A WORD PICTURE OF A CHURCH
WORKING HARDER ALL THE TIME
You can not increase spiritual power simple by increasing the amount of time devoted to work for the Lord. The Lord may want us to take time for relaxation. The Psalmist said "He maketh me to lie down...". The church in Thyatira was busy but not spiritual. All of us need to be careful that we do not fall into the same trap.
I. A PICTURE OF THE CITY v. 18 a
Thyatira lay some 20 miles S. E. of Pergamum. Its location caused it to be a valuable guard post for the capital city of Pergamum. It was a labor town and corporate guilds (labor unions) for potters, tanners, weavers, robe-makers, and dyers headquartered there.
The abundance of Thyatiran coins dated in the 3rd century suggest a vigorous economy. The city was known for its purple dye made from the madder root. Paul's first European convert was Lydia, the seller of purple. Their blacksmiths were well known for the armor they produced from bronze.
The emperor was not the center of worship in Thyatira. The non-Christians
worshiped Apollo, the supposed incarnate son of Zeus.
II. A PICTURE OF THE CHRIST. v 18 b.
Jesus gives Himself titles as the one who speaks to the church at Thyatira. First, He calls Himself, the Son of God. This is said in contrast to the pagan worship of Apollo. It calls attention to the deity of Christ and His Omniscience (All Wise).
Secondly, "Eyes like a flame of fire." This has reference to His Omnipresence (All Seeing). He can see clearly this church and city.
Thirdly, "Feet are like burnished bronze." This magnifies the
Omnipresence of Christ (All Powerful). He stands on His own two feet and
is not swayed by error. The significance of burnished bronze lies in the
fact that some worshiped a pagan deity associated with the blacksmith's
trade. Christ has this bronze at His feet.
III. A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH COMMENDED. v 19-25
This church is commended for more items than any of the 7 churches.
They are commended for
(1) Deeds (or works); they are busy in the Lord's work. They no doubt are innovative and worth copying. They do many good deeds. (2) Love; this was a loving church; they were warm and friendly. People were attracted to this congregation because of the love. (3) Faith; they were a people willing to take steps into the unknown because of what they knew about God. (4) Service; this is the Greek word from which we get our word, deacon. They were involved in ministry to the needs of people. Because of the first
3 commendations I would conclude that this ministry was always evangelistic and spiritual. (5) Perseverance; this means they held up under pressure; they were not quitters.
The Lord commends them for growth in all of the above. They were working
harder all the time. More deeds, love, faith, service and perseverance
than at first. "What a great church" is what we would say about them.
IV. A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH CONDEMNED. vs 20-24.
In one verse all the good deeds of the church are mentioned. They totaled six. Now in 4 verses the church is condemned for one error. Today I can hear a congregation saying, "He talked more about our one bad deed than all our good deeds. That's negative. It's not fair." I'm glad the Lord sets the standards and doesn't have to follow them.
Note what Vance Havner says; "What was wrong at Thyatira? Our Lord does not generalize. He particularizes: '. . .thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." Our Lord used and Old Testament name to describe the troublemaker in Thyatira. The Old Testament Jezebel was, of course, the notorious wife of Ahab, King of Israel. She was the daughter of the king of Tyre and Sidon, a Baal-worshiper. After she married Ahab, she set up the worship of Baal in Israel.
Whoever this Jezebel of Thyatira was, our Lord says that she was a prophetess, she claimed inspiration and some new revelation; she "taught and lead" Christians to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed unto idols; and she dealt in "deep things of Satan." She was probably a part of the Nicolaitan sect.
In verse 24 the Lord mentions the sayings of the Jezebelites. "From the statement it may be inferred that the Nicolaitans were those who claimed to know "the deep things of Satan" and taunted the Christians who did not follow their teaching with the charge that they (the orthodox Christians) did not know "the deep things of Satan." That is to say, they believed that they were well acquainted with the mind and the method of Satan--so well acquainted with them. In fact, that they could outwit Satan and follow the pleasures of the flesh without sinning.
A good woman is one of the best things on earth. Women were last at the cross and first at the open tomb. The church owes a debt to her faithful women which she can never estimate, to say nothing of the debt we owe in our homes to godly wives and mothers. But an evil woman is the most dangerous thing on earth. It is highly significant that so many false religions and modern cults were begun by prophetesses.
A certain man wanted to sell his house of $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the
new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the
carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned.
Soon the house became unliveable, and the family was forced to sell the
house to the owner of the nail. Conclusion: "If we leave the Devil with
even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage
on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation."
How does this apply to you?
V. A PICTURE OF THE REMEDY. v.25
The remedy is not repentance. It is too late for Jezebel to repent.
The space for repentance is past
(v 21). Christ has judged the woman. However, He has given those who follow her additional time to repent (v. 22)).
The remedy is "hold fast until I come." Keep on keeping on. Stand strong for the Lord. Of course, since the Lord removed Jezebel and promised to remove her followers if they didn't repent, the phrase, "hold fast" can mean, don't allow Jezebel or anyone like her to lead. The remedy to stand up and be counted for the Lord.
ILLUSTRATION HOLD THE FORT
Ho, my comrades! see the signal Waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
:"Hold the fort, for I am coming."
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven.
"By Thy grace we will."
How does this apply to you?
VI. A PICTURE OF THE PROMISE. vs. 26-28.
To those who overcome the Lord makes two promises. First, "I will give authority over the nations." This has a view to the future. Christians may seem to be failures on the world's score card, but God doesn't use their score card. In verse 27 it says, "He shall rule." His people are promised the privilege of ruling with Him.
In verse 28 He promises to give the "morning star." We know that stars have been given to the church. The brightest of stars is the morning star. So for light and revelation, these overcomers are promised the illumination of Jesus, for He is this star.
Many years ago, in an old-fashioned camp meeting, the minister closed the service late at night and started on foot to where he was staying quite a distance away. It was before the day of flashlights and he did not have a lantern. An old farmer saw his predicament and gave him a flaming pine torch. "It will see you home," he assured the preacher. But the minister was dubious.
"But what if it goes out?'
"It will see you home."
"But what if the wind blows it out?"
"It will see you home."
"But what if the rain puts it out?"
The old farmer spoke with finality--he knew the enduring qualities of a pine torch.
"IT WILL SEE YOU HOME." And it did.
How does this apply to you?
VII. A PICTURE OF THE COMMAND. v. 29
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." This is the command to those who have spiritual ears. You are to hear what the Lord has said. He spoke to John. Then John wrote and the Spirit has spoken through that Word today. What will be your response to this command?
The Lord commended this church for their works, love, faith, service, perseverance, and that all of these were growing realities. He condemned the church for their toleration of evil and failure to judge compromising leaders. He promised them victory and His presence.
This message speaks to our church. We need to heed the message and repent.
As a hymn is sung, you make public your decision for Christ.
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