Summary: Seven Letters to Seven Churches (4th in series).
THYATIRA: JEZEBEL’S JEWEL
INTRO: Thyatira was the least important of all the seven cities yet it received the longest letter. It was built in a broad valley, originally as a garrison of soldiers to protect the city of Pergamos. There were many good products that were made in or came through Thyatira.
A problem had begun to develop in the churches. The problem of toleration–allowing heresy to coexist with the truth in the church–had become a major problem. It was very evident at Thyatira.
In the church, there was a woman whom John called Jezebel. Jezebel was an exceedingly wicked woman in O T times. She was a leader in corrupting the nation of Israel (1 Kings 18:4).
Jesus, in writing this letter, was writing to a church who had within its fellowship, either as a member or at least as a great influence, a woman of tremendous significance. He addresses her as Jezebel.
She apparently claimed absolute authority. She claimed to have special insights into the deep things of God. She was perverting the truth as it was being taught.
I. TENACITY–firmness in holding together(v. 19).
Thyatira was a growing, going, and advancing church. They stood by the faith. They kept on and did not get weary. They started out well and got better. They were a loving church, full of loving service.
The word for service is diakonian from which we get our word deacon. Many people serve God with their teeth gritted and with an attitude of having to do it. Some people sing in the choir like that, some teach Sunday School like that, some preachers preach like that, some give their tithes like that, some witness to the lost like that. But not at Thyatira. They had tender, compassionate service.
Then he called them a church of faith. The Greek word for faith speaks of faithfulness, steadfastness, dependability, and reliability. Here was a church he could count on II. TOLERANCE (vv. 20-23).
The thing Jesus had against them was their tolerance. Ephesus would not tolerate evil, but she had lost her first love. Thyatira was strong in love but tolerated evil. Those two extremes still exist today. They have never left the church.
There is always the tendency to be orthodox, strong and committed to truth while failing to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, and souls.
Look at what Jezebel did. She led her husband Ahab, away from God. But her real evil was bringing Israel into Baal worship. She did not have a quarrel with those who wanted to worship God. Her only quarrel with God was his “monopoly.”
So she set up temples and altars to Baal side by side with altars to God. Many of those who worshiped at the altar of God in Israel also worshiped at the altar of Baal. Thus, she compromised and polluted the people.
This was exactly what was happening in the church at Thyatira. They had a wonderful spirit and great vision for reaching the world around them. But they had begun to tolerate and encourage Jezebel, who taught that one could serve God and do things contrary to his purpose.
We are living in a very tolerant age. Everybody has a right to say what they want and believe what they want to believe. But toleration can be sin. There is an exclusiveness that must be a part of the church. Somewhere God’s people have to take a stand for God, and say, We will not comply with anything that is opposed to Jesus. He is our rule and authority. We measure our lives by his standard, and will not compromise that standard.
In Thyatira they probably reasoned that there was an element of truth in what Jezebel said. The most dangerous heresy is the heresy that sounds like the truth. Jesus condemned this church, and his strongest language is reserved for these people. Because Jezebel was firmly established with the approval of the congregation. Jezebel refused to repent and Jesus condemned her and those that committed adultery with her to great tribulation. He is not talking here just about physical immorality. This is a reference to the spiritual adultery of those who will not stay true to God.
III. TRIUMPH (vv. 24-29).
Jesus said the problem is too severe for you to handle so don’t try. Just stay faithful. Stay away from the heresy. Don’t participate in it. Just keep yourself pure from it.
Jesus mentioned the depths of Satan (v. 24). That could mean many things, but it probably means all the strategies of Satan, and the tricks of Satan to keep us away from God.
Some have suggested that it refers to the heresy that nothing we do with our bodies can destroy our relationship with God in our hearts; so it is all right to be immoral, etc.