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The Church in Thyatira (Part 3)

I needed to go to the Pharmacy this morning. Before I left I called a colleague and asked him if he would like a quick coffee. As he had a 10.30am appointment we met between 9and 10am. Part of our chat was about the Puritans and their writings and sermons which led to talking about sermon presentation and application. He was saying the sermon’s application for him is the most difficult part of preparation. I agreed with this statement. Application is always hard work … sweat! Teaching doctrine and theology must lead to application. Then I started thinking about the Daily Notes in Revelation 2 and 3 realizing that there is so much application for the pastor, Church and people. However hard application is, it is necessary to buckle down as do it because that part of the sermon is … “Thus says the Lord to you!” Coming back to the pastor and congregation at Thyatira … we now see … 2) What the Lord Jesus has against this Church whose “deeds” were so impressive (see yesterday’s Note).

Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

What a loaded verse!

(1) You tolerate that woman Jezebel. John uses the name Jezebel symbolically, but let’s consider the actual woman called Jezebel in the Old Testament.

(a) She was a pagan princess who married Ahab the king of Israel (Northern Kingdom).

1 Ki 16:30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.

It seems that immediately after marriage he started to worship and serve Baal erecting an altar for him and an Asherah pole. She was evil and so was he, though once she entered his life he became a despot.

(b) She sought to remove all God’s prophets.

1 Ki 18:4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’S prophets.

Not only did she introduce the king to pagan worship of the most sordid kind, she tried to eradicate God’s voice … His spokesmen … His conscience in the country. If she could do this, sinister evil would reign supreme but she did not know that God hid a thousand of His prophets in a cave.

(c) She was the reason her husband, the king was so decidedly wicked.

1Ki 21:25 There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.

See how evil she was? Urged on by Jezebel, the king “sold himself” to evil behaving in the “vilest” way following pagan gods.

(d) She lived in sinister debauchery.

2Ki 9:22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?” “How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”

Every form of wickedness was found in this evil woman. As the Lord Jesus says … You tolerate that woman Jezebel … He includes everything the wicked Jezebel stood for. The symbol is that everything Jezebel stood for, was a continual threat to true religion amongst the people of God.

(2) The Baal Cult prospered because of the sordid sexual practices freely offered to worshippers as well as food that was offered and dedicated to various idols. Participation in both meant association and union with Baal and disassociation from the true God, the LORD. That is the picture arising from Jesus’ words … By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. We live at a time in history no different to the days of Jezebel or the First Century. Sexual Immorality is to be found all over. Whatever the shape of sexual activity that does not conform to God’s Holy Word images “Jezebel”. God’s Word is extremely clear on what pure intimacy is.

Ge 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

The text speaks of a legal marriage between a man and a woman, where there is love, God’s blessing and intimacy without shame. In our age we find that all forms and shapes of sexual lust and immorality are seen as good and acceptable. It does not matter how decadent and decaying it is as long as it’s hedonistic! You see, the application of Jezebel as a symbol covers all sex experiences outside of God’s sanction … and all of it is associated with idolatry and paganism. Most people don’t realize how much God speaks against sexual immorality in Scripture, yet the persistent indulgence of all types of immoral and licentious conduct is to be found everywhere. It’s very easy to look at those who fall into the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual or Ally category and ignore all the prostitution (male and female), the adultery, the pornography, the fantasy, the fornication, the living together, etc. The deception of satan is to use something beautiful and pure for marriage … created by God in holiness as a fruit of true love … to intoxicate people into his offering. The harem of seduction is subtle because it plays to the depraved nature … and works slowly until it captivates the senses eventually seducing the person to eat the foods sacrificed to idolatry. That is the foods of sexual immorality. It is a god and this god is worshipped. Once in its claws it is extremely difficult to admit the magnitude of this sin and even harder to escape the harem of exquisite sensual wickedness. It is however possible to escape through the Blood of the Lord Jesus. (Read 1 Cor 6:9-11 as one example). O Lord our Holy God, search our hearts with your omniscient penetrating vision and expose any sexual immorality in our hearts.

Forgive and helps us to pursue holiness and purity in Jesus. Amen.

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