Photo (Chris D.) Ancient Lydian Tumuli (burial mounds) on the road to Thyatira
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” Revelation 2:18-19
These two verses should give us an idea what the letter to Thyatira is all about – “eyes are like blazing fire…feet are like burnished bronze”
No doubt for John on Patmos, those eyes were totally arresting; the very centre and focus of his description of the One he saw. The eyes are “the window to the soul”. Eyes blazing with intense, uncompromising love, overflowing with unparalleled and unchallengeable authority; all seeing, all knowing, deep with unfathomable knowledge and wisdom.
Thyatira was commended for her deeds:
“I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” 2:19
But the church is severely reprimanded for her tolerance of a false prophet named Jezebel. On an initial reading we see the teaching is not unlike that of Balaam, which I commented on in the previous blog – the letter to Pergamum.
“By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” 2:20b
[I intend posting a great teaching by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church on the them of Tolerance. Keep a watch out for it next week. While living in Turkey I have had my mind broadened greatly in regards religious tolerance and Marks teaching sums up my present sentiment on the theme.]
However, as I mentioned in the Pergamum blog, there is no room for moral compromise or tolerance within the teaching of the church.
Now, as I alluded above – beyond an “initial reading” of the text, we discover there is more iniquity attached to Jezebel than meets the eye. Look at verse 24
“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets….”
The source of much of the heresy and false teaching and false prophets in the early church came from a group, or rather a school of thought and spirituality called the Gnostics. (Greek gnosis – “knowledge”).
The gnostics were the modern day New Agers in many respects. They were not adherents of any particular main religious grouping but were people who had a fascination for the unseen world, the spirit world, and elevated that reality above the physical. They did not believe that God would or did come “in the flesh”, for to them flesh was carnal. They believed Jesus was a spirit being, fully God but not fully human. The Apostle John in his Gospel as well as in his epistles confronted that heresy in a number of passages, for example –
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….” John 1:14a
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” 2 John 1:7
Gnostic thought and practice is also warned about by Paul in his letter to the Colossians and Galatians, for example –
“But now that you have come to know God—or rather are known by God —how is it that you are turning back to those weak and worthless elementary principles miserable forces[a]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? But now that you know God—or rather are known by God —how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces (elementary principles)? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Galatians 4:9
“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:….” Colossians 2:20
“ Miserable forces”, “elementary principles”, “elemental spiritual forces” – Greek stoixeia – spiritual powers, cosmic spirits, ancient astral beings. (Strongs)
What Artemis was to the Romans, Diana was to the Greeks, was Kybele of the Frigians, Kubaba of the Hittites and Ana Tanrica (Earth Mother) of the Anatolians. Each civilization during six millennia worshipped this same “Earth Mother”, fertility goddess, under different names.
For more on Ana Tanrica, from a sympathetic perspective, look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Twbcx8IicxIOK, “Revealing The Sacred Goddess of Turkey”
So, back to Jezebel – how is she related to all of this? Well, it can be surmised that “Satan’s so-called deep secrets” (Revelation 2:24) refer to gnostic spirituality that had it’s roots in Anatolian mother goddess worship.
Jesus is extremely concerned that the church at Thyatira was tolerating a syncretism (mix) of Christianity and mother goddess paganism. The concern of Jesus is well founded as we see such a progression of this syncretism that by 425AD, at the 3rd Ecumenical Council, that convened in Ephesus, it was debated and decided that Mary was Theotokas (The bearer, or mother of God). We can agree that the Virgin Mary was the mother of the earthly Jesus, but we strongly disagree that she was the mother of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the eternal Word of God. She was not pre-existent, whereas the Son of God is and she is certainly not divine. Like you and me, she is holy because she was redeemed by Jesus, and is now a precious member of the communion of saints.
We have to wonder if Ana Tanrica / Cybele / Diana / Artemis / Jezebel has made a come-back in the churches that elevate the Virgin Mary to a position of devotion and worship that is only to be afforded the One whose eyes are like blazing fires.
To ignore the warnings of this letter will have dire results,
“So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead.” Revelation 2:22-23a
My intention in writing these things is not to pick a fight with some very large Christian denominations but simply to point out the warning in this letter to those whose loyalties and devotion are fixed on anything or anyone other than our Lord Jesus Christ.
Clearly there are many dear saints in what we will refer to as “Marion” churches who give sole adoration, veneration and loyalty to Jesus. The Lord would say to you,
“…hold on to what you have until I come.” Revelation 2:25.
This answers the question as whether members of Marion churches are saved. It also answers the question as to whether they should stay or leave!
“To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations …. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:27-29
As with each of the letters to the churches, those who “overcome” are given wonderful promises of life lived in eternity…
“authority over the Nation” 2:26 is explained by a scripture a few chapters further on…
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10
“the morning star” 2:28 is also explained by a later verse…
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16
It doesn’t look like we’ll be sitting around twiddling our thumbs when we get to heaven does it!