“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira, write, ‘The things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass….’
Once again, we’ve had to divide our thoughts into separate posts.
1. The City of the Epistle.
Thyatira was located in a valley linking two other valleys. Because it had no natural fortification and was wide open to attack, a garrison was usually stationed there. This defended the town, but had the added benefit in that it guarded the road into Pergamos, the capital of the province.
Because of its favorable location on the route between Pergamos and Sardis, Thyatira soon became a prosperous commercial center. Many trade-guilds are known to have existed there. One of her merchants is even mentioned in Scripture: Lydia, a seller of purple, Acts 16:14. What’s noted about her, though, isn’t her commerce, but her conversion. She is described as one whose heart the Lord opened to hear the things spoken by Paul. There’s so much I could say about this in these days of the widespread belief that God is impotent or at least unable to act until we give Him permission. That is not the God of Scripture.
Membership in the appropriate guild was essential to a tradesman and his business and social life was severely impacted if he refused to join. But each guild had its own “god” and membership implied worship of that god. Moreover, the periodic feasts of the guild, beside honoring their god, deteriorated into drunken orgies. Perhaps this was one of the main problems facing the church there.
Although Thyatira was the smallest of the seven cities, its letter is the longest.
If we follow the idea that each church foreshadows an era of church history, then Thyatira represents that time between 500 and 1500 AD, when Romanism was savagely predominant. I use the word “savagely” intentionally, in view of the rivers of blood Rome shed of those who refused to join with her. The name, Thyatira, is particularly significant, made up as it is of two words which can be interpreted as meaning “a continual sacrifice.” The continual offering of the Mass – the so-called “unbloody sacrifice” of the Lord Jesus – is the central blasphemy of Romanism. The partaking of communion was never intended by our Lord to be a continuation of His sacrifice or a repetition of it. It was never meant to be some sort of “magic potion” bringing “grace” to those who partake of it. He Himself said it was to be a reminder of Him. In 1 Corinthians 11:25, He told the disciples, This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” It’s a memorial to His life and death. Perhaps it’s significant that our Lord said this in the part of Communion involved in the drinking of the fruit of the vine, which is withheld from the communicant in Rome’s version. The fruit of the vine represents His blood, without which there is no salvation.
This brings us to our next thought.
2. The Christ of the Epistle, v. 18.
This is important. In this day of “pluralism” and “diversity,” it’s vital to remember that our Lord taught that there’s only one way of salvation and that’s through Him. All roads do not lead to heaven. He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6. And not just the “Jesus” of a lot of modern thought, who was only a good man or a prophet or whose death was accidental or a mistake, or who is even, as some now teach, only a figment of the imagination.
There’s only salvation in a Christ Who is God, Who deliberately set aside His glory as God, deliberately came into this world through means of a virgin, deliberately lived a perfect life, deliberately died a horrible death, deliberately and willingly suffered the justice of God against sin, deliberately rose again from the dead and Who, one day, will deliberately return to this world. There was nothing accidental or unintentional in a single thing that He ever did. This is the Christ who saves, and He alone.
The Son of God. This is the only place in these epistles where the Lord Jesus is so named. Perhaps, in the wisdom of God, this is to warn people not to be deluded into thinking of Him merely as the Son of Mary. Perhaps there’s something to be learned from her last recorded words in Scripture. She had attempted to get Him to do something, perhaps just being a mother and not really thinking about it. He told her that it wasn’t yet time for Him to be subject to man’s will. Her response? His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” John 2:5, emphasis added. That’s still good advice. There’s nothing more she can say or do.
Eyes like a Flame of Fire.
– to uncover and destroy works of error and apostasy.
We’ve almost completely lost sight of this facet of our Lord’s being and of His Father’s. We seem to have this idea of God as this beneficent-type grandfather who winks and chuckles at the foibles of His wayward grandchildren. We seem to think that it doesn’t really matter what He says in His Word, if it is His Word. Academics argue and quibble over this and that, but they never seem actually to read what He says. From a misunderstanding of Revelation 3:20, we picture our Lord as being on the outside and wanting us to let Him in so badly. One preacher even went so far as to call Him “the Christ of the bloody knuckles”! This is not the Christ of Scripture!
God is indeed very long-suffering and patient. For that, I am very thankful. If He were not, we’d all be in Hell, where we belong. But one of these days, as Rolfe Barnard, a great preacher of another generation, put it, one of these days we’re going to run into the end of that patience and we’ll reap what we’ve sown. I think we’re getting there. Look at the headlines, the lead stories on TV, the sorry condition of the major candidates running for the highest office in our land.
When the Lord comes back, He’s not going to be “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” He’s not going to suffer the humiliation and rejection He did the first time. Scripture describes that time when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Zechariah 14:9-21 gives us something of the nature and character of His reign on this earth when He gets here.
That’s a picture of our Lord that the church needs today. He has no time for diversity and “tolerance,” especially of sin or error. He doesn’t celebrate “inclusiveness,” at least not as it’s practiced today. The Gospel is indeed “inclusive” in that there is no one to whom it isn’t addressed, or who does not need to heed and obey it. But there is no such thing as “religious freedom” in Scripture – that we can take it or leave it, or twist it around to suit ourselves.
I’ve heard people say what the Scripture “means to them.” The problem is, we need to understand what it means to God. What does He mean? Not what do the “notes” say it means. Not what the preacher on TV says it means. What it says it means. These other things may or may not be useful. We need to read and study the Scriptures themselves, not just read about them. Not everybody is on the road to heaven. Our Lord indicated that most people are on the other road, Matthew 7:13, that broad way that leads to destruction.
His feet like fine brass.
Revelation 19:15 says, He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
The Old Testament describes something of this: Isaiah 63:1-6; Zechariah 14:1-3, 12-15. The world may gather its armies together in one last desperate attempt to destroy Israel, and they may seem to be successful, but the Lord will come back and that will be that. The world will finally see something of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Satan will no longer, and not much longer, we pray, be the god of this world.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.