The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
The letter to the Church at Thyatira
Dr. Jeramiah called the Church at Thyatira the “suburban church.”
Thyatira, modern Aklisar, was founded some 300 years before John’s letter as a military outpost. Located on a great highway, it linked two river valleys: the Hermes and the Caius. The road connected Pergamum and Sardis, and then went to Philadelphia and Laodicea, which linked it to Smyrna. It was an imperial post road, crowded with commerce.
Its deity was mounted on a charger and carried a battle-axe, ready for war. Certain coins pictured female deities wearing battlement crowns. It had a fortune telling shrine with a female oracle called Sambathe.
“To the angel of the Thyatira assembly write: These things say the Son of God who has eyes as a flame of fire and feet like fine brass.”
Mashiach[i]reminds each of the assemblies of different aspects of his character.
His perfect sight sees into the hearts of mankind. His eyes are upon the righteous to protect and comfort them[ii]. Hananih the prophet told Asa, king of Judah, God’s sight moves back and forth throughout the whole earth looking for those to whom he can demonstrate his power. He is looking for those whose heart is perfect toward him and will rely on him instead of relying on other men or women. He sees us as we are and washes the sin away in his blood through the power of his great love for us.
Yeshua reminded the assembly of Thyatira of his permanent and submissive nature with the image of his feet of fine brass. He has all the attributes of God eternally but was willing to give up his own human desire to live (the will to live and not die is part of the human creation, built into the blueprint) and surrender to his God-desire to die for us.
I know your works: love, service, faith, and endurance; and I know that your later works are more than your first works.
Yeshua commended the Christians at Thyatira for their love. The nature of love is such that it requires more than just saying, “I love you.” It compels involvement with the beloved. Paul told the Roams not to simply pretend to love and then he told the Corinthians[iii] how to love. Peter encouraged the dispersed Christians to love with the intention of bonding with each other. Love requires action and effort; and the assembly at Thyatira was exerting more energy to love each other than they had before.
The assembly at Thyatira put themselves in the offering plate and served Mashiach[iv] by serving others.. Their faith was strongly supported by their actions.
The all-seeing Son of the living God goes to and fro through the earth looking for incidents where his family practice (what they do in this earthly dwelling of flesh) matches their position (who we are in Mashiach Yeshua).[v] When he sees our practice matching our position, he is glad and praises us by putting peace and joy in our hearts.
“However, I have a few things against you because you allow the woman Jezebel, the one calling herself a prophet, to teach and cause my servants to stray by committing sexual sin and eating things sacrificed to idols.”
The city had more trade unions than other cities in Asia. It was necessary for shopkeepers and craftsmen to join these guilds, which presented a problem for Christians. The guild meetings included common meals dedicated to patron deities. The temptation to compromise and join them was great because the loss of income was great. Aspects of emperor worship also affected every guild. The guilds were also occasions for drunken revelry and slack morality[vi].
“The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
Her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
A pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She’s dancing down the primrose path to Death;
She’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.
She hasn’t a clue about real life,
About who she is or where she’s going.”
-The Message Bible[vii]
“Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress –
That smooth talking Seductress
Who’s faithless to the husband she married years ago,
Never gave a second thought to her promises before God.
Her whole way of life is doomed;
Every step she takes brings her closer to hell.
No one who joins her company ever comes back,
Ever sets foot on the path to real living.”
-The Message Bible[viii]
All this contributed to this “Jezebel’s” appeal.
“But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other – biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ll put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed up followers who can’t tell right from wrong. They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything to exploit you.”
-The Message Bible[ix]
“God is especially incensed against these “teachers” who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule.”
-The Message Bible[x]
This woman Yeshua calls a Jezebel claimed to offer “deep secrets,” deceiving and misleading Christians. She was a seductive purveyor of Gnosticism.[xi] Some Gnostic teaching says a Christian has to enter Satan’s stronghold and experience sin in order to defeat Satan[xii]. Paul told his young charge, timothy, to run from sin and pursue a righteous life[xiii].He told the Corinthians not to allow their religion to be turned into a circus[xiv]. He reminded them[xv]that sex is as much a spiritual mystery as a physical fact and; therefore, the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy is to be shunned.
Mashiach defeated Satan at the cross, so to think we have to, or even are able to, defeat him is an unnecessary defeatist attitude.
Anytime the assemblies of our Mashiach get set on fire and begin to shed light into the dark paths of the world, Satan gets right on the job. Many of the Christians of Thyatira were converts from the worship of Diana and probably had family members and friends who were unsaved enthusiastic worshipers at the shrine of the goddess of sex. Once Satan tempted them back into the lust of their flesh, they collected followers.
God intended sex to be a physical illustration of his intimacy with his people, but it didn’t take much for Satan to distort it in the minds of fallen mankind until it was so far removed from godly intimacy that it had turned from a blessing into a shame. When Christians begin to go back to the temple and took their friends with them, they went to have sex, eat, and drink as an act of worship to a false god.
Today, civilized Americans don’t have gods of wood and stone. The god of civilized America is “prosperity”. The men and women of America gather for a “party” where they eat and drink to honor the god of prosperity, whether they can afford it or not. Could it be that some there will sacrifice their integrity, innocence, or purity to the god of conformity; and did someone come with a friend from church just to prove that Christians weren’t long-faced and prudish?
To be continued
[ii] Revelation 2:19
[iii] I Corinthians 13
[v] Christ Jesus
[vi] David Jeramiah, page 66, paragraph 4
[vii] Proverbs 5:3-6
[viii] Proverbs 2:16-19
[ix] II Peter 2:1-3
[x] II Peter 2:10-14
[xi] Archaeological Study Bible, notes page 2029; Isaiah 57:3-10
[xii] Barkley, page 109, first paragraph
[xiii] I Timothy 6:9-11
[xiv] I Corinthians 10:6-14
[xv] I Corinthians 6:16-18