Excerpt from Citam Buru Buru Bible Study
Some of the things that derail positive progress in life may come from within or from without. Unlike in the Pergamum church where the external influence and its values found their way in and had gotten entrenched within, the church of Thyatira had only external challenges to overcome while they are spurred to continue in their path of dedication to the Lord (vs19).
Being the longest letter so far, it is quite unique in that Jesus warning focuses on the punishment that will befall the mis-leader (Jezebel) and anyone who gets associated with her(vs. 22-23a). The punishment declared is for the sake of God’s glory (vs. 23b) to keep them on the straight and narrow. First, we will find out what could have made them to allow Jezebel to propagate her misleading teachings despite such a commendable dedication to God. Are there ways in which the church today is permitting the “Jezebels” of our day to mislead God’s people?
Even though we live in the world that is under the manipulation of the devil, it is possible as Christians to give him certain openings in into our lives which could result in suffering upon our lives. Jesus described the devil as the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a) and encourages us to know and trust Him as the true Shepherd.
Apostle Paul warned Christians not to give him a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) while prescribing that we take our stand and combat him (Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Peter associates his operation with that of a devouring lion which always stalks its prey (1 Peter 5:8-9) and together with James they tell us to resist him (James 4:7-8).
With these dreadful pictures of our enemy Satan, no one would tolerate even the thought of having any close dealings with him. Yet the demonic operations, sufferings and lack of breakthrough in the lives of believers are all evidences of Satan’s work. In this study we will also seek to answer the question: if we are totally liberated from the work of the evil one when we accept Jesus into our lives, then what are the areas in our lives grants him access into our lives?
Jesus commended the church in Thyatira for their love, faith, service and perseverance and doing more than what they did before. He warned the church against tolerating the woman called Jezebel who was a false prophet. She misled the church into sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. Those who engaged in idolatry with her were warned and that they too would suffer punishment if they did not repent. He promises those who have not followed her ways that he will not impose any more burdens to them. He promises to give those who remain faithful authority over other nations, victory over their enemies and the morning star.
It is probable that this woman was given the name Jezebel which was synonymous to King Ahab’s wife who was a worshiper of idols. The woman in this church was similar to Jezebel as she led some members of the church into worshiping of idols.
According to history, the city of Thyatira was a commercial town. A lot of trade and commercial businesses happened here. For one to prosper in their business, trade agreements were made which involved meetings that involved sacrifices that were against the Christian faith.
Doesn’t this church give the perfect example of what is happening in my country as we speak! Kenya is fighting corruption, every day on the news ninety percent of what is covered on the news are stories of government scandals. And this is happening in a country where 80% of the population is Christian. Doesn’t this tell you something about the church? It has allowed Jezebel. People value money more than God and are willing to compromise their faith just to engage in corruption.
As a church, we need to go back to the drawing board and speak boldly against the evils happening. The church is silent on this. And by church I don’t mean the Pastors but individuals; the 80% who make up the Christian faith are silent on corruption and not speaking up boldly against it.
We also need to change our attitudes towards corruption and search within ourselves. Only a change in attitude will be the first step for the community to change the vice of corruption.
The mention of Jezebel’s punishment was important for the church as it prepared those who had fallen into her trap time to change their ways. It allowed them time to wake up and repent from their sin.
There are many ways the woman Jezebel described in the text is evident today. I will mention three in this discussion:
First, Jezebel is a liar and she persuades people to follow what is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. In this church she made some members of the church commit sexual immorality and eat food that was meant for idols. She lied that this was right and yet it was a sin. This is evident even today, where people commit sexual immorality through adultery and fornication.
Secondly, she sowed seeds of discord, by committing adultery it means she sowed seeds of discord in marriages and caused couples to sin in this way. It is very similar today with marriages where you hear that a lot of marriages are on the verge of divorce or already divorces and this is solely because of the spirit of Jezebel.
Finally the characteristics of Jezebel is that of one that knows it all. She had to for her to convince members of the church into eating food sacrificed for idols. She had to appear confident in her lies.
The beauty of this letter is the encouragement herein that if we remain faithful we shall in the end be victorious, victory is ours and Jezebel will be defeated in the end.