Summary: this church looked perfect but beneath the surface a part of it was rotten—and the rot was spreading.
“The church of Thyatira”
One of my favorite movies of all time is William Wyler’s Ben-Hur. Does anyone else share my love of this classic film? Well, we’re not alone because when Ben-Hur premiered in 1959 it won 11 academy awards including best picture and best actor!
those of you too young to have seen it—I’ll tell you that the plot focuses on the life of a man from a prominent Jewish family living in Jerusalem in about 30A.D.—a man named Judah Ben-Hur.
To make a long story short—Judah is charged with a crime he did not commit—charged by someone who had been his friend since childhood.
Judah’s sister and mother are seized and thrown in prison while he is sentenced to a life of slavery chained to an oar in a Roman galley.
I want to show you a scene that takes place right after Judah has been arrested and put in chains along with other “criminals.”
They have been force-marched through the dessert and as they go through the village of Nazareth the Roman soldiers in charge decide to stop for water.
A carpenter named Jesus sees Judah and his fellow prisoners through the window of His shop and...well, watch what happens.
Now—the thing that stands out to me in this scene is the power of Jesus’ gaze.
We never see His face
power of His eyes, our Lord looks deep into Judah’s heart and with that look, He soothes not only the physical agony Judah has gone through—but the emotional pain of betrayal as well.
As long as Judah looks into Jesus’ eyes, he is at peace.
And did you notice—with just a glance—without uttering a single word—Jesus even stopped that cruel Roman soldier in his tracks!
That battle-hardened centurion couldn’t stand against those eyes.
The power of Jesus’ vision.
He focused His eyes on the fourth church in the book of Revelation—the church that was located in Thyatira.
Take your Bibles and turn to Revelation 2:18-29 and you’ll “SEE” what I mean—for this letter shows that Jesus saw far more than mere mortal eyes would.
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 [I SEE] 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: [I see that] 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, 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 [sees and] 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.”
Now—as we have done with the three prior letters we have studied—I want to begin today by giving you some background.
We must have understanding of the context.
This is ESPECIALLY true for the symbol-packed verses of the book of Revelation.
We have to know who it was written to—and what their lives were like back then.
Contextual information like that will help us to clearly SEE the eternal principles in this text that God wants us to apply to day-to-day life in our own day and age.
So whenever we study the Bible we must always start with the historical context—especially as we study this last, the LAST book of the Bible—otherwise we end up with facts that are more hysterical than historical.
Thyatira—which is a city in modern-day Turkey called Akhisar—
Thyatira is located about 35 miles southeast of Pergamum
Patmos to Ephesus, Ephesus to Smyrna, Smyrna to Pergamum...and Pergamum to Thyatira—a town that is located in a valley—which means it had no natural fortification at all.