21. THE CHURCH AGE OF THYATIRA.
Thyatira is the fourth-Church age. This Church age began with the reign of Pope Gregory the Great in 594 A.D. (he was the first Pope to exercise authority over both the state and the Church) and this age ended in 1517 (on the day Martin Luther nailed his document of 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg). During this Church age, most of the Church in the West and most of the Western European kings, were under the rule of the Pope in Rome. This age is also known as the dark ages, because the common people of this age were not allowed to have any personal copies of the Bible, and those Bibles that were available in Western Europe were all in Latin, a language which most commoners could neither read nor understand.
Revelation 2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things say the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass: 19 I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.”
In this letter Jesus Christ introduces Himself as the Son of God.
As a Christian, my understanding of what Jesus Christ is declaring when He calls Himself the Son of God, is vastly different to the understanding of your average first to fourth century pagan.
Most ancient religions accepted the truth that in the beginning there was only One God who was before all things and who created all things; most also believed in the resurrection of the dead and of a coming redeemer; a son of god born of a woman.
Therefore most pagans 2,000 years ago had no difficulty accepting Jesus Christ as a son of god. After all, was not Hercules a son of god and did not many of them also worship their king, or the emperor as the son of god. Most also accepted that the spirit of their supreme god would come upon a virgin, and the child she conceived would be known as the son of god, and that he would become their lord and redeemer. What they had difficulty in accepting was that Jesus Christ was not only the Son of God, but God Himself come to earth in the flesh.
When Jesus Christ writes to the church in Smyrna introducing Himself as the First and the Last, He is declaring Himself to be the One and only supreme God, who was before all other beings and the creator of all things. Then Jesus Christ writes to the church in Thyatira and declares Himself to be the Son of God, the Redeemer that all mankind had been expecting since God’s promise of a Redeemer born of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15); Join these two declarations together and Jesus Christ is both declaring Himself to be the One and Only Supreme God and the Son of God, the expected Redeemer of all mankind. a
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the words of Jesus Christ clearly declare that God the Father and God the Son are both equally God, and they are both the One and only true God. But to those who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, no understanding of Christ divinity and the Holy Trinity will be given. a
Revelation2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things say the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass:’”
These things are taught more fully in my books “God is revealed to us through creation,” “The Holy Trinity,” and “The Only Begotten.”
Jesus Christ has eyes like blazing fire, these are all seeing eyes that can see right through a person and rightly judge the intent of man’s heart. The feet of Jesus are burnished like bronze, and bronze was the strongest mental known to man. The heel of Jesus has crushed the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15); our feet trample over Satan and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:18 – 19), and God’s word says we shall trample the wicked for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet (Malachi 4:3).
In this identification of Himself, Jesus Christ is not only identifying Himself as the Redeemer of mankind, He is also identifying himself as the coming judge of the wicked. Then, after identifying Himself, Jesus comments on the works of the church in Thyatira.
Before we look at Jesus Christ’s comments on the works of those at Thyatira, let us again consider Jesus letter to the church of Ephesus. Jesus rebukes them for leaving their first love, and warns them to repent and return to their first works, or else He will come and remove their lampstand.
Revelation2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things say He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
When we are first saved from sin and born again into the kingdom of heaven, it is our love of God, our love for our brothers and sisters in the faith, and our love for the lost that motivates us to do good works. If we then fail to retain that first love, our motivation to do good works becomes less and less because of a love for God, and more and more because of a sense of duty. In a Spirit filled church, like the church of Ephesus, this lack of love can cause the church to become weary of doing good works. While in a church age like Thyatira, in which the oppressive and brutal leadership of the Nicolaitans dominated and ruled over the commoners, this will lead to good works motivated by fear, instead of good works motivated by love.
This fear that dominated the Church of God during the dark ages (the church age of Thyatira) was not the healthy, clean fear of God that brings peace of mind to all who love and respect their God, but an unhealthy fear brought on by the wrong teaching and a fear of the Nicolaitans. This fear brought turmoil and terror to the hearts and minds of those who knew not what it was to truly love and know God.
At the beginning of The Church age of Ephesus, the Church is full of the love, joy and peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ as your first love. Their works are wholly motivated by love, but as time goes on, first love wanes and duty becomes the motivation for good works.
The Lord warns the Church to repent and do the first works, works motivated out of a love for God, a love for His Church, a love for His people and a love for the poor, or else He will come and remove their lampstand. Without a lampstand we cannot see in this darkened world. So it was by the church age of Thyatira most who called themselves Christians had little or no access to the written word of God. Also, because very few heard the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, very few received the light from the infilling of the Holy Spirit promised to all who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ. (Mark 16:15 – 18; & Acts 2:38 – 39)
Jesus Christ also commends the church of Ephesus for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also hated. But by the church age of Thyatira the Nicolaitans were now ruling over and dominating both the church and state, and the works of the Church were no longer works motivated by love, nor even motivated by a sense of duty, for the greater part their works were now motivated by fear.
So when Jesus commends the church in Thyatira by saying “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience;” and then adds, “and as for your works, the last are more than the first” He is saying that their works motivated by fear and duty are more than their works motivated by love.
Revelation 2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are 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 seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and to 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.”
In the pervious Church age, the age of Pergamos, the Church is rebuked for having are those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to committing sexual fornication (Revelation 2:14). Then again in this Church age of Thyatira we find a woman called Jezebel teaching Christ’s servants to eat food sacrificed to idols and to committing sexual fornication.
In I Kings 16:31; the wicked wife of king Ahab of Israel was also called Jezebel, and she too lead God’s people into idolatry and sexual fornication. Four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the goddess Asherah ate at Jezebel’s table.
In the parable of the leaven, the leaven speak to us of false doctrines (false teachings) that a woman took and hid in three measures (three false doctrines) into the kingdom of heaven (the Church) until the whole Church was full of false doctrine.
Who is this woman called Jezebel? And what are these three false doctrines?
Jezebel is an evil spirit from Satan who can, and often does, indwell, control or influence those who serve him. Any group of people that allows themselves to become indwelt, control or influenced by Jezebel becomes the body of Jezebel. In the context of Revelation 2:20 the false prophets are the body of Jezebel, and through the false prophets Jezebel sows false doctrines both into the Church of Jesus Christ and out into the world.
These false doctrines are:
1: The doctrine of the Nicolaitans. This doctrine teaches the lie; ‘It is the ruling classes right to live in luxury, while they lord over and oppress the common people.’
2: The doctrine of those who say they are Jews, but they are not, they are of the synagogue of Satan. This doctrine teaches the lie; ‘Salvation is by works, and not by the grace and mercy of God.’
3: The doctrine of Balaam. This doctrine teaches God’s people two lies: (a) ‘It is harmless to worship and sacrifice to pagan gods.’ This lie encourages spiritual fornication. (b) ‘It is harmless to have sexual relations with someone you are not married to.’ This lie encourages physical fornication.
We not only see all three of these false doctrines followed widely in the world today, but also see all three followed by many in the Church. Again I say, don’t point your finger at the church down the road, for more likely than not your church also has fornication and stubborn rebellion, which is as idolatry, in it.
By the fourth century, with the so-called conversion of the emperor Constantine, many pagans began to flood into the Church, but instead of doing away with their many idols and worshiping the One and only true God, most simply replaced their many pagan idols with idols of the saints. One of the pagan idols known as ‘The mother of the gods’ was replaced by an idol known as ‘The mother of god’ and was later renamed ‘Mary the mother of god.’ By the late fifth century the Church began the glorification of the Virgin Mary, and to this day many in the Church still worship and pray to idols (and lucky charms) of Mary or one of the saints.
Although Jezebel has and still uses statues, images and icons of the Virgin Mary to lead God’s people into idolatry and spiritual fornication, Mary is not Jezebel. Before we judge those who worship Mary, we should not forget, according to God’s word stubborn rebellion is as witchcraft and idolatry (I Samuel 15:23). For as surely as idolatry leads many into acts of fornication, so also stubborn rebellion leads many into acts of fornication. Let us first deal with the plank in our own eye, before you consider the speck in our brother’s eye.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is “The virgin bride of Christ.” The false Church is “The mystery of Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abomination of the earth,” also known as “The whore of Babylon.” While those who make up the true Church of Jesus Christ are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, those who make up false Church are indwelt by the spirit of Jezebel.
God’s word tells us that Satan, who is the prince of the power of the air, works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).
As surely as the wheat and the tares grow together in the kingdom of heaven, both “The virgin bride of Christ,” and “The whore of Babylon” have dwelt side by side in the Church ever since the so-called ‘conversion’ of Constantine. “The whore of Babylon” is the woman called Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce the servants of God to commit sexual and spiritual fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Why is she called “The whore of Babylon”? Because she has been around ever since she lead mankind into sexual and spiritual fornication at the tower of Babel.
In Revelation chapter 17, “The whore of Babylon” is described as riding the beast, the beast that represents both the Roman Empire she once controlled, and the end time empire of the beast, which she will also control. In Revelation 14:8 we are told she made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
So side-by-side in the Church dwells both “The bride of Christ,” who peaches the true gospel of salvation by the grace of God through Jesus Christ to all people of all nations, and “The whore of Babylon” who preaches salvation by works, and she leads people of all nations (and many Christians) into spiritual and sexual fornication, which leads to eternal damnation.
In the parable of the sower we are told that the birds, who are Satan, have come to take away the seed, which is the word of the kingdom. The following are some examples of Satan taking away from the word of the kingdom.
1. The Word tells us of how Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins; therefore through Jesus Christ we can receive forgiveness for all our sins (Isaiah 53; Psalm 103:1 – 5 & John 3:16 - 17). However during the age of Thyatira, it was taught in the Church that sinners had to pay a penance for the forgiveness of their sins. Thus the birds took away that part of the gospel, which says ‘Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins.
2. The Word also teaches that we can have what ever we ask of the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, including healing. It was taught during the age of Thyatira, that we could receive healing by praying Mary or Saint Luke. Today, many Christians still pray to either Mary or Saint Luke with their request for help and healing. By doing this, they not only take away that part of the gospel that says ‘there is healing and deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ’ (Mark 16:17 – 18), they also take away that part which says ‘anything we ask of the Father in the name of Jesus will be done for us’ (John 14:13 - 14).
Also Paul writes
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
We cannot speak to God, unless we do so through Jesus Christ and God has chosen to speak to us; no other way but through Jesus Christ. We cannot speak to God through Mary nor can we speak to God through any of the saints; this would violate God’s written word. The word of God, even the written word of God, comes to us through Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible is the supernatural word of God. Non-believers can read it but, because they do not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, they cannot fully understand it.
Thus, during this age, Satan took away our forgiveness, our healing, the written word of God, and more.
Revelation2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience; and as for your works, the last are 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 seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.”
God is a merciful God, it is not His will that any perish but that all should come to repentance and be saved, but He is also a just God and to those who will not repent and accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, God will come as a thief in the night with just punishment.
Revelation 2: 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.”
Towards the end of the church age of Thyatira (In 1348 – 52), the great plague of The Black Death swept Europe killing approximately a third of the people. Also this age ended with much tribulation. Why? Because although God had given them time to repent, they did not repent.
There are two important lessons in this for the Church today.
1: The sexual fornication that is sweeping the Church and the world today is an outward manifestation of mankind’s stubborn rebellion against God and God given authorities.
2: God has given us time to repent but, if we do not repent, this church age will end with plagues of death, and great tribulation.
God does not change. If God so severely judged and punished the church of the dark ages, when most did not have the Bible in their own language, will He not also severely judge us who have His written word in our own language, unless we repent.
Revelation2: 24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ - - - - As I also have received from my Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star, 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jezebel, the whore of Babylon by leading much of the Church into fornication and idolatry, had taken many into the depths of Satan, but there were also a number of genuine Christians who overcame the attacks of the enemy. Of these, those who hold fast till Jesus comes and keep up the good works, Jesus promises power over the nations.
This is a promise that, after the resurrection, the overcomers shall rule and reign with Jesus Christ over the nations (Also see Psalm 2:9 & Revelation 19:15). In times of trials and tribulation we need to keep an eternal perspective. The light afflictions we suffer now pale into insignificance when we compared the eternal rewards of the righteous, against the eternal torment that awaits the wicked.
Revelation2:28 “I will give him the morning star.”
In Revelation 22:16 Jesus Christ calls Himself the Bright and Morning Star. While in II Peter 1:19, Peter likens the Scriptures to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
This is a promise to all overcomers. When we repent of our stubborn rebellion against God and of our fornication and idolatry and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we become an overcomer and Christ, The light of Revelation to the world, The Bright and Morning Star comes into our spirit, and we are born again by the spirit of God, into the kingdom of God.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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