The Revelation Church at Thyatira

By Karen Jurgens

Jezebel works with religion and witchcraft to hinder the church from moving forward and advancing the Kingdom. ~ John Eckhard

Welcome to Thyatira. Situated thirty-five miles east of Pergamum, it was known for its wool and textile industries, whose trade guilds also doubled as social and religious clubs. Jesus appeared to this church with fiery eyes and burnished feet to deliver a message. Although He began by ticking off a list of all their commendable deeds, he ended with a stern warning:

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 (Revelation 2:20-21 NASB).

The issue with this church refers back to Jezebel–the woman who drew her husband, King Ahab, into idolatry, immorality, and false worship, and who helped him acquire a neighboring field by arranging the murder of its owner, Naboth.

lightstock_208642_small_karen

Jezebel’s death

 

The main problem in Thyatira involved the church leadership preaching a compromising message, promising freedom from God’s moral laws. Pastors proclaimed that if the spirit were secure in salvation, then sexual sins and idol worship wouldn’t hurt them. The focus was on serving self and being accepted by the world.

Sound familiar in some of today’s churches? But people can’t get away with these sins—even in our modern age. Listen to the consequences from the mouth of the Lord Himself:

Behold, I will throw her [Thyatira] 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 (Revelation 2:22-23 NASB).

Wow, Jesus is adamant about severely punishing those who follow the Jezebel spirit. Rather ironic, don’t you think, that Jesus threw this church on a bed of sickness—the same bed where she had committed adultery.

Jezebel is one slick spirit that works in conjunction with the spirit of religion. Here’s a modern-day picture: A legalistic church tells us we’re fine if we’ve kept its rules, resulting in self-righteousness. The pastorate also loves to bestow a title of importance on people seeking recognition from the world, which goes a long way. Church members, wearing these titles like golden crowns, might be ordered to work shifts every week or month, tithe a certain amount, or perform in some other area to serve the pastorate. Of course, volunteering and tithing are good things that all church members should do, but when they’re forced or bribed into it, that’s where the line is crossed into the Jezebel spirit.

We know from scripture in Malachi 3:10 that those who tithe receive a blessing from God for their obedience. But the truth is that these rules don’t justify us in God’s eyes—faith does. We find our righteousness in the work of the cross and through trusting in Jesus who performed that work—not in just following the rules and being “religious.”

Jezebel also works with another spirit—the spirit of witchcraft—which is very subtle and thus hard to detect unless you’re paying close attention. Hidden lies inside partial truths swirl together to twist our perspectives by highlighting our personal wants and needs. This pull distracts us from God’s will and grace for the work He has called us to do. Our focus lands squarely on our needs, promoting and justifying selfishness.

Witchcraft also attacks our minds through controlling words. Watch out for the get-rich-quick gospel where a person must send a seed offering in return for an anointing or a percentage return on a donation—especially when it’s just available for the first three hundred callers!

There are true blessings from heaven and true financial miracles, but we must watch out for Jezebel, full of deceit and lies, lurking to “fleece the flock.” Hence, we all must pray faithfully about the fertile soil where we sow our seeds and plant our tithes.

Another ploy of Jezebel is through the idolatrous gospel. Unfortunately for many of today’s Western churches, their pastors are idolized by their congregations. Instead of running to Jesus and His Word, some run to the pastor and believe what he says is gospel truth.

Let’s run to Jesus and idolize Him—not a mortal man who preaches from a platform.

lightstock_115919_small_karen

What do you think? Why did Jesus so vehemently warn this Revelation church to repent of her Jezebel spirit of immorality? The severe consequences of disobedience were designed to stop people from following Jezebel’s idolatry and witchcraft.

Knowing that the Lord is patient so that all may come to salvation, these consequences were actually merciful and full of God’s grace. He is patient toward us as He waits with open arms for us to come to Him and receive His free gift of salvation. He concludes with a wonderful promise for overcomers:

 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 (Revelation 2:24-29 NASB).

Our next stop? The Revelation Church in Sardis. Meet you there.

Photos courtesy of Lightstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Revelation Churches

exorcistAn Introduction

Is fear fun?

I vividly recall when The Exorcist hit the movie screen. Watching scenes where a young girl became possessed by demonic spirits seemed outrageous and in far left-field. Of course, nothing like that could happen in real life. It’s only at the movies where the producers are paid millions of dollars to scare you out of your wits. But I paid a price for feeding my fun-loving fear because I was scared of the dark and had to sleep with a light on for weeks after seeing that movie.

My fascination with “fun fear” began when I was a kid. As soon as I could read and browse in bookstores, I discovered that there was more than just The Bobbsey Twins series. The Nancy Drew Mysteries developed my love of suspense, which I feed to this day. As a fan of everything Agatha Christie, I will always love the “who-dunnit” mysteries.

sitcomsonline hitchcock

But as a kid, my interest was drawn to the books with the ghosts and haunted houses on the cover. The author? None other than the wonderful master of horror and suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

 

Could it get even better? You bet it did. Alfred Hitchcock Presents became my weekly TV haunt. I have no idea why, but it aired quite late at night, around ten. I lay under the covers in my dark bedroom, clutching my pillow and hiding my face in it at the spookiest parts. As I turned off the TV at eleven, I took all that fear with me into my sleep. Needless to say, my dreams were not peaceful, and some nights I had nightmares.

No wonder.

Back in the ‘60’s, Christians weren’t as spiritually knowledgeable as today. Then, we flirted with fear which seemed thrilling, fun, and pretty tame. No one realized at that time how real the world of the enemy is, except for missionaries in third world countries where Satan worship prevailed. These missionaries would visit our church once or twice a year, and when they spoke at a Sunday service, we would hear all kinds of true stories that would make our hair stand up. Our solace was in the fact that America was a Christian nation, and Satanic activity was thereby limited from manifesting here.

Well, for a while, anyway.

Then, as I’ve already mentioned, The Exorcist was born on the big screen, and our innocence began to fade. As illegal drugs made the scene, free love in all its forms manifested. Rebellion and flower children blossomed. The Ten Commandments and prayer were removed from public schools as rock bands with hellish music pounded their anti-Christ message into teens. Wholesome movies and TV shows were sidelined. Now TV shows became less moral and movie producers experimented with racier visions within inane storylines rated R and X.

Did they make mega-bucks doing that? You know it.

Like a lullaby sung over a sleepy giant, this great Christian nation was lulled to sleep. Churches began to dwindle as their members became fascinated with the pleasures of the world, and ministries worried about their financial future. How could they once again pack their churches and financial statements to capacity?  Thus, they re-invented and molded themselves to attract modern-day society.

How so? Here are some of the ploys:

Make the church a welcoming, comfortable place—more like a club where you are encouraged to pay your monthly dues in the offering plate, or better yet, online. Lure with rock band music containing Christian lyrics, and feature a coffee bar or restaurant on the premises. (I understand some are now even serving wine and beer.)

Do away with the true gospel, watering it down so that there’s no cross to convict, no call to repentance, and no mention of the word “sin.” Replace those terms with psychology, and help people reason away their guilt. Tell them, “After all, if God is a loving God, how could He send anyone to hell?”

No roaring sermons—just pleasant ear-tickling stories to entertain and keep everyone coming back next week. Have lots of fun group activities for athletics and hobbies, or study books that sound religious, but really have no gospel message.

Give everyone a job in the church, so they feel included and important. Tell them “it’s all about you” instead of being all about Jesus.

Instead of milk and meat, feed the flock gobs of cotton candy—and remember the good news: sugar is addictive!

harry potter 1

Now for the present moment. Our innocent, precious children are weaned onto their first series of books as soon as they have learned to read. The title of the most popular one, in my opinion? Why, Harry Potter, naturally! The world of witches and spells teach them fear, rebellion, and the ABC’s of Satanic worship. Right away their minds are receptive to witchcraft and closed to Christianity. (Some good parents and Christians alike scoff at the warnings that Harry Potter could in any way be dangerous.)

Additionally, some children watch their parents abuse alcohol and drugs, to name just a few bad examples (by now, keep in mind, the ‘60’s generation has produced one to two future generations). In short, our children’s influences are set for a lifetime.

2001-Harry-Potter-and-the-Sorcerer-s-Stone-Promotional-Shoot-HQ-harry-potter-11097228-1600-1960

I remember hearing nuns say, “Let me train a child until he’s five, and by then he will be a Catholic his whole life.” Reminds me of the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NASB). So, these early childhood years matter very much.

How about public school curricula?  They now endorse soft education, meaning there is no discipline, no character training, lax patriotism, and little, if any, true learning. The consequences are lots of kids stoned on drugs, disrespect, laziness, and time wasted on technology (which is only a robotic substitute teacher). No wonder American education, no longer able to boast being number one in the world, has, in 2014, plummeted to 36th out of 60 nations. What a staggering educational failure we have become!

So, what is the church’s role in this present age, and what are God’s expectations?

The answer may surprise you, as it did me. In studying the book of Revelation, the beginning of John’s letter is to the seven churches. In my Bible studies that span over four decades, I used to think those letters were just for that day and time, or that there have been seven dispensational ages, one message for each church, and the last is for our present day.

But no.

I clearly see in my present study through Bible Study Fellowship that these messages are eternally pertinent for today, no matter the age or year. There is no perfect church, of course, outside of heaven’s—and we have to die to get there. On the earth, all of our churches have some commendations, but there is always something that needs to be corrected.

I plan to take each church and examine what Christ said to each one through John. Let’s agree to establish our hope in God and let Him establish our future.

“For I know the plans I have for you, for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB).

What we may learn about ourselves could be startling. Please join me on this fascinating journey.

Our first stop? Ephesus.