HOME WRITE TO ME... REFERENCES

Neil's Website | Ajit's Website

 

Part 7 - THYATIRA


Rev 2:18 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
Rev 2:19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
Rev 2:21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
Rev 2:22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
Rev 2:23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Rev 2:24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you):
Rev 2:25 Only hold on to what you have until I come.
Rev 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--
Rev 2:27 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' -- just as I have received authority from my Father.
Rev 2:28 I will also give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The ancient city of Thyatira is located approximately 80 Kms to the north-east of Smyrna (Izmir) and is known today as Akhisar. Of the ancient city only the temple of Apollo, an ancient church and a collonaded road remain. The city was founded by Lydians when it was called Pelopio. Years later Selucus Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, conquered the city during the 3rd century BC It was Selucus who changed the name to Thyatira. By 100 BC the city came under the influence of the Romans and majority of the people were Jewish settlers. It was situated at the junction of two valleys and therefore was an important traffic controlling station. There was a Roman garrison stationed there for this purpose. A market developed around this and became famous for purple cloth and pottery. As an important and strategically placed trade route junction, the two trades - the purple cloth and pottery - flourished there. The Thyatiraian purple cloth was known all over the world and was used by Emperors, Kings and Chiefs as their royal dress. They were made out of a dye taken from a sea animal and was considered a trade secret of Thyatirian community of traders. Trade guilds in such a situation was part of a pagan cult. This was necessary to ensure unity of the separate guilds as a family. They met for worship, discussed trade matters and it was then followed with a business dinner. These dinners were appended by ritual orgies. These orgies included ritual fornication believed to effect better understanding between the members of the guild. It also ensured that the absolute mystery and the trade secrets be contained within the members of the guild.

In Acts 16:14 we hear about Lydia the purple cloth seller from Thyatira.

Acts 16:12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.

Acts 16:15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.

Lydia is mentioned as a worshipper of God amidst a pagan world. God used her as the nucleus of a Church in Thyatira. Her home was the first church in Thyatira. In this city there was a church. The church grew. But they had pressure from their guilds. Not to join a guild was simply committing business suicide. You will be probably thrown out of business. Under such pressures church members were forced to take part in these guild meetings. All concerned knew the spiritual implications of these, but either justified it, theologized it or plain disregarded it. They simply compensated it by generous contributions and donations to religious matters so that God will wink His eye in some other direction.

The Son of Man who speaks to them is the Son of God. They are reminded of the deity of their Lord, and their own new relationship as adopted sons of God. Their new relationship as sons brought with them new responsibilities and changes in behavior. So Jesus points out his eyes like burning fire which can see through outer coverings. He burns out the facade and sees our nakedness. There is nothing hidden from him. Sure enough they had their justifications as social pressure. Tertullian one of the Ante-Nicene fathers preached against such pitfalls. A Christian will have to face the world. He has to live in this world which is not conducive to Holy living. The problem today is just the same as it was then. But the Christian answer is "not to conform, but to transform" The Son has feet like burnished bronze. The feet, portraying movement and moral stand, are strong, sure and beautiful (Rom. 10:15). The Son's feet are consistent with the Son's eyes. The feet move in accordance to the eyes' discernment. The Thyatirans, as adopted sons of God (Gal. 3:26; 4:1 ff.), stand firm in their new found position as sons of God. They should move as sons of god, firmly and decisively in the right direction. Holy relationship ("Son of God") should result in holy actions.

Jesus accepts the work, the love, the faith, their ministry and patience (v.19) They were very commendable. But there was this - Jezebel (v.20) Apparently in the church there was a very important and influential lady who called herself as a prophetess who encouraged the church members to go along with the social culture. She justified the practice of fornication, idol worship and eating of meat sacrificed to the idols (v.21) Sexual involvement is a form of worship in all heathen religions. In most sophisticated religions they appear in a more sublimated form either as fertility worship (as in Siva Linga) or as mother worship (as in Mariolatory). Priestesses (Deva Dasees) of temple were ritual prostitutes. They were the unifying force in the community. They provided universal love. Most people who became Christians in thyatira still held this appealing aspect. In Christianity also sex is a worship as an image of relation between Jesus and his Church with absolute fidelity between one man and one woman. It is a foretaste of Heaven on earth. It is therefore tempting to theologize and say it provides love to all. When some inspired prophetess encourages and delivers it as a means of God-realization, it is not surprising that most people went along.

Most people think that this lady - called here as Jezebel - was the wife of the elder in Thyatira. So she not only taught but actively seduced the church members into it. To make church as the guild will be a solution. Won’t it? It is, but then it behaves differently.

Historically Jezebel was the Queen of King Ahab. In the time of Elijah, Israel knew Jezebel as the Sidonian idol-worshipper married to the wicked king Ahab. Functioning like a prophetess, she had taught idolatry to Israel while murdering the prophets of God and inspiring her husband to evil She was the greatest of all Baal worshippers. Her story can be found in 1 Kings 16:31 - 33 and in detail in chapters 18-21 and in 2 Kings 9. The entire Israel (except 400 men of faith) followed her evil ways. The punishment of God for that was severe. All those who professed Baal were killed within the temple of Baal and Jezebel herself was thrown down and eaten by her own wild dogs. A similar punishment is pronounced in Rev. 2:22-23. We do not have any historical documents to the execution of the verdict of Jesus. But we should not be surprised if an disease similar to the AIDS or venereal diseases to have took up the order. It is a natural consequence of sin that it breeds death. For the wages of sin is death.

The name Jezebel as given in Old Testament means "where you reside". The implication here is to the doctrine of friendship with the world which is the strongest weapon of Satan to corrupt the church. A little variation of love, of sex of joy, of pleasure; a misplaced emphasis, that is all what is required to give a totally variant heresy. The historic Jezebel was doing the same thing. As Baal worship was part of the agricultural form of living in Canaan, so was the Thyrian Prophetess teaching in a community of feudal guilds. In our times, the community is different. We are essentially a capitalistic society centered in selfishness where values are measured in terms of money. To be successful in business requires other forms of tolerance and compromises. What are they in your church, in your community? Are there practices that are immoral, which are contradictory to holy living? Do we condone them on the basis of social necessity? Do we claim the freedom in Christ to cover them up?

In this church Nicolaitanism is not mentioned by name. But evidently the theme is the same. It has become so ingrained in the church that it is no more referred to by that heretic name. Instead it is called the "deep things", the great mystery unfathomable by reasoning, that can only be experienced. - "the deep things of Satan" under the leadership of a prophetess.

Dispensationaly this church period refers to the Church Age or papacy Period starting from around AD 350 and lasted for over 1200 years. Incidentally Jesus writes this longest letter to this church indicating its length. It was painted by Our Lord in the Parable of the Leaven in Matthew 13:33.

The woman here refers to Jezebel who hides the leaven in the divine church (three measures of meal) until all of was leavened. The history of the period is truly a replica of the rule of Ahab and Jezebel filled with corruption of doctrines, introduction of pagan rites and rituals, idol worship and particularly Madona worship. There were feuds and wars within the church over power and authority.

Under these difficult times Jesus demand only a light burden from those who ‘have not the teaching", viz. "Hold fast to that which you have." Till he comes with power and glory.

To the overcomers he promises authority over the nations. Verse 27 refers to the quality control supervisors of the potterry guild, who sounded each pot for quality. He will gently strike the pot to generate a vibration. If the vibrations did not produce a high pitched note showing that the construction was perfect, it was shattered to pieces with a shattering blow. An iron rod was used for this purpose. The picture of the authority over the nations is a total authority to destroy that which are found unworthy. The authority is over the nations, which evidently is on the earth. This therefore would simply imply the dictatorial rule of Jesus during the millennial period when these overcomers are given authority.

The verse 28 is probably the most difficult verse for interpreters. The word " morning star" occurs only five times in the bible and that is in the books of revelations, Isiah, Job and Peter.

(Isa 14:12 NIV) How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

This is assumed to be referring to the fall of the Archangel who became the Satan. This archangel evidently was a morning star from where he was thrown down to earth. He was ruling the nations of the earth.

(2 Pet 1:19 NIV) And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Here Peter is referring to the written word of God as guide until the ultimate realization of Jesus in our hearts occurs. This looks forward to the time when we will be like Jesus. Evidently morning star here refers to Jesus

(Rev 22:16 NIV) "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

This verse clearly identifies Jesus as the bright Morning Star. Notice the adjective bright added.

(Job 3:9 NIV) May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn,

(Job 38:7 NIV) while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Taking the evidence of these two verses we have to guess a hierarchy of creatures at the time of the creation of earth as the Morning Stars and the Sons of God. We have no clear description of these creatures. But evidently among the Morning Stars Jesus has the preeminence as the Bright Morning Star.

Why is Jesus referred to as the Bright Morning Star. We need to look into the meaning of the word which literally means "that which is strewn at the dawn or the beginning." Thus Jesus being the creator - which John boldly proclaimed

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2 He was with God in the beginning.

John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Jesus therefore is the Bright Morning Star who created all Morning Star. Just as he identified with mankind to be the First Born of New Creation Man, he also identified himself to be the First Born of all creations - in this case with the Morning Stars. As he is the Son of Man so he is also the Bright Morning Star. So also he is the Son of God among the Sons of God. We see the beautiful picture of a God who identifies himself with his creatures though he is the creator of all things. Not only that Yhvh is transcend, but he is also immanent in his own creation.

Thus

(Rev 2:28 NIV) I will also give him the morning star, - is a promise of inheritance in the new creation. Does it mean they will be placed in a morning star? Not only they will reign with Jesus through the millenium, but they will be amply rewarded.

Dispensationaly this message is for the Church State Period, when Papacy was in its zenith. This period is often referred to in History as the Dark Ages. Jesus promises them a Morning Star which evidently came upon the church with the opening up of the Word of God and the renewal of the Holy Spirit during the Reformation period which followed.

Under these tense situations Jesus demands them to hold fast to what little they have. A fuller freedom and breakthrough of the Holy spirit is promised to History leading to Renaissance and Reformation.