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In this series, we are taking a brief look at Jesus’ letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation. The letter we’ll be looking at today is to the church in Thyatira. One issue Jesus addresses in this letter seems easily solved and another is not.

At the beginning of His letter, Jesus begins by praising the Christians in that city. They have:

Love

Faith

Service

Patient endurance

Good works

Like the churches at Ephesus and Pergamum, this sounds like a great church. As Christians, we know and teach that the “greatest of these is love,” and that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” This is good stuff. The Thyatirans love and serve God and others, remain faithful, and patiently endure. Why aren’t these enough?

That’s a good question, and one that needs to be asked.

Jesus told the believers at Thyatira why what they were doing wasn’t enough. They were “tolerating” a woman named Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess, who taught and seduced His servants to practice immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols.

Now, I have little to offer about eating food sacrificed to idols. In the Western culture in which I live, I don’t know and have never known of any Christians who do this. I don’t even know of any pagans who do this. There may be some somewhere, but I have no knowledge of this practice. So, I don’t feel qualified to address this issue. All I can offer is that Paul addressed it in his first letter to the Corinthians, and the outcome of his teaching was that a brother might stumble if he saw a Christian eating food sacrificed to idols. Therefore, he warned the believers there to avoid this practice.

However, Christians today do have knowledge about teaching and seducing servants to commit sexual immorality in the Church.

Ten or fifteen years ago, I don’t think I wouldn’t have been able to think of any examples of the teaching of sexual immorality in the Church, but all that has changed—and it has changed quickly.

Liberal churches began ordaining homosexual priests a few years ago. Past all the smoky talk about “love”—notice that the Thyatiran church was loving—it is clear beyond doubt what God’s teaching about this immoral behavior is, as well as many other immoral acts. The Bible clearly teaches that all acts of immorality, which it lists by using words such as adultery, incest, polygamy, fornication, impurity, and sensuality, are sins. However, it also makes very clear that non-sexual sins are not to be tolerated, as well: murder, theft, dishonesty, greed, blasphemy, and covetousness, to name a few. All Christians are to turn away from such sins and never participate in them. Homosexuality is simply another sin in a list of many others. Because of the attention this sin has gotten lately, it has loomed large in our minds. Regardless of the sin or the attention given to it, however, all sins can be washed away by the blood of Jesus. Nevertheless, if we do not admit we are sinning, no matter what the sin is, there can be no forgiveness.

Jesus sent a distressing message to those in the church at Thyatira who tolerated sexual immorality. Unless they repented, He would:

Throw the woman Jezebel who taught such things onto a sickbed.

Throw those with her into great tribulation.

Strike the children of Jezebel dead.

Jesus then tells the Christians why He will do this: “And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve” (Revelation 2:23).1

It looks like Jesus is not complacent about sexual immorality and will not relent in His duty as Judge in the Church. This is, after all, where judgment begins.

However, there is some good news in this letter, but it is only for those who “do not hold this teaching”—the teaching of Jezebel’s immorality.

He will not lay on these steadfast believers “any other burden.” But he admonishes them to “hold fast what you have” until He comes.

Jesus promises two things. Those who keep His words “until the end” will be given “authority over nations” and the “morning star.”

What is the morning star? He is: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

What does it mean that we will be given Jesus? I do not know specifically, except to proclaim that He is the most glorious, wonderful, loving, amazing Being imaginable—or unimaginable—in the universe.

What does it mean that those who keep His words until the end will be given authority over nations? Again, we do not know specifically. However, Jesus taught during His time on the earth that there would be some kind of inclusive rulership at work for those who adhered to His teaching about the heavenly kingdom. What is required of us to be involved in that rulership? I encourage you to do a study on the kingdom of heaven in Jesus’ teaching to discover the answers and let me know what you find.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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