Saturday, 02 July 2016 19:48

20. Church in Thyatira, who in the world is Jezebel? * Revelation 2:18-29, Part 2 of 3

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18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine bronze;

19 I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her time to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23 And 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 unto every one of you according to your works.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say; I will put upon you no other burden.

25 But that which you have already hold fast till I come.

26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces: even as I received of my Father.

28 And I will give him the morning star.

29 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.

 

PART 2

As we saw in lesson #13, Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married Ahab, King of Israel. She was the daughter of the king of Sidom-Tyre, Ethbaal. They worshiped the god Baal, who was a god believed to have power over lightening, wind, rain, and fertility. Jezebel had great influence over Ahab and the Israelites. She led them to apostasy, idolatry, and immoral conduct. As the Leader of the people, Ahab further encouraged the people to abandon the worship to the true God (1 kings 21:25). The Bible says that Ahab "did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:32-33). We probably cannot even imagine how bad that is! One of Ahab's first mistakes was to actually marry a pagan woman. God had already commanded that the Israelites should not marry people from the surrounding pagan nations (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

God sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab and Jezebel. Due to their disobedience, there would be drought on the land (1 Kings 17:1). And just as he said, there was a severe drought for 3.5 years (Luke 4:25; James 5:17). After giving the news to the king, Elijah fled to the wilderness, where God miraculously fed him daily (1 Kings 17:2-7). He stayed away for the 3.5 years of drought.

At the end of that time, God ordered Elijah to return to Ahab. The drought was severe. Famine had spread throughout the land. All through that time, Jezebel had been killing out the prophets of God. Obadiah, who worked for the king, but who was a follower of the true God, had been hiding 100 of God’s prophets in a couple of caves, and supplying them with food and water (1 Kings 18:4). Elijah went back to meet with Ahab. The king had stopped following God’s commands, and was following Baal’s instead (1 Kings 18:18). Elijah requested that Ahab gather the people and meet with him at Mount Carmel. He also asked that Ahab bring 850 pagan prophets "who eat at Jezebel’s table" (1 Kings 18:19). Four hundred and fifty of those prophets were Baal's. This meeting was not a secret. All the Israelites were gathered there. The people had been caught in the middle, between the worship to the God of Israel and the pagan practices promoted by their royal leaders. They had not totally abandoned one or fully joined the other. Elijah pleaded with the people, calling them to make a decision, and stop wavering between God and Baal (1 Kings 18:20-21). They did not respond.

At Mount Carmel, Elijah stood alone on one side, and the 850 pagan prophets on the other. A pivot point in the history of God's people was about to happen. Both Elijah and the prophets of Baal prepared a sacrifice. Whichever sacrifice burned with fire sent from heaven would indicate which one was God (1 Kings 18:22-24). The prophets of Baal prayed and chanted all day long, from morning to evening, and received no response. Then it was Elijah's turn at the end of the day. All eyes were on this one man by the altar he had built for the Lord. Elijah prayed one time and God sent fire from Heaven, which consumed even the ground where the altar was on (1 Kings 18:38). God had answered Elijah's prayer: "Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (1 Kings 18:36-37).

God had given Ahab, Jezebel, and the Israelites time to repent. Three and a half years to be exact. But they did not. After God consumed the altar with fire, Elijah prayed for rain seven times, until he saw a small dark cloud on the horizon. And a strong rain came pouring down. Ahab returned home and told Jezebel about all that had happened (1 Kings 19:1). He told her how God had sent fire from Heaven, and how all the prophets were also killed by the sword after that. God had made Himself very clear. Still, Jezebel did not repent. She actually called for Elijah’s death after hearing what Ahab had to say about the episode at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19:2). But God continued to protect Elijah, and he did not die. He remained faithful, and some time later God took Elijah to Heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).

Jezebel continued to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. One event sealed her fate. It was the Naboth incident. Naboth had a vineyard near Ahab’s palace, and Ahab wished to buy it. Naboth replied he could not sell it. When Jezebel heard this, she devised a plan, and told her husband she would get the vineyard for him (1 Kings 21:7). She wrote an official letter posing as the king, even used the king's official seal. She had a fake celebratory party organized in honor of Naboth. She had him sit at a prominent place, but she also had two of her man sit next to him. They were instructed to kill Naboth at a certain time during the party. After Jezebel’s men raised false accusations against Naboth, they took him outside, and stoned him to death (1 Kings 21:10). When Ahab learned of Naboth’s death, Jezebel encouraged her husband to go up and take possession of that land. And so he did. Because of this incident, Jezebel’s death was prophesied, along with Ahab’s and his children (1 Kings 21:20-25; 1 Kings 22:34-38; 2 Kings 9:6-10). They died just as God had revealed it to the prophets. Jezebel was devoured by dogs, and no one could recognize her body (2 Kings 9:30-37).

Jezebel had a daughter, named Athaliah. Her daughter was just as evil as the mother. Athaliah ordered the death of all her own relatives, including her grandchildren, just so she could be the queen of Israel (2 Kings 11:1). All but one of Athaliah’s descendants died. A little boy survived, and he was later crowned king at the age of 7 (2 Kings 11:2-3; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Reis 11:21). He re-established the worship to the true God during his reign. Queen Athaliah was put to death for all the abominations she had committed (2 Kings 11:15-20).

God had said, through the prophet, that a king named Jehu would kill all Ahab’s male descendants. Ahab had failed to keep the Commands of God (1 Kings 18:18). Jehu did kill all Ahab’s male children, as well as all Baal’s prophets (2 Kings 10). But Jehu himself did not do all that God had requested either. Jehu did not follow God’s Law with all his heart, and God allowed the Israel territory to be reduced (2 Kings 10:31-32).

During the 3.5 years of drought during Jezebel’s time, the word of God was scarce. Jezebel was killing the Lord's prophets. Spiritual drought, or famine of the Word, is always more serious than the physical devastation caused by the lack of rain. But because God is so merciful and loving, He gives people time to see His truth. In the Bible, this time is often a period marked by the number 3.5 (half of the number 7):

- Abraham and Isaac went on a 3.5 day journey to Mount Moriah, where Abraham was supposed to offer Isaac in sacrifice. The Bible tells us they walked 3 days, left the 2 servants waiting at that location, and then continued on to the place God had determined * Genesis 22:1-6

- In the third year of his reign, King Ahasuerus hosted a party lasting 6 months. At the end of that time, the search for a new queen started, and Esther, a Jewish young woman was chosen. She ultimately was able to save the Jewish people from destruction * Esther 1:1-22;

- Prophecy of Daniel: the people of God would be under the rule of the fourth kingdom (Roman Empire) for a time, times and half of time (“time” is 1 prophetic year, “times” is 2 prophetic years, “half a time” is 0.5 prophetic years; for a total of 3.5 prophetic years * Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7);

- Jesus’s ministry lasted for 3.5 years before He was crucified (about 6 months into His ministry, He used prophetic language of 1 day = 1 year [Ezekiel 4:6/7; Numbers 14:34; Leviticus 25:8], when He prophesied about the length of His work * Luke 13:32);

- Stephen was stoned for his faith in Jesus 3.5 years after Christ’s death, marking the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 (the stoning of Stephen: Acts 7:54-59);

- The gentiles would trample the Holy City for 42 months (42 months = 3.5 years, which is the prophetic time Christians would be oppressed and persecuted * Revelation 11:2);

- Jesus’ two witnesses will prophesy clothed in sackcloth for a period of 1260 days (1260 days = 3.5 years, which is a prophetic time when God’s people suffer persecution for bearing witness for Christ’s truth * Revelation 11:3);

- The woman who had given birth to a male child fled into the wilderness for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6); where she would be taken care of for the prophetic period of a time, times, and half of time (1260 days = 3.5 years) * Revelation 12:14;
- The beast was allotted 42 prophetic months to exercise his authority over the inhabitants of the earth (42 months = 3.5 years) * Revelation 13:5.

God also gave the Jezebel in Thyatira time to repent, but, like her counterpart in the Old Testament, she refused to do so (Revelation 2:21). She was set on her ways. This caused a definite tear in the church. Just like it happened at Mount Carmel, Thyatira was divided. On one side, the few faithful people, who had rejected the "deep things of Satan" (Revelation 2:24); and on the other, Jezebel and her children.

In Bible prophecy, women, wether faithful or unfaithful, represent the church (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Ephesians 5:25-32). This is a fundamental concept when studying the book of Revelation. Throughout the Old Testament, God compared His chosen people to a woman. His forgiving and transforming love would call this woman pure and perfect when Israel repented and followed God’s instructions (Isaiah 54:5-6; Ezekiel 16:8-14; Hosea 2:14-23; Amos 5:2) And at other times, God would call this same people an unfaithful woman, or a prostitute, when Israel turned into idolatry and immorality (Jeremiah 3:20; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:2-13; Ezekiel 16:15-19; Ezekiel 16:32) . This same concept of the church as Christ’s bride is carried into the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 12:1-6; Revelation 19:7-8). Later in Revelation 12 and 17, we will study more about two women. One represents the pure church, and the other an unfaithful church.

 

*** Overview ***: Jezebel represents the unfaithful church. Her children are her followers. In essence, her children are any church that does not teach the truth according to the Scripture. They are all considered to be an unfaithful church. And the members who had remained faithful to the original message of the Gospel were the remnant church of Christ - Jesus’ faithful bride. Jezebel from the Old Testament faked the authenticity of her rights over Naboth’s vineyard, falsely accused him, and became guilty of this innocent man’s death. Jezebel from Thyatira faked the authenticity of her rights to change God’s truth, seduced the church with false doctrines, and became guilty of the death of her followers. Just because the side of the church following Jezebel’s theology had a larger number of members, it didn’t make it the original church. Even if the world thought that the group with the most followers was the original church, that would not change Jesus’ assessment of the situation. Size is not a defining factor of character. It is usually the other way around. In the battle at the Mount Carmel, Elijah was standing alone against 850 false teachers. And yet, Elijah was the one representing God’s truth. He was the remnant of God, and His faithful witness. God made Himself known at the right time, showing everyone He is ready to defend His chosen people from anyone who stand to oppose His truth.

   
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