The Modern Jezebel of the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:20)

In Revelation 2:20, Jesus condemns the church of Thyatira for their tolerance of the woman Jezebel?  But who is she and what might she be like?  If one accepts the premise that the church of Thyatira was blatantly rejecting the words of God given in the Book of Acts, chapter 15, to avoid meat sacrificed to idols, blood and sexual immorality and engaging in some and possibly all of these practices, then the woman Jezebel serves as one who is promoting such blatant disregard for the God’s word through his church leaders.

Building on this premise, Hoeksema in Behold, He Cometh (pg.101-102), paints a modern day picture of how this sin may be playing out presently:

If I may be allowed to cast a modern hue over the ancient church, and to present to you in a concrete picture my conception of the congregation in Thyatira, I would offer the following. It is Wednesday evening. The church holds a midweek prayer meeting. Let us attend one of these. The angel of the church opens with a fervent prayer and offers a few words of introduction glowing with the love of his heart toward the Lord Jesus. He speaks of it, how in the past few days he realized his sinful condition, but also how clearly he had experienced the all-sufficiency of the grace of Jesus Christ. Speaking evidently with all his heart in it and with tears of gratitude glistening in his eyes, he praises the Lord for the abundance of His grace. After him an old man arises who also testifies in the same manner. Of years ago he speaks, when first he became acquainted with the gospel of redemption. And he emphasizes that this gospel has been sweet unto his soul, a power of love ever since. A third, and a fourth, and a fifth give their testimonies; and all witness of their personal participation in the grace of Christ Jesus and of their love to Him. But finally a strange figure attracts our attention. It is a woman of a weird and repulsive appearance. Her large, protruding eyes, sensuous lips, and morbid complexion witness of a life of sin and dissipation. She also speaks. And with a voice which sounds as if it comes from the nether world, she tells the congregation of a vision which she had in a by-gone night, and how the Lord appeared to her to reveal His truth in a dream. For she claims to be a prophetess. In her dream, so she continues, the Lord showed unto her the horrible depths of Satan, the abyss of sin and iniquity. And as they both stood on the brink of that dark and horrible abyss, the Lord said unto her: “If anyone would truly taste my grace and infinite mercy, he must actually descend into these depths, and learn to know them by experience. For the more he is able to realize the depths of Satan by actual experience, the more he will be in a condition to appreciate my salvation.” She still continues to explain that she has personally obeyed, that she did descend into those depths of Satan. She committed fornication. She feasted with the heathen in their sacrificial meals. She subjected her body to the vilest service of sin. And she concludes by testifying that to her there was a great blessing in this descent into the abyss of sin. For the more clearly she realized the awful depths from which the grace of Christ redeemed and delivered her, the more fully could she gratefully appreciate the wonders of His mercy. Thus this instrument of the devil speaks in the midst of the congregation.

But what now does the congregation do? Does she cast this vile woman out, admonishing her to repent of her horrible sin? On the contrary, she listens. She is silent. She admits the possibility that this woman is actually a prophetess, though her speech directly contradicts the objective revelation of the Word of God. And many even follow her, and in harmony with her teaching they descend into the depths of Satan. Many servants of the Lord are seduced by her teaching.

Since the more than 45 years since Hoeksema’s death, the proliferation of a blatant disregard for things as simple as avoiding sexual immorality within the church is staggering.  Not only does the church not avoid it, but often she is actually encouraging and arguing that such immorality is acceptable.  There are denominations ordaining sexually alternative lifestyles, even my own denomination has seen articles being written on the promotion of people living together out of wedlock as an acceptable thing we must welcome if we are to stay in touch with the culture.

Given the consequence of Jezebel’s promotion of an illicit life, the judgment of God, it behooves us to take note and consider carefully if we want to walk this path that has been trod before among the church.

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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