Revelation 010 – Disregarding Divine Directions

Revelation 010 – Disregarding Divine Directions
Revelation 2:18-22 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 12, 2018 • Revelation


Dr. Andy Woods

Disregarding Divine Directions   8-12-18

Revelation 2:18-22               Lesson 10

Good morning everybody.   If we could take our Bibles and open them to Revelation chapter 2 beginning at verse 18.  The Title of our message this morning is Disregarding Divine Directions.  As you’re turning there I want to express appreciation for Gabe Morris who filled in last week;        I was in Southern California and don’t worry, I was obeying the Scripture the whole time, particularly that verse that says I buffeted my body.  You guys don’t go for that interpretation?  I was visiting family and speaking at a prophecy conference.

Revelation 2:18, Disregarding Divine Directions.  And as you know we’ve been moving through the Book of Revelation.  We answered (at the very beginning) some introductory questions about the book, made it through the prologue of the book, verses 1-8, and along the way we’ve noted that the Book of Revelation has three parts.  John is told to write down the things that he had seen, the things which are and the things that will take place after these things.

The first section is chapter 1, “write down the things that you have seen.”  (Revelation 1:19, “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”]  That’s the vision of the glorified Christ that John saw on the island of Patmos at the close of the first century.

Then he’s told to write down the things that are, that’s the section we’re in now.  Chapters 2 and 3, seven letters to seven real churches, real people, real churches, with very real problems.  We have already studied Ephesus, the loveless church; Smyrna, the persecuted church, Pergamum, the compromised church, moving today into Thyatira, the corrupt church.  Each letter, as we have talked about has eight elements to it so look for these eight elements as we go through each letter—the loveless church, the persecuted church, the compromised church, and then we move into Thyatira, the corrupt church.

If Jesus were to write a letter to your church what would He say.  And He gives a very honest and candid opinion to each of these churches and today we’ll see what He says concerning the church at Thyatira.  There’s our outline that we’re going to follow as we look at what Christ says to the church at Thyatira.

Notice first of all the destination of the letter.  Notice, if you will, chapter 2 and verse 18, it says, “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:” “the angel” would be the messenger of the church that we have identified, I think correctly, as the pastor of each church.  Where is Thyatira?  Thyatira is just thirty-five miles southeast of Pergamum, so you’ll notice that we’re sort of on the downward trajectory as he’s going to continue to address churches moving now in more of an eastern direction until finally you get to the church at Laodicea.

Thyatira is interesting because the only other time that this church is ever mentioned is in Acts 16:14, and it’s not even a church, it’s a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, the seller of purple fabrics.  [Acts 16:14, “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”’  It’s generally believed that it was through the influence of Lydia, Lydia is Paul’s first European convert, it’s generally believed that somehow Lydia had an instrumental role in the foundation of the church at Thyatira.  We know she had a big effect in helping found the church at Philippi but since she was from Thyatira, after she got saved many believe she went back to Thyatira and started a church there.

Thyatira was known for its purple dye and factories and great wealth.   This is why Lydia is called a seller of purple fabrics.  And you’ll notice how Christ describes Himself.  To each church he takes imagery that we’ve already studied in Revelation 1 where Jesus appeared on the Island of Patmos to John in his glorified state, a tremendous description of Christ was given there.  And imagery is taken from chapter 1 and applied to each church as it relates to things that each church is facing.

Notice how Jesus describes Himself; it’s in the second part of verse 18, it says, “  “The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this.”  Notice the three descriptions here of Jesus Christ.  How does Jesus describe Himself to Thyatira?  Number 1, He describes Himself as the Son of God.  That, of course, is who Jesus is, He is unique in His Sonship; He is unique in His personhood although He shares the same essence of deity with the Father.  He is the unique eternally existent Son of God, the Second Member of the Trinity.

He describes Himself as having “eyes like a flame of fire;”  He takes this imagery from chapter 1, verse 14, where Jesus is described in chapter 1, “His eyes were like a flame of fire.”  [Revelation 1:14, “His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.”]  I believe this largely speaks of judgment.  He can see directly into a church, He can see directly into a heart and consequently He is in a position to correct what is happening in that church.

1 Corinthians 4:5 tells us the day will come where He will disclose the motives of men’s hearts.  [1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”]  It’s a frightening verse when you think about that.  He doesn’t see to us, He sees through us; He sees our motives and this is why He is described as having eyes like a flame of fire.

If you just take a sneak peek and go down to chapter 2 and verse 23, towards the end of the verse he says to Thyatira, “I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”  [Revelation 2:23, “’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.”]  This is why He is described this way, these eyes that see in judgment, in discipline.

And he’s also described here as “feet like burnished bronze.”  You’ll find a reference to that in chapter 1, verse 15.  [Revelation 1:15, “His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.”]  Why is there a constant emphasis on feet?  Because it’s in His feet that He stamps out judgment.  This is why the judgment of God is referred to as the winepress in this book, that was trodden down, Revelation 14:20.  [Revelation 14:20, “And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”]

If you’ve been to a Hebrew or an Israeli, as I have in the land of Israel, a winepress that’s how wine was made, you stamped these pieces of fruit, grapes, and wine came forth.  The imagery is Jesus coming back to this earth to stamp judgment and the blood will flow as high as the horse’s bridle for two hundred miles.  He’s described in chapter 19, verse 15 of treading the wine press of the fierce wrath of God.  [Revelation 19:15, “…He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty….”]

Do we have today a complete picture of Christ?  Most of us look at Christ as the person that had nowhere to lay His head, born in a manger, the suffering Savior, and of course, He is all of those things but have we so gravitated towards certain parts of the Bible and ignored other parts of the Bible that we no longer see Him as judge and reigning King?  Not only is He the Lamb but He is also the Lion.  You either meet Jesus as your Savior today in this life or you meet Him as judge in the next life.  This is the value of studying Revelation, the Book of Revelation; it highlights this aspect of who Jesus is, giving us a complete picture.

In fact, in John 5:22, John’s other book, John wrote the Book of Revelation, he also wrote The Gospel of John, it says this: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,” He has entrusted all judgment to the Son.  His feet are like burnished bronze, the Son of God, eyes like a flame of fire.  [Revelation 1:15, “His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.”  Revelation 2:18, “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.”]

And as you look at verse 19 you see this familiar word or verb, “I know,” He said that to Ephesus, chapter 2, verse 2.  He said that to Smyrna, chapter 2, verse 9.  He said it to Pergamum, chapter 2, verse 13, and now again He says it to Thyatira here in verse 19.  [Revelation 2:2, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”  Revelation 2:9, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Revelation 2:12-13, [“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:  13] ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.’”  [Revelation 2:19, “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.” [Revelation 2:19, “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:]

He knows exactly what’s happening in our lives.  He knows exactly what’s happening in our churches and consequently He is uniquely qualified, since His eyes are like a flame of fire, to give an evaluation, to give a performance, an appraisal if you will, of the life of His church.  And it is very interesting that before the Lord begins to criticize any church, there are some excep­tions as we’ll be getting to later in this series, but the general rule is before he criticizes any church he commends the church for what they’re doing well, which is a pretty good managerial philosophy to follow as you manage people, rather than just coming down on people with a ton of bricks you might offer them a word of praise for what they’re doing right; that’s a good technique to use as you’re dealing, perhaps with your own children that need correction, or grandchildren.  You see Jesus following the same pattern as He deals with His churches.

And He commends the church at Thyatira for at least six things here.  Notice, if you will, verse 19.  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.”  Six words of praise: number 1, their deeds.  Of course, we are not saved by good deeds but we are saved unto good deeds.  God expects the believer, as the believer abides in Christ, to produce lasting fruit, Ephesians 2:10 speaks of this.  [Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”]

He has praised Ephesus for that back in chapter 2, verse 2.  And so Thyatira gets the word of commendation for their deeds.  [Revelation 2:1, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write…”     2, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”]   The Greek word there is ergon,  where we get the word energy, their works, not in the flesh but as they were abiding in Christ.

He commends them, number 2, for their love; this is not a group of people like Ephesus that had become so involved with activities that they fell out of love with Christ and stopped treating their fellow Christians with love.  You know, it’s amazing how bad Christians can treat each other.  It’s astounding.  Sometime it’s done in the pursuit of truth; sometimes the pursuit of truth becomes such an overriding concern that we can trample right over people.  Thyatira wasn’t like that, they’re commended for their love. Ephesus, that was their critique, they had left their first love; not Thyatira.

He commends them for their faith, their walk of faith, which is very important because “without faith it’s impossible to please God.”  [Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”]  Christianity begins and ends with faith alone in Christ alone.

He commends them for their service.  It’s interesting, the word “service” here is diakonia, where we get the word deacon.  What are deacons?  We have deacons at this church.  In many senses they are nameless, faceless people who just do the work of the church, things as simple as unlocking the gates, taking out the trash, closing the doors when the congregation has left the premises, turning the air conditioning on.  I mean how could a church like this function without deacons or servants.  And sometimes when you’re in that role you don’t really think anybody cares or anybody is watching but the fact of the matter is the Lord is watching.  He was aware of this servant and the service that was taking place here at Thyatira.

He commends them for their perseverance.  The Greek word there is hupomoné, it’s been a word used a couple of times already in the Book of Revelation.  John describes himself on Patmos having persevered; the church at Ephesus was persevering.  What does it mean to persevere?  It means to continue on doing the will of God despite opposition and uncomfort or discomfort.  It’s easy to do the will of God when everything is going well from a human perspective but you see what God is trying to develop in His people is hupomoné, perseverance.  You just keep staying with the task despite discomfort, despite opposition despite maltreatment or mistreatment.

And he also commends them at the very end of verse 19 because their “deeds of late are greater than they were at first.”  These were people that were actually increasing in terms of their sacrifice and service unto the Lord.  Now there is a doctrine today,  you find it in some forms of Calvinism, some forms of Arminianism, which says if you are not increasing in fruit then you’re not really a Christian.  The Arminian will say you’ve lost your salvation; the Calvinist will say you never had salvation.  And so they act as if fruit-bearing is automatic.

Just a very simple question here—if fruit bearing is automatic, if increasing fruit bearing is automatic as the doctrine of Calvinism and Arminianism maintain, then why in the world would Christ trade this church for increasing fruit?  I mean, if all Christians are supposed to bear fruit and increase in fruit why would Jesus comment them for something that’s supposed to be automatic?  The fact of the matter is fruit bearing is not automatic in the life of the Christian.  There are many, many people that will be in heaven and will have virtually no fruit to show for it because they’re saved by faith alone through grace alone but they never really matured or grew in Christ.

Just to show you that I’m not making this up, over in 1 Corinthians 3:15 Paul there talks about a judgment of rewards for the believer and he opens this door.  He says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  You’re dealing there with people that are saved, they are in heaven, they are not in hell and yet when Jesus evaluates their Christian life, as He will do with His eyes that are like a flame of fire, much of their Christian life was spent in the flesh; their rewards dissolves and they’re described here as escaping through the flames.  They’re in heaven but they can still smell the smoke on their garment.  What a tragedy for that to happen to a believer and how we ought to commit ourselves not to being this type of carnal Christian.

The church at Thyatira, though, on the other hand their deeds were increasing and Christ commends them for that.  Well, with a church with those six things going for it what room could there be for correction?  I’m glad you asked because as you go down to verse 20 you start to see the rebuke or the word of correction that Christ gives to all but two of these churches.

Take a look, if you could, at verse 20 as he moves from commendation to correction.  Revelation 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.”   Now you’ll notice this word “tolerate,” they were putting up with something in their midst, a false teaching leading to wrong behavior.  And Christians, of course, many times can do this, put up with things that should have been purged out of our lives a long time ago.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:4 describes a false gospel, a different gospel, and he says this to the Corinthians, “you bear this beautifully.”  [2 Corinthians 11:4, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”]        Sarcasm, you put up with it; you know it’s errant, you know it’s wrong and yet you keep tolerating it in your midst.

It reminds me of the condition of the church in the last days where it says in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”  It’s interesting how tolerant we can become to falsehood and how we can shut the door to what we need in terms of truth .

So Thyatira had opened the door to something that should have been pushed out a long time ago.  Ephesus, of course, was the opposite of that.   You might recall that Jesus commended the church at Ephesus where He says “you cannot tolerate evil men but you’ve put them to the test.” [Revelation 2:2, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”]

Ephesus had discernment, they purged out of the life of their church falsehood; Thyatira for whatever reason did not resist the lure of false teaching.  False teaching is always a lure; it’s always attractive to us initially because it sounds right and it gives permission to the flesh or to the sin nature what it automatically wants to do anyway.  People have a covetous desire to get rich so why not come up with a gospel that tells people they can become rich.  People have a desire to be sexually immoral so why not come up with a licentious gospel that downplays morality.  This is the type of thing that was happening here in Thyatira.  And Jesus analogizes it to the woman, Jezebel.

Now you can go into your Old Testament and read the story of Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 16-22, Jezebel was not a Hebrew, like Ahab was, Ahab the king, one of the kings of the Northern Kingdom, she was Phoenician.  And so it was an example of a mixed marriage, a marriage Ahab should have never gotten into in the first place, and once he got into this marriage she influenced him, not for the better but for the worse.

There’s the story in 1 Kings 21 and Naboth’s Vineyard.  Ahab coveted that vineyard, he wanted that vineyard but you see, in the land of Israel a king can’t just do what he wants to do because the king is not over the Law, he is under the Law.  And the nation of Israel had private property rights, so he offered to buy the vineyard.  Naboth would not sell the vineyard and so Ahab went home bound by the Mosaic Law and he began to sulk and pout.  Now his wife, Jezebel, saw him in this condition and began to mock him and ridicule him by saying what kind of king are you?  Let me tell you something, where I come from (Phoenicia) kings do whatever they want.  In fact, kings are demigods, if not outright gods, there is no moral restriction on the king; there is no private property rights a king has to live under.

And so Ahab began to listen to the voice of his wife; she influenced him for the negative.  And he went, 1 Kings 21, took the vineyard, contrary to the Mosaic Law, and murdered Naboth in the process.  And this is one of the reasons God brought the judgment on the northern kingdom’s scattered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

The fact of the matter is, when you’re looking at somebody who’s going to have influence over your life, a pastor, an elder, a teacher, a government ruler, you’d better look pretty carefully at their spouse because the woman over the man has incredible influential power, for good or for bad.  I can testify in my own life that the things that I am doing today, which I think are good… amen?  Or else you wouldn’t be here…  have largely come into existence through the influence of my wife influencing me in a direction for the better.  But how different my life would be if I had married the wrong person.  I can guarantee you that I would not be doing any of the things that I am doing today, I would be moving in a completely different direction.  The power that a woman has over man, particularly within marriage, is inestimable!  It’s almost infinite!

And so it’s very appropriate and Richard Nixon did this, today they would say that’s politically incorrect, you can’t do that.  When he was interviewing Harry Blackman for the position of Supreme Court Justice, Harry Blackman, as you might know, wrote the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision, Richard Nixon asked Harry Blackman what kind of woman is Mrs. Blackman?  Of course, Blackman was shocked by the question.  Today it would be deemed off the record, you can’t ask questions like that.  But you see, Richard Nixon was very wise because he could ascertain the direction a Supreme Court Justice will move in based on the influence of his wife.

And that, essentially is the story of Ahab and Jezebel.  Jezebel was not a positive influence on Ahab.  She was a negative influence and in fact she brought into the northern kingdom through the influence of her husband, the king of the northern kingdom a level of idolatry that that kingdom had never experienced before.  And consequently, Christ here surfaces this woman from the past, this woman, Jezebel.  And you’ll notice what Christ says here of Jezebel—she calls herself a prophetess.  [Revelation 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 other words, she’s not a prophetess, she’s not called by God, she’s self-appointed, she is not recognized as a prophetess so she has to go around telling everybody she is a prophetess.  It’s very similar to what we read back in Revelation 2:2, where there were those in Ephesus who called themselves apostles.  [Revelation 2:2, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false.”]  Were they apostles?  No, they weren’t, but they were self-appointed to this woman, Jezebel, was.

And you’ll notice the root of the problem, and this is why I’ve entitled this sermon Disregarding Divine Directions.  The problem is right there in verse 20.  This is the reason why the church at Thyatira was opened up to a very high degree of deception.  They had disregarded the principles of God concerning leadership.

Look at what it says, “she” and later on in the verse she’s called “that woman” or “the woman,” dunatos, she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray.”  Well, there is the problem!  You have somebody in the flock who has, in whatever capacity usurped the position of a man and is now in a position where she is spiritually leading the church, and in this case, she is misleading the church.

1 Timothy 2:11-14, and please don’t get mad at me for reading the verses, this is God’s standard, not mine, if you have a problem with this take it up with the Lord.  1 Timothy 2:11-14, as Paul writes to Timothy, pastoring in nearby Ephesus, he says, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. [12] But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. [13] For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. [14] And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

The fact of the matter is women, as I’ll show you in just a minute, have a Bible role to play in the church.  However, when it comes to the office of pastor-teacher, when it comes to the office of elder there is a gender limitation on those offices.  And for whatever reason Thyatira, although they had the written Word of God, disregarded God’s instructions.  Maybe it was the political correctness of the culture; maybe it was we’re doing all of these things under the banner of love and equality and tolerance.  Whatever it is they had pushed aside what God had said and now they were open to deception.  This is exactly what 1 Timothy 2:11-14 warns of.

You say well come on Andy, I mean, this was written 2,000 years ago, you can’t take a statement that Paul makes to the church at Ephesus concerning limitations on female leadership within the church and you can’t apply them to the 21st century, can you?   I mean, everybody knows that times have changed and that was just a cultural issue that Paul was dealing with back then and there.  Well, to quote the late Curtis Mitchell, one of my seminary professors, he says: “Don’t take the cultural cop-out, we can dismiss anything we want out of the Bible if you take the cultural cop-out.

And you’ll notice the cultural cop-out is a door that is not opened here with      1 Timothy 2:1-14 because as you notice as I read those verses Paul’s instruction, Paul’s exhortation Paul’s injunction is related to creation itself, before sin even entered the picture.  It’s transcultural, what Paul was saying.  He’s very clear that the man was created first, the woman was created second.  He’s very clear that it was not Adam who sinned first but the woman was deceived.  What does that mean?  I don’t know if I have the complete understanding of it but here’s my take: we’re not saying that women are less valuable than men, both are made in God’s image, both are joint heirs of salvation.  We’re not saying that women are less intelligent than men; just compare me and my wife sometime and you’ll get validation for that.  What we’re saying is there’s something inherent within the woman, maybe it’s her emotional genetics, her emotional DNA, I don’t know, that makes her more open to spiritual deception than a man.

Now once again, this is not my opinion, it’s what your Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and this was the door that the church at Thyatira opened.  They transgressed this; they put this woman, this Jezebelian woman in a place of authority where she was leading and teaching and misleading them as a result.  Why did they do it?  I don’t know.  I mentioned before that this church was likely founded by a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, maybe it had something to do with the fact that this church had a female that was very instrumental in the foundation of this church and somehow Thyatira, as a result, started to sort of disregard the principles of God related to gender.  That’s a possibility.  But whatever happened the door was opened and despite the wonderful things that were happening in Thyatira, Thyatira was compromised from day one because of this problem.

Now before I get too far into this people are going to say well you must be some kind of misogynist; I mean, you must be a real woman hater, which I’m not, I love women so much I married one by the way.  And we are not saying here that the woman has no place in the ministry.  In fact, if you took every woman out of Sugar Land Bible Church the whole place would collapse.  I hear a lot of that’s right, yeah.   [Laughter] Women have a tremendous role to play in ministry.  In fact, who taught Timothy the Scripture from infancy?  Lois and Eunice, his grandmother and his mother, 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15.  [2 Timothy 1:5, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  2 Timothy 3:15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”]

Think of the influence a woman can have over children.   Over in Titus 2, verses 3 and 4, and this is something we desperately need today, older women are to teach what is good so that they may encourage the younger women.  [Titus 2:3, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, [4] so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.”]

I mean, how needed that is for young women as they’re trying to live for God in a fallen world, trying to find their place in the world, how important it is for the older women in God to come alongside those younger women and disciple and counsel.  So women have a tremendous role to play in the church.  In fact, Jesus Christ’s ministry, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, was supported by women.  In fact, it was Lydia who likely founded this church.  So we’re not saying that women have no place; what we’re saying is there are rules that God has established, the board hasn’t established these rules, the board tries to follow God’s rules the best we can.

These are God’s rules.  A woman is not to be a pastor, senior pastor, she is not to preach or teach or exercise authority over men.  And it’s interesting to me how that standard is being violated today.  There’s a big church, I won’t mention its name, you all know what I’m talking about, in fact, everybody around the country knows what church I’m talking about, it’s only about 20 minutes from here.   You drive by on the freeway and what does it say?  Mr. So and So and Mrs. So and So, right there on the sign, co-pastors… CO-pastors!   Such doctrines and behavior and practices within the church are completely and totally foreign to the Word of God.

And it is interesting to me to note the rapid false teaching that has come into the church and how many of these ministries are headed by women as the leader.  We’re living in the times of Thyatira.  A woman is not to teach men; she is not even to teach a mixed audience.  She can have a great role, and we have some wonderful women Bible study teachers here, a great role over other women, a great role over children, but the divine standard is the divine standard.

Thyatira, for whatever reason, chose to ignore 2 Timothy 2:11-14 and they were paying a price here because they allowed a woman more open to spiritual deception into a place of influence and she began to mislead the church at Thyatira to such an extent that Jesus has to correct this church despite all of the other good things that were happening.  And consequently, you read these words here, “she leads my bondservants astray,” bondservants, the Greek word doulos!  John calls himself and the readers bondservants.  That’s who we are; we are slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But you know what, if you’re being misled and being deceived and you’re moving off into man’s teaching rather than God’s teaching you’re not a bondservant any more, are you? You’re a servant to another spirit; you’re a servant to another master.  And apparently there was a group of them in Thyatira moving in this direction.

Now when I talk like this people say Andy, you’re majoring on the minors; you’re dividing the body of Christ when it doesn’t need to be divided.  Let me ask you a question: do you think spiritual deception is a minor issue?  I don’t think that’s a minor issue at all, I think that’s a major issue.  And Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 gives us the formula or the blueprint or the mosaic for avoiding spiritual deception.

Now what was happening in Thyatira, two things that were very Jezebelian—sexual immorality, the sexual standards of God were being discarded, and there was idolatry, the very things that Jezebel influenced Ahab to do thereby corrupting the northern kingdom bringing the mandatory discipline of God through the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  That’s quite a rebuke, isn’t it, verse 20?  [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.”]

Notice verse 21, here’s how you change.  I love how Christ doesn’t just give us the problem, He gives us the formula to change; here’s how you correct it.  And we see that point of correction there in verse 21.  Notice what he says, “‘I gave her” that’s this Jezebelian figure, “I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.”  Notice this word here, “repent.”  When was the last sermon you heard on the word “repent?”  It’s almost a forgotten word.  What does that word even mean?  We’ve studied it, we’ve studied the meaning of it in prior sermons because Jesus uses that word frequently to these seven churches.  “Repent” literally means to change your mind; change your mind about something.  Of course, all of us must repent in order to be saved in the first place, because repentance involves a change of mind.

At some point a person must change their mind about Jesus Christ.  They must stop trusting in religion, stop trusting in self, stop trusting in their own good works, and place their confidence completely in Christ for salvation.  We call that the word believe, which simultaneously involves repentance or a change of mind.  People say should people repent or should they believe?  Or should they believe or should they repent?  The answer to the question is, of course, yes!  Lewis Sperry Chafer says it very well in this quote which I’ve already shared with you, repentance is believing, it’s a synonym for trusting.  And that’s how a person becomes a Christian.  The first tense of their salvation is executed, they are now made right with God on the basis of faith along in Christ alone.

Now God loves us as we are, amen!  But He loves us too much to leave us as we are, because when you get saved and when I got saved our lives were all messed up still.  The bad habits, the bad thinking, all of that goes with you into the Christian life and so the Christian life, which is the middle tense of salvation, sanctification, now becomes a lifestyle of repentance, where the Lord, as you get under the teaching of His Word and become open and sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, will say well, this part of your life is not in accord with My holiness, whatever the issue is, gossip, compulsive spending, any number of things.  And so we repent of that, not to get saved but to grow in Christ.

And then the Lord says well this part of your life needs to change, so we repent of that.  And we say to ourselves, Lord, I don’t know how you’re going to do it, I don’t have the strength to let this sin habit go but I’ve just repented, I’ve changed my mind, and You’re going to have to strengthen me.  And you might fall flat on your face.  But what’s happening is a process has started in your life where you’re learning, we are learning to rely upon the divine resources and this is how God moves us into sanctification, not justification, sanctification where our daily lives are being conformed, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.  You say what is God’s will for my life?  Here it is, you ready?  That your daily life might be conformed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, that our practice in daily life might catch up with our position in justification.  No one arrives perfectly this side of eternity but under the power of God and the resources of God and the teaching of the Word of God great strides can be made.

So, to Thyatira and Jezebel and those influenced by Jezebel I want you to change your mind about this misplaced priority that is opening you up to spiritual deception…repent.  Now it’s very interesting, verse 21, the Lord says I gave her 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.

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 gave her” that’s Jezebel, “time to repent,” the Greek word for “time” is chronos, where we get the word chronology, I gave her a window of grace.  And this is something you’ll see in God as you study the Word of God.  Before God sends discipline, before He sends judgment, there typically is a window of opportunity, the Canaanites had 400 years to get their act together; that’s a long time, before God send in General Joshua who eradicated the Canaanites.   There was an opportunity to change; this is what is being said here, “I gave her” Jezebel and her disciples, “time to repent.”  How long did God wait before He sent the global flood in the days of Noah, Genesis 6:3 says 120 years.  [Genesis 6:3, “Then the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”]  That’s half the length of the global flood in the days of Noah.  Genesis 6:3 says a “hundred and twenty years.”   That’s half the length of the United States of America duration wise.  That’s a long time.  This is why        1 Peter 3:20 talks about the patience of God that kept waiting in the days of Noah.  [1 Peter 3:20, “who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”]

And you see, here’s the deception with sin, it’s like running a red light… I got away with it, nobody was watching.  But you know what, I’ll get away with it the next time, or the next time, or the next time.  And we play this game with God and our hearts are already prone this way because we gravitate towards sin like a moth to the flame.  Sin is like a magnetic pull the way it pulls us in its direction and we think you know what, I got away with it, nothing happened so I’ll do it again, and I’ll do it again, when in reality we confuse the window of grace with the idea that there’s no payday.  That’s what we’ve done.  We’ve deceived our self into thinking that discipline and judgment will never come because we’re experiencing this window of grace.  Thyatira probably thought everything’s fine, the problem is here, we never corrected it, God hasn’t sent discipline, I guess it doesn’t matter and so they deceived themselves into thinking that discipline or judgment or consequences for sin will never follow.

Let me tell you something; consequences follow sin like night follows the day; it’s inevitable, immutable law, and just because the consequences don’t overtake us instantaneously doesn’t mean they’ll never come.  Look at the things that David lost because of the sin of, first of all adultery and then murder, and look at his eviction from his own throne, look at the death of his child, look at the fact that the sword never departed from his household.  See, the thing is, you can pick to sin, that’s your freedom, and so can I, but you don’t get to pick the consequences.

“I gave her time to repent,” look at what it says here, “and she did not want to repent.”  The word translated “want” is thelo in the Greek, which means wish or desire.  The problem isn’t with God, the problem is with Jezebel and her cadre of followers.  They were given a window of grace, I would assume they were given some kind of warning and they just didn’t want to be bothered by it.  And this is how God deals with humanity.  Contrary to some of the very lopsided false theologies that you hear today, which argue that man has no free will in anything, God will not override Himself by force into our lives.  You say well shy not?  It has to do with how we are made; we are made male and female in whose image?  Genesis 1:27, God’s image.  [Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”]  The fall of man has not erased our image bearing status.  It may have effaced it some but it has never been erased, Genesis 9:6, post fall, post flood, still says man is made in God’s image…  [Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”]   James 3:9 tells us in the New Testament age of the church that we still bear the image of God.  [James 3:9, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;”]

If you’re looking for God to kick in the door that’s not how God works.  Many have put it this way: God is a gentleman; if God gave you a free will and He gave me a free will He respects the will that He has assigned to us and that’s why it says the problem here with Jezebel is her lack of desire; it’s not God’s fault, it’s volition on the part of Jezebel.

I was thinking about this human will, divine sovereignty.  I’m reminded of Jesus coming to the man who was a paralytic for 38 years.  Remember that story in John 5:5. [John 5:5, “A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.”]   Do you remember the first question Jesus asked that man, verse 6?  He says “Do you wish to get well?  [John 5:6, “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?”’]  That’s, if I’m not mistaken, thelo again.  Do you want to get well?  You read that and you say well, what kind of question is that, of course he wants to get well, he’s been a paralytic for 38 years.

You’d be surprised at the number of people that have grown so accustomed to their sin and its consequences that they really don’t want much of a change.  We know that this man’s sin had put him into that condition because later on when he’s healed Jesus says don’t go back to sin or something worse is going to happen to you.  I mean, we love sin, don’t we?   Sin brings into our lives a temporal window of pleasure and many times we’re just happy with sin.  We love the darkness rather than the light and so we really don’t want the healing touch of God.  And that was the condition of this woman, Jezebel.

Very quickly, he moves into the consequences; I’ll only be able to articulate here verse 22.  By the way, these consequences are very severe but they have nothing to do with the loss of salvation.  The Bible is very clear in John’s other books, John 10:27-29, that we are in His hand, absolutely nothing can snatch us out.  [John 10:27,My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”] The Greek actually says nothing, two negatives, the strongest double negation you can have in Greek is two negatives together.  And then he throws in the word “forever.”  Is that clear or what?

You’re in His hand, absolutely nothing can take you out but let me tell you something, you move back into sin and there are all kinds of things that you forfeit of value that do not necessarily relate to heaven or hell.  I am on a fast track to glory as are you but there’s an awful lot of things I can give up.

Notice, if you will, verse 22, “Behold,” as he gives the consequence, “I will throw her on a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they” what? “repent….”  [Revelation 2:22] Did you know that God can be very sarcastic?  According to the contemporary English version of the Bible when Elijah was mocking the prophets of Baal it says Baal must be a god, maybe he’s daydreaming or using the toilet.  Where is your god, maybe he’s sitting on the toilet is what Elijah was saying there, according to this translation.  God can be very sarcastic.  In fact, every one of the plagues of Egypt was designed, in the Book of Exodus, to mock an Egyptian deity.  You want to worship frogs, okay, I’ll give you so many frogs you won’t know what to do with them all.  You want to worship the Nile, I’ll turn it into blood red.  And God says to Thyatira do you like the bed of adultery?  Do you like the bed of fornication?  Then I will throw you onto a bed of sickness, you’ll be on the bed so much you won’t know how to get off of it in other words.  That is pure divine sarcasm.

I’m going to bring sickness into the church, 1 Corinthians 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep,” because you’re committing adultery.  Study the Old Testament prophets, when the nation of Israel ran off the rails.  What does God analogize it to?  Harlotry, Ezekiel 16, Ezekiel 23, Hosea 9:1, you played the harlot.  [Hosea 9:1, “Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.”]  James 4:4 calls disobedient Christians adulteresses.  [James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”]

And what is the last days religious system called in the Book of Revelation, (should we ever get there before the rapture)?  The great harlot.  [Revelation 19:2, “BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.’”]

And I am throwing you, God says, into great tribulation.  Now be careful with that word “great tribulation.”  The word “great tribulation” doesn’t always mean the same thing everywhere it’s used.  Here it’s talking about great tribulation that’s coming into Thyatira, not to be confused with the great tribulation coming upon the earth later in the Book of Revelation.  You define the term by how it’s used in context.   But there’s always an out… there’s always an out in God unless they repent.  The consequences can be avoided if you change your mind about what’s happening and under My resources submit to My authority and change your behavior to the Christian.

Maybe that’s a message some of us need to hear today.  Maybe we’ve been going to church so long and hearing so many messages about how God wants us to be happy and healthy and fulfilled that we’ve lost sight of these teachings of the Bible which are calling us to repentance.  Maybe it’s true that somebody here today has never repented initially.  I mean, you’ve never changed your mind about who Jesus is; you’ve gone through the religious thing, you’re doing good works but the gospel is saying that’s not going to save you; in fact, your good works are as what?  Isaiah 64:6, a “filthy rag.”  [Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”]

You’re not going to get anywhere with God trying to curry favor with Him as an unbeliever through doing a bunch of good stuff.  It doesn’t work that way.  So, you need to change your mind about who Jesus is.  You need to stop trusting self, religion, baptism certificate, Sunday School attendance and transfer your confidence, as Lewis Sperry Chafer put it, the one needful trust into Christ and Christ alone for salvation.  The Reformers called it sola fide, faith alone in Christ alone.  Is that not repentance?  Is that not a change of mind?  And so if you’ve never done that I would invite you to do that now.  You don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, join a church to do it, raise a hand to do it, give money to do it; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Lord convicts you of your need to do this and  you change your mind about who Christ is;  you trust in Him and His finished work for salvation.  If that’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

But what about those of us who are saved?  What do we do?  Well, you’re saved, so here’s the deal; you’ve got an opportunity today, tomorrow, this week, next week, to go right on back to the sin nature and what is the Lord calling us to do?  To exhibit, to exercise a lifestyle of repentance.  If the Holy Spirit is surfacing something in your life that is not right with Him repent of that, change your mind about it and ask the Lord for His power to change your lifestyle.  And as that happens you’re making progress, not in the first tense of your salvation, that’s done, but you’re growing in the will of God into that glorious moral image of Christ into Christlikeness.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for the teachings that You’ve given us here in the church of Thyatira, hardly even halfway through the verses but I just pray You’ll continue to work in our lives, in our midst, as we study and give ourselves to this section of the Scripture.  We ask, Father, that we would not just be going through the Book of Revelation but we ask specifically that the Book of Revelation would be going through us as You conform us into the image of Your Son in daily life.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.