Thursday, October 27, 2016

27 October 2016

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are 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, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 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 to what you have until I come.
To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,
I will give authority over the nations;
to rule them with an iron rod,
as when clay pots are shattered—
even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Revelation 2:18-29 (NRSV)

Good afternoon, welcome. Today we visit Thyatira, an industrial center with many merchants and craftsmen. Trade guilds were present in abundance there-wool and linen workers, coat makers, leather workers, tanners, potters, metal workers and slave traders all had their guilds and gods. Membership would have included participation in pagan ritual worship; economic survival would have demanded some form of compromise. The situation posed a serious dilemma for the Thyatiran Christians.

The description of Christ-“eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” implies refining purity and strength, something metal workers would have been familiar with. No fault is found with the works themselves. In contrast to the Ephesians, love here has led to faith, service, and patient endurance. What does not withstand our Lord’s purifying gaze is “that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet”. Adultery in the Old Testament often referred to idolatry; this woman was probably teaching some form of compromise which allowed for participation in guild practices under the guise of ‘the deep things of Satan’.  Worthy of note here is that our Lord gave her time to repent, which she did not do.

This message has particular relevance for the modern church in this country. Cultural compromise for economic, social or political gain continues today under the theory the end justifies the means. The message to Thyatira-and Ephesus and Pergamum as well-tells us compromise justifies neither the end nor the means. While we may no longer be worshipping at the altar of Baal; we do see oppression and greed occurring-or at least condoned-in the name of sex, power, possessions, pride, and prestige; anything that has become more important in our lives than worshipping and following Jesus is an idol and pursuing them is idolatry. There can only be one first thing in our hearts.

To those who remain faithful Jesus promises a reversal of authority-the same reversal taught in the Gospels and accomplished by His death and resurrection. This reversal will bring about the dawn of a new era ushered in by the morning star-Jesus Himself. Those who are faithful in this life receive Jesus Himself in the life to come. The Thyatiran church also receives the promise of ‘authority over the nations; to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered’. The implication of this promise is that we will have something to do for eternity, and that something depends on what we are doing here and now (cf. 1Cor.3:10-15).

What we do in this life is important. The depth of our relationship with Jesus in this life is important. Both will affect our eternal destiny. The question for today is this-how’s the planning going so far?

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

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