40 blogs of Lent – Day 18
Why can’t we have both of them?
Messages to the churches – Day 14
Thyatira – Day 2
‘I know your works, … 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 practise 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.
This is the last of the seven churches to which Jesus has both something good and bad he wishes to speak about, and in this one alone, apart from a few words, he deals with bthe bad things first. I am doing the same.
Getting on in business
Thyatira was in a bit of a backwater as far as life was concerned, it was marginalised both politically and culturally from nearby cities. Thyatira found its identity economically, trading through guilds. In order to trade you had to be in a guild.
Now each guild had a god or goddess as a patron which would be celebrated periodically, Pagan worship of this period so this presented a problem, either you worship God and the pagan deity that is the patron of your guild and your business is successful or you worship God alone and your business fails.
This was the the problem back in the time of the kingdom of Israel. Jezebel, a Sidonian who married King Ahab and brought worship of her god Baal with her. The problem was not God was not worshipped, but that Ball was worshipped as well as God. The prophet Elijah, in his meeting with the Baal prophets said: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” There is to be no compromise.
There were people in Thyatira who were compromising to get on in business, they would be wealthier if they compromised on their faith in God. The prosperity Gospel idea that if you follow God then money will follow just did not work here, just as it does not work today for millions who are being persecuted. The prosperity gospel is not the gospel of Christ. It is the modern compromise of following God in some respects but not in others, and should be avoided. Prosperity Gospel is the new Thyatira. Among other compromises.
A conversation at a bus stop last night. One youth, who had been on a young offender’s scheme was talking of his job placement working at a nearby pallet firm, where money was made on the side by writing off damaged goods and then repairing them and selling them on. The boss on this scheme, described as a right God botherer, used to regularly chide the young offenders for the sort of people they were, often coming in on a morning with a Bible verse in order to tell those in his care how bad they were. This boss was convicted of embezzling thousands of pounds. The self righteous boss was in the end a worse criminal than those young offenders.
What do you say to them? I had nothing to say. Compromised faith is one of the biggest barriers there is to spreading the good news that is Jesus.
But even today people will pot power, position or money before the work of God, or think they can preach Gods word whilst living outside God’s plan. We all have to be careful here, we all face the temptation to do what will bring us money or fame. The temptation to follow God but to also … search your heart, what are you tempted to do?
God gives the power to overcome temptation, and gives time to repent to those who have given in. What is power, prestige, fame and money compared to eternal life.
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 practise 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.’
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.