I’m at the midpoint of the seven letters written to the seven churches in Revelation, the letter written to the angel of the church at Thyatira. And, if anything is clear up to this point, it is that Jesus knows.
“I know your works,” says the One who walks among the churches to Ephesus (Rev. 2:2). “I know your tribulations,” says the First and Last to Smyrna (2:9). Says the One who has the two-edged sword to the church at Pergamum, “I know where you live and what it’s like” (2:13). And to Thyatira, ” I know your latter works exceed the first,” says the Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like burnished bronze (2:19).
Does Jesus know? Yes, He knows. Does Jesus care? You better believe He cares. So much so that, while He acknowledges their faithfulness, He also loves them too much not to call out their need. For three of the four churches so far, after commending them, He says this, “But I have this against you . . . ”
The One who searches mind and heart knows what’s up, all of it! And He who gives according to our works loves us too much to not call us out when our works are lacking or misdirected. It’s part of completing the work He has promised to complete in us (Php. 1:6). And, in the case of Thyatira, it’s not so much what they were doing, but what they weren’t doing that’s got me thinking this morning.
“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” ~ Jesus
(Revelation 2:19-20 ESV)
Don’t know who this lady, Jezebel, is. Don’t know if that was her actual name or if she was just being likened to King Ahab’s idol-worshiping wife who had corrupted Israel. But it would seem she was a lady who got some air-time in the church. Maybe from the pulpit. Maybe as a bible study leader. Maybe simply by being an influential member of the church who had a platform for voicing her teaching..
Whatever the platform, she claimed to be a prophetess. She had a word from God for the church family. She had a new teaching, some new and improved food, for the flock. And it was seducing precious saints to engaging in sexual immorality. It was leading some astray to get increasingly comfortable with idolatry. She was spreading what some called “the deep things of Satan” (2:24) and there were those who were being swallowed up in it.
And here’s what Jesus knew. He knew what they weren’t doing. The church at Thyatira wasn’t dealing with it. Instead, they were tolerating that woman Jezebel.
They let her alone. Didn’t try to restrain or rebuke her. They were allowing her to teach. Letting her say what she said the Lord wanted her to say. They played it low-key and looked the other way. And to this church, says Him who has eyes like fire, “I have this against you.”
A reminder that even today the enemy will plant Jezebels within the church, male and female, with some “new revelation” which, at it’s core, preaches compromise. That we are not immune from orthodox sounding voices to be sowing unorthodox seed.
And the church is not to put up with it. But to call it out for what it is, false teaching. To stand opposed to anything which compromises fidelity to the Lord and to His word. To deal with the leaven before it leavens the whole lump.
Might the Bride of Christ be faithful to her Bridegroom. Might she not allow anything in that would lead souls astray and towards rebellion. Would she heed the call to confront false teaching and expose phony prophets. The call not to tolerate it.
That she might “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
By His grace. For His glory.