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ATN 5 - "Of Jezebel and the Morning Star"

Review: “All Things New”

  • John is in exile on the island of Patmos, a Roman mining colony (He will be later released under Emperor Nerva, and was “in the Spirit” on the “Lord’s Day” and had a vision

  • The Book of Revelation is the conclusion of the epic story of God’s redemption of humanity, where we are fully reunited with our Creator and are present with Him as we were in the Garden

  • The Kingdom of God is fully realized: all sickness, pain, sorrow, and death – and all those who cause it – are removed from the universe

  • There is universal restoration – all things are made new

  • This book is an apokalypsis (a figurative narrative that reveals) and prophecy (the speaking of God’s will) and a letter (to real people for life-application)

  • It’s a manifesto for the Kingdom of God – a public declaration of God’s intentions; things which “are” and “are to come”

  • A blessing on those who “hear” and “keep” what is revealed here – think, the “Shema.” Update: there is no word for “obedience” in Hebrew)

    • shema levot: Hb.“hearing hearts” vs. obedience (Western view)

    • NOT a mental evaluation with obedience upon agreement, put an open and willing heart which responds to God

    • To hear is to obey; belief takes form ONLY in action

  • The tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance. Yet, it is all “in Jesus” – making it possible and hope-filled

  • “Seven lampstands” are the seven churches/ all churches, and Jesus identifies Himself as present with them and engaged

  • “Seven stars” – the leaders of the churches, firmly in His grip

  • “Sharp two-edged sword”

  • Things that are and are to come later: present and future application of the revelation


 The Message to the Fourth Church: Thyatira

  • Thyatira is about 30 miles south of Pergamum, in Lydia, the church being founded by the woman Lydia, who was a convert of Paul (cf. Acts 16:14)

    • The main temple was of Tyrimnos, the local sun god. Another temple was for the Greek goddess Sambethe, who spoke for Apollo, and where a pagan prophetess (a sibyl) spoke for the goddess

    • A center of manufacturing for dyed cloth, bronze, and pottery, with very strong guilds – each with their associated pagan deities. Christian tradesmen would have found this a difficult environment to gain employment

    • Smallest of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation, but with the longest letter

  • V.18 – Identifies as the Son of God (not son of man), who has a penetrating vision (eyes) and is immovable in His judgment (feet)

  • V.19a – “I know your works” – Jesus is present and is intimately acquainted with their daily lives

  • V19b – love, faith (inner state), service, patient endurance (exterior action)

  • V.19c – “which are greater than at first” – their works have grown even in the face of adversity!

  • V.20 – the “conflict with them: they tolerate the false prophetess “Jezebel”

    • The OT Jezebel was the daughter of the pagan king of Sidon, who was a Baal worshipper, married King Ahab, and led him away from YHWH

    • “Tolerate” – to allow, to overlook, to not discuss now

    • “Teaching and seducing my servants” -  drawing off the correct by through her teaching, which included participation in the fornication/adultery and covenant meals associated with pagan worship – again, all covenant violations

    • So, there is a woman in the church who is probably associated with the Sambethe cult and acting as a “sibyl,” claiming participation in their former pagan culture is permitted for Christians

    • The leaders and others are allowing her to spread this false doctrine – and not confronting her! They are allowing cultural compromise

  • V.21 – Like the first Jezebel, God has stayed His hand of judgment, giving her “an opportunity to come out of” her sexual immorality but she is willfully refusing to do so, indeed, “desires to continue in it”

  • V.22 – the “sickbed” image is a defiled marriage bed, the bed of a prostitute, where the covenant-breaking adultery takes place – dual meaning of both the physical acts going on and their idolatrous/covenant-breaking nature. those who participate with her will be judged

  • V.23 – her “children” are the product of her “adultery,” those who embrace her teaching, will be “killed” by Christ – as Jehu did to Ahab’s 70 sons – in order to purify His church

    • He is the One who knows the mind and heart and will judge them according to their works

    • What He does will be a demonstration for all of the churches

  • Vs. 24-25 – but those who do not accept her and her teachings, Christ places no further burden – no other expectation but simple shema

  • Vs.26-29 – those who conquer (stay faithful) will have a place of authority in the reordered social structure of the Kingdom of God

    • “iron rods” vs. “clay pots” – a statement about the authority of Christ superseding that of the guilds

    • If they shema, they receive Christ Himself, the Bright and Morning Star!

Why This Matters

  • Again, like Thyatira, we face a culture that has a different value set from ours a disciples of Jesus

  • There is a mixture of cultural beliefs and Christian doctrine leading to deception

  • There is a Jezebelic spirit that seeks to neuter leadership and pull people away through using common cultural practices

  • False prophets and teachers and their disciples, are not to be tolerated in the church. Such people, and those who hold such teachings are to be confronted and called to repentance

  • There is no great burden upon us, just shema: Matthew 11:28-30

  • We can progress/improve/grow in our obedience – Oecumenius, 6thC church father

  • Again, he promises Himself to those who conquer through obedience!

Your Next Steps

  • What did the Holy Spirit point out to you today?

  • Read next week’s passage: Revelation 3:1-6

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