Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jesus is very clear....are you listening to Him?

In my study of Revelation 2:18-29 I found that Thyatira was a city known for its dealing in metals and fabrics. Without knowing this, the description Jesus gives of Himself does not seem as significant; however, knowing this helps us to understand that Jesus is always trying to relate to people to communicate His Truth. There is no doubt that the people of this culture would have received additional impact to verse 18 than we would today:

Revelation 2:18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

As we read the things the church of Thyatira are doing well, it is difficult to understand how they could be led astray to such depravity:

Revelation 2:19-20 "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

In my study I found that the name Jezebel is used in 1Kings regarding a woman who married King Ahab. I was confused as to why Jezebel from 1Kings would be paralleled in Revelation. I was wondering if it is the same person, which seems odd considering the 1000 year time difference. Some notes I referred to indicate that potentially Jezebel only symbolizes the prostitute Babylon. My thought is (and I only say “my thought” so you can take it with a grain of salt since I am not sure)…but my thought is that Jesus seems to be addressing a certain person; however, I think it is evident in Revelation that everything is not always as it seems on the surface.  Whatever the case may be, we know that Jesus does not take lightly those who practice sexual immorality and worship of false gods:

Revelation 2:20-23 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

People in our culture may not outwardly and openly use prostitutes (although it goes on), we would especially be stunned to see prostitutes being used in some type of act of worship. In addition, our culture would be confused at a rebuke of “eating things sacrificed to idols”.  Whereas these two things may seemingly not apply to our culture, I think it is imperative that we take a look at the rampant sexual immorality and perversion that is rampant in our culture. I am sure that the Christians of Thyatira were swept up in the “normalcy” of their culture and partook without a thought, much like we do in our culture. Jesus warns them of their error and also warns them of the consequences. In the same way, our culture needs to be warned. Fornication, homosexuality, pornography, pre-marital sex, adultery, masturbation, strip joints, and sexual fantasy are part of the blatant sexual immorality that our culture has blurred the lines on and Jesus wants us to repent. The same as true of the “eating food sacrificed to idols”…we may be confused as to what that looks like in the first century culture, but we know what it looks like today if we will stop and think. What idol worship do we partake of that puts God on the back burning? Money, power, fame, popularity, vanity, entertainment, religion, family, career, friends? As you read that list a logical response might be, “wait a minute, the first half of the list I understand the problem, but the second half is good stuff”… however, idol worship is anything that takes priority and position above God and your love and service to Him.

We are 4 churches in to Jesus Words to the 7 churches and 2 have them have been rebuked for the same thing, sexual immorality and idol worship. There are three things we can be certain of: 1-Jesus is VERY serious about these things  2-The lure of these two things is very powerful, clearly they are the most powerful weapons used by Satan 3-Jesus warns, but He also gives opportunity for repentance, restoration, regeneration and redemption

For those that will heed the warning and repent and put their faith in Jesus and His promises, PRAISE GOD! For those that choose to ignore the warning and potentially have a flippant attitude that says, “if He gives us opportunity for repentance, restoration, regeneration and redemption I will seize that opportunity after I have had some ‘fun’ for a while”. Be warned, we are not guaranteed tomorrow and even if you are blessed with another day doesn’t mean you will be granted repentance:

Romans 1:20-25 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

2Timothy 2:22-26 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

“Come to your senses” today. Ask that God “grant you repentance”. There is no faking it until you make it with God, Jesus searches our hearts and minds; outward action and words mean nothing if the condition of our heart and mind our not pure and set on Him:

Revelation 2:23b I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far
Some items done well:
-works for Him
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-work in the face of tribulation
-work while in poverty
-do not be swayed as those around are being killed for the faith
-do not deny faith in Jesus at any cost
-Patient endurance
-Increasingly zealous for good works

Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first
-allow false doctrine
-not rebuking those in the church practicing sin
-not separating themselves from false religion
-do not tolerate those teaching false religion, idol worship and sexual immorality

“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life
-Has the sharp two-edged sword
-Son of God
-Eyes like a flame of fire
-Feet like burnished bronze
-Searches the mind
-Searches the heart

Call to action:
-return to the love you had at first
-do not fear when suffering for Christ
-overcome the testing of evil by being steadfast in the faith
-be faithful unto death
-repent of sexual immorality
-repent of idol worship
-keep His works
-hold fast until He returns

-Eat from the Tree of Life
-Crown of Life
-Not hurt by the second death
-Eat from the hidden manna
-given a new name
-authority over nations

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