GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 6/27/04
Pennsylvania Conference 2004.
The Church at Thyatira. Revelation 2:18-29
Last week we held our annual Bible Conference in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania. We wish to thank the members of the Pennsylvania congregation and all those who used their time, talent, and treasure to make this conference another great success.
Revelation 2:18-29 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 'I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them. I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
There are two different views on the seven churches of Rev 2-3. One is that these seven churches portray seven historical stages the Church would go through; the other is that they represent different types of churches or believers in every generation. While both views are valid, we are studying them from the second perspective. For example, in REV 2:2-3, as a church, or as individual believers, those at Ephesus produced divine good works and persevered, and had not grown weary, but in REV 2:4, they had left their first love.
The church of Smyrna in REV 2:9-10 went through tremendous tribulation and poverty, and would be facing suffering for blessing. The church in Pergamum in REV 2:14 was warned about the false teaching of Balaam.
In REV 2:18-20, as a church, or as individual believers, Thyatira tolerated false teaching, especially from the feminine influence called Jezebel, even though in Rev 2:19, they had good deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance. They had grown because "their deeds of late are greater than at first." In REV 2:25, they were told to hold fast until the Lord comes.
The believers at Sardis are told in REV 3:1-2 to "wake up and strengthen the things that remain." In REV 3:8, the believers at Philadelphia are described as having divine good deeds and a little power, and they have kept with doctrine and have not denied the Lord's name. In REV 3:14, we see the lukewarm believers of Laodicea.
1. The Ephesus believer has some divine good, but has left his first love.
2. The Smyrna believer is willing to accept suffering for blessing.
3. The Pergamum believer is warned about compromising.
4. The Thyatira believer tolerates false doctrine, even though he has love, faith, service, and perseverance.
5. The Sardis believer needs to "wake up."
6. The Philadelphia believer has kept with doctrine.
7. The Laodicean believer is lukewarm.
The Apostle John writes in REV 2:18, "And to the angel [the future pastors of the church of Thyatira or future pastors who have the type of believers that were in Thyatira] of the church in Thyatira write: 'The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this'" The Greek noun aggelos(transliterated "angel") can be translated "messenger"; here it refers to communicators, the future pastors of the church of Thyatira. Established in 290 B.C., as a Macedonian colony, Thyatira became an important station on the Roman road from Pergamum to Laodicea and became a very wealthy city in the Roman province of Asia. It was the world's center for the worship of the sun god Apollo. Thyatira was also famous for its labor unions, which had tremendous power and influence. The unions also sponsored the phallic cult, and various other cults were also present, which were vehemently opposed to Christianity.
One of the most popular cults today is the worship of the "god of career," which is a direct violation of the principle ofEXO 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before Me." Many people spend all their time pursuing their goals and they forget their responsibility to God, ECC 6:2, "A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires, but God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction." The "foreigner" could be a sickness, a domestic conflict, a disaster, a tragedy, or an unexpected calamity. The "foreigners" can ruin our dreams and force us to look back to God. Many believers have idols in their life, and when they serve these other gods it leaves them in the swamp of meaninglessness and emptiness. This was the condition of many believers in Thyatira, a church threatened with divine punishment through economic disaster.
Apollo, the god of "protection" that was worshipped at Thyatira, was represented with flaming rays and feet of burnished brass, the symbol of military and human power and human resources. Thyatira was the site of excessive cultic and demonic activity, as well as a very attractive and charming woman, who was known by the name of Jezebel, which was actually her title. The original "Jezebel" was the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel, 1KI 16:31. She has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is conniving, malicious, vengeful, and cruel. The Jezebel of Thyatira was akin to the Jezebel of the Old Testament. She represents all the distractions that sex and false religion can cause for believers who desire to execute their own personal drama and fulfill their personal sense of destiny.
In REV 2:20, Jezebel is identified as a prophetess, closely attached to the Thyatira church, and powerfully influencing that church for evil. She pretended to be inspired by God and she seduced God's servants into loose living, fornication, and idol worship, Rev 2:14-15. The Lord Jesus Christ says in REV 2:20, "But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond servants astray." In spite of these desperate conditions in the church at Thyatira, the Lord gives them a gracious commendation for love and service in Rev 2:19, "I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first."
The word "idolatry" has two meanings-(1) the worship of a physical object or objects as god, and (2) inordinate attachment or extreme devotion to something. We become like that which we worship, HOS 9:10. An idol is actually defined as an object of extreme devotion, therefore, it could be almost anything in a person's life, and idolatry begins in the mind and proceeds to overt practice, EZE 14:7, JDG 2:10 13, "Then [not knowing the Lord] the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals&ldots;" The "Baals" were names of false gods in the ancient world:
2. Baal-gad, the lord of good luck or fortune, ISA 65:11.
3. Baal-hamon, possessor of abundance (the god of materialism), SOS 8:11.
5. Baal-peor, the god of prostitution and sex, NUM 25:1-3.
6. Baal-zebub, the "fly god," or the god of counterfeit, in 2Ki.
The dissertation on Thyatira begins in REV 2:18, "The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this" While Apollo was called the son of Zeus (the father of all gods), Christ's claim is much higher: He is the Son God! This is the only time in Revelation where He refers to Himself with this title, as the supreme authority and source of all revelation. The Lord's eyes are like a "flame of fire," which means His inspection of every believer is piercing and just. Many believers have secret rooms in their soul that need to be dealt with. Most believers do not realize the importance of being alone with God so that He can deal with certain areas of their life. There is a secret room in every heart where the soul stores garbage and idols, and refuses to even admit that there is a problem. These things give an individual a low self-image, weigh down the heart with guilt, and worst of all, hinder and even destroy a believer's confidence in his relationship with God. There is something in every soul that is never told to others, and at certain times it is brought to the surface by God.
Doctrine is pleasant to the soul, PRO 2:10; PRO 19:8; PRO 24:4; ECC 7:12. Rejection of Bible doctrine results in destruction, ISA 5:13, Hos 4:6. Just as doctrine gives the rooms of the soul pleasure and freedom, the absence of doctrine produces slavery and bondage. Many believers have rooms in their soul where their imagination has developed certain idols in life. These rooms contain idols, errors, secret faults, fears, insecurities, and doubts. The Lord knows everything that is in our soul, and He is ready and willing to do everything necessary to free the believer from his slavery. He knows how sick we are in our heart, JER 17:9, ROM 7:15. This "dark room" is one of the main reasons for negativity, depression, being sick often, etc. The Lord desires to deliver you, not condemn you. He does not want to make you feel guilty about this room in your soul; He wants to free you from it. Unless a believer is free from the chambers of imagery in his soul, these rooms of secret faults and sins, he will never enjoy true freedom.
"The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze" "Eyes like a flame of fire" connotes divine judgment. We bring disaster on ourselves, but the Lord Jesus Christ also disciplines individuals, churches, and nations continually. Jesus Christ not only controls history, but Jesus Christ is also the issue in history. For the believer in Jesus Christ there are great blessings in making decisions for the plan of God. There is no such thing as happiness for the believer outside the predesigned plan of God. Satan tries to manufacture a pseudo-happiness, but it always fails. This is both divine punishment on cosmic believers, and divine reprimand at the judgment seat of Christ through loss of rewards. This is the challenge to human volition in the angelic conflict,JOS 24:15. "Burnished bronze" is a reference to historical judgment on the nations as Jesus Christ controls history. The eyes like a flame of fire and the feet of bronze are two ways of describing the judgments that come upon believers who fail to execute their own personal drama. They fail because of residing in the cosmic system, rather than in the predesigned plan of God. This why some believers have economic problems. They do not operate under the laws of prosperity. We are stewards of whatever God has given us, and all that we have is God's. Everything we enjoy is to be treated as a trust that God has placed in our hands, 1CO 4:7. The more God gives you, the more responsible he expects you to be. Bronze is used to depict rejection of the plan of God, resistance to doctrine, and inevitable cosmic involvement, and therefore represents bad decisions that destroy the individual's future options,ISA 48:4.
Rev 2:19 continues, "I know your deeds, and your love." The Greek noun ergon means accomplishments, or Christian production. The Greek word agape has to do with virtue and integrity, and all Christian production is based on virtue and integrity. There are two manifestations of your virtue-love, the invisible and the visible. The invisible is the function of the royal priesthood, directed toward God. The visible is the function of the royal ambassadorship, directed toward man. There is no impersonal love apart from the motivating virtue, which is personal love for God. The first item of production is not a work; all production in the Christian life is based on thought. Action merely results from good motivation.
The second area of Christian production follows in Rev 2:19, "'I know your deeds [accomplishments, Christian production], and your love and faith.'" The Greek noun pistis refers to the three stages of the faith-rest drill. In stage one, faith claims a promise to deal with the individual's fear, so that he can think. Then in the second stage, faith applies doctrinal rationales (such as the essence of God) to the situation of fear or adversity. By learning about who and what God is, you develop a stronger faith. In the third stage, you reach doctrinal conclusions, whereby you deal with a situation.
"'I know your deeds, namely the virtue-love [the functional virtue of impersonal love], and the faith [the operation of the faith-rest drill], and service and perseverance" The Greek noun diakonia is used for the function of the believer's royal warrants-ambassadorship and priesthood-and full-time Christian service in God's plan. This requires proper motivation and straight thinking, which leads to hupomone, which is translated "perseverance," and connotes courageous endurance. You need objectivity and teachability to gain momentum from your perception of doctrine. You have to persevere inside the predesigned plan of God. All of us are weak in this life, and Satan as the ruler of this world has a power system that is far stronger than we are. Therefore, when we reject the predesigned plan of God, we fall into cosmic one, with its systems of arrogance (preoccupation with self), or cosmic two, with its systems of negative volition (antagonism toward doctrine).
In Rev 2:19, the secret to the Christian life, in one word, is consistency; you cannot live the Christian life unless you are organized. The only way to be organized is to be consistent and self disciplined in your thinking and actions. Consistency in the Christian life includes three basic principles:
1. Consistency in living inside the predesigned plan of God, which in effect means consistency in the use of the rebound technique, which is the only way to reenter the plan, and regain the filling of the Holy Spirit.
2. Consistency in a scale of values-Bible doctrine first, and making decisions based on that system of priorities.
3. Consistency in the ability to keep plugging in spite of failure, distraction, disillusion, and setback.
The Lord goes on to say in REV 2:20, "But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols." In the cosmic system, there is a great deal of toleration of Satanic ideas and concepts, and that is exactly what we see here. Legitimate toleration is based on the doctrine of impersonal love (in which we tolerate the failures of others), but here we have toleration of that which is false and evil.
Jezebel represents that which is dangerous and magnificent, and which lures the believer away from the predesigned plan of God and his personal sense of destiny. She was beautiful, and she was arrogant. The word Jezebel includes "beauty and brains"; this is a beautiful, intelligent, charismatic woman, and there is nothing wrong with these traits, but she was also ambitious and arrogant. She called herself a prophetess in order to advance her own agenda, gain attention, and satisfy her inordinate ambition. She gave herself this title to which she was not entitled.
1. Jezebel is not her actual name, but describes what this woman was like-beautiful, smart, and ambitious. She resided in the city of Thyatira as the head of a phallic cult, and used religion to make a name for herself.
2. She had succeeded in luring believers away from doctrine and into the phallic cult in a manner similar to the historical Jezebel who corrupted Israel. The worst invasion Israel ever faced was not the Assyrian army of 180,000; it was one woman named Jezebel.
4. The pattern for this Biblical prohibition of female leadership originates in the Garden of Eden, with the historical trend of the weak controlling the strong. The Bible calls the woman the "weaker vessel," not because she lacks courage, but because she is dependent on the man, 1PE 3:7.
5. The woman sinned first, and became weak, while Adam had not yet sinned, and therefore was still strong. In the moment when Adam looked on the first sinner, she was weak, and he was still in a state of perfection.
6. From the very beginning of man's failure on planet earth, he was the victim of the weak controlling the strong. This pattern was set when the man took the fruit from the hand of the woman.
7. Adam did not take the forbidden fruit from the tree. He took it from the hand of the woman.
This Jezebel of Thyatira represents all that the kingdom of darkness uses to lead us astray from our personal drama and destiny in God's perfect plan. She includes all the idols in our soul, everything in our life to which we give a higher priority than God's Word. She controls many believers, taking them from the blessing of the predesigned plan of God into the cursing of the cosmic system. Many of them are very much like King Ahab; they were strong in their own field and in the world, but were led astray very easily. Therefore, we are given a gracious but serious warning by our Lord: "But I have this fact against you, namely that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess."
For a more detailed study, order tapes 1900 to 1906