The Letter From Jesus to The Local Church at Thyatira Part One
We are looking at the 7 letters that Jesus wrote to 7 unique churches. We have already looked at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Peramos.
In the letter to Peramos, Jesus brings up something that happened long ago and uses it as an illustration to what is happening currently in their church.
He uses the past to shed light on the present.
He brings up Balaam and says you have people in your church teaching the same horrible wicked things.
And to fully understand just how bad the doctrine of Balaam is you have to go back to the Old Testament and read what Balaam did and the harm it caused to thousands of families.
In the next letter to Thyatira we see a similar thing. To make His point Jesus is going make reference to a person in the Old Testament. So we also need to take a good look at this person first so that we have a deeper understanding of the letter to Thyatira.
The person that Jesus is going to reference to make it clear what is going on in the church of Thyatira is Jezebel.
The name should sound familiar even though almost no one in the world names their daughter Jezebel. Her name is attached to and synonymous with wickedness, selfishness, blaspheme, murder, and the evil execution of power.
We need to take a closer look at her, so instead of being in Revelations today we are going to be in 1st Kings. Starting in chapter 16.
1Ki 16:29 And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
1Ki 16:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
1Ki_16:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
As if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam. What is that? Jeroboam was the first king of the northern kingdom. Solomon’s son was unreasonable and Jeroboam led 10 tribes to start their own kingdom. Both of those two men were instrumental in the split of the nation.
But that is not the sins of Jeroboam that it is talking about. Once the kingdom split, Jeroboam was concerned that if the people continued to be obedient to God’s instruction and travel to Jerusalem to worship, then the people’s allegiance would not be wholly his.
He perceived a danger to his power if the people’s hearts were pulled to Jerusalem. And if Jerusalem was allowed to be the center of worship; if it were allowed to be the spiritual capital, then over time the people’s hearts would be softened toward the capital of the now rival kingdom.
But what to do about it? Well one or more of his advisors had an idea.
1Ki_12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
1Ki_12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
Notice that he held a feast like unto the feast down south. He made it close enough, with just enough hint of truth in it to make it easier for the people to compromise. The south had an altar, so Jeroboam made an altar. In Jerusalem they sacrificed and so he set up the same thing. In Jerusalem they had priests, so Jeroboam set up priests.
It is one of the methods of the wicked one. Mix a whole bunch of error with a little bit of truth. And the sad thing is that many people will fall for it. Mormons do it. They use just a handful of select KJV bible verses and they use Jesus’ name. However, their Jesus is a different Jesus. They have truth in a couple of verses and then twist their meaning and then the rest of what they teach is error.
Same method as Jeroboam. Just a tiny bit of truth and a whole lot of error and many people will fall for it.
And Jeroboam told the people it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Just save yourselves the hardship of travel and the expense and just stay and worship here.
And Jeroboam said behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
That should sound familiar. That is the same thing that Aaron said.
Aaron created golden calves when Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments. Jeroboam did and said the same thing that Aaron said. Someone who was advising Jeroboam knew their history. They knew what Aaron did and he knew that most of the people fell for it.
This was not an original idea. The counsel was it worked before and it will work again, and it did. Jeroboam set up two golden calves for the people to worship. He put one in a northern part of his new kingdom and put one in the south. One at Dan and one at Bethel.
This is what the sins of Jeroboam is talking about.
2Ki_10:29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.
Jeroboam made Israel to sin in leading them to worship golden calves. So now you know what the sins of Jeroboam refers to. And when reading Kings and Chronicles you will see the sins of Jeroboam mentioned over and over again.
What Jeroboam did caused sin, and hurt, and trouble for generations. It was a very serious and evil sin.
1Ki_16:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat,
We needed to take a look at what the sins of Jeroboam was to understand as if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in them. Ahab thought that the sin of false god worship was a light thing. And Ahab walked in them.
And because of His disregard of the true God, and because of his sin of false god worship, because of that
1Ki_16:31 …that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
It was common for Baal worshipers to put baal or bel in the names of places or people. They wanted the place or person they were naming to be forever identified with their false god.
They were not ashamed of their sin and very upfront and bold about it. The king of Zidonians was named Ethbaal. He is a Baal worshiper and he named his daughter Jezebel. She is a Baal worshipper.
And we notice something about Jezebel from the first verse she is mentioned in. Ahab was worshipping the false golden calves of Jeroboam and once he married Jezebel Ahab went and served Baal. Jezebel influenced, caused, seduced, however you want to say it. Because of Jezebel Ahab started worshipping Baal.
This is a law of first mention event. A fundamental truth is introduced the first time something is mentioned. Here it is a foundational truth about Jezebel. The main thing to know about her is mentioned here. Jezebel is not only about worshipping Baal, she is about leading others into it.
They make country songs about Jezebel stealing another woman’s man but that is an error; that is not what Jezebel was about. The fundamental truth about her is that she led others into worshipping false gods. And the details revealed about her later build on this and show details about how effect she was at it and how ruthless and evil she was about it.
In chapter 18 there is a famine in the land, and it is bad.
1Ki 18:2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
1Ki 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly:
1Ki_18:4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
The famine in the land is because of the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel. Jezebel was pushing Baal worship and there is nothing that she will not do to push her agenda.
1Ki_18:13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
Under Jezebel’s authority and command the prophets of the LORD were murdered. They committed no crime, they did nothing wrong, there was no trial. Their only offence was not agreeing with Jezebel and they were not following her into her wickedness of Baal worship.
They were just speaking God’s Word. That is what a prophet of the Lord is. Someone who says what God told them to say.
So she had them killed. Jezebel was intolerant of anyone having a different opinion. This should sound familiar. We see this attitude in our day all the time.
Not only did she not want to hear the Word of God, she did not want anyone else to hear it. So she tried to completely shut it down. And she would not stop with bulling or threats or jail. Her hatred of the truth knew no bounds.
She murdered every man of God that they could find. She was after total complete shutdown of the truth and after 100 percent control of everyone.
Obadiah saved 100 prophets and hid them in caves and then provided food for them. He was a good man who did what he could in a bad situation.
Elijah then is told by God to meet with Ahab.
1Ki 18:17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
1Ki 18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Here we see that Jezebel was very effective. Israel is troubled because Ahab and all his father’s family (they were the leaders) they had forsaken the commandments of the LORD. And they were following Baalim.
Jezebel had corrupted the leadership of Israel with her corruption and false god worship. The people on a large scale followed. Except the precious few like Obadiah and Elijah.
It was so bad that God sent a famine and that got so bad that they were searching everywhere for something to feed the few animals they had left.
That tells us something else about Jezebel. She did not care how much harm her actions caused. She did not care about the suffering of the people. And there was zero room in her heart for repentance. She refused to look out and see the famine and the hurt and then repent.
It is important to remember that it was declared by Elijah why there was a famine. There was no doubting about it. Jezebel knew why there was a famine. Jezebel would not be turned from her evil way.
Now before the last animals died, God decided it was time for a challenge and then an end to the famine.
1Ki_18:19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
Here we see that Jezebel was spending the tax money of the people to feed 450 prophets of Baal. She was really working hard on her agenda. Pushing false religion and pushing it some more. 450 false prophets on the payroll and another 400 prophets of the groves.
No amount of money is too small to spend for her. In a severe famine, with the economy destroyed she kept 850 false prophets on the payroll.
She is not spending that money on the poor. She is not spending that money on programs to help the economy. The basic needs of people are not on her radar.
Her purposes are herself, her false religion, fighting against our Lord, and power.
Our purpose today is to look at Jezebel so we will not go too far into how Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal. Except to say the challenge was to call fire from their god and they could not do it. No matter how they worked or cut themselves.
But when it was Elijah’s turn he had them dig a trench around his altar and fill it with water. And drown the wood with water. He then said a simple prayer and the Almighty sent fire. And not ordinary fire. This fire even burned up the water in the trench.
It was such an amazing display had an effect upon the people watching.
1Ki 18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
1Ki 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
1Ki 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
1Ki 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
The purpose of this extraordinary fire was to show that the Lord is God to a stiff necked people. And it worked. It is an amazing account. Someday we will take a closer look at it.
Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal that Jezebel had on her payroll. And Elijah did it not in his power or in his wisdom. It was actually God who used His power in a very visible way.
So powerful that there was no doubt about it. God is the true god, Baal is nothing. And many people admitted that. The evidence was undisputable.
1Ki_19:1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Jezebel has the same evidence as all the people had. The truth was made clear out in the open for all to see. But Jezebel refuses to change. No amount of truth and no amount of evidence will ever change her.
Jezebel then responds. And notice she does not try to cast doubt upon what happened. She does not say it was some kind of trick. She knows what happened, and she knows about the true God, she just does not want to know the true God.
1Ki_19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
Her response to Elijah is I am going to kill you.
Jezebel is an incredibly wicked woman. Elijah makes a run for it, which is another story. Then Jezebel schemes so that Ahab can have Naboth’s vineyard.
1 Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
So she lied. Acted as king. She loved power and manipulation and scheming.
1Ki 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
1Ki 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
1Ki_21:11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
They do as she said. Set Naboth up and then kill him.
1Ki_21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
1Ki_21:15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
This event teaches us a few more things about her. The huge defeat on Mount Carmel did nothing to slow down her wickedness.
Jezebel was an example of a total wicked heart. She was truly evil. She seduced huge numbers of people into Baal worship. She actively promoted and paid for teaching that is against the Word of God. She actually fought against the truth and killed many men of God.
She would even kill so her husband could possess a vineyard. After the killing of Naboth God pronounces judgment upon her.
1Ki_21:23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
And that is what happens to her. She gets thrown out a window and gets eaten by dogs and wakes up dead in hell.
Ahab also get judgment pronounced upon him. And the Bible tells us that Ahab sold himself to do the wickedness that Jezebel stirred up.
1Ki_21:25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
I do not think that there is in the entire Bible a woman worse than Jezebel.
And since Jesus uses her as an illustration in a letter to a New Testament church, we needed to take a closer look at her so that we can truly understand the letter to Thyatira.
We will go into that next time.