Monday, January 30, 2012

Revelation Bible Study Lesson 11 - Revelation 2:18-29

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: “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. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them — I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (NASB)

Thyatira – Description of Jesus

Eyes


When Jesus or God refers to His eyes what comes to your mind, especially with regard to the church at Thyatira?





But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deut 11:11-12 ESV)
Take care  lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and  serve other gods and worship them; then  the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he  will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and  you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you. (Deut 11:16-17 ESV)

The eyes of the Lord are upon the land reveals His providential care for us. Since Israel is also a symbol of the church, we can conclude that His eyes are on us to see if we are obedient. If we are faithful to obey the Lord, then His (our) Church will also prosper as He feeds and waters us. We will become what He wants us to be. While the promises to Israel were physical prosperity, the promise to the Church is spiritual prosperity. Israel has forsaken the Lord. Today much of the land is arid and has to be irrigated (man’s attempt to do on his own that which God does for those who obey Him.) Many churches are arid because they are not obedient and try to imitate the working of the Holy Spirit by their own methods.

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war. (2 Chron 16:9 NIV)

One of the reasons His eyes are upon us is to strengthen us. Like a blazing fire, His eyes can either warm us or burn us, depending upon what He sees us doing. King Saul’s actions showed that he was not fully committed to the Lord. The consequence was a lifetime of war against his enemies. We may have strayed from our walk with the Lord, but He forgives and restores us to fellowship with Himself when we repent (1 John 1:6-9). However, we may have to suffer the consequences of our actions when we are disobedient.

My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Ps 139:15-16 NASU)

When God says that He sees us, it is much more than detecting photons and turning them into a recognizable pattern. These verses show that He is in complete control of our destinies from before our conception to the end of our lives, as well as eternity beyond. He is not just looking at us, but His looking is active and causes things to happen, physically and spiritually in our souls. We may never know what His exact purpose in our life is. He can use us every day of our lives as we yield to Him; however there may be some very special purpose that He has that may seem insignificant to us. He has ordained each day for us.

Why does the Lord tolerate all this evil in the world if He is too pure even to look upon evil?




You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he? (Hab 1:13 NKJV) 

Habakkuk asked the Lord the same question. Fortunately, God provides the answer in Scripture.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. (Hab 2:3 NKJV)

When He sees evil, His judgment will come. As He looked at the church at Thyatira, He saw evil and He will judge it. It’s not going to be pretty either. Fortunately, His grace overcomes the need for immediate punishment because He is patient with us. He tells the church at Thyatira that He has already given Jezebel time to repent. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but for all of us to repent. (2 Peter 3:9) A significant portion of the book of Revelation is a description of what will happen when His patience runs out.

When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the Lord's hand of blessing on his servants—and his anger against his enemies.
The Lord will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him. (Isa 66:14, 16 NLT)

We will rejoice when His judgment comes, but to those who see the flame in His eyes, it will be the end. The flame is a symbol of judgment, which matches His coming as described in Rev 19:12-15.

Feet of Burnished Bronze

We briefly touched on Jesus feet of bronze before. Now, we want to look into this symbol again. Bronze represented strength and beauty. Messengers’ feet were symbols of good news or bad. Wine grapes was crushed by treading on them with bare feet.

Expand on these symbols as you think about Jesus’ feet of burnished bronze.





What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? In truth I have no help in me, and any resource is driven from me. (Job 6:11-13 RSV)

Job used bronze as a symbol for strength and recognized that he didn’t have any. Perhaps Job had been putting some of his hope in the power that was attributed to him by his wealth and success even though he knew that it really came from the Lord. Jesus lets us know that there is strength in Him regardless of our circumstances.

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isa 52:7 NASB)
And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. (Luke 7:37-38 NASB)
And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. (Luke 24:40 NASB)
And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet. (Luke 10:39 NASB)

His feet are like burnished bronze, i.e. a costly alloy that was used for beautiful artifacts. Jesus’ feet are beautiful because He has brought us the good news of salvation. Isn’t it marvelous that those wonderful, beautiful feet were kissed by the sinful woman, wept upon by Mary, and pierced by a nail? He brings the news of salvation and turns none away that come to Him in repentance. He is worthy of worship and adoration because He has paid the price for our salvation. We come to His feet in humility as a place to learn more of God.

He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (Rev 19:15c ESV)

With His feet He will also tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. This is judgment executed, the part that we don’t want to hear. This is the message to some of those at Thyatira who have wandered too far.

In His feet we can see a mini presentation of the Gospel. We hear the word that He has brought; we must turn to Him in humility and repentance, showing Him to be Lord. He paid the price for our sins as exhibited by the scars in His feet. We also grow at His feet, but those that do not come to His feet will suffer under them.

Commendation

 

What is the commendation that Jesus has for the church at Thyatira?





The church at Thyatira seemed to have it all in order. They were doing the right things motivated by love and guided by faith. This leads to a stick-to-itiveness that produces even more service. In verse 23 Jesus says He searches hearts and minds and rewards our deeds. From this and the warnings that precede it, I would venture to say that deeds done from a wrong motive, even though “good,” would not be rewarded. Heb 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Rom 14:23 says that everything that does not come from faith is sin. In our families we encourage and expect obedience to God’s Law even when there isn’t a proper attitude. While this may produce an orderly and peaceful family, there is a danger in that some may think that they are in a proper relationship with God. This may have been the case with those in the church at Thyatira who were rebuked.

In verse 24, Jesus commends those who haven’t been associated with the rebuke we are about to discuss. It is a comfort to know that in this church there were people who had not compromised. They were keeping away from false teachings. He encourages them to continue. Sometimes that is exactly what He wants us to do. Continue where we are.

Rebuke

 

Read 1 Kings 16:29-33, 19:1-3 and 21:5-16. Describe the evil things that Jezebel did.




How might this woman in Thyatira be like Jezebel?





Jezebel was not a Jew, yet King Ahab married her in direct defiance of God’s law. To please her, he worshiped Baal, and set up shrines and an altar to Baal. Her evil temple was turned into the primary place of worship in Israel. She was a murderess and used trickery, deceit, and her position to kill Naboth just so her Ahab could take his vineyard.

Jesus calls a woman in Thyatira Jezebel to emphasize her evil. Sambethe was name of an occult priestess in Thyatira who has been identified by some as this woman. The leaders in Thyatira somehow accepted her and allowed her to teach her deep secrets of Satan. It could very well be that she professed Christ and she was accepted as a Christian. Since she was a “professional” in her own practice, she may have convinced them that the things she knew and practiced could be combined with Christianity.

What are some things that Christians have allowed or accepted from professionals that run contrary to Christian principles?





There are many things that Christians find acceptable, such as psychiatrists who use what they learned in school rather than the Bible in counseling. Some Christian psychiatrists apply their education to their practice but use Bible verses to support their theories of therapy. They do this rather than use the Bible as the foundation for their theories. They usually end up using worldly methods with a “Christian” look and feel. These people are seldom questioned by Christians because they are the “professionals” and after all, they are Christians, aren’t they? We flock to the bookstores buying their books and accepting their teaching without the least hesitancy. As a result, hypnotism was accepted for a while among some Christian psychiatrists until even the secular ones discovered that it was bogus. There are still some therapists that walk their clients through abusive pasts in order to “heal” them. It may help some, but I also know of marriages that have been destroyed by the process. 

What are the deep secrets of Satan and how do they manifest themselves in society?






Another danger is for those who are curious about the occult. They don’t want to learn more to combat it; rather they have a fascination for it. They are attracted to horror movies and essentially have a desire to learn the deep secrets of Satan. As people are drawn into the occult, they find that it is much like Masonry in which a person can’t learn more about the organization and its beliefs until he advances from one degree to another. You are not allowed to know the deeper secrets until you have proven yourself worthy. By the time they are “knowledgeable,” they have been either indoctrinated or entrapped so that they don’t recognize the truth anymore. In the Christian faith there are no secrets. Our doctrines are openly published in the Bible.

What does God say about the occult and witchcraft?






When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. (Deut 18:9-13 NIV)

This prohibition starts with something that we would never think of doing, sacrificing our children. God condemns all kinds of occultic practices because they are rebellion against Him and lead to other sins.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king. (1 Sam 15:23 NASU)

Finally, Paul lumps them all together.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21 NKJV) 

These sins are simply the inevitable result of rebellion against God. As the spiritual basis in the United States has drifted away from God, there are more and more people blatantly rejecting Him. There are horoscopes in every newspaper and columns that spout politically correct advice. While some say horoscopes are harmless, it is a marker of how far we have strayed from the Lord. People freely admit that they follow the horoscopes. What scares me even more is the number of people who agree with the advice columnists. The result is that we have more people living together than ever before and divorce seems to be the first option provided when two people have “made a mistake” by marrying each other. The inevitable result is that we now sacrifice millions of unborn babies a year on the altar of personal choice and rights. Satan’s deepest secrets are not in the occult, but in the way he gets Christians to accept worldly wisdom and behavior. In this area we must be blameless. Sometimes it can start with things that we believe are harmless, like having souvenirs from Hawaii that are gods.

What other “little” things should we be careful about that are providing a foothold for the devil?





Counsel and Warning

 

Why does Jesus give Jezebel time to repent? Why does He give any of us time to repent?





The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 RSV)

Lest I get too judgmental, the Lord always gives people time to repent. Even this woman (Jezebel) has been given time. But because the time is given, it doesn’t mean that judgment won’t come. Note that she will suffer, perhaps she won’t die so that she can continue to draw away people whose real desire is not to serve the Lord. But those who are drawn to her will also suffer and some will die. God may allow this temptation as a means of purifying the church.

Do you think it is possible that Jesus would take the life of a Christian who has been exceedingly sinful? Do you know of any examples?



In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira died because of their deliberate sin. Jesus is making it clear that any true believer who becomes this woman’s spiritual child will also die.

If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death. (1 John 5:16-17 NLT)

There is the possibility of a Christian sinning in such a way that the Lord determines that He must intervene and take him/her from this world. Shocking as it may seem, if we see someone doing something like this, we are not even to pray for that person. This may be the case for those that Jesus says He will strike dead. They have been judged and He has determined that their sin is worthy of death. These “children” may be those who have so actively accepted the teaching and they are now spreading this harmful doctrine. I would like to explain what a sin is that leads to death; however that isn’t clear. Perhaps it is best left unsaid so that we don’t presume we can sin without severe consequences.

Promise


What are the conditions to Jesus’ promise? Are they any different from the promises to the other churches?



What is the implication for a believer who is disobedient and dies as a result?




Jesus promises that anyone who overcomes and does His will to the end will become rulers with Him over the nations. This is the only time that He adds a condition to the promise other than overcoming. Jezebel misled those in the church in Thyatira who were believers resulting in their disobedience at the end. They strayed in the end and some of them died because of their sin. This doesn’t mean they have lost their salvation, but it sounds like Jesus won’t reward them by allowing them to participate in His rule. Those who hold on until He comes and are obedient will reign with Jesus.

And he said to him, “Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17 NASB)

In this parable of the kingdom, Jesus indicates that He will reward His faithful servants by ruling over cities. The interesting thing is that they only had to be faithful in relatively small things that were assigned to them. They didn’t have to be super spiritual giants. Later in the parable, the servant who wasn’t faithful lost what had been entrusted to him as well as the privileged to rule with his master. On the other side of eternity our lives now will seem insignificant compared to what He has in store for us. On the other hand, the small things we do now will be very significant in determining our eternal assignments.

Considering this, what kinds of goals should we have in this life?




Motivational speakers and multilevel marketing businesses stress the importance of setting goals in order to make the most of your life. These goals usually take the form of material wealth. I remember a meeting I went to where the group was encouraged to dream what they would do if they had all the money they wanted. What would you buy, where would you travel, and to what charity would you give? They threw the charity thing in just to ease the guilt. I’m glad I wasn’t sucked into this deception that material accumulation should be our goal in life. As I reflect on my future, my goals should be to achieve those things that will prepare me for eternity with my Lord. This means that how I go about meeting earthly goals is just as important as reaching the goals. With monetary goals, for example, if I meet my goal of acquiring a certain net worth by a specified time in life but at the cost of family relationships, I’m sure I won’t hear Jesus tell me “well done.”

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matt 23:23 KJV)

Would Jesus say “woe” to any of us today? Do we tithe but neglect law and justice by the way we get our money or even by not being involved in our communities? Do we neglect mercy because we are too busy making money and justify it because we give a tenth? Do we neglect faithfulness because we are too busy to serve in our churches? Do we neglect faithfulness because we are too busy to love our spouses or raise our families in the fear of the Lord? Make no mistake about it; if you want to rule with Christ, you had better watch your goals and how you meet them.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Mic 6:8 NIV)

Perhaps we should simply set these three goals and let the Holy Spirit lead us in our career, business, and other ambitions. Who knows? He may lead some into politics and others into clerical work. He may lead us into places we never would have entered if we had set worldly goals for ourselves.

What is the source of the authority that we will have and what will it look like?





Jesus says He has received His authority from the Father (Psalm 2:7-12) and He passes it along to us. This is not the idea that we will be like Him and have our own little universes; instead we will be in subject directly to Him.

For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:27-28 ESV)

God has established an order and in this order Jesus, even though He is God, is in subjection to the Father. We are in subjection to Him and always will be. As we live our lives here, we need to remember this because many of our problems occur when we step outside of that authority structure. When we keep within God’s authority structure, we are demonstrating that we will be worthy of ruling with Him.

It is hard for us to imagine how we might rule over nations. When we read Psalm 2, we can see that it will be a very strict rule. It will be a time when sin is held back and restrained so that righteousness will prevail. What society will look like and what our parts will be is not detailed anywhere in the Bible. We find only glimpse of it. That’s why I let my imagination wander and wrote a novel about this time in the future. Its title is 999 Years After Armageddon, The End of the Millennium and can be found at http://www.after-armageddon.com/. Kindle and Nook versions are also available.

What is the meaning of Jesus’ promise of the Morning Star?




So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19 NASU)

The morning star, or day star, appears just before the sun is coming up. It is like a light at the end of the tunnel. It is all the prophets could see in the Old Testament - a hope for the Messiah to come. In Rev 22:16, Jesus calls Himself the Morning Star. Perhaps He promised to give the Morning Star to the believers in the church at Thyatira because they saw the hypocrisy of the church around them, yet stuck to their belief and deeds. He is giving them a glimmer of what is to come when He returns.

Church History - Churches Today


What period of Church history allowed witchcraft and pagan practices to be incorporated?



The Catholic church of the middle ages was a very evangelical church. It took the gospel around the world. Yet every place they went, the local customs of witchcraft and idolatry were allowed to creep in to the church. The root problem was that they had already corrupted the gospel in several ways. They formed the Catholic priesthood instead of teaching the priesthood of all believers. (1 Peter 2:9) They established the mass where magically the wafer and wine become Jesus so that He must be sacrificed daily to atone for sins, instead of the once for all sacrifice of Jesus to take away our sins. (Romans 6:9-10; Heb 9:12, 25-28; Heb 10:10-12 1 Peter 3:18) They kept the Scripture in Latin so that the gospel remained a secret available only to the elite. 

Today, this problem can still be seen in the Catholic Church in Central America. During the latter part of the 20th century Marxism was also integrated. Other churches in North America have so corrupted the gospel that they proclaim that Christianity is only one of many ways to God.

With such a wonderful description of Jesus to strengthen and guide us, let’s set goals to please Him so that we won’t fall into any sin that could cause our premature death or loss of our reward of ruling with Him. Let’s live in such a manner that we will reign with Him.

What have you personally learned from the church in Thyatira?





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