Today’s reading is the letter to Thyatira. Thyatira is one of those words that I enjoy pronouncing — it is so much fun to say it. Take a moment or two and just say it out loud over and over — Thyatira. Isn’t that fun.
Too bad the words Jesus has for them aren’t really that much fun.
Friday Week Two, Rev. 2:18-29
18. To the angel of the church at Thyatira write these things: the Son of God, the one having the flaming eyes and the bronze feet says,
19. ‘I know your works, love, faith, service, patience, and I know your recent works are greater than your earlier works.
20. But I have this against you, you tolerate that Jezebel woman, the one who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and deceives my slaves to fornicate and to eat food offered to idols.
21. I gave her time so that she might repent, but she did not want to repent from her fornicating.
22. Behold, I will throw her and everyone she’s in bed with into great distress if they do not repent from her works.
23. I will kill her children in death. All the churches will know that I myself search the heart and guts. I will give to each of you according to your works.
24. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, those not holding this teaching, those who do not know the secrets of Satan, I say I will not put another burden on you.
25. Except, you must hold on to what you have until I come.
26. I will give those who conquer and keep my works until the end authority over the nations,
27. to shepherd them with a rod of iron as when the ceramic pot is broken.
28. Just as I have received from my father, likewise I will give the morning star.
29. Those having ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
The church at Thyatira has a lot going for it. Jesus commends it for love, faith, service, and patience. Look at that list again. These people are serious about the Christian life. Yet, they are not what they should be. They put up with that which they shouldn’t put up with.
They tolerate that woman. Jesus calls her Jezebel, a slur from the Old Testament. It means she is an idolator, a murderer, and manipulator. I’m not certain exactly what that Jezebel woman is up to, but I suspect, in context, she is preaching a power that is based on getting ‘into bed’ with government, rulers, and commerce. Jezebel is in it for the money and power, and she uses the church to get what she wants.
The curious thing, and I mean it that way, curious, is how Jesus seems to bend over backwards to give the people in Thyatira more time to repent. He seems more patient with them than others. He says he’s already given them time to repent, and even as he comes to punish them, he says he is still judging the hearts and ‘guts’. The word for guts is kidneys. The point is, he is not bringing blanket condemnation like a removal of a lampstand. He keeps holding out for hope of repentance. I feel like the reason for this is the remnant’s presence — those who have not studied the ways of Satan or follow that Jezebel woman. These are pure and sincere, and for them, the Lord will not lay any more burden. Their sincerity covers a multitude of sins.
Verses 26 and 27 compare nicely with the Messianic language of Psalm 2, where the language soars making the nations a heritage and the ends of the earth a possess, and ruling with a rod of iron and smashing them to pieces like a potters vessel. Not that we should naturally think this way, but the way Jesus uses Psalm 2 here to apply to his followers in their faithfulness, could be instructive in perhaps the way we should or could read some of the Psalms.
Those who have ears should listen.