Watch Focus

Friday, January 29th, 2021 — 

Inherit the Nations

Revelation 2:26-29 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.

Jesus’ letter to the church in Thyratira is profoundly current for Christians, congregations in particular, at this moment in the West. The supreme moral “virtues” of Roman culture in John’s day were wealth, political power, and spiritual religion. The trades, politics, and religious cults, were governed by guilds in which membership was essential for protection and advancement. To be a member meant you promoted and contributed to the collective values and practice established by the guild. 

Thyratira was a serious economic power. Principal among the trades was purple dying used in clothing of every class. Very expensive purple dye was an arduous art form which produced blood colored cloth worn by persons of high political, social, economic, and religious station and which cost a great deal of money. 

An early convert to Christ was a wealthy cloth merchant, Lydia, a “dyer of purple” from Thyratira who came under Paul’s preaching in Philippi. Lydia then used her station and influence to give Paul a platform and introduce others to the gospel. The brief description of Lydia (Acts 16) suggests she was exemplary of the virtues listed of the church in Thyratira: “love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.” 

Lydia stands in contrast to another woman who was influencing the church back home. In today’s measures Thyratira had their act together. Then Jesus points out a problem. They are so loving, so servant-minded, so forgiving in their faith, so inclusive as to allow teachings of abject sexual immorality and idolatry to be embraced in their fellowship and promoted as doctrine. Jesus pronounced a severe judgment on the other woman, who espoused what He called “deep things of Satan”. Jesus referred to her as “Jezebel” and pronounced judgment on everyone who followed her. “Jezebel” may have been used to liken the so-called prophetess to Jezebel of old, an idol worshipping murderer of God’s servants. 

Jesus calls the church to repent and keep His works until the end. He calls them to the foundations they first received, which birthed and made them fruitful. That Truth made them the church. Light is shone on what they were dealing with as Jesus describes the reward He will give those who receive the correction. He quotes Psalm 2, the fulfillment of His kingship and pronouncement of judgments over all authorities and governance. He says those who hear and obey will sit and rule with Him, receiving the nations as their inheritance. He underscores this promise with a gift: “the morning star,” a reference not to celestial bodies, but to the place once held but forfeited by Satan. 

Apparently no one in the church in Thyratira was willing to call out “Jezebel’s” teachings as Satanic. Probably instead they were reasonable by any truly humanitarian-minded standards acceptable among good Christians or good citizens committed to serving the wider world because of their faith. Some individuals in the church already practiced those things as norms. Perhaps it seemed reasonable, even more like one supposed God to be, to ease off religious ideas that excluded or condemned people on the basis of sexual preference and practice. 

Jesus makes it clear the incursion of those culturally acceptable social norms were in abject defiance of His way. They defiled and threatened the very existence of His called out ones. No doubt there were some upset when the letter arrived. It likely meant hard choices had to be made with implications on social standing and access in the wider cultural context. 

Sound familiar yet? 

His rebuke would have come down like an iron rod on a clay pot. People probably broke fellowship over it, even within families. But for all who heard Him, a renewed fire and joy in the certainty of being established eternally in the place once occupied but forfeited by Lucifer, the morning star (Isaiah 14) and guardian cherub stationed closest in proximity to the throne of God (Ezekiel 28). This rebuke and promise should give renewed clarity to everyone eager to hear what the Lord is saying in our time. 

While we continue to love and serve Christ, let us commit to uncompromising faith and truth, costly as it may be for the time being. Let us hold fast to the first things, keeping His works as our own. And so receive from the Father as overcomers the same inheritance and station of over nations that Jesus, the true Son, has received. 

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