“Write to the messenger of the congregation in Thyatira: ‘The Son of God, with eyes like a fiery flame, and feet like glowing brass, says these things: I know your works, love, faith, service, and steadfastness, and that your last works are more than the first.’” (Revelation 2:18-19 McCord)
Jesus was aware of what the Christians in Thyatira were doing. He knew their works, their love, the faith that they had, the service they were giving and that they were steadfastness – they were continuing to be faithful in spite of what they were going through. In fact, their activity was increasing. They were growing as Christians.
This is a message that we find in each of these letters to the congregations in Asia: Jesus knew what they were doing. This should be a message to Christians today, as well: Jesus knows what we are doing. He knows what each of us is involved in, as well as what each congregation is actively doing for him. Are we growing in what we are doing? Is our love, faith and serving increasing as we remain faithful to Jesus?
Although this might initially have seemed to be a rosy picture of those in Thyatira, all was not well.
“But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my slaves to fornicate and to eat sacrifices to idols. I gave her time to change her heart about her fornication, but she refuses to do so. I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her, into great distress, unless they change their hearts. In addition, I will kill her children by pestilence, and all the congregations will know that I am the One who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to you, each one, according to your works.” (Revelation 2:20-23)
There was false teaching going on. This seems to have involved worshipping pagan gods. The worship of many gods and goddesses revolved around two activities: eating the food given as sacrifices and having sex with the cult prostitutes. Both of these were seen as worship of that god. Christians could not get involved in these.
The woman instigating this is referred to as ‘Jezebel’. Although most likely this is not her real name, she was the same as the wife of King Ahab in leading God’s people into sin. To make matters worse she refused to change even when the sin was pointed out. You see, Jesus knows our works, both good and bad. He knew her works and he knew what those following her were doing. He would react accordingly.
Fortunately, not all in Thyatira were involved in this sin.
“But I assure the rest of you in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known ‘the deep things of Satan’ (as they say), that I will not put another burden on you. Hold fast what you have until I come.” (Revelation 2:24-25)
Dealing with the false teachers, those who were faithful had enough to deal with in. They just needed to hold on.
It is of note that those who were introducing the false practices were doing it under the guise of having a ‘deeper’ knowledge than the rest. They were claiming that what they were doing and teaching were “deep things”. Jesus points out that these were not the deep things of God but of Satan.
The message: don’t be led away by those claiming to have a deeper knowledge, that they are more ‘spiritual’ and that it is all right to be involved in sinful practices. There is no deeper knowledge than what we find in God’s word. Those who remain faithful will receive God’s reward.
“Let him, who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the congregations.” (Revelation 2:29)
Readings for next week:
1 July – Revelation 7
2 July – Revelation 8
3 July – Revelation 9
4 July – Revelation 10
5 July – Revelation 11