Sunday, March 5, 2017, 9:14 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 2:18-29 (NASB).
Eyes Like Fire (v. 18)
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:
God takes sin seriously, and so should we. When God forgives us our sins, that does not mean he ignores our sins from that moment on. He doesn’t. Our God is loving, merciful and gracious, but he is also holy, righteous, and just. Jesus saved us from slavery to sin so that we might become bond-slaves of his righteousness. God called us to be holy and to live godly lives, pleasing to him. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we continue in sin (living in sin, making it our practice), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, even though there are people who will tell you that you do. If we claim to be in Christ, and yet we have allowed sin to creep back into our lives, or if we have tolerated sin in others, then the God with eyes like a flame of fire is going to speak, and he is going to warn, and he is going to call us to repentance or else to face his divine correction. This is because he loves us!
Love and Faith (v. 19)
‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.
In the gathering of the church there will be those who have close walks with the Lord, who are following in his ways, though not perfectly, and whose goal it is to please their Lord and to obey his commands (his instructions). They are growing in maturity with Christ. There will also be those who are struggling in their walks of faith who are still living like spiritual infants rather than moving on to maturity in Christ. There will also be those who profess to know Christ but who have truly never been born again of the Spirit of God, but are Christians in name only. And, there will be those who have made no profession of Christ at all, but they are there, perhaps, with a family member or a friend, and the reasons for being there could be many. Added to that, the church met in multiple locations.
So, when the Lord addressed this church gathering, as a whole, it is to be understood that not everyone there was doing what is right, and not everyone was doing what is wrong. There is clearly a mixture, which becomes quite apparent when you read this entire passage. So, how do we reconcile the fact that he commends them here for their faith, love, service and perseverance, and then chides them for tolerating “Jezebel”?
I don’t know, other than I know that none of us are perfect, and that we are all growing in our faith, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ, if we are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. So, we may be doing really well in some areas, but then be lacking in others. And, these are areas where God wants to change us, to mature us, and to make us more and more like Jesus. So, we need to listen to him, and then we need to obey what he shows us.
You Tolerate Jezebel (vv. 20-23)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Ok, so what does it mean to tolerate? It means to bear, endure, accept, stomach, permit, put up with; “to allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference; be capable of continued subjection to” (Google).
And, who or what is “Jezebel?” There are many opinions on this, so let’s look at what she represents here. A prophet or a prophetess is someone who speaks the words of God, so this is someone who is a Bible teacher or a preacher, or someone who claims to speak for God, or it could be a personification of a larger group of people who are leaders within the church, as a whole, and/or who have enormous influence over the people. Since the church met in multiple locations, it could be that this was speaking of just one of the local fellowships that met in a home, and that the church at large was not dealing decisively with this issue.
Ok, so what was the character of this Jezebel? She/he/they are those who are sexually immoral and who lead others astray to what is immoral and ungodly. Jezebel could, thus, be a personification of the institutional church here in America, though not speaking of each individual person or congregation within the church as a whole. There is so much immorality within the church which is being tolerated consistently, i.e. it is ignored, placated, and allowed to exist and to be practiced as a matter of everyday life because no one wants to be the “bad guy” and they want everyone to feel comfortable and non-threatened. Statistics report that probably as much as 75% of pastors are involved with pornography, so no wonder they are diluting the gospel and saying we don’t have to repent of sin or obey God.
God is not looking the other way. He notices all the sin that goes on within the church unchecked and largely ignored or placated, and he sees all the church leaders who are looking at pornography behind closed doors, and he observes how sensuality is even present in “worship” services, i.e. in gatherings intended to attract the world with slightly cleaned up worldly entertainment, and how righteousness, holiness and godliness are being pushed out the door in favor of tolerance of sinful practices. And, he will judge his church, most certainly.
Hold Fast (vv. 24-29)
But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless, what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also 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.’
If we, though, are not partakers in all of that, and we do not practice tolerance of evil, but we confront sin, and we speak out against evil, and we do not tolerate sin in our own lives, but are dedicated to holiness, then this is not addressed to us. Instead, we are being encouraged here to hold fast to our faith in Jesus Christ until he comes for us, and to not give way to Satan, and to not let sin creep back into our lives, but to remain steadfast in love, purity and holiness until the end. This is a call to perseverance.
Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013
Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13
Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.
Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.
So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.