Revelation Lectures(17)

Revelation Lectures

Revelation 2:18-29

[18] “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:
[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.
[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.
[21] ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.
[22] ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.
[23] ‘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.
[24] ‘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.
[25] ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.
[26] ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;
[27] 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;
[28] and I will give him the morning star.
[29] ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tonight, I’ll tell you about the church in Thyatira, the fourth of the seven churches.

Thyatira, at that time, was enjoying its prosperity in commerce and manufacturing, and people of the same job organized in groups; similar toguilds.

Dyers guilds, weavers guilds, bakers guilds, chinaware guilds, blacksmiths’ guilds, and so on; guilds were closely connected to the life of Thyatira citizens. If they had not joined a guild, they might have had a problem in managing everyday life.

But the problem was that each guild worshiped its own guardian deity; the functional activity of the guild itself was religious in character.

At their guild gatherings they performed ceremonial rites to their guardian deities. After the ceremonies, they ate the food sacrificed to idols and guild members were forced to participate in lewd and lascivious activities. Even if they were opposed to it, the members had to attend.

To manage a livelihood, they couldn’t just join a guild, but once they joined the guild, they had to join in participation in the rites together with the guild.

In such a difficult situation, the people of the church in Thyatira had to manage their living and live believing lives at the same time.

You may be able to easily imagine how difficult it must have been for them to keep their faith.

These days too we can find some Christians who say that it is difficult to keep their faith while living among other worldly people. And there are actually many people who compromise with the world and live a life the way the worldly people live even though they say they believe in God.

What, then, will the Lord say to those who live a believing life like this?

From now on, let’s find out what God said about it from the letter that the Lord sent to the church in Thyatira.
In the verse 18, it describes the appearance of the Lord who is writing to the angel of the church in Thyatira.

It says, “The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze.”

As I already explained in the first chapter of Revelation, it means that His eyes shine brilliantly like a flame in the darkness bringing the feeling of warmth.

At the same time, His eyes are like a flame of fire that scorches all sin and evil, and they precisely discern the truth from the untruth.

The Lord uses His eyes like a flame of fire to protect children of God from the enemy devil and Satan, and to search each and every heart and mind.

Just as He says in the verse 23, “I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds,” He searches and judges everything; He doesn’t miss even a trivial thing and He is precise without making any error.

That’s why it says His eyes are like a flame of fire.

Next it says, “His feet are like burnished bronze.” Revelation 1:15 also says, “His feet were like burnished bronze.”

If we refine gold, silver, and bronze at an extreme temperature using a furnace, any impurities in them are removed.

The purer it becomes, the higher its value, and the shinier and the prettier it becomes than before refined.

The feet of our Lord are pure and bright like this refined and burnished bronze.

We can say that the foot is one of the dirtiest parts of a human’s body.

Even though you wear shoes, you eventually step on all the dirty things while wearing the shoes. Until the shoes we have today came out, the foot was the part that got the dirtiest the easiest.

Therefore, spiritually the foot refers to something extremely dirty.

There is a scene in Genesis 3:5, “Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.””

In order to come before God, you must remove all the evil of the world just like removing sandals from the feet.

Of course all the sin comes from the heart, and thus the heart is the dirtiest. But, to make it easy to understand, the bible symbolically uses the foot that can get dirty most easily.

To human beings, the foot is the part that can get dirty so easily, but to the Lord who is perfect and holy, even his feet are also pure and clean like burnished bronze.

By the way, the reason why the bible says the Lord’s eyes are like the flame of fire and His feet are like the burnished bronze is because it wants us to realize once again how glorious and majestic our Lord is.

Our Lord is the Son of God; He judges all the things, He is extremely holy and majestic, and He is the One with Almighty God the Creator.

He cannot be compared to any creature such as a man or an idol that a man created; He deserves the ultimate glory.

The bible describes our majestic and glorious Lord with His eyes like the flame of fire and the feet like the burnished bronze; it eventually tells us that it is only the Lord that we will worship and serve.

In the following verse 19, the Lord speaks a word of commendation.

He says, ‘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 His word is not true commendation in a true sense.

By looking at its outward deeds, they may as well be praised, but what is truly important is the heart; the deeds with true faith.

I’ll come back to this point again and explain it to you later. Let’s find out the general meaning of the verse first.

First, they were praised for their deeds. Here, their deeds not related to some sort of business work, but it is related to the works in the Lord.

It is the work for the kingdom of God; everything in the Lord that includes saving souls.

For example, evangelizing, making visits, missionary works, charity works, being faithful to God-given duties, and serving others are such works.

I’d like to ask you to remember this; no matter what, you shall not do any kind of works within the church that are related to fleshly business.

The purpose of the church is only for the salvation of souls and for the kingdom of God; you must not do any kind of business in the church’s name to get some benefit.

Some people do this or that business saying that they do it for the kingdom of God, but the real purpose inside their hearts is for their own sake. Therefore, there must be no business related with the world.

More over, God is not pleased with you when you have a conversation that is related with worldly business inside the church.

I ask you to conduct only the spiritual business that is solely for the kingdom of God.

Next, there was love in the church of Thyatira.

Just as 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” it is the will of God for us to love each other; it is the new commandment that God gave us.

There must be love in the Lord, and this love should be the unchanging love that the Lord showed to us. This is the spiritual and true love, and only those who have such love belong to God.

The members of the church in Thyatira shared this kind of spiritual love.

They also had faith.

Faith is directly related with truth. A man cannot believe others when he himself is false in his heart. He comes to doubt in any given situation.

Only when he is true in his heart can he see other’s truth and believe them.

The same applies to faith.

As much as truth that you have in your heart, you can believe God’s word that is truth.

Just as Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” when we have sincere heart, we can have true faith.

And there was service in Thyatira church.

Even though the Lord existed in the form of God, He didn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.

He rather took the form of a mere creature.

As written in Mark 10:45, which says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” Jesus came to serve us, not to be served.

Also He says in John 13:14-15, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

Therefore, as children of God, we must take an example of Him, and serve one another.

It is a sure thing for us to love God above everything, and it is also important to serve each other.

But the service that God wants from us is the service that comes from the depth of the heart for anyone.

It is neither pretending to be humble only to get some respect nor serving others outwardly. It is truly humbling in heart and regarding others as better than I am.

Such people who serve others from the depth of the heart will eventually be served and respected by others.

That’s why the Lord says in Matthew 20:26, “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.”

I’m not saying you will serve others with the purpose of becoming great. When you serve others truly from the bottom of your heart, you will become great and you will be respected and served by others.

Lastly, there was perseverance in Thyatira church.

Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Since the way that leads you to heaven is narrow, in order to walk the way, it requires your perseverance.

You have to strive against sin to the point of shedding blood, you must pray and fast, and be faithful for the kingdom of God. Sometimes you may suffer for the Lord’s name.

When your faith is weak, you may think it is hard, and you want to take a rest.

But, just as Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” since we know how great the fruit will be after we endure all these things, we can get up again and walk the narrow way again.

How much do the athletes and students endure and toil to achieve their goal?

The rewards of heaven are so worthy and glorious that the gold medals or any sort of rewards of this world are not worthy of even being compared to what we hope for in heaven.

And actually, from the moment you stand on the rock of faith, you will no longer feel forced to walk this narrow way with perseverance .

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” Since you’ve piled up much perseverance during the believing life, you have rock solid hope in your heart so that you are full of joy and thanks in any situation; you can walk to way to heaven with peaceful heart.

Dear brothers and sisters.

As you have heard so far, there were deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance in the church in Thyatira. But the Lord didn’t praise them for these things.

The reason the Lord commended them is that their ‘deeds of late are greater than at first’

Contrary to the church in Ephesus which was rebuked because their first love had cooled down, the deeds of the church in Thyatira became greater and better than at first.

How about today?

Many people are fervent in the Lord when they accept the Lord at first. But as time passes by, they lose their fervor.

They stop volunteering in works, they become lazy in efforts to evangelize people, and they neglect visiting church members.

The reason that their deeds are changing is because their goal in faith becomes dimmed and blurred.

Those who don’t cease prayers and persevere without losing the fullness of the Holy Spirit have a clear and distinct goal that is heaven and New Jerusalem.

That’s why they don’t give up no matter how difficult things are, and they don’t compromise with untruth, but they continually sanctify themselves.

When they stop praying or lose the fullness of the Spirit, or look to the things of the world, however, their hope for heaven gets blurred.

Then, all the deeds that they used to do with fervor, such as acting in obedience with faith, become cooled down and changed.

On the other hand, there are cases that some people seem to be faithful to God’s works and seem to live a fervent believing life, but they are not recognized by God.

They seem to be such faithful Christians by doing many volunteering works, serving others, and doing good deeds. But chances are that they stopped circumcising their hearts.

They work not by the fullness of the Spirit or by the hope for heaven above, but instead they do it with only fleshly diligence.

Of course you should try to accomplish many volunteer works, and become active in many fields of the church; it is natural to find the things to be done that are pleasing to God.

But a more important thing is to seek God’s grace and strength from the depth of your heart, and to come to spirit all the more.

Only then can your volunteering works and service become the deeds from the true faith.

What I’m telling you is this; you must not comfort yourself with your outward deeds saying that you’ve been faithful and that you’ve been doing your duty while you’re stagnating spiritually.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Faith without deeds is dead, and deeds without faith are meaningless.

No matter how many works you do in the name of the Lord, if you don’t make an effort to get rid of evil in your heart and don’t manage your life in the works of the Holy Spirit, it is not spiritual faith, and it is not a spiritual believing life.

You may appear to be a fervent worker, but you will not believe or obey the word that is not in accordance with your thought.

You won’t be able to realize the heart and will of God and you will not understand the spiritually deep word that you will receive. You will remain in a fleshly state of faith.

The deeds with this fleshly faith may be commended by those who see only the outward deeds, but not by God who searches the heart.

Therefore, I hope that as time passes you will always be praised because your latter deeds had become greater than at first with unchanging hearts.

I also hope that your fervent deeds will accompany the circumcision of your heart so that all your deeds can be recognized before God.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

The church in Thyatira heard the Lord’s praising word, but then the Lord had something against this church.

In the verse 20, the Lord says, “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.”

Then, who is Jezebel?

Jezebel was a daughter of the king of the Sidonians in 9th century B.C., and she married Ahab, the king of Israel.

When she married Ahab, she introduced the idols of her country to Israel, and later Ahab the King as well as other subordinates and its people were stained in idol-worshiping.

Jezebel made the whole country of Israel fall into idol-worshiping and adultery. She even tried to kill the prophets of God.

Even though the man of God, Elijah, drew fire from heaven and made it rain by the amazing power of God, she still didn’t repent but tried to kill Elijah.

She also instigated the King Ahab, and did many evil things with wicked schemes.

Jezebel piled up evil on top of evil, and she eventually faced a miserable death prophesied by Elijah.

However, even though it was Jezebel who tempted the King Ahab and the Israelites, Ahab the King and the Israelites who were stained in the evil of Jezebel couldn’t be freed from their responsibility.

Ahab the King was also cursed by God, and he died a miserable death on the field of battle.

Israel also suffered many tribulations because of Jezebel; the reason it didn’t rain for three and half years was that God turned His face away from them since they were stained in the sin of Jezebel.

And the church in Thyatira also tolerated the origin of sin such as Jezebel’s and they were getting stained in the sin.

What it means for the church in Thyatira to tolerate the woman Jezebel and become stained in evil? And, what kind of words of warning did they hear from the Lord? We’ll look into these in the next session.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

God warns His children many times in the bible not to be bound together with evil men.

Furthermore, you must not tolerate the course of the world. You must not tolerate being tempted by untruth.

When you are bound together with those who stand against God in your individual life such as a marriage or a business, you will suffer trials and tribulations.

No matter how hard you may try, if you’re bound with those who go against the will of God, your faith will also be hindered, and you may also be tempted by the world.

When there are two oxen that are under a common yoke and one of them tries to walk away or gets lazy, no matter how hard the other tries, it cannot go in the direction it originally wanted to go.

Likewise, if you bind yourself with those who are not proper before God, you will see trouble in your soul and spirit becoming prosperous and receiving blessings.

It doesn’t mean that you should unconditionally avoid anyone who doesn’t believe in the Lord in your home or at work, but you should surely not make mistake of tolerating people like Jezebel and be bound to them.

If Ahab, the King of Israel, had not married Jezebel, he and his people might not have needed to suffer such difficulties and disasters.

I hope that you will understand this well so that you will not compromise with the world in any situation, discern the will of God correctly, and put what you’ve heard into action.

May you be bound together with the brothers and sisters who have the same hope for heaven and become strength to each other until you get to New Jerusalem, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray!

Amen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: