They were more faithful, loving and serving to a system of devotion then the person of Christ! We need to be careful as we to can be more faithful to a system of works to be righteous instead of a savior who loves us!
Vs. 20-23 Accusation: Their problem was not that they taught but rather that they “allowed” false teaching, then followed it above the word of God. Throughout Church history most of the Churches problems can be traced to the fact that we have been prone to follow a leader instead of our savior, we end up obeying a system instead of His word.
The mention of Jezebel is obviously figuratively as she lived from 900 B.C. to 850 B.C. Apparently this women’s seduction of God’s people mirrored that of Jezebel who was the wife of Ahab. Through Jezebel’s leading she did away with the true priests of God and established the worship of Baal and Asherah the fertility god. She was nearly successful in totally eliminating the true worship of God as she killed all the priests and even tried to kill Elijah. The seduction of the servants of God was so nearly complete that Elijah thought that he was alone until God open his eyes to the fact that there were still 7000 that had not yet bowed their knees to Baal.
Vs. 21-23 The stark words of our Lord are separated from what He calls in verse 24 “the rest in Thyatira”. Here He says, “I gave you time to repent” then in verse 22 he allowed her immorality to have its natural consequences which caused her to become ill. Finally to save the future churches Jesus says that He will wipe out her spiritual offspring! It is He who searches the minds and hearts so that if they truly want to be rewarded by their works He will grant them their wish! Their destruction would become an example for those that would follow, not to take the same course of spiritual harlotry!
Vs. 24-29 Admonition: There were not many who had not followed this false system of worship of placing tradition above God’s word but there was a group who did not have this doctrine and to them He says, “I will put on you no other burden”. Only that they were to “hold fast what you have till I come”. They just needed to keep making Jesus the main thing.
Finally they are given a twofold promise:
- Vs. 26 “Power over the nations”: Which then is described for us as ruling with the Son and the Father. If they stay to the end they will find out that they were on the winning side all along even though it didn’t seem like it at times.
- Vs. 28 “The morning star”: In the 22nd chapter of this book Jesus is called the bright morning star, so He promises to give these faithful believers more of Himself.