Jesus Unveiled

Hold On To Faith

(Revelation 2:18-29)

 

INTRODUCTION

Several years ago a quaint little eatery was purchased by a couple. ​​ It was a favorite place for individuals to frequent on the weekends while enjoying time at the lake.

 

There was one change that this couple made that created quite a stir in the community. ​​ They were no longer going to be open on Sunday. ​​ This was the personal conviction of the couple as followers of Jesus Christ. ​​ Those who frequented this place on the weekends were struggling to understand why they would close on one of the days when most people came to eat there. ​​ There was talk about how this eatery probably wouldn’t survive, because of being closed on Sundays.

 

As they began to serve individuals six days a week during the summer months, it became clear that this little eatery was not failing, but rather thriving! ​​ They were doing some great business and serving their customers well. ​​ Closing on Sunday wasn’t hurting them after all. ​​ They are successful, because they are faithful.

 

This quaint little eatery is our very own Twirly Top. ​​ We are proud of their faithfulness to the Lord and that they did not give in to the economic pressures of our society. ​​ God has blessed them and they have been generous within this community.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Faithfulness in work

        • I have worked independently for most of my career (3 years out of college I began working for Child Evangelism Fellowship as local director)

        • Working independently requires me to be faithful in my work, otherwise nothing would get done

    • Faithfulness in marriage

        • In the 26, almost 27 years of marriage, I have been faithful to Judy and she has been faithful to me

        • We were faithful to remaining sexually pure until we were married

        • Remaining faithful to each other has protected us from any unwanted sexual diseases

 

  • WE

    • Faithful at school

    • Faithful at work

    • Faithful in relationships (physically and spiritually)

 

Jesus wants us to understand from the letter to the believers at Thyatira that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Spiritual faithfulness protects us from the disease of compromise.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Revelation 2:18-29)

    • Thyatira

        • This little known city “was founded by Seleucus I as a military outpost to guard one the approaches to his empire.” ​​ [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 84]

        • While it was a military outpost, it did not have any features that would allow it be defended very well (it was on a wide open plain)

        • It was well known for its trade guilds

          • “Ramsay notes that inscriptions, although not especially numerous, mention ‘woolworkers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers and bronze-smiths.’” ​​ [Mounce, 84-85]

          • The most well-known resident of Thyatira would be Lydia whom Paul introduces us to in Acts 16:14

            • Paul and Silas are in Philippi

            • There was no synagogue there, so they went outside the city gates to the river’s edge to see if there was a place of prayer there

            • They found several women there and began to talk with them

            • Acts 16:14, One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. ​​ The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

          • Each trade guild had their own patron god or goddess

            • There were feasts and festivals to those particular gods and goddesses

            • As a member of the trade guild, you were required to attend and participate in the activities associated with the feasts and festivals

            • Not participating in the feasts and festivals or not joining a trade guild were frowned on

            • “Those who participated in this aspect of public economic life would risk a substantial measure of their livelihood by refusing to join trade guilds.” ​​ [Keener, The NIV Application Commentary, Revelation, 133]

          • As we’ll see this was going to be an issue for a follower of Jesus Christ

        • It is amazing how Jesus’ message fits each city so well

        • The characteristics shared for each city has incredible significance

    • Characteristic of the Sender (v. 18)

        • Words of the Son of God

          • This is the only place in the book of Revelation where Jesus is called the Son of God

          • The significance of this has to do with the deities that were worshiped in Thyatira

            • Apollo was one of the main patron deities that was worshiped in Thyatira

            • Apollo was the son of Zeus

            • There was a very tight connection between the worship of Apollo and Emperor worship

            • Both were considered to be saviors in Asia Minor

          • Using the title, Son of God, put in contrast the fact that Apollo was not the true Son of God, but Jesus Christ is!

          • The two characteristics shared, simply amplify the fact that Jesus is the true Son of God

        • Eyes like blazing fire

          • As we saw in Revelation 1:14, Jesus’ eyes being like blazing fire represented the fact that He is all-knowing (omniscient)

          • He is able to see everything that is happening in the churches in Asia Minor, especially the seductive arguments of a self-proclaimed prophetess in Thyatira

          • Jesus is able to “see all actions, thoughts, and emotions.” ​​ [Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 69]

          • His knowledge is all-encompassing

          • Jesus is not only all-knowing, but He is all-powerful

        • Feet like burnished bronze

          • The burnished bronze feet are representative of strength, stability, and splendor

          • Jesus’ attribute here is His omnipotence

          • This attribute of Jesus is also found in Revelation 1:15

          • The believers in Thyatira would have connected with the concept of burnished bronze, because one of the trades they were known for was bronze-smith

            • They had developed a technique of mixing zinc with copper, which created a purer and stronger alloy

            • This purer and stronger alloy was perfect for coinage and instruments of war

          • Jesus is then identified as having feet of burnished bronze, which meant He was strong and stable and could handle any situation that would come His way as the leader of the church in Thyatira

          • Their burnished bronze instruments were nothing compared to Jesus’ purity and strength

        • This all-knowing and all-powerful Jesus had some good things to say about the believers in Thyatira

    • Compliment to the Recipients (v. 19)

        • Jesus tells them that He knows their deeds, which He then expresses in two aspects

        • Motives

          • The two motives behind the deeds were love and faith

          • Love

            • The Greek word is agape

            • They had a genuine love for Christ and for others

            • This was the opposite of what was taking place in Ephesus

              • There, they were more concerned about orthodoxy (sound doctrine), but were practicing it without love

              • They had lost their first love

              • But, they were testing those who were claiming to be apostles (teachers)

            • As we’ll see some of the believers in Thyatira were loving others, but were not testing one individual who was a self-proclaimed prophetess

          • Faith

            • They had a genuine faith in God that motivated them

            • They understood that faith was not just an internal decision, but that it needed to be put into action

            • James expounds on how faith and actions work together

            • Read James 2:14-26

            • The believers in Thyatira understood that one of the motives for service and perseverance is faith

          • They were motivated to do good deeds because of their love for Christ and their faith in God

        • Results

          • The result of being motivated by love and faith was that they served others and persevered under pressure

          • Service

            • We get our English word “deacon” from the Greek word for service

            • “A person with a servant’s heart is one who, with long-suffering and steadfastness, will give himself deliberately, voluntarily, sacrificially, and joyfully to others in order that he may help meet their needs. ​​ He will walk away from his own concerns and private interests and give himself – his time, his wisdom, his knowledge, his talents, and his gifts – in order to help others.” ​​ [Akin, 70]

          • Perseverance

            • As they held onto their faith in Jesus Christ, they would be able to persevere under the pressures they would face from the trade guilds

            • They probably had been members of these guilds for many years

            • They were also going to be able to endure the pressures to compromise that were being taught by a false prophetess (Jezebel)

          • “Love for others had produced service; faith in Christ had assured perseverance in their commitment to him.” ​​ [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 40]

        • Growth in Christian maturity

          • As they grew in their faith with Jesus Christ, they also grew in their love for Him and for others

          • Their service to others and perseverance in trials also grew

          • They had not become stagnant in their love, faith, service, or perseverance

          • In fact it continued to grow, which is unusual for churches that have been established for a long time

            • The natural tendency for long established churches is to focus inwardly on their own needs and desires instead of focusing outwardly

            • We cannot rest on the love, faith, service, and perseverance that we once did

            • We must continue to grow in our love, faith, service, and perseverance

            • PRINCIPLE: ​​ God is pleased when His people continue to grow in their love and faithfulness.

              • Are we growing in our love for Jesus and others, which is evident through our service to those in need?

              • Are we growing in our faithfulness to God, which is manifested in our perseverance against societal pressures to compromise?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me grow in my love for Him and others and in my faithfulness to Him.

        • While the believers at Thyatira were growing in their love and faithfulness, Jesus had one major concern for them

    • Criticism of the Recipients (vv. 20-22a)

        • Tolerance of a false prophetess

          • “The exalted Christ uses a stronger verb here than with Pergamum. ​​ There the church ‘had’ false teachers among them; here they ‘tolerate’ the leader ‘Jezebel.’” ​​ [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 155]

          • The name Jezebel was descriptive of this woman and not her actual name

            • Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab

            • We find her story in 1 Kings 16:31-21:25 and 2 Kings 9

            • Her marriage to King Ahab was political in nature

            • She lead Israel away from God into the worship of the Canaanite deity, Baal

            • The consequences of her actions resulted in a violent death

          • The modern “Jezebel” was doing the same thing with the believers in Thyatira – leading them away from God into spiritual adultery with the pagan world

            • God had not called her to be His prophetess, but rather she was saying that she spoke for God

            • God has throughout history used women to be His prophetesses, but this woman was not one of them

          • Her teachings

            • We see here that through her teachings she was misleading God’s servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols

            • The believers in Thyatira were between a rock and a hard place

            • In order to avoid social isolation and economic hardship, they had to participate in the various meals that were dedicated to the pagan deity of the guild with which they were members

            • These feasts and festivals from time-to-time included sexual immorality

            • This “Jezebel” was teaching the believers that it was fine to compartmentalize their sacred and secular worlds [Akin, 73]

            • For her, following Jesus Christ didn’t mean making sacrifices that would hurt their livelihood – it wasn’t a complete turning away from sin to following Jesus Christ

            • It was a syncretism of the sacred and the secular – you can have both and still call yourself a Christian

            • However, that’s not what scripture teaches or what God calls us to

            • PRINCIPLE: ​​ God will not tolerate compromise in His people

              • God calls us to purity and holiness, both sexually and spiritually

                • God makes it clear that the sexual union between a man and a woman is to only be enjoyed within the institution of marriage, which he created and formed

                • This sexual union is good within those parameters and when it is practiced the way God designed it, there is no fear of contracting any kind of sexually transmitted disease

                • The same is true of our spiritual walk – when we practice Christianity in the way God designed it, we don’t have to fear the disease of compromise

                  • We also don’t have to worry about the diseases of gossip, anger, bitterness, fear, faithlessness, false testimonies, disunity, discord, lying, cheating, and the list goes on

                  • When we practice the Biblical model of Christianity those diseases will not plague us, because we will handle each of those situations correctly

              • He calls us to follow Him and not the world

              • 1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or anything in the world. ​​ If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. ​​ For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. ​​ The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

              • God understands that spiritual faithfulness protects us from the disease of compromise

              • “When the church looks like the world, you have a sick church. ​​ When the church acts like the world, you have an impotent church. ​​ When the church plays with the world, you have an unfaithful church. ​​ [Akin, 73]

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to God that I have not been spiritually faithful to Him and am struggling with the disease of compromise.

          • There are consequences to spiritual compromise and a refusal to repent of it

        • Jesus punishment for her

          • Jesus had given this woman ample time to repent, but she was unwilling

          • He cast her on a bed of suffering

            • She was leading God’s people into spiritual sickness

            • Jesus’ punishment for her was to allow her to experience suffering through sickness

            • We see in the story of Job that his friends wanted him to repent of his sins, because they believed his illness and the misfortunate that had befallen him was a result of his sin

            • Paul explains to the Corinthian believers why some of them were and sick and some had died

            • 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. ​​ A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. ​​ For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. ​​ That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

            • It was not uncommon for sickness and even death to be part of God’s punishment for people who were misleading His people or not being obedient to His commands

        • Jesus is not pleased that the believers in Thyatira have tolerated a woman who has been teaching them that compromise is fine when it comes to trade guild activities

        • He has a couple of commands for those in Thyatira

    • Command to the Recipients (vv. 22b-25)

        • Those who are tolerant of compromise

          • Most scholars see a distinction between the individuals who were tolerating compromise

            • Those who were committing adultery with her

              • They were going to hear what she had to say, but were not completely convinced of her teachings

              • They perhaps thought that her words seemed logical and had some merit to them

              • They understood how difficult it was to make a living in Thyatira without being a member of a trade guild or abstaining from participation in the sexual immorality and eating of food sacrificed to idols

              • While they were being drawn in to her way of thinking, they were not full members yet – they still had doubts

              • Intense suffering

                • God was going to use intense suffering to draw them back to Himself

                • The purpose of the intense suffering was not to alienate them from Him, but to bring about repentance and restoration

                • Proverbs 3:11-12, My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

                • Read Hebrews 12:4-11

              • These individuals still have an opportunity to repent – to turn away from the disease of compromise

            • Those who are her children

              • These individuals have become full members of her teaching

              • They have embraced her ideas about sexual immorality and idolatry being fine if it’s practiced within the confines of the trade guild and if it allows them to remain successful in their livelihood

              • They are unwilling to repent of the disease of compromise and are about to be struck dead by Jesus Christ

            • Jesus knows the hearts and minds of those who are flirting with compromise and those who have embraced it completely

          • Eyes like blazing fire

            • We see the importance of Jesus being characterized as one with eyes like blazing fire

              • He is all-knowing and is aware of the hearts and minds of those in Thyatira who have compromised or are thinking about compromising their spiritual faithfulness

              • He knows if they have committed spiritual adultery and have added to the Gospel of Jesus Christ the teachings of “Jezebel”

              • His judgment on the believers in Thyatira is to be a warning to all the churches of His ability to see things clearly and to judge rightly

              • 1 Timothy 5:20, Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

            • Since He knows their hearts and minds, He will repay each person according to their deeds

              • We see that Jeremiah and Paul agree with Jesus about being repaid according to our deeds

              • Jeremiah 17:10, I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.

              • Matthew 16:27, For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

              • Romans 2:6, God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”

            • Jesus still has eyes like blazing fire

              • He knows our hearts and minds

              • He knows if we are flirting with the disease of compromise or if we have given ourselves completely over to it

              • He knows if we are trying to syncretize the Gospel with society

              • He knows if we are claiming to be His followers, but continue to participate in sexual immorality and idolatry

              • He knows if we’re trying to justify our sin instead of repenting of it (gossip, bitterness, anger, lying, cheating, faithlessness, fear, false testimonies, disunity, and discord)

          • While these two groups were struggling with the disease of compromise there were others who had remained spiritually faithful

        • Those who are not tolerant of compromise

          • The rest of the believers in Thyatira had not given in the disease of compromise

          • They had not learned the so-called deep secrets of Satan

            • There was a belief system that to really understand and fully embrace the grace of God that an individual must first delve into the depths of evil [Mounce, 89]

            • We certainly know of individuals who have experienced the depths of evil, although they wouldn’t have seen it that way at the time

            • God’s grace was sufficient for them when they were ready to repent of their sins and turn to Him

            • But, we don’t have to experience the depths of Satan’s secrets in order to understand and embrace God’s grace

            • There are individuals who accepted God’s grace at an early age and have continued to mature in their faith over the years

          • Jesus tells them that He will not place any other burden on them

          • His last command to them is to hold on to what they have until He comes

            • They are to “maintain a firm grip on the truths of the faith against the false teachings of Jezebel and the other Nicolaitans.” ​​ [Osborne, 164]

            • They have been loving, faithful servants who have persevered and continued to grow under intense peer pressure

            • Jesus is encouraging them to continue that pattern

            • Spiritual faithfulness protects us from the disease of compromise.

        • Jesus promises two things to the believers who overcome the disease of compromise and remain spiritually faithful to Him

    • Commitment to all who Overcome (vv. 26-29)

        • We will rule the nations with Jesus

          • The verb “rule” means “to shepherd”

          • The iron scepter may be referring to a wooden club capped with iron that a shepherd used to ward off wild beasts

          • The dashing of the nations to pieces like pottery expresses the strength of Christ in overcoming the rebellious nations

          • It is perhaps a reference back to Him having feet like burnished bronze (strength and power)

        • We will have eternal life

          • If we overcome, we will spend eternity with Jesus Christ and experience the “abiding, close, imminent, and eternal fellowship with the Lord himself.” ​​ [Patterson, New American Commentary, Revelation, 118]

 

  • YOU

    • Two thoughts

        • “How far should I accept and adopt contemporary standards and practices?” ​​ [Keener, 137]

        • “Jesus’ approval on the Day of Judgment has to matter more to us than wealth or status in this life.” ​​ [Keener, 139]

    • Where are you at?

        • Are you remaining spiritually faithful to the Lord through the pressures to compromise?

        • Which matters more to you, Jesus’ approval or wealth and status in this life?

 

  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to protect fellow believers from false teaching about syncretism

    • We have to be vigilant in exposing and rejecting anything that takes our focus off of Jesus Christ and His Gospel alone

    • We cannot tolerate spiritual adultery which will lead to the disease of compromise

 

CONCLUSION

“Seventy-two percent of Americans in the 18-25 age bracket believe there is no such thing as absolute truth; this view appears to be shared by over half of those who claim to be born-again Christians. ​​ Much of our society has absolutized relativism (how is that for oxymoronic thinking?) as the only nonnegotiable truth, in essence arguing that everyone is right unless one claims to be. ​​ One commentator cautions, ‘For some people today tolerance is the only real virtue and intolerance the only vice’; another that ‘while the message to Ephesus warns the church about the dangers of loveless orthodoxy, the message to Thyatira warns against the dangers of a ‘soft’ love that tolerates all things and judges none’. . . because relativism has become increasingly popular in our culture, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ for salvation has become a more uncomfortable position for many to hold. ​​ ‘Over nineteen centuries of Christian missionary activity hinged on this belief alone, but studies reveal that this remains ‘the single most socially offensive aspect of Christian theology,’ and that this has been the most prominent impact of theological liberalism.” ​​ [Keener, 139-140]

12