Garland Of Grace – 01.26.15

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Jezebel Or Jesus

“I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” – Revelation 2:19-20

The first three chapters of the book of Revelation contain the letters Jesus wrote to the seven churches of Asia Minor through the pen of the Apostle John.  As you study these letters, you will find that for the most part there is a common repetitive pattern within the structure of most of the letters.  First, there is an introduction, a word of commendation, a word of correction, and a closing word of promise.  The letter to the church at Thyatira is no exception.  Look at our text above and consider Jesus’ words of commendation along with His words of correction to this church.  He commends the church for the fact that it had grown deeper and further in her service to the Lord.  Their deeds of love and faith were stronger in recent days than at the start of the church.  This certainly is a wonderful complement!  This cannot be said about many churches.  Most churches start out strong, and slowly over a period of time lose some of its zeal for the Lord.  But not the church at Thyatira; Jesus commends them for the fact that their love, faith, and service to the Lord was greater in their most recent days compared to in their former days.  But this word of praise was followed with a strong word of correction.  There were some members of the church who “tolerated Jezebel.”  The name Jezebel is always associated with idol worship.  Jezebel in the Old Testament was a primary leader in the promotion of worship of false gods (I Kings 18).  When Jesus mentions Jezebel to the church at Thyatira, it was a direct reference to the fact that some of their members tolerated idol worship.   For us to understand this sin to its fullest extent, we must know some historical background information about the actual town of Thyatira.  Thyatira would be equivalent to our modern day Pittsburgh.  It was a blue collar workers town, and the workers were members of worker unions or guilds. But there were problems with the guilds. To begin with, they acted as a fraternity.  For one to be effective and accepted in their line of business, it was necessary to be a part of the guild.  If they were not part of the workers guild, they and their business would be boycotted by all the others in the guild. But that is not all. Their main problem was the fact that they dabbled in pagan worship. Once a year the members of these guilds would get together and have a feast.  At the feast they would make offerings to false gods. They would then in turn eat the meat that had just been sacrificed to idols.  And some of these guild members were church members. Jesus despised the fact that members of His bride, the church, were tolerating false idol worship and He rebukes them for their actions. The members of the church who were members of the guilds wanted to somehow maintain their allegiance to the Lord and yet keep their membership with the guild.   Their attitude was an attitude of “business survival.” They knew that if they left the guild, their business would suffer.   Because of this, they would go to the annual feast, and do what they had to do to keep good relations with the workers guild, even if it meant that they had to tolerate idol worship.  But Jesus asks, “Who will you choose to serve, Jezebel or Jesus?”

There is a lesson for us today. Your allegiance should only lie with Jesus.  Your loyalty is not a both/and situation, it is an either/or.  You cannot serve both the world and God.  Whom will you choose?

 – Pastor Eric

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