They Tolerate Jezebel 20
Christ will throw her into bed; and kill her children 22
Words to the rest 24
Reward for overcomers 26
¶ And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These
things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire,
and his feet are like fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
|Thyatira Introduced below.|
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest
that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to
seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed
.21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
- See note below.
21 - Space to repent Or "time to repent." Seeing her as the medieval, fallen church, this time would be the 1260 "days" mentioned seven times in the Bible. See on re1305a.
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with
her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
.23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
- Cast her into a bed Perhaps from a Hebrew
expression for causing illness. Also who would be committing adultery
with the false religious power? The political powers were bonded with the
23 - Kill her children with death And who would the children be? Those churches who held the false doctrine she proposed in spite of evidence. Consider re1309,10, re1408a.
23 - With death These words seem unnecessary. The corrupt church through the ages, has tortured and put to death many who refused to accept her doctrine. She, along with her daughters are to be punished with the "death" she had dealt out.re1705 and 1706 (which follows). Also re1920.
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not
this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak;
I will put upon you none other burden.
.25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
- The rest Christ turns now to address the faithful ones who have
refused the supposed mysteries of Satan which, through the long centuries,
had been the life guide for the masses of professed Christians
In every time of apostasy, God has had a "rest" or "remnant." You may recall
the words of the Lord to Elijah. Although it seemed like everyone had turned
away from God, 7,000 had remained faithful 1ki1918.
In most cases, the popular religion has been wrong. Truth is not determined by majority vote. Of course smallness doesn't make something right either, but since the flood, when only eight people were saved, relatively few have chosen the way of truth. We will see a "rest" more times in the book of Revelation re1217v.
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will
I give power over the nations:
.27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
- This passage connects with others, notably da0727,
Overcoming is characteristic of the faithful in all of the seven churches.
27 - Rule them with a rod of iron The rod was used against the enemies of the sheep. Who are the "nations"? The Greek word is ethnos and means Gentiles, heathen, or nations. I see it in our context as those who have accepted the deep things of Satan — those of the majority who have taken on the forms of heathen religion in the name of Christ. As we see in chapter 12, re1205, Christ rules His enemies with the rod of iron but the overcomers who have been persecuted will also have a part in this.
And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Did someone else claim the title? Jesus is the star re02216. His light began to shine, like a precious jewel of the morning sky, through the early reformers. He was also the star that would arise in the darkness of the rebellious chosen people. The star of Bethlehem represented Him, and Balaam prophesied of Him! nu2417.
As we continue our study of Pergamos, I am again awed by the depth of the Word of God. Here we see church history written in advance re0120. God knew just what would happen among those who claimed to be His people. "But I have a few things against you because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit adultery (fornication). In the same way you have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I hate." (Rev. 2:14, 15, my easier translation/paraphrase)
So what did Balak do? You remember that he had wanted God's prophet, Balaam, to curse the Israelites so they wouldn't conquer his kingdom of Midian. Instead Balaam was given a message of blessing. The story begins in Numbers 22. You might want to read it through. In chapter 25 we find that the people who couldn't be cursed weakened when they were tempted. A very large number of them fell into sin. In chapter 31 we see that Balaam, himself, had proposed the idea. First, let's read about the sin.
"And Israel abode in Shittim,
and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And
they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people
did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor:
and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel." (Num. 25:1-3).
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. . . . And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. And they warred against the Midianites . . . And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho. . . . And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD." (Num. 31:1-16).
And our verse in Revelation summarizes the situation. "Balaam . . . taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit adultery (fornication)."
We will study how this experience symbolized what was happening in the church of Pergamos, and during the time it represented in history. In the symbol of Balaam and Balak we may see leaders of God's people inviting the surrounding pagan government (Balak) to introduces its ideas into the church! In our passage are the words, "to eat things sacrificed . . . and . . . sexual immorality." These were sins of the Israelites at Peor and were forbidden by the Jerusalem counsel of the early church. See ac1529.
To eat things
sacrificed unto idols
This and fornication (mentioned below) had been forbidden in the developing church ac1529, ro1401, 1co0801. Here we see pagan practices introduced.
This is a term from the account in Numbers (quoted above). As it relates to the "doctrine" of Balaam, it becomes a symbol of spiritual immorality. God had clarified this symbolic meaning.
"The word of the Lord came
to me: 'Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and
say, ". . . your fame spread among the nations . . . because the splendor
I had given you made your beauty perfect. . . . But you trusted in
your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished
your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his."'" (Ezek.
16:1-3, 14, 15, NIV). Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International
Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The terrible apostasy is also reflected in Revelation 17 where we find the adulterous woman on the beast. She is in the wilderness having fled there earlier when a pure woman. Such is the sad history of the Middle Ages. Those who should have been speaking for God led the people astray. The once faithful wife, became a prostitute re1701.
Verse 15 of our passage refers to "those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans." Remember that, according to this doctrine, the deeds of the body would not affect the security of the soul re0206. As a symbol in our context, we may understand it to have taught the people that pagan worship practices would not affect their relationship with God. It opened the door to the "doctrine of Balaam" by making its evil seem inconsequential.
Notes for verse 17
Hidden manna and a new name
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." (Rev. 2:17)
This was the special food God provided in the wilderness ex1604.
"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. . . . As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me." (John 6:48-51, 57). Also lu1021.
For long centuries, the dominant church claimed to be the only source of spiritual nourishment. The Scriptures were not in the languages of the people and were rarely seen even by the clergy who could read Latin. The church-state system permitted no freedom for religious conviction. Still God honored those who dared to live for what they believed. As people in a spiritual wilderness, He fed them with the manna of His word. We see this also in chapter 12 where the woman was nourished for 1260 years 1214a. The Song of Solomon at so0205 pictures the same nourishment:
White stone with a new name
A person's name is who he or she is. It's character. The redeemed will have the Father's holy name in their foreheads or minds 1401c. We see that name here written in stone, never to be corrupted as our characters tend to become here. White represents purity. I imagine beautiful white quartz. No one knowing the name is not a matter of secret identity but of personal experience. We each pass through trials that God allows for the perfecting of our character 1pe0107. Although only overcomers have the name, they will consider it new, realizing that they will never again slip into sin. One day we will understand how God has led us and will praise Him, realizing the pit from which we have been lifted!
Commentators suggest various ancient customs which involve or they think might have involved white stones. Whether any of them could give special meaning to the white stone, I don't know. Maybe it doesn't matter.
The hidden manna and the name no one knows, reminds us of secret societies. Secrets are a primary enticement for paganism. We see the same lure in secret societies today. Christ's hidden source of nourishment or power is like the manna in the ark. Instead of the ladder of human glorification of the pagan societies, He offers the "new name" which no one else knows.
"For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken." (Isa. 62:1-4, NKJV).
Thus we have the picture of the third church. It reflects a time in history when the paganism which had been the church's enemy was coming in the back door as a friend.
Note for verse 18
Eyes and feet and the corrupt church
"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works. . . ." (Rev. 2:18,19, KJV)
For Thyatira, the section
heading in my NKJV Bible is "The Corrupt Church." Although this is only
the opinion of the translators, our study will confirm their observation.
I believe the descriptions of Christ here show His relationship to the two classes of those who claimed his name during this fearful period of time, and no doubt also during the time of the actual church John first wrote to. I see this time as what we call the Middle Ages or the Dark Ages. The church of Rome was then at its peak of prosperity.
The symbolism is drawn from the events at the time King Nebuchadnezzar was at the peak of his greatness, the time he set up a golden image and demanded all to bow to it. The fidelity of those who claimed to worship the true God was severely tried. Being ready to die was the price of faithfulness (Dan. 3).
The eyes of fire, in our passage, penetrate the masks of the wicked ones. Notice how these eyes of Christ correspond to the holy watcher who saw and judged Nebuchadnezzar.
"It [the tree] is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump . . . and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him." (Dan. 4:22, 23, KJV)
And the feet of brass are in the picture, too. We mentioned them earlier. Let's match our verse with the story in Daniel.
"His feet were like fine brass,
as if refined in a furnace . . . ." (1:15)
"Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire." (Dan. 3:24-26)
The picture is from a 1679 painting of the Oudekerk in Amserdam, by Emanuel de Witte. The church was a part of daily life. Notice the dogs. Although not clear in our .jpg image, a tomb is open in the lower left and a mother is nursing her baby at the lower right. It would be a Protestant cathedral. The painting is in a museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Click on the picture for a larger view in a new window (86K).
May each of us, this day, resolve to be faithful, knowing that our Lord who sees us as we are will walk with His faithful ones in any fiery trial.
Note for verse 20
"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest [permit] that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Rev. 2:20).
A few things
The phrase is not in the manuscripts. Some, in fact, read "many things."
Jezebel played a unique and treacherous role in the story of God's people. Let's examine a few summary verses showing how she "taught" and "seduced." Then we can see how this applies to the corrupt church.
When Ahab became king over
Israel, he "did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before
him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk
in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel
the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal,
and worshipped him.." (1 Kings 16:30-31).
"But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." (1 Kings 21:25).
Ahab took Jezebel from the
Caananite tribe of the Zidonians to be his wife as we have just seen. She
brought heathen worship into Israel. Taking the initiative to promote her
religion, she got Ahab, her king husband, to put political force behind
her ideas. During the Middle Ages, the dominant Christian church influenced
civil authorities just like Jezebel got Ahab to support her native pagan
worship. It was a church-state union.
To make Christianity appealing to the pagans, many of their customs were adopted into a new Christianity. The term Easter comes from the name of the goddess of fertility. The bunny and eggs represented fertility, too. The vernal equinox (time in spring when days and nights are equal) was important in sun worship and connected with the same goddess of fertility. Thus the rationale for facing the rising sun on Easter morning.
The winter solstice (shortest day) was when the sun god started coming back. The nativity and the Christmas tree were made to substitute for that event. Holy water, seminal cakes, sprinkling, transubstantiation, and other ceremonies were adopted from the pagan religion of the people the church wanted to gain control of.
Numerous signs and symbols were likewise adopted. Idol worship was transformed into adoration for "saints." The background of Halloween (holy evening) has been exposed in recent years so you may know about it. It is when the spirits of the dead were thought to return. Thus the connection with All Saint's Day. These are by no means all the pagan ideas that have infected Christianity but enough for our discussion now.
In saying all this, I certainly don't intend to be critical of people whose worship includes some left-overs of these pagan symbols. I doubt that many realize what they are doing. I should also express that I see a difference between Christmas as a time for a tree and gifts for family enjoyment and Christmas worship as a religious duty. At Easter time, I rejoice with others in remembering the resurrection. But I do not accept this as a religious duty or a substitute for requirements God has outlined in His word. Whatever you think of these points, they are practices that became part of the worship of the church during the time I understand to have been the peak of the "falling away" (2 Thess. 2:3). I believe this is why we see Jezebel here.
Regarding Jezebel, Jesus said,
She is permitted "to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication,
and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Rev. 2:20)
"Do you call it peace while your mother Jezebel keeps up her obscene idol worship [or "prostitutions"] and monstrous sorceries?" (2 Kings 9:22, REB).
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." (Rev. 17:1, 2) 1701.
The Revised English Bible, REB, is copyrighted by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, 1989. When not otherwise noted, texts are quoted from the Authorized Version (KJV).
Jezebel's time of power
"But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." (1 Kings 21:25, KJV)
Ahab reigned 22 years (1 Kings 16:29). During the peak of his apostasy God sent a time of no rain. The rain came after the experience on Mount Carmel when God accepted Elijah's sacrifice. The time without rain was the three and a half years (James: 5:17). The remarkable connection with the time of the apostate church is its time of supremacy seen in the Scriptures as three and a half symbolic years 1305a (Rev. 13:5; Dan. 7:25).
The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth. . . . The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue thee kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Dan. 7:23-25).
sacrificed to idols
This reflects an issue at the time of the early church. (Acts 15:29). In this symbol of pagan-blessed food we may see the practice of claiming to generate blessings and to serve them in ceremonies as spiritual nourishment required to sustain the soul.
Perhaps the "moral of the story" is that we must personally require a "thus saith the Lord" for our religious duties and practices. We must be able give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). For study of verse 21, you might consider the mention of "time" in connection with 12:13.
Words of a beautiful hymn come to mind. "I will follow Thee, my Savior, Thou did'st shed Thy blood for me; And though all men should forsake thee, by Thy grace, I'll follow Thee." That's my prayer today, and I think it's yours, too. Click to hear.
I will follow Thee, my Savior,
Wheresoe'er my lot may be.
Where thou goest I will follow;
Yes, my Lord, I'll follow Thee.
I will follow Thee, my Saviour,
Thou didst shed Thy blood for me;
And though all men should forsake Thee;
By Thy grace I'll follow Thee.