By Nathaniel K. Haney
THE FOURTH CHURCH THE LORD JESUS ADDRESSED: Thyatira
“Thyatira was an important and wealthy city in the northern part of Lydia, in a district which was in early times sometimes assigned to Mysia; and it was sometimes called `the last city of the Mysians’ owing to the uncertainty about national boundaries in Asia Minor. In its situation in the open fertile valley of the Lycus, a stream that flows south-west from the Mysian frontier to join the Hermus . . . Thyatira derived its importance strictly from the valley in which it was situated, and not from lying on a great trade route. Hence it was limited in its development by the restriction of its range, and it never became a metropolis or leading city of Asia . ..”
Thyatira was about 20 miles southeast of Pergamos. It was part of the kingdom of Pergamos that had been bequeathed to the Roman Empire by their last king, Attalus III, in 133 B.C. Hereafter, Pergamos passed permanently into the control of the Roman government. It continued to be a busy commercial and rich city with its newfound peace. Under the Roman government it did continue to prosper.
“Commercial prosperity attracted a large Jewish minority to Thyatira, for the agricultural Jews began in exile to assume monetary and commercial interests, which were to become their enduring mark. Dyed cloth and garments, and bronze armor were famous exports. A coin of Thyatira shows Hephaestus, the divine smith, hammering a helmet on an anvil, and the word in the apocalyptic letter for fine brass, chalcolibanos . . .” ‘
This was a city that had many forms of trade that gave it great diversity in its commence. There was a continual flow of people who came to engage in merchandizing. Many of the trades are found listed in inscriptions unearthed by archeologists. To mention a few: there were potters, bakers, and people who worked with wool, leather, and linen. There also were smiths who worked with bronze and brass as well as cloth dyers.
The Thyatira church received a very harsh rebuke from the Lord Jesus in Revelation 2:18: “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I have a few things against thee . . .” The name Thyatira means continual sacrifice. This church represents the period from A.D. 500 to 1500. Secular history names it well: the Dark Ages. This is the period when the papacy dominated the people and kept them in spiritual darkness by many means, the first being that they chained the Bible to the pulpit. There were no Bibles for the common man, and there was not much preaching of the Word. The people were actually starving for God’s Word. Masses, incense, penance, indulgences, and continuous sacrifice unto idols replaced Truth. Rituals and ceremonies were the methods of operation for the majority of the churches during this time. They had assimilated paganism into their practices and worship.
Statues of Mary and her baby were set up in churches for the people to worship. It is interesting to note that the Egyptian goddess Isis attracted many devotees who vowed their lives to her. “Her images stood in the temple, crowned as the Queen of Heaven and bearing the infant Horus in her arms. The candles flared and guttered before her . . .” Other statues were added as well: departed saints, the apostles, and others. Idols were prayed to replacing the original form of Christianity. This resembled more the rituals and temples of the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Babylonian gods and goddesses, and still does today. Even though there was a departure from the Truth into deep spiritual darkness, there were many who refused to go with the mixture of paganism and Christianity called Catholicism. They were not a political force, nor were they the wealthy, but were the True Church that kept its light burning bright. This was a special time of testing for the True Church. While most of the people did not have written Scripture, God enabled them to maintain their spiritual walk through His conviction and the leading of His Holy Spirit. These people had such a fire in their hearts that the darkness only revealed it more than ever.
Some in this church had opened their doors to a Jezebel-like spirit and, like she had done in Old Testament times, it brought in strange gods and teachings. Jezebel was the wife of Ahab and daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, who was also the high priest of the goddess Astarte of the Astarte/ Baal religion. Jezebel was a prophetess of Baal and introduced pagan religion to Israel. She erected temples as well as groves and altars to Baal. She replaced worship to Yahweh leading the people into worship of Baal. She is considered to be one of the wicked women in the Old Testament. The thing God hated about Jezebel was that she turned the attention of His people from Him toward false gods. She also hated the true prophets of God who spoke God’s Word to God’s people. The spirit of Jezebel, when in a church, will attack and try to kill the man of God who preaches Truth. This spirit hates the truth of repentance of sins; it hates the truth of baptism in water in Jesus Name; and it hates and fights the baptism of the Spirit with Bible evidence of speaking in other tongues. Yet, for all its hatred of Truth, the doctrines of the body of Christ prevail.
Jezebel was known for her deceitfulness and murderous ways. Truly this was a disastrous compromise: a king who worshipped Yahweh marrying a daughter of Baal. One can see how the power of evil will destroy a church that becomes tolerant toward sin and false doctrine. It is because of this that men and women of God must live in the anointing of the Holy Ghost, preaching righteousness and purity as did the prophets of old.
Revelation 2:20 says, “. . . I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Jezebel embodies many of the present Roman Catholic Church’s forms of worship that are accepted as part of this church. They have broken away from the church that was founded by Christ Jesus through His apostles in the Book of Acts. I would like to make a note here that, while many people are steeped in tradition, there should be an understanding that the system of Catholicism and its people are two separate entities. It is the system and much of its leadership that has always been the evil. The common Catholic people you know and meet are good-hearted, sincere people who love God and make some of the most wonderful followers of Christ I’ve ever met when they come face-to-face with Truth. Hating these people is sinful and evil, and it was never intended by the God of love for them to be despised. The Truth has nothing to fear or hide and, therefore, with it we can love each Roman Catholic with the love of Christ so they can see Jesus in our lives.
Furthermore, God has given many Roman Catholics the baptism of the Holy Ghost as the Scripture teaches in John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”(NIV) This shows us God’s love for Catholics and His intense desire to lead them out of darkness into spiritual Truth. The Bible lets us know that this is one purpose of the baptism of the Spirit, to lead and guide into all Truth. John 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
Looking back at this heathen woman Jezebel, married to an Israelite king (1 Kings 16:30-33), she is noted for her painted face, which she used often to seduce men. She was famous for killing God’s prophets. As mentioned earlier, she turned Israel from the worship of the one true God to many heathen gods. The church of Thyatira was experiencing the same thing: worship to the Babylonian religion under the guise of Christianity. They were worshipping a plurality of gods and were praying to many different saints in the form of idols. They, as the Roman government had done, assimilated cultures and religions as their own.
The worship to statues and images can be traced back to the beginning of idolatry when man first left the worship of one God and began to set up images of many gods. This is one of the many forms of spiritual adultery because of where it comes from and where its roots lie. Jezebel is a perfect type of the Dark Ages. It seems that, from the darkness that reigned in Israel and the introduction of idols and statues to worship, much of this false religion is embodied in the rituals and ceremonies in what is thought of as the church. We can see that whenever the standard is lowered and the things of this world are allowed to come into the church, the church will become like the world. God always has something against any church that lets the world inside.
However, in spite of the darkness, there were people in Thyatira who had not given into the pressure of the cultic practices of this church whose governing powers ruled from the lofty, ivory towers in Rome through its bishops. Instead, the dear saints stood strong for the Truth, even in this corrupt period of time. Christ sent a message to the church. The message is very clear: Christ will not tolerate His church becoming involved with the world. This type of union has always produced children that were not the Father’s. Adultery is a sexual sin that is committed by married people with someone who is not their spouse. Jezebel represents the world church that is married to Christ in name only. Just as Jezebel painted her face that she might attract the attention of men, so also her eyes are always roaming, looking for another victim to commit fornication with.
God takes this false church and places it in the bed of the world and allows governments, merchants, and other religions to co-mingle in an affair. Her main sin is the mixture of paganism and Christianity producing a wicked and evil counterfeit called Catholicism. Her children are the offspring that include many forms of trinitarian churches today that did not totally break away from her during the Reformation. Through the centuries there has been great opposition by this church to Jesus Name baptism. Yet even Pope Nicolas (A.D. 858-867) allowed baptism to be valid in the Name of Jesus Christ, as he saw it was the only way it was done in the Book of Acts. And as late as A.D. 1284, Ursinus, an African monk of the synod of Nemours, also asserted that baptism into the Name of Christ alone was valid. The teaching that baptism in Jesus Name was only for the Jews and the first century church is a copout to get around true Bible doctrine.
No matter how dark in any time period it may seem to be, the Name of Christ will arise and shine. God has always had a church in every generation that baptizes in the Name of Jesus. It is this people who wholly follow the Bible in the doctrine of baptism and not a polluted doctrine of men who have left the Truth and accepted the teachings of Rome and its cultic practices. I, like millions of others, am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ or to be baptized in Jesus Name; what an honor and privilege that is!
God, in His patience and longsuffering, gave Jezebel time to repent, but she did not. Instead, she continued committing spiritual adultery. Her punishment is threefold:
- She is going to be placed in the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 2:23).
- God is going to kill her children. This will greatly reduce her political power as well as her influence in the world and the number of her people. (Revelation 2:23).
- He is going to reward her according to her works. This is no comfort when your works are evil. (Revelation 2:23).
One of the great things about God is that He always sees the whole picture. In Revelation 2:24 Christ writes to a special remnant in Thyatira. Even as there was a group of people that would not bow their knees to Baal in the days of Jezebel, so it is now. There are many people who have not bowed to the co-mingling of Chaldean Mystery and Christianity. Christ takes notice of these people, just as He took notice back then. He noticed that there were many people who had done their best to keep themselves from the filth that had arisen in the church of Thyatira. They had refused to let this spiritual adultery enter into their circles, not allowing Satan to penetrate into their lives. Verse 25 shows that Jesus found no fault with these people.
Jesus said, “Hold fast to that which you have.” In other words, He was saying, “I like your tenacity and your desire for purity and truth. I’m going to reward you for your stand in the midst of this corrupted people. I want you to hold on to what you have.” Verse 26 relates the beautiful promise to those who overcome: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:”
The above article “Time of Darkness” is written by Nathaniel K. Haney. This article was excerpted from chapter four in Haney’s book A Mystery No More Biblical Prophecy Series, Volume Two.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.