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A Jezebel in the Church

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Text:  Revelation 2:18-29


            Thyatira was least important, and least known city of the seven letters.  But just because the church was in an obscure town doesn’t mean that the corruption that lie within it went unnoticed by Christ.  It seems that the only claim to fame in the small town was some prosperous manufacturing and marketing.  It had numerous highly organized trade guilds marketing wool, linen, dyed material, clothing, leatherwork, baked goods, pottery, bronze work, and slaves.  Each guild had its own patron deity, feasts, and seasonal festivities that included sexual orgies.

            Jesus writes a letter to this obscure town for two reasons: To encourage all believers who live in small, out-of-the-way places, and to warn all churches about the consequences of tolerating a Jezebel in their midst.  From our previous studies we have seen that Ephesus hated evil, Pergamum tolerated it and Thyatira taught it.  This is the longest of the seven letters and yet the writer finds little to commend the church, but He who sees all things, detects what little good there is and praises it.  Read Text.

1.      How did Jesus describe Himself to the Thyatiran church?     What do the flaming eyes suggest to you?  (Penetrating power of Christ’s ability to see through seductive people and those led astray by them.)     What do the feet like burnished bronze convey to a church such as this?  (Strength; He will stand firm in His convictions and judgment.)
Insight: The way Christ describes Himself differently to each of the seven churches is an intentional message to each of them.  The symbolism here is obvious – Jesus wants them to perk up their ears and carefully listen to His message.

2.      What did Jesus find praiseworthy in this church? (Works, service, charity, faith, patience.)     What do you envision such a church to be like today?     What does it tell you about them when He says their later works are greater than their first works?  (They had stretched themselves and expanded their ministries.)     When does patience stop becoming a virtue and become a downfall?  (When you tolerate things you should not.)

3.      Before Jesus confronted them with their weakness, He affirmed their strengths.  Why is this a good practice?  What happens to someone struggling with their spiritual walk when they get only negative jabs without any positive strokes?     How can we confront obvious sin in such a way that we leave people still trying to improve their spiritual walk?  (Do it with words of acceptance of the person, not the flawed walk, and affirmation.)

4.      What was the serious flaw that Jesus found in the church at Thyatira?  (Tolerated a Jezebel in their presence.)
Insight: The word “tolerate” in verse 20 is the only place this word is found used this way in the New Testament.  It has the following possibilities of translation: forgive, allow, and give permission.  It’s a sad commentary on Thyatira that the only place the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the New Testament to use this word, it is in a condemnation for giving permission to an evil seductress in their presence.

5.      Who was the object of Jesus’ reprimand?  (The Thyatiran church, not Jezebel.)     Why was Jesus angry with them?  (Tolerating false teaching and sinful behavior rather than confronting it.)
Insight: There’s a lesson in this for us.  Jesus reprimands the church for tolerating sin, but has already passed judgment on those who lead others astray.  Toleration of that which should not be tolerated is subject for a reprimand, but to be the one who leads the destructive path, they are beyond reprimand and will find the Sword of the Lord falling on their neck.

6.      What do you know of Jezebel?  (She was a clever, cruel and unscrupulous daughter of a pagan king and wife of an apostate king.  She killed the true prophets of God and then became a self-proclaimed prophetess, not a prophetess of God; she taught falsely; she led people astray; she caused them to commit immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  The story of her reign is one of quick corruption and utter downfall of the kingdom of Israel.)     Do you think Jesus is justified in bringing harsh words of reprimand to the pastor of the church who allowed this kind of corruption?     How can the Body of Christ protect themselves from influences that are cleverly deceptive and influential?
Insight: Check your heart.  How you feel about things that are forbidden in the Word of God determines whether you will find yourself indulgent in the same, or distancing yourself from those who practice such things.  2 Cor. 6:14-15

7.      Somewhere in this letter there is a message that Jesus has grace available even to the worst of sinners upon certain conditions.  Where is it?  (He gave her time to repent, but she chose not to.)     What does this teach you about the importance of repentance to salvation?  Matt. 11:20-24; Acts 3:19
Repentance is realizing who and what we are in relationship with a Holy and Righteous God. 

8.      What was Christ’s judgment upon Jezebel?  (He would make her physically sick and bring great suffering or even death to those who joined her adulteration.)     Why does God place such a strong reprimand on sexual sins?  1 Cor. 6:12-20
Insight: It’s had to miss…Jesus acts so severely upon Jezebel and all those who follow her to show us that nothing escapes the eye of God.  Heb. 4:13

9.      What did Jesus compare Jezebel’s teaching to?  (The deep things of Satan.)     Do you think Satan is behind all false teaching?     When have you known Satan to use deceptive twisting of partial truth to lead God’s children astray?  (Garden of Eden; Jesus’ temptation; daily with us.)
Insight: Even here with Jezebel, Satan uses the subtle charm of womanhood and the seductiveness of what she taught to deceive about the deeper aspects of life and morality.  But when every man becomes his own schoolmaster as well as his own judge, the end result is the same: they are cast upon a bed of sickness and pestilence of the soul, which ends in eternal death.   Lesson: not all that professes to be spiritual has God’s blessing…they may very well degrade and enslave the soul.  Corrupt doctrine always leads to corrupt lives.  Christ, who sees all and searches the mind and heart will be the Judge of all that is taught.

10.  If there is any burden placed upon us by Christ in light of this letter, what is it?  (Obedience, service and love to Him only.)     How did Jesus convey this to them?  (Hold fast until I come.)

11.  In such a dark place as Thyatira, the words from Jesus to be an overcomer are critical to their salvation.  What does Jesus promise to the overcomer in this church?  (Authority over the nations; the bright morning star.)
Insight: Along with a reprimand comes a strong encouragement to those who don’t tolerate a Jezebel, but overcome.  To those who overcome such seductive authority, Christ will grant authority over the nations.  To those who hold up the light in a sea of darkness, Jesus will grant them the morning star…the star that holds it’s light the longest until the Son dawns and takes over after the long night.  Rev. 20:4; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 22:16


            What did we learn from this letter of Christ’s to the Thyatirans?  Big problems occur in little places, so don’t be surprised.  Wherever there are people, there are sinners.  They don’t need big churches to disobey God.

            Timely words can encourage demoralized people, so don’t be hesitant.  Like you, they need affirming words.  Don’t wait until tomorrow to lift up those who need it today.

            Wrong teaching can come from gifted individuals, so don’t be misled.  Winsome, talented people are not necessarily infallible.  Stay on your guard because history has shown many have used their popularity to lure people away from a godly lifestyle.

            Deceptive actions can hurt even the innocent, so don’t be stubborn.  If someone is leading others in a deceptive way, take steps to stop it now.  The Lord will not tolerate sin forever.  His patience has limits…and when it runs out, judgment comes rolling down.

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