The Book of Revelation

Program # 5 

by: Ronald L. Dart

To the angel of the church in Thyatira write, "These things saith the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass."

Thus begins the fourth of seven letters to seven churches in Asia minor. The letter is from Christ and is addressed to each of them and has some very important things to say.

We are in the book of Revelation. These letters are written to real churches, in real time. They are staffed with real people, who live in real cities. They committed real sins and they did real good works, but that's not all they are. There are seven of them.

The Book of Revelation is About The Day of the Lord

Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible, it represents the whole, and the book of Revelation is a book about the Day of the Lord. It's about the end time. John was on the Isle of Patmos, a prisoner for the word of God and for the faith that he had professed and in that time he was transported in vision into the Day of the Lord and he saw things which he was told to record and he was given these seven letters to write, to each of these seven churches. These seven churches are a model of the entire church at the end time.

The Church In Thyatira

So when we read this letter, to Thyatira, we can see what one first century church was like, and we can wonder at the state of our church, as we approach the return of Christ.

The letter continues in Revelation 2 and verse 19. "I know your works and your charity and your service and your faith and your patience in your works. I know the last to be more than the first."

This is not a church in decay. They were stronger in these areas now, than they were when they first started out, so I suppose, as we approach the end time, we can have some hope that our church will be working harder than ever, doing more, and accomplishing great things.

Jezebel the Prophetess

But the letter doesn't end there. Jesus says in Revelation 2 verse 20, "Notwithstanding, I have a few things against you, because you permit that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach, and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols."

Well, I suppose it's also possible then, as we approach the time of the end, that our church will have some really serious problems.

Now this woman claimed to be a prophetess. I presume that means that she would come along and foretell what was going to happen in the future. She claimed to have revelations from God and because people want to hear from God, because they want to know what God has to say, people will tend to be kind of gullible about this type of thing, and so she was able to persuade these people, to listen to certain things that she said, and the result of it was, that she seduced these people to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols and one wonders how on earth is something like that get into a church, a religious environment?

Well, this was a real woman, in the real church, but it seems unlikely that Jezebel was her real name, more likely Christ pulled up an Old Testament character, as a type or a model of this particular woman in Thyatira, and also she is a type of a person at the end time.

In the first century this was real fornication. They went down to a pagan temple. They had a meal there where they ate the foods that were sacrificed to the idols and it was commonly followed by sex with a temple prostitute. And maybe we can understand how Christians in this place and this time found it hard to give up the old practices.

Their religion was not only more profitable than Christianity, after all, Christianity could cost you your business, it could get you locked out of a guild or a union where you did your work, it could make it very hard for you to be a Christian.

Consequences Of Sin

But not only was their pagan religion more profitable than Christianity, it was also more fun. The consequences of sin, not withstanding, sin can be a lot of fun, in the short term, and so fornication and eating meats offered to idols, the big feasts, that took place in pagan temples, hadn't gone away.

This woman Jezebel had managed somehow or other, to seduce God's servants to continue in that lifestyle.

Verse 21 says something very important. It says, "I gave her space (and time) to repent of her fornication and she didn't repent."

But to the Wicked, God Says

Now stay with me. I'm about to tell you something very important about God. There is a Psalm in the Old Testament, Psalm 50, in which God has a message for the wicked. In Psalm 50 in verse 16 we read this, "But to the wicked, God says, (quote) "What have you to do to declare my statutes, or that you should take my covenant in your mouth? {17} Seeing you hate instruction, and you cast my words behind you."

Now here are wicked people, who have God's words in their mouth. What is He talking about here? It's almost like a prophet or a prophetess or someone that comes along who is speaking religious things, religious people that talk about God and God wants to know, "What are you doing talking about my law? What are you doing taking my covenant in your mouth, since you hate instruction? You take my words and you throw them behind you!"

Now I can hear them saying, "Well Lord, what do you mean hate instruction? I love to hear your instructions. I don't cast your words behind me!"

God continues. Verse 18 of Psalms 50, "When you saw a thief, you consented with him, and you have been a partaker with adulterers."

Well, now, what this seems to suggest is, if I'm walking through a store and I see a shoplifter and I just turn the other way and say nothing, then I have consented with him. I've gotten to the place in my society to where I can see a crime, but it's not my crime, it's not my problem, and so therefore I will turn my back on him or I will think it's not so bad. I will see people commit sins. I will blink at them. I will pay little attention to them. I'll say, "Well maybe it's no big deal in the world we live in."

God says, "When you saw these things you consented with him and you have been a partaker with adulterers."

Now look, this does not necessarily say to these people, you are committing adultery, what it is saying is, that you partake with them in what they are doing in that you see it, and you consent to it. That begins to get a little painful in our society when everything from situation comedies to drama to real life, has to do with fornication and adultery and the acceptance thereof, and the fact that really all the old moors of the past are done away, we don't worry about those anymore. We can live the way we want to live and not worry about it.

But when you consent with it. You are a partaker with it.

How Do I Tell My Lie?

Now, God continues in Psalms 50 and said, {19} "You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit."

To tell the carefully crafted lie is to frame deceit, but really what we do, it's not very often we sit down and think I've got to lie about this. How do I tell my lie to make it sound plausible? How do I craft my lie?

How do I frame this thing and put it into place that will do what it is I want done. Rather, we frame our lie in such a way that we can feel comfortable with it, it becomes the truth. Technically it may not be a lie at all. It may be the truth told in such a way as to lead one to the wrong conclusion and so as a part of this way of life that God is talking about.

Remember this whole thing is in the context of God saying to the wicked, "What are you doing talking about my law and why do you talk about my covenant, you don't really want to know about me, you cast my words behind you, because you consent with thieves, you consent with adulterers, you give your mouth to evil, your tongue frames deceit"

Is It Wrong to Tell a Lie For A Good Cause?

Tell me something. Is it wrong to tell a lie for a good cause? You have a little Jewish girl hidden in your attic and the Nazis come and bang on your front door and you opened it up in fear and they look at you and say, "Have you seen this little girl and are you harboring a Jew? I don't know about you, but I would lie and I would hope I did it well! But like all lies, it's a dangerous act, a very dangerous act. In that particular time and place when the Nazis were in Holland and chasing down Jews in various places. It was a very dangerous act to protect a Jew in any form, to lie, to protect them or to tell the truth to protect them. It was a very dangerous act.

But lying is always dangerous. It's a slippery slope. It takes us into all manner of evil, and once the lie is told, once the story is spun into a different mold from the truth, then one must support the lie, one must frame the deceit, one must put the right kind of framework around it, must paint it in the right color, cast it in the right light, so that the deceit will hold up and the work of maintaining a deceit goes on and on and corrupts one right down to the core of one's being.

Yeah, yeah, I would lie in such a circumstance to protect a Jewish girl from the Nazis, but is it all right to tell a lie to protect the truth? Where do we come to the end of the 'end justifies the means' mentality?

You Slander Your Mother's Son

Well Psalm 50 continues in verse 20, "You sit and you speak against your brother, you slander your own mother's son."

This may be the worst lie of all, to protect yourself or your own interests by lying about your brother, imputing motives to your brother, misconstruing his actions and words to your own ends, is beneath contempt, and yet, when we step outside family boundaries, maybe into a church, maybe into our community, into our business, the people we do work with, when you start framing a deceit to protect your interests, by misrepresenting what your brother, or your friend, or your acquaintance, or your business associate, or your fellow church member, is doing, is absolutely beneath contempt.

And now for the lesson, continuing in Psalm 50, God says in verse 21, "These things you have done."

What things? Well you saw an adulterer and partook with him, you saw a thief and consented to him, you gave your mouth to evil and your tongue framed deceit and you sit and spoke against your brother, you slander your own mother’s son, you did all these things!

God Kept Silent

God said, "And I kept silence."

My goodness God saw all these things himself and kept silent. We did it. He didn't do anything.

And God says this, "These things have you done and I kept silence and you thought that I was altogether such a one as yourself."

Because I didn't say anything, you thought that I was like you are, that I make threats and I don't carry them out, that I make promises and I don't fulfill them, that I say something is evil but when it comes right down to it, I won't do anything to punish it. That's what you think. But the truth is, God is doing nothing except giving us time, to turn around. It is not always really easy to turn a life around. It is not always easy to quit the things you have been doing. There are sometimes when you get yourself trapped to an addictive substance and you can't just turn it off. You need to have help, it is going to take work, it's going to take time. It may take therapy over some period of time to get it turned around.

God will keep silence for a while. God gives you room for a while. He recognizes that oftentimes a man may need time to make a U-turn. A person can't just stop on a dime and turn it around and so God is patient and He waits, but He is waiting for us to turn. It's a big mistake to assume that because you seem to have gotten away with what you did, that there are no consequences to come.

God continues to say, "You thought I was like you are, but I will reprove you and I will set them in order before your eyes."

That's kind of bone chilling. To think that God would take all these things that we do, and then just set them up in order before our eyes, and make us look at what we have done and make us face up to it, that sobering.

Verse 22 of Psalms 5, "Now consider this," God says, "you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver you."

It is a grave danger to misinterpret God's silence. What He is doing is giving you room to turn your life around. The mere fact that He has not smashed you, only means that He loves you. It does not mean that He approves of what you are doing!

I Have a Few Things Against You

"I have a few things against you," says the Lord in Revelation 2 verse 20, "because you permit that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols."

So in history that was done, they did that in those pagan temples, but when you look to the end, to the end time, to the time just before the return of Christ, I suppose what we have to look for here is, perhaps a teaching in the church or a practice in the church, or better yet a tolerance in the church, of fornication, adultery and immoral behavior.

Now there are two sides to this question of fornication, or adultery, in the Bible. One of them is the physical fornication, physical adultery, chasing your neighbor's wife down the road. The other one though, has to do with spiritual fornication, that is the serving of other gods, the pursuit of different gods, as opposed to the true God or the attempts to worship the true God in ways that are really more adapted to the pagan gods of the world. That warning, is that you should not tolerate that type of thing to develop,

Great Tribulation

Then Jesus continues in Revelation 2 in verse 22.

'Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds."

Repent is the command, repent is the call, for at any given point in time, a person is capable of stopping, and turning around and going the other way, which is a pretty good modern definition of repentance, to stop what you're doing, turn around and do it differently.

Naturally, there is the sorrow of repentance. I'm afraid a lot of times people are sorry they got caught, they are just sorry things aren't working. They are sorry their life is messed up, but they're not quite ready to make the changes that are called upon.

The bed, He's talking about here, is probably a sick bed and it's an interesting little reference. She goes and applies her trade in a bed somewhere. {22} "I will cast her into a bed and those that commit adultery with her, into great tribulation.

Now there's an interesting phrase, the great tribulation. You will come across this in the Bible from time to time. It's talking about a period of time, to come toward the end of the world, a time of great tribulation, such as not been from the beginning of time, until then, nor will ever be again. It's a unique time in all history, a time of terrible trouble.

Jesus says those who are involved in this, are going to go straight into the great tribulation and {23} "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am He that searches the reins and the hearts, and I will give to everyone of you, according to your works."

Grace and Works

Now don't make any mistake about this, salvation is by grace. When you repent and you turnaround from the things that you have done, the wrong that you've done in your life, and you turn your life over to God and you go down into the waters of baptism and you come up washed clean, that cleanness, that forgiveness, that wholeness, comes by the sacrifice of Christ. There is not one ‘work’ that you can do for your own salvation. Salvation is a gift. (Romans 6:23).

Salvation is by grace (Ephesians 2:8-10), but still there are these works, "I will give him to every one of you according to your works" (Revelation 2:23).

It's chilling, but Jesus is telling us, "Don't you ever assume, don't you ever presume upon my grace, don't you ever assume that it is not necessary for you to obey, it is not necessary for you to work, because I have forgiven you of your past sins."

Verse 24 of Revelation 2, "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, as many as have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak. I will put upon you no other burden, {25} But that which you have, hold fast till I come."

Let’s Touch on the Seven Successive Eras Again

Now this is rather an interesting thought. Remember early in this series, we were talking about one of the theories about these seven churches is that they represented seven successive eras of God's church down through time. The Ephesian era was the apostolic era, the time when the apostles were alive and the next era that followed led up until the great persecutions began.

Well notice what He says about this, "Thyatira would be in that scheme of things. The fourth of seven successive eras which would place its beginning with, if you sort of even the time out, something like a thousand years ago.

Jesus says in Revelation 2 verse 25, "That which you have already, hold fast till I come." Now the church in Thyatira is dead. All these people are dead. The church is dead. The church is gone. There is no church there anymore. That church disappeared long ago.

So we have to conclude, then, that what we are talking about here is that end time Thyatira, that end time church, which is working for God, trying to serve God and yet is corrupted from within.

He says, "Hold fast what you have, till I come."

It makes it a little difficult with viewing these things as successive eras of the church. Are you condemned to be like these people in Thyatira, because of the era in which you were born? Are you condemned to be like Pergamum because of the era in which you were born? Or can you have a different frame of mind, or can we have a church in this location that is one way and down the road apiece from us, we can have a church that is in a totally different atmosphere?

Now that's the funny thing about these seven churches. They are not very far apart, even by first century standards. By our standards today, there's an hour's drive between most of them. By their standards today, maybe you could walk it in two or three days, but the fact is people got around a lot. There was a lot of intercourse between these cities and up and down these roads all the time.

Notice how different though, however these churches are. They are very different.

It's highly unlikely that these churches had a common administration. If that had been the case, this letter probably would've been addressed to the common administrator, instead of to the seven different angels or messengers in charge, or responsible for these seven churches. A common administration would be expected to produce a more uniform result.

So the implications of this are, that each of these churches was basically on its own. It functioned on its own, and of course this is the way groups work, as a matter-of-fact. They tend to take on the personality of their own. It's a result of the combination of the interactions between all the people of it and if you're a person living in a community, if you're a part of an organization, a part of a local church, shall we say, it's going to be very difficult for you to have a different spirit from the rest of the people that you meet with, and worship with week by week and that you spend time with in this environment.

Whole Church is Held Accountable

Now this brings us to another point. It's also worth knowing that in each case of these seven churches, the whole church is held accountable for the sins of the church.

Is that fair?

Consider a letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church. In this particular location, at this time in the first century, they shared the problems that the churches did in most of these places.

Paul writes to them in the fifth chapter of first Corinthians and says this, "It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife."

Now most of the commentators assume in this case that he is talking about his stepmother, not necessarily his mother, but in this case, he had gone beyond even the temple prostitutes but had done something that was really a problem in the area.

Paul says in verse two of chapter 5 of first Corinthians, "You are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you."

Paul holds the whole Corinthian Church responsible for this because, in their frame of mind, they were tolerating what this man had done. They thought it, was "Well, it's not that big a deal," or they went around talking about it more likely. I expect that this man and what he was doing was the topic of a lot of conversations around the church but they assumed "Well, it's not me, I'm not doing it," and in some cases I think we feel better than someone else does, because he's doing it and we are not.

Paul says, {2} "Look, you are arrogant about this. You should have done something about this, {3} For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has done this deed. {4} In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, {5} To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Wow, I don't know what that means, but I don't want any part of it, "To deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh."

The church was supposed to get together and do something. It was probably just a prayer. It was probably a pronouncement that they did. I don't think they did anything to him. They may well have told him he couldn't come back to church anymore.

Paul says in verse six, "Your glorying is not good, don't you know that a little leavening leavens the whole lump."

When you allow this type of mind to enter in among you, you are going to be affected by it. You can't get away from it. There is no way. You're there, you're seeing it, your tolerating it. The fact that you tolerate it means, that you consider it tolerable, and how long will it take before you consider the same type of deal or conduct tolerable in your own life.

Well every indication that we get, both from revelation, and from Paul's epistle is, that God holds us as a religious community, as a community of His people, responsible for the spirit and the attitude that dominates that community, responsible for the fact that we tolerate sin in our midst.

Compassion for the Sinner

Now tolerating the sinner is another matter, having compassion for the sinner is important. Dealing with that person, encouraging that person, praying for that person, working with that person is a part of the ministry that all of us are called to do. But there's no point for us sitting around and saying to ourselves, that what he is doing is no big deal, when it is a very big deal.

Lesson From the Days of Unleavened Bread

Now Paul is adapting, is drawing a lesson here, from the Days of Unleavened Bread. He is saying that, that this person being among you is like a little piece of dough with leavening in it, and you put it inside a lump of dough and you work it together, and this leaven, if you let it sit, will leaven and raise the whole bread. It is drawn from the Days of Unleavened Bread, when they put leavening out of their houses and ate unleavened bread for seven days.

Paul says in verse 7 of first Corinthians 5, "Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. {8} Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Many people look at this passage of Scripture and conclude that the Corinthian church was observing the Days of Unleavened Bread right along with their Jewish brethren, because of the symbolism of sin and of righteousness, of the symbolism of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the Passover, and the reminder that we need, that sin must go out of our lives, but that it must stay out!

The Overcomer Will Have Power Over the Nations

Jesus said in Revelation 2 verse 26, "But he that over comes, and keeps my works to the end, will I give power over the nations."

To the winner, to the person who fights and overcomes, I will give power over the nations!

Verse 27 of Revelation 2, "And he will rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my Father, [28} And I will give him the morning star," and that only goes to the winners.

Until next time, this is Ronald Dart reminding you to, Reach for the Stars!

This article was transcribed with

minor editing from a Born to Win Radio Program by: Ronald L. Dart

Titled: The Book of Revelation -Program #5

Transcribed by: bb 7-4-23

Ronald L. Dart was an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

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