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Jesus or Jezebel

Seven Churches   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:38
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Jesus or Jezebel
Revelation 2:18-29
If you have your Bible, you can open it to the second chapter of the book of Revelation.
Is it nice to be narrow? Is it okay to be intolerant? Could those things sometimes be a virtue?
The truth is that sometimes it is nice to be narrow and sometimes it is wise to be intolerant.
But depending on how narrow you are, it might be good or bad. I guess it depends on what kind of narrowness you’re talking about.
When you go to the doctor, you want him to be narrow when he is writing out a prescription, don’t you? You go to the doctor and he asks, “What’s wrong?” And you say, “Well, I hurt.” And he asks, “Where?” and you say, “Pretty much all over.”
And the doctor says, “Well, all right. I’ll write you out a prescription. Let me see. I’ll give you some of the really big red pills, some of the green pills, some pink ones, and let’s try the little yellow ones this time. The yellow ones match your shirt so they might work. Just try all of them and hopefully you’ll feel better,”
What would you say? “Doctor, can you be a little narrower than that? Could you be more specific than that?”
When you fly on an airplane, you want the pilot to be very narrow, don’t you? You don’t want to get on a flight for Florida and wind up in Idaho, do you? Nothing against Idaho…
When you go to the bank, you want the teller to be narrow when you withdraw money from your account. You want $100 not $62.
You want your accountant to be very narrow when he does your taxes because if he isn’t, it can cause all kinds of problems.
How much more important it is to be narrow about the things that deal with our eternal destiny. It is important that we learn to be narrow about those particular things.
Now, the church in Thyatira was a wonderful church, as we’re going to see but it was making a tragic mistake. It was tolerating something that it should not tolerate. It was putting up with something that it ought to put out. Maybe people were saying that they were being too narrow or intolerant of others. Maybe they thought that were broadening their minds, trying to include everyone.
Let’s see what Jesus has to say to the church in Thyatira.
We’ll pray and read the fourth letter to the Seven Churches.
Pray!
Revelation 2:18–29 ESV
“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. “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 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. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself 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.’
In this passage, we see Jesus described in a way that takes us back to Daniel 10:6.
The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire…
Jesus has that penetrating sight that can see right through you. He sees and knows everything. Nothing escapes His sight or knowledge. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows everything about you today. There is nothing you could tell Him that He doesn’t already know. He has eyes like a flame of fire.
…and whose feet are like burnished bronze
Bronze speaks of strength. Together we get the idea that He is coming in judgment. The picture is that Jesus knows all. He knows what’s right and He knows what’s wrong. And He is coming in strength to judge what is wrong.
And in verse 19, He says that there are some good things about this church:
19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
This is a going church. They are working, loving, enduring and serving. But even more importantly, the church in Thyatira is a growing church. They are doing more now than they did at first. They are increasing.
Jesus says some good things about the church but then mentions a flaw. He uses one of those words that we hate to hear at the beginning of verse 20, “but.” It’s little word but it says so much.
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.
There was a fatal flaw in the life of this church. There was the beginning of something that could destroy the life of this church. They were tolerating a woman who was teaching theological and moral error. They were allowing her to.
And if you had told them that they shouldn’t let her to do that, they would have said, “Well, we don’t want to be narrow. We believe in being nice, and we want to be nice to everyone. And, after all, she seems quite sincere. We may not agree with her in everything, but everybody doesn’t have to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ just alike.”
They didn’t want to be narrow, and they didn’t want to be intolerant; and so they tolerated this woman, Jezebel, to teach error in the church.
Now, let’s get right into how we ought to deal with theological and moral error.
The first thing we see is the source of the error:

The Source

Verse 20
you tolerate that woman Jezebel
Now, there was a woman in the church of Thyatira, and she had poisoned the church. Look at her character.

Her Character

She is called Jezebel.
Now, I don’t think that was her real name; I think that was her symbolic name. To call this woman Jezebel would be like calling a man Judas. It was the worst thing that could be said about her, because Jezebel was an Old Testament character.
She was a strong but wicked woman.
Anybody who got in her way (even her husband) better watch out! She was the daughter of a pagan king, and she brought her pagan ideas into Israel. The Old Testament Jezebel followed Baal and the worship of this god was immoral and unspeakable.
She was a very clever woman and very dangerous woman. She introduced pagan worship into Israel. But she didn’t come out-and-out against God. She did something sneakty. She mixed the altar of Baal with the altar of God. That’s what Elijah said when he came against Jezebel and Ahab:
1 Kings 18:21
“How long will you go limping between two different opinions?”
The woman teaching this error in the New Testament was so much like the Old Testament Jezebel that it’s the name given to her. They both had the same desire to lead the people away from God.
We not only see her character, but her call.

Her Call

In verse 20:
…who calls herself a prophetess
God had not called her to preach or to teach. She was self-appointed.
Here was a woman who had seized authority in this church, and the pastor did nothing against it. The pastor did not stand up the way he should have. The message of condemnation is spoken primarily against the angel of the church, the pastor, because he allowed Jezebel to teach and seduce God’s servants.
The first thing was the source of the error. The second thing is the seductiveness of the error.

The Seductiveness

…you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching…
This church had a very warm heart, but it had a very soft head. And, they felt that they needed to get along with everybody and everything—perhaps even the devil himself. Maybe some in the church said, “We can’t let this jezebel of a woman get away with this,” and tohers said, “It’s unchristian to oppose her.”
Well, today I want to tell you that it is unchristian not to oppose error. Jesus can’t tolerate these things and if He can’t tolerate them, then we’d better not tolerate them either. Don’t let anybody get it into your head that if you stand against theological and moral error, that you’re wrong. You’re right as you can be.
It was a very seductive error, and they allowed it to work its way through the entire church, when they should have stood up against it. There’s nothing wrong with a church saying, “You cannot teach this,” or, “You cannot say this,” or, “You cannot do this, because it does not square with the Word of God.”
We also see something else, the seriousness of the error.

The Seriousness

…seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
If you remember the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 the early church had to confront some early distortions of the Gospel. People were making all kinds of rules and regulation and some were even arguing that a Gentile needed to be circumcised and keep the Law before they could become a Christian.
The decision was made that there were only a couple of things that Gentile Christians should refrain from:
Acts 15:29
…what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.
But here was a woman, who had come into this church, and she was drawing away the loyalty and the devotion of these people to some other deity, to some other philosophy, to some other idea. All the while teaching them to do what had specifically been forbidden.
Now, I’m sure that it sounded good.
The Jezebel of the Old Testament was very cunning, clever and persuasive. And Jezebel in the New Testament was a very deep teacher who taught the deep things of Satan.
24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.
I think Jezebel, when she stood up to teach in this church, would say to those people who opposed her, “Perhaps you’re not deep enough to understand this yet; perhaps you don’t know enough; perhaps you’re not educated enough.”
And, there were people who were put down because they weren’t deep enough to understand it.
And so, there was the seriousness of the error and next is the stubbornness of the error.

The Stubbornness

21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
Isn’t this amazing of God? He should have judged her, according to human standards, right away; but God was patient with her. And, God did not judge her right away; God gave her time to repent.
You see, God would much rather correct us than condemn us; God would much rather pardon us than punish us. God gave her time to change her ways but she was so stubborn.
She continued on and made a mistake.
She misunderstood God’s slowness to be softness. And, she thought, because God hadn’t punished her that God wasn’t going to punish her at all. She was probably congratulating herself on her success but her judgment was right around the corner.
It was a very stubborn error and next there is the spread of the error:

The Spread

22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
23 and I will strike her children dead…
We’re told that there were those who committed adultery her with and there were children as a result.
And that’s because wicked and ungodly teachers reproduce themselves. They go from door to door, house to house, church to church, committing spiritual adultery. And the result is spiritual children, not children of God, but children of the devil.
They reproduce. And the children receive the character and the condemnation of the parents. And, God is saying, “Look. Not only are you doing this, but you’re spreading your disease; you’re seducing others to your wicked ways; and you’re growing ungodliness and wicked children here on earth.”
And so, there was the spread of the error and next the sentence on the error.

The Sentence

22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
Jezebelism led to spiritual adultery. I don’t think He’s talking about physical adultery here; I believe He’s talking about spiritual unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, we, as Christians, when we get saved, we are married to Jesus Christ.
Being saved is a lot like being married. When you get married, you take vows and assume some responsibilities. And, when you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior, you do the same thing.
And what a judgment there’s going to be upon those who teach false doctrine and teach people to commit spiritual adultery! Just as the dogs ate Jezebel in the Old Testament, the judgment of God was waiting upon this Jezebel and to anyone who will defy the Lord.
And God says, “I’m going to take you from that bed of adultery, and I’m going to cast you into a bed of tribulation.”
23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
And I think we find the truth that there are many, even today, in our churches who are not saved. And God will judge them by their works.
Salvation is always by grace, but judgment is always by works.
The hottest part of Hell is reserved for those who lead others astray. It’s far worse for you to believe a wrong thing than it is for you to do a wrong thing. You go to Heaven or Hell by what you believe, not by what you do.
And the greatest judgment is for those who are false teachers.
The next thing we see is the stand against this error.

The Stand

What should they have done, and what should they be doing?
24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.
25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.
What does Jesus tell them to do? Jesus said, “I’m just going to give you one thing to do. I’m not going to overburden you. Just hold fast onto your faith till Jesus comes.”
Today we’re going to have more philosophies, more ideas, come to us. And, there’s going to be a temptation to get away from the Bible; there’s going to be a temptation to get away from salvation by grace through faith.
Jesus says, “You hold fast till I come.”
And, even if it seems to be tough, remember that the saints are going to have their day.
26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Did you know that one of these days, Jesus is going to come and rule this world?
27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
God the Father has given to God the Son the right to rule and to reign here on earth. Don’t give up. Hold fast. Stick to it. Stay with the Word of God. Hold fast to the truth; hold fast to the Word and don’t let go.
One other promise Jesus gives is:
28 And I will give him the morning star.
Jesus is that morning star. What He’s saying is: “You’ll receive the greatest reward of all—you’ll get Me.”
Don’t let go; don’t let down; don’t back up; don’t shut up, until you’re taken up, because the Lord Jesus Christ is coming. And, He’s saying, “Just hold fast. Stand in there; stick in there, because, one of these days, you will possess that morning star.” And, if you have Jesus, you have everything.
I read a story about a wealthy Roman who had a massive estate. And, he had a servant named Marcellus; and, when the wealthy man died, in his will he left everything to his slave. The wealthy Roman also had a son. And, for some reason, he had come into disagreement with his son; and so, in his will, he said, “I have left my entire estate to my slave, Marcellus. To my son, I leave him only one thing: He can choose any one thing from my estate he wants, but that’s all.” And, the son said, “Very well, I choose Marcellus.”
Now, if you choose Jesus, with Jesus comes all the Father’s wealth, if you choose Jesus.
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