Revelation Lectures(18)

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 continue talking about the church in Thyatira, the fourth among the seven churches.

The Thyatira church was praised for its deeds of love, faith, service, and perseverance because the deeds of late were greater than at first. But the Lord gave the church a word of reproach as well.

That’s because they tolerated the woman Jezebel who called herself a prophetess, and they were stained by sin.

Jezebel was a gentile woman who worshiped idols, and she tempted Ahab, the King of Israel and its people to worship idols. She also stood against God with many evil acts.

Now, what was it concretely that the church in Thyatira was rebuked for?

The verse 20 says, “She (Jezebel) teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”

Here, ‘Eating things sacrificed to idols’ means ‘eating things that were offered in sacrifice to idols.’

This word, however, more practically, is a word of warning against the various evil acts that accompanied and associated with the eating of things sacrificed to idols.

When they participated in gentile religious rites, they joined in the idol-worshiping or conformed with it. Furthermore, they participated even in idol-worshipers’ immorality. It was a more serious problem.

In Acts Chapter 15, we can find that apostles and elders instructed the gentiles who accepted the gospel to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. The reason that they told them to abstain from things sacrificed to idols was again that they might be stained in idol-worshiping and its other related sins if they were closely associated with the things sacrificed to idols..

In fact, just as 1 Timothy 4:4 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude,” we cannot judge that eating the food sacrificed to idols is in itself definitely sin unless you participate in the rites of worshiping the idols.

Even though the food was in front of idols, since all the food was given by God, as long as you eat it by faith, it doesn’t matter at all.

But 1 Corinthians 8:7 says, “But some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”

In other words, if someone who is not courageous enough in faith eats food sacrificed to idols, while thinking it’s sin, then his conscience will be defiled because he willfully does what he considers sin.

Moreover, as written in 1 Corinthians 8:10, which reads, “For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?” if someone who is weak in faith sees you who has faith eating in the temple of an idol, he may think it’s acceptable to eat food sacrificed to idols because you eat it, so he can eat it as well.

But the truth is that in the case with him who is weak in faith not being able to discern the truth, since he doesn’t eat it by faith, his conscience can be defiled, and he may commit even more serious sin by participating in idol-worshiping.

Therefore, even when your faith is strong enough to eat food sacrificed to idols, if you might cause brothers who are in weak faith to stumble because of it, then it is proper not to eat the food.

By the way, the acts of immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols in tonight’s scripture do not refer just to physical acts.

They also refer to the spiritual acts of immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols.

In a spiritual sense, when children of God love something more than God, or worship idols that God hates most, it is spiritual immorality.

Also, when they align themselves with the people who tempt believers to fall into worldly pleasures and to pursue the untruth, and participate in their acts, it is eating things sacrificed to idols.

When the church in Thyatira tolerated Jezebel, they eventually also tolerated such spiritual immorality and idol-worshiping in the church, and that’s why they were rebuked by the Lord.

As I explained in the last lecture, many craft guilds were well developed in the city of Thyatira, and the people of the church were always tempted to worship idols through the practices of those guilds.

All their co-workers or partners were worshiping idols for the prosperity of their business. When they didn’t participate in them, they might be hated or persecuted by them.

In a worst case, they might be banned from the guilds, and their lives would be threatened.

Let’s imagine that a man who calls himself a brother in Christ comes to them and tempts them when he knows they are in agony.

“You don’t believe that idol in your heart. Once you bow down before the idol, everything will be fine. Don’t be so unique. God is love. Don’t you think God will understand your bowing to the idol when your life is being threatened? If you’re stubborn like this, and break peace with your neighbors, it may look awkward, and it will hinder the glory of God, and you may not be able to evangelize people at all. To be able to evangelize people, don’t you think it’s wise of you to bow down to the idol for just this time?”

When the name of God is taken in vain like this, and they are tempted to stand against the will of God, if they don’t discern the truth well enough, they may be deceived.

This is happening ‘quite often’ these days.

For example, at your work or home, when you happen to be in a place where people worship an idol, you will say, “Since I’m a Christian, I cannot bow down to an idol.”

Then some people may persecute you, or some others may tempt you with sweet talk.

“This is not idol-worshiping. It’s just for you and me to gel along well. It’s a way to promote friendship” Or they may say, “Bowing to our ancestors is not idol-worshiping. It’s our unique and long established public morals.”

There are even some servants of God who are teaching like this.

But, what does God say?

In the Ten Commandments, He tells us not to make an idol, and not to worship or serve idols.

And 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 clearly says, “No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”

Since Daniel’s three friends knew that such was the will of God, even facing the threat of being cast into a burning furnace, they never compromised.

“I believe that God is the Only God. But My life in at stake. If I bow down to the idol just this once, God will understand me.” They didn’t think like this.

You’re not even being cast into a furnace. How can you disobey the word of God, fall into spiritual adultery, and eat things sacrificed to idols for your sake? It is something that under no conditions will be tolerated!

Quite often theses days, some churches make plausible excuses to interchange with idol-worshiping religions. They even pray for idol-worshipers’ blessing.

And they say that their acts are out of broad mindedness, not narrow foresight. They say that they do it for the benefit of a country or for the sake of human beings. They pretend as if it were of goodness.

But God is never pleased with His church moving hand in hand with idol-worshiping religions.

Sending congratulations on an idol-worshiper’s event, or inviting an idol-worshiper into the sanctuary is insulting Holy God.

However, some people who profess they believe God and serve the Lord as their savior are taking the lead in such things these days.

The word of the Lord given to the church in Thyatira contains a message for such people, and I will talk to you about it in the next lecture in more detail.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jezebel, who tempted the believers, called herself a prophetess.

If someone were to come out directly saying to you, “Let’s stand against God. Let’s do evil things,” as long as you have even a little bit of faith, you would be on the alert and try to stay away from him.

But when a person outwardly professes the word of God, and says, “I communicate with God. I’m a prophet and a servant of God,” there are some people who are not able to discern what is said as the truth or not according to the Word and become tempted.

But if he is truly a prophet of God, then the proof that God is with him must accompany him.

He must have the light and fruit of the Holy Spirit such as goodness, love, sacrifice, and gentleness. Most of all, he must have the authority and power that is manifested to show that God guarantees him.

Even though a true prophet doesn’t call himself a prophet, those who are led by the works of the Holy Spirit will recognize him by his fruit.

On the contrary, when a false prophet calls himself a prophet like Jezebel did, if discerned by the truth, the true identity can be revealed.

Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

In addition, a false prophet who calls himself a prophet slanders others with evil words, judges, condemns, seeks for his own benefit with lies, and makes bad blood between people. With many wicked schemes and tricks, he brings troubles to a church and its members.

He doesn’t teach people to love God. He rather plants fleshly and worldly things in them, and makes people follow him in the ways of the flesh.

If you associate with such a man, you will be stained in untruth without being able to realize it.

Therefore, a church should never tolerate a person like Jezebel, and never be tempted by a false prophet to commit sin together.

Of course, a servant of God must endure and lead in love the flock who don’t obey, and who bring troubles.

But you should know that it is not love to tolerate a synagogue of Satan. It’s not love either to tolerate a person like Jezebel who tempts believers to fall into destruction to work freely inside the church.

I’ve already explained many times what to do when there is a person like Jezebel who disturbs the church.

The Lord says in Matthew 18:15-17, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

You must follow this order. When he repents, you must forgive him and cover his past transgression. But if he doesn’t repent and turn back but persists until the end, you should not leave him to disturb the church and hinder the glory of God.

But at the same time, you must do it with the heart of the Lord who doesn’t break off a battered reed or put out a smoldering wick.

Now the Lord says in the verse 21, “I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.”

When a man commits sin and errors in the sight of God, a punishment doesn’t come upon on him right away.

God surely gives him a chance to repent his sin.

Either by the word preached from the podium, or by the work of the Holy Spirit, God gives him a chance to realize his sin, repent and turn back.

However, even though given an opportunity to realize the sin, if his heart is still stiff and doesn’t turn back, a punishment will come down on him through Satan’s accusation.

But still, not a harsh and severe punishment is given from the beginning.

It starts with a light punishment. If still he doesn’t turn back, more and more severe punishment will be given.

It was the case with the ten plagues that came upon Egypt in the time of Exodus.

At first, all the rivers in the entire land of Egypt turned to blood so that people were not able to drink the water and there came a plague of frogs that were found everywhere, even in the food bowls.

Even though such plagues were distressing and tormenting, still the damage caused was not yet something fatal from which they could not recover.

It would have been good if the pharaoh turned back, but when the plagues were withdrawn, he repeatedly disobeyed the will of God so that he had to face a more and more miserable plagues.

There were plagues of festering boils and pestilence. He faced a plague of hail and a plague of locusts. He had to suffer fatal financial damage.

But, he didn’t turn back. And so finally all the firstborn in Egypt were killed including the first son of the pharaoh, his subordinates, slaves, and even the livestock.

But the pharaoh still didn’t repent, and the Red Sea buried him.

Dear brothers and sisters.

Proverbs 3:11 says, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord Or loathe His reproof.”

When the children of God stay away from the will of God, since the Holy Spirit mourns, they will lose the peace in their heart and feel burdened in heart.

Also, God gives various signs so that they can realize it.

When they still cannot realize, however, God allows punishment to come upon them.

They get hurt, get a disease or have an accident. They may have a problem in the family or business. They may encounter financial loss.

But all of you well know that all these punishments are eventually the love of God.

Just as the bible says, “If you are without discipline, you are illegitimate children,” since you’re a loved child of God, God disciplines you when you are away from the truth so that you will live and walk the right way and live in His blessing.

If there is no punishment after you commit sin, it means you have nothing to do with God. It is indeed a more fearful thing.

Therefore, when you are punished because of your own sin, you should not get disheartened or give up, but take it with thanks from the depth of your heart, and turn back as quickly as possible.

If so, God of mercy and grace will forgive you, save you from tribulations and plagues, and lets you again live under His peace and protection.

But if you don’t turn back, you will reap what you do in this earth, and on the last day, you will be sentenced to an eternal death.

Now, the Lord says in the verse 22, “Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sicknessand those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.”

Here, ‘throwing on a bed of sickness’ means that the Lord will be angry at the evil ones who don’t turn back even though given a chance to turn back, and that the Lord will throw them in a terrible tribulation.

Generally speaking, a bed makes people feel relaxed and comfortable; it makes people desire to take a rest on it.

But the bed in the scripture doesn’t refer to a spiritually easy and comfy resting place; it is a place where Jezebel does detestable things. It is a place disregarded and averted by God.

Sometimes, evildoers seem to enjoy their prosperity because punishment or tribulation doesn’t come upon them immediately.

Some people even say, “If God is truly alive, how can He leave such an evil man alone like that?” and complain.

But Psalm 37:1-2 says, “Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb,” and Psalm 37:10 says, “Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.”

As written, even if evildoers might seem prosperous for awhile, and appear to feel comfortable as if they were lying on a bed, once they cross over the limit of justice, they will instantly face judgment.

Sometimes, it seems that they don’t face judgment during their lifetime but live a peaceful life, but again, they will eventually be thrown into the fire of eternal death in hell. They cannot be said to be prosperous.

The bed that Jezebel was thrown in might look comfy to those who don’t realize this fact so that they may become tempted and commit sins together.

To such people, the Lord says, “I will throw those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.”

Then, what does ‘great tribulation’ mean here?

It means either the final punishment of not being saved and falling into hell or going through the 7 year Great Tribulation.

By the way, one man’s sin doesn’t just bring an individual sized tribulation; it may also bring a tribulation of much greater consequence.

First is that an entire country may undergo tribulation because of the sin of the head of the country. Second is that an entire church falls into a tribulation because a servant of God who is the head of the church doesn’t stand proper in the sight of God.

Third is that a family or an individual faces a tribulation when the family or the individual commits sin.

The case of Jezebel applied to all these 3 cases. Jezebel was a mother of a country, but she tempted her husband the king, his subordinates , and his people to commit sin. And she set up idol-worshipers as religious leader.

That’s why the whole country had to face the great tribulation of a 3-and-a- half year long drought. And Jezebel herself had to face a miserable and tragic death.

Even in the history of Korea, we can find the same principal applied whenever a great tribulation came upon the country.

For example, political dispute was in its peak, conflicts between people were surging, and people were panic-stricken; times were full of confusion, disorder, and evil.

From this fact, we can find that a war in a country or a severe tribulation doesn’t take place by accident; it is all by the law of justice.

Therefore, you must remember that the higher your position becomes, the more responsibility you must accept, both in the world and in the church.

When the head is awake and prays, the body will enjoy prosperity; even if there is a trial, it will go away quickly.

Now, in the following verse 23, the Lord says, “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.”

Since God searches the deepest heart of every one with His blazing eyes, no one can deceive Him.

People like Jezebel and those who partake in her deeds will surely face judgment in justice.

The word of warning, “I will kill her children” also means punishment or tribulation that will come in justice.

But it doesn’t always mean that a punishment or a tribulation will come upon children.

As a result of one’s own sin, a loving family such as a husband or a wife may face a tribulation, or suffer from financial trouble or disease.

God’s justice will be revealed through such a judgment that all the people will clearly realize that God searches not only the deeds but also the mind, will, and heart.

But you shouldn’t look for God only after you have faced a disaster.

When you have a heart or a deed that is not proper in the sight of God, God works in a various way for His loving child so that you can realize it by yourself.

He may point it out through the word proclaimed from this podium, and He may allow you to realize and find it when you read the bible or listen to a sermon tape.

Sometimes, God makes you realize it through the lips of an unexpected man.

So long as you have spiritual ears to listen to Him, you can feel that God searches your heart and mind, and that He intervenes for you even in the smallest things.

Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good,” and Psalm 139:3 says, “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”

Therefore, I hope that you will walk only in the light and be confident in front of God who searches everything and knows everything.

In the next lecture, we will look into this further beginning with verse 24.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

There are some people who falsely suffer from misled judgments, and some others who escape from punishments even though they committed sin.

Also, no matter how fairly a judge passes judgment, they have to judge only by the outward deeds since they cannot search the deep heart of a man.

But, just as Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives,” the almighty God not only searches every deed and word of all people, but knows their minds and the depth of the hearts.

And He has all that He searches recorded by angels, and on the Final Judgment Day, based on the records, He will repay every man according to his deeds, whether good or evil.

You cannot hide from God even squinting eyes that are full of evil thoughts and ill feelings; yet even a most trivial good deed that wouldn’t be seen by any one will be clearly revealed on the judgment day.

Do you truly believe this?

If you do so, what should your words and deeds be like? What about your mind and heart?

In a book where your angel is making a record about you on in heaven, what is written in it so far?

1 Peter 3:10-12 says, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Therefore, I hope that you will become children of the light who will resemble our good Father God even in a trivial word or a deed.

From this time on till the Lord comes back, I hope that only the words, deeds, minds, and heart of goodness will be written on the book that your angel writes on.

And, may God, who repays you according to your deeds, give you blessing, reward, and glory both in this earth and in heaven, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray!

Amen

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