Summary: The ancient church of Thyatira had some mighty big strengths and one mighty big weakness that threatened the very life of the church.
Sermon for CATM – January 11, 2008 – The Churches of Revelation – “Shame Versus Liberty”
Today we’re right at the mid-point in our sermon series and course on the Churches of Revelation.
We’ve looked at four of the seven churches so far. We started with Ephesus and Sardis, last week we looked at Pergamum and Smyrna, and today we’re going to slow down a bit and focus in on just one church, that of the Church at Thyatira.
Thyatira has some pretty heavy duty issues as a church, and as I think we’ve discovered so far as we’ve looked at the other churches, we’ve perhaps see some similarities between this early Christian church and some of our own struggles, past and perhaps present.
And I hope we’ll experience more fully the depth of God’s grace both to these early believers and to us.
Let’s stand then and read our passage today about another of the earliest churches, the church at Thyatira.
Revelation 2:18 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 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. 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. 21 I have given her time? to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering (OT ref?), and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 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. 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): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come. 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--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. 28 I will also give him the morning star.? 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
[[Thanks to Rev. David Elvery for elements of this ’tour’ segment through Thyatira]]
Before having a look at what Christ is saying to the church in Thyatira, let’s have a look at the city itself.
[[Thyatira had no natural fortification at all and although at this time a Roman garrison was stationed there, their aim was not to defend Thyatira, but to delay the invaders long enough for Pergamum, the capital up the road to be prepared for the coming attack. Thyatira was dispensible in the economy of the day.
Though not easily fortified, Thyatira was on a major trade route and was well known for its trade guilds - there were carpenters, dyers, sellers of goods, tanners, weavers, tent makers, etc all making a living from their trade.
You might remember Lydia in Philippi. She was a trader of fine cloth and came from Thyatira.
She was infact one of Paul’s first converts when he visited Thyatira on his second missionary journey (Acts 16).
Now these guilds were somewhat similar to trade unions of this day and age. It was very difficult for tradesmen and women to make a living unless they were a part of one of these guilds. They differed from trade unions, however, in that they were linked with the worship of other gods.
Each guild had its particular guardian god and as a member, you would be expected to participate in its activities which often included immoral behaviour.
The members of the church in Thyatira were torn between making a living on the one hand which meant having to be part of the guilds and on the other hand staying faithful to Christ and to his holy standards.]]
Let’s look closer at our passage today.
Revelation 2:18 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
We get a picture here of Christ identified as the Son of God, the One who is in direct relationship with the Father, so much so that, as Jesus said, he and the Father are one. His eyes are like blazing fire. He can penetrate thoughts, He knows intentions. He understands the truth behind appearances.