Summary: A series of messages from Jesus to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3.
Church at Thyatira
March 11, 2012
If you were going on a vacation — would you go to Elgin, Illinois; Erie, Pennsylvania; or Flint, Michigan? They don’t sound like overly attractive towns; you wouldn’t choose them for your honeymoon. If you were to go there, you wouldn’t want to stay too long.
As we take a look at the 4th of our 7 churches, Thyatira was the smallest and least famous; and was 47 miles SW of Pergamum. The city wasn’t famous like the other cities we’ve looked at. Thyatira was known for its trade guilds or unions. There were trade unions for carpenters, bronze workers, cobblers, potters, tanners, weavers, tent makers, and more. It was located on a major trade route which helped its economy.
And the most famous guilds were for the people who’s career was dying clothes certain colors—especially PURPLE. Acts 16:14 tells of a famous Thyatiran. Lydia was a dealer in purple cloth, who met Paul when he came to Philippi.
If you were a potter or metalworker, you joined a trade union that met at the local pagan temple. Along with the regular trade business came idol worship, drunkenness, and a great deal of sexual perversion. It was a package deal. You couldn’t say, “I want to be in this trade, but I’ll skip the idol worship.” That wouldn’t go in Thyatira.
Thyatira received the longest letter from the Lord. It’s a reminder that all churches, large and small, in big or small cities are important to Christ. Nobody can say, my church is too small, so Jesus doesn’t care about us.
The letter begins with a description of Jesus ~ These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
God is telling the church, His eyes are like blazing fire that sees all things and overlooks nothing. You know what it’s like when someone’s staring a hole through you, well, that’s the image John wants the church to get. Jesus sees all that’s going on. His feet were like burnished bronze, describes his power and strength to execute judgement. The trade workers would have fully understood the power of Christ.
Jesus is letting the people of Thyatira know, listen to me, now!
First, we start with the praise. In many ways, this was the best of the churches we’ve looked at. Jesus said, I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
They had the good works of Ephesus along with the love they lacked. They had the perseverance of Smyrna and the good theology of the majority of the church at Pergamum. Jesus even said, “You are doing more than you did at first.”
Jesus wasn’t talking about the church calendar, He’s telling the church, He’s proud of them, they’re growing in who He has called them to be. A group of faithful, powerful, courageous believers in Christ who are growing in faith and service.
How many churches today, ours included will be given this message from our Lord? It’s very powerful praise from Jesus to the church. They were growing spiritually and this was evident in the work they were doing. They were loving one another, caring for one another, they were helping, and at the same time, they were persevering through the persecution and hardship. Great praise from Jesus!!
BUT . . . there was something else going on in the church. And it wasn’t good. Somehow in the midst of their growth they allowed an ungodly woman to rise to a place of enormous spiritual influence: 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 .
We have lots of questions and not lots of answers. Who was this woman and how did she rise to prominence in an otherwise excellent congregation? Jesus refers to her as Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab from 1 Kings 16:29-33. Jezebel was the daughter of a pagan king named Ethbaal. When she married Ahab, king of Israel, she led the entire nation to Baal worship. Under her influence, evil was perpetuated and Jezebel became a symbol for promiscuity which was rewarded. That’s a toxic mix which will destroy anything it touches.
So, how could such a woman come to power in the church? It most likely comes with the fact that she called herself a “prophetess.” By claiming to speak for God, she gained credibility with gullible, untaught Christians. She most likely combined a powerful personality with persuasive speech, a seductive smile, and a quick tongue to beat down her critics. She was extremely dangerous. With Jezebel you could have it all: