Revelation – The letter to the Corrupt church in Thyatira – (3) But …

In Part 3 of The letter to the church in Thyatira, we’ll look at the “But …” section. Things Jesus knows about the church. But unlike the Divine Knowledge of the previous section, this is not good news. In this case, it starts off with Jesus saying, Nevertheless, I have this against you. Is that as bad as it sounds? Let’s find out!

Revelation – The letter to the Corrupt church in Thyatira – (3) But ... is article #20 in the series: Seven Letters to Seven Churches. Click button to view titles for entire series
The letter to the church in Thyatira - (3) But ...

Nevertheless,

I have this against you

Before we resume with the letter to the church in ______, here’s the breakdown for this particular letter.

Tothe angel of the church in Thyatira
Fromthe Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Divine KnowledgeI know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
But -Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
So -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.
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

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 (I will not impose any other burden on you):

Only hold on to what you have until I come.
To those who overcomeTo him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
    ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter;
    he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—
just as I have received authority from my Father.

I will also give him the morning star
HearHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Table of Contents

Table of contents

  • Articles for the church in Thyatira:
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (1) Intro
  • This article: The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (2) Divine Knowledge
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (3) But …
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (4) So …
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (5) Conclusion

But … for the church in Thyatira

In spite of the list of things Jesus said they were doing, He still says:

Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

The church in Thyatira is tolerating a false prophetess.  Someone who, as Jesus warns during His time of earth, will mislead followers.  Jesus says He has given her time to repent, but she is unwilling to do so.

What does all that mean?  To find out, let’s go back to the Old Testament to learn about Jezebel and what she could represent in the Thyatira church.

Jezebel – the Old Testament

Let’s start with a summary of Jezebel of the Old Testament.  If you don’t remember, she was in 1 & 2 Kings.  Since she was involved in so many things, we’ll look at her from three different sources.  Each focuses on different aspects of her life and treachery.  I think it’s good to check out all three of them to get some better views of what kind of influence Jezebel in Thyatira might have been wielding.

Jezebel – from Easton’s Bible Dictionary

… the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Zidonians, and the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). This was the “first time that a king of Israel had allied himself by marriage with a heathen princess; and the alliance was in this case of a peculiarly disastrous kind.

A new low for the Israelite Kings.  Ahab was the eighth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

While it’s tempting to think this was a surprise to the Israelites, it really should not have been unexpected.  Just think back to when the Israelites first wanted a human king, rather than God.  They were warned.  Big time.  But they wanted a human king anyway.  What follows is a classic case of “be careful what you ask for”.  Especially when we should know better.

Israel Asks for a King

The people wanted a human king because that’s what everyone else had.  They didn’t appreciate the special relationship they had with the Creator of everything.  God warned them what would happen, as we read below.

1Sa 8:10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. ”

1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

1Sa 8:21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”

The people got what God warned them they’d get.

This should remind us, before we get to Jezebel herself, we need to be careful of people who even want to be involved with her (or someone like her).  Yes, we are to be in the world.  But then, we’re not supposed to be of the world.  That can be a pretty fine line.  We’ve already seen what happens when false teaching is tolerated in the church in Pergamum, as opposed to Ephesus where the false teaching did not lead them astray.

So let’s keep going here to see about the church in Thyatira.  

Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel.

This is the second time in the seven letters that we’ve seen someone who’s essentially the dictionary definition of something bad.

She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. Guided by no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man, passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship, she spared no pains to maintain idolatry around her in all its splendour.

And the king of Israel married her.  What was he thinking?  For that matter, we should sometimes ask ourselves, what are we thinking – before acting.

Four hundred and fifty prophets ministered under her care to Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [R.V., ‘prophets of the Asherah’], which ate at her table (1 Kings 18:19).

I think a lot of us know about Baal, but I’ve never really checked out Asherah very much.  Since it may have a bearing on the church in Thyatira – and on us specifically – I thought I’d do that.  In case you’re not familiar with Baal, here’s a summary for both of them.

Baal. Name of the most prominent Canaanite deity. As the god of fertility in the Canaanite pantheon (roster of gods), Baal’s sphere of influence included agriculture, animal husbandry, and human sexuality. The word Baal occurs in the OT in combination with other terms, such as place-names (Baal-peor, Hos 9:10; Baal-hermon, Jgs 3:3), or with other adjuncts as in Baal-berith (Baal of the covenant, Jgs 8:33). Use of the name in connection with a local place-name may indicate a local cult of Baal worship.

Baal worship became prominent in the northern Kingdom of Israel during the days of King Ahab (9th century BC) when he married Jezebel of Tyre, a city in Phoenicia (1 Kgs 16:29–33; 18:19–40). It later infiltrated the Kingdom of Judah when Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, married King Jehoram of Judah (2 Kgs 8:17, 18, 24–26). Places for worship of Baal were often high places in the hills consisting of an altar and a sacred tree, stone, or pillar (2 Kgs 23:5). The predominantly urban Phoenicians built temples to Baal; while Athaliah was queen of Judah, even Jerusalem had one (2 Chr 23:12–17).

In the Ugaritic epic material Baal is pictured as descending into the netherworld, the domain of the god Mot. That descent was evidently part of a cycle intended to coincide with the cycle of seasons. In order to bring Baal up from the realm of Mot and thus insure initiation of the fertile rainy season, the Canaanites engaged in orgiastic worship that included human sacrifice as well as sexual rites (Jer 7:31; 19:4–6). Sacred prostitutes evidently participated in the autumnal religious ritual. The worship of Baal was strongly condemned in the OT (Jgs 2:12–14; 3:7, 8; Jer 19).  [1]Vos, H. F. (1988). Baal. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 239). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

ASHERAH (Ȧ·shēʹ răh), ASHERIM (pl.) or ASHEROTH (pl.) Fertility goddess, the mother of Baal, whose worship was concentrated in Syria and Canaan and the wooden object that represented her. The KJV translated Asherah “grove” and the proper noun “Ashtaroth.”

The writers of the OT referred to the image of Asherah as well as to “prophets” belonging to her and to vessels used in her worship (1 Kings 15:13; 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7; 23:4; 2 Chron. 15:16). Over half of the OT references to Asherah can be found in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Deuteronomy 7:5; 12:3 instructed the Israelites to cut down and burn up the Asherim (plural form of Asherah). Deuteronomy 16:21 prohibited the planting of a tree as an “Asherah.”

The writers of the OT did not provide an actual description of an “Asherah” or the origin of the worship of Asherah. Other religious writings from the ancient Near East indicate that “Asherah” was the Hebrew name for an Amorite or Canaanite goddess who was worshiped in various parts of the ancient Near East. The biblical writers sometimes did not make a clear distinction between references to Asherah as a goddess and as an object of worship. According to ancient mythology, Asherah, the mother goddess, was the wife of El and mother of 70 gods, of whom Baal was the most famous. Asherah was the fertility goddess of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. She was called “Lady Asherah of the Sea.” See Canaan; Gods, Pagan.

Scholars who have studied artwork from the ancient Near East have suggested that some figures in drawings could be representations of the fertility goddess Asherah. Drawings of plain and carved poles, staffs, a cross, a double ax, a tree, a tree stump, a headdress for a priest, and several wooden images could be illustrations of an Asherah. Passages such as 2 Kings 13:6; 17:16; 18:4; 21:3; and 23:6, 15 have been interpreted as a definition of an Asherah as a wooden object constructed or destroyed by man. The object stood upright and was used in the worship of a goddess of the same name.

The Asherah existed in both the Southern and Northern Kingdoms of Israel. Jezebel of Tyre apparently installed Asherah worship in the north when she married King Ahab (1 Kings 18:18–19). The principle cities in which the objects were located were Samaria, Bethel, and Jerusalem. According to 1 Kings 14:23 (NASB) the people “built for themselves high places, and sacred pillars and Asherim (plural) on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree.” See Baal; Idol.  [2]Newell, J. (2003). Asherah, Asherim or Asherah. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 125). Nashville, TN: … Continue reading

The Asherah poles references in the Bible are never described.  However, from other sources, we can learn what they looked like.  Here’s a “cleaned up” description.

ASHERAH—and pl. Asherim in Revised Version, instead of “grove” and “groves” of the Authorized Version. This was the name of a sensual Canaanitish goddess Astarte, the feminine of the Assyrian Ishtar. Its symbol was the stem of a tree deprived of its boughs, and rudely shaped into an image, and planted in the ground. Such religious symbols (“groves”) are frequently alluded to in Scripture (Ex. 34:13; Judg. 6:25; 2 Kings 23:6; 1 Kings 16:33, etc.). These images were also sometimes made of silver or of carved stone (2 Kings 21:7; “the graven image of Asherah,” R.V.). (See GROVE [1].).  [3]Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Just the idea of 900 prophets from these two pagan religions should be detestable to a Jewish king.  However, it wasn’t.  If anything even close to this was going on in the Thyatira church, it’s no surprise that Jesus was very upset with them.

On top of that, consider that Jesus identifies Himself as one with blazing fire, to see what the people there do not see.  We can only wonder how the people in that church didn’t see what was happening!  Was it intention, as in turning a blind eye?  Or were they truly clueless?  Either way – it’s not good.

The idolatry, too, was of the most debased and sensual kind.” Her conduct was in many respects very disastrous to the kingdom both of Israel and Judah (21:1–29).

For sure, it was disastrous.  Apparently they’d forgotten, or chose to ignore, the first few of the ten commandments.

The Ten Commandments – Exodus

20:1-17 pp — Dt 5:6-21

Ex 20:1 And God spoke all these words:

Ex 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

And those didn’t even cover the nature of the idols!

At length she came to an untimely end. As Jehu rode into the gates of Jezreel, she looked out at the window of the palace, and said, “Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?” He looked up and called to her chamberlains, who instantly threw her from the window, so that she was dashed in pieces on the street, and his horses trod her under their feet. She was immediately consumed by the dogs of the street (2 Kings 9:7–37), according to the word of Elijah the Tishbite (1 Kings 21:19).

I believe there’s a typo in the last sentence of that excerpt.  Elijah’s prophecy about Jezebel’s death is actually in 1 Kings 21:23.  I’m going to include a summary of each of the passages regarding Jezebel below, but want to point this out for anyone who checks the link above.  Instead, here’s the verses surrounding Elijah’s prophecy of how Jezebel will die, from the section titled Naboth’s Vineyard in the NIV (see below for the entire section).

The first paragraph is from a letter Jezebel wrote, but signed Ahab’s name and put his seal in.  Since the recipients thought it was from the king, they did as it said.

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

1Ki 21:11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”
1Ki 21:15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

1Ki 21:17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ ”

Verse 19 is actually about Ahab’s death, not Jezebel’s.  Hers is coming.

1Ki 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”
“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. 21 ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.’
1Ki 21:23 “And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

Here in verse 23, Elijah tells Ahab that Jezebel’s death will also be marked by her being eaten by dogs.

And the next verse tells of the same fate for “those belonging to Ahab who die in the city”.  Those who doe outside the city will be eaten by birds.  

1Ki 21:24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.”
1Ki 21:25 (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.) 

Finally, verse 25 tells of the part Jezebel played in making Ahab the worst man ever. 

Her name afterwards came to be used as the synonym for a wicked woman (Rev. 2:20).  [4]Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Details of the life, evil deeds and death of Jezebel

Everything else we know about Jezebel is told in 1 and 2 Kings.  I include the passages, but will provide only summaries of what’s in them.  That’s enough for the purpose of looking at the letter to the church in Thyatira.  If you’d like to read the passage, just click on the + sign by the NIV title to expand it.

Click to see Ahab Becomes King of Israel
Ahab Becomes King of Israel

1Ki 16:29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.
1Ki 16:34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

We’re told right away that Ahab did more evil than anyone before him.  Committing the sins of Jeroboam was trivial.  Jezebel led him to do far worse things.  Things that brought out more anger from God than any king before him.

Click to see Elijah and Obadiah
Elijah and Obadiah

1Ki 18:1 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’S prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” 6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

1Ki 18:7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”
1Ki 18:8 “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ”

1Ki 18:9 “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD’S prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

1Ki 18:15 Elijah said, “As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

It was Elijah who told Ahab the Lord was going to stop the rain.  Now, he’s going to speak to Ahab again, and the rain will resume.

Obadiah, who is faithful to the Lord, is afraid to deliver Ahab’s message to Ahab.  Ahab assures him it will be OK. 

Click to see Elijah on Mount Carmel
Elijah on Mount Carmel

1Ki 18:16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

1Ki 18:18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’S commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

1Ki 18:20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.

1Ki 18:22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’S prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

1Ki 18:25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

1Ki 18:27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

1Ki 18:30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

1Ki 18:34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

1Ki 18:36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

1Ki 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

1Ki 18:39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

1Ki 18:40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

1Ki 18:41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

1Ki 18:43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

1Ki 18:44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” 

1Ki 18:45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

This is an amazing demonstration of the power of the Lord and the total lack of power of the pagan gods. 

And yet, look what happens next. 

Click to see Elijah flees to Horeb
Elijah Flees to Horeb

1Ki 19:1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

1Ki 19:3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

1Ki 19:7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Jezebel threatens Elijah, and Elijah is afraid.  Afraid, in spite of what the Lord just did.

But God didn’t desert His prophet. An angel of the Lord appeared to feed Elijah.  For certain, with food for his body.  But apparently also with food for his soul.

It’s important for us to remember that God won’t desert us.  And when we fail to remember that, God will still come after us. 

There’s a lesson here for the church in Thyatira and for us as individuals.

Click to see Naboth's Vineyard
Naboth’s Vineyard

1Ki 21:1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

1Ki 21:3 But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

1Ki 21:4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

1Ki 21:5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

1Ki 21:6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ”

1Ki 21:7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

1Ki 21:11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”

1Ki 21:15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

1Ki 21:17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ ”

1Ki 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”
“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. 21 ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

1Ki 21:23 “And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

1Ki 21:24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country.”

1Ki 21:25 (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)

1Ki 21:27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

1Ki 21:28 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

This is what we looked at earlier, the events surrounding the death of Naboth – and the part played by Jezebel.  All while Ahab doesn’t have the strength to do the deed himself, but is perfectly willing to take what Jezebel got for him through her evil scheme.

Click to see Jehu Anointed King of Israel
Jehu Anointed King of Israel

2Ki 9:1 The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. 2 When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. 3 Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!”

2Ki 9:4 So the young man, the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. 5 When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said.
“For which of us?” asked Jehu.
“For you, commander,” he replied.

2Ki 9:6 Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’S people Israel. 7 You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’S servants shed by Jezebel. 8 The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’ ” Then he opened the door and ran.

2Ki 9:11 When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this madman come to you?”
“You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Jehu replied.

2Ki 9:12 “That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.”
Jehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ ”

2Ki 9:13 They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

Between the previous passage and this one, Elijah was taken up to Heaven.  We now have Elisha working in his place.

Elijah Taken Up to Heaven


2Ki 2:9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

2Ki 2:10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.”

2Ki 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.

Elisha sends one of the other prophets to go tell Jehu that he is anointed King by God.  he gives a shorter version that Elijah of what’s to become of Jezebel, Ahab and the house of Ahab. 

Click to see Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah
Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah

9:21-29 pp — 2Ch 22:7-9

2Ki 9:14 So Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.) Jehu said, “If this is the way you feel, don’t let anyone slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16 Then he got into his chariot and rode to Jezreel, because Joram was resting there and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to see him.

2Ki 9:17 When the lookout standing on the tower in Jezreel saw Jehu’s troops approaching, he called out, “I see some troops coming.”
“Get a horseman,” Joram ordered. “Send him to meet them and ask, ‘Do you come in peace?’ ”

2Ki 9:18 The horseman rode off to meet Jehu and said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’ ”
“What do you have to do with peace?” Jehu replied. “Fall in behind me.”
The lookout reported, “The messenger has reached them, but he isn’t coming back.”

2Ki 9:19 So the king sent out a second horseman. When he came to them he said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’ ”
Jehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.”

2Ki 9:20 The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a madman.”

2Ki 9:21 “Hitch up my chariot,” Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”
“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”

2Ki 9:23 Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”

2Ki 9:24 Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, “Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the LORD made this prophecy about him: 26 ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the LORD, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the LORD.’ Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the LORD.”

2Ki 9:27 When Ahaziah king of Judah saw what had happened, he fled up the road to Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, shouting, “Kill him too!” They wounded him in his chariot on the way up to Gur near Ibleam, but he escaped to Megiddo and died there. 28 His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem and buried him with his fathers in his tomb in the City of David. 29 (In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah.)

 

Here’s a bit of info on Joram:

2Ki 3:1 Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.

That descriptive passage sounds like a portion of the seven letters in Revelation, doesn’t it?  Maybe something for us to learn from?

Click to see Jezebel Killed
Jezebel Killed

2Ki 9:30 Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

2Ki 9:32 He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. 33 “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

2Ki 9:34 Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. 36 They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. 37 Jezebel’s body will be like refuse on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’ ”

Finally, Jezebel has reached her end.  But look at all the destruction she left in her wake.

One of the amazing things from all this though – the Israelites didn’t really learn.  After much bloodshed against the royal family of Ahab and the ministers of Baal, here’s the very next thing we read in 2 Kings.  Notice that it also starts off with one of those good news, but nevertheless warnings.

Joash Repairs the Temple

12:1-21 pp — 2Ch 24:1-14; 24:23-27

2Ki 12:1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

2Ki 12:4 Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD—the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple. 5 Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, and let it be used to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”

2Ki 12:6 But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple. 7 Therefore King Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and asked them, “Why aren’t you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.” 8 The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money from the people and that they would not repair the temple themselves.

2Ki 12:9 Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD. 10 Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags. 11 When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD—the carpenters and builders, 12 the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple.

2Ki 12:13 The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD; 14 it was paid to the workmen, who used it to repair the temple. 15 They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. 16 The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

2Ki 12:17 About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. 18 But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his fathers—Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah—and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the LORD and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem.

2Ki 12:19 As for the other events of the reign of Joash, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20 His officials conspired against him and assassinated him at Beth Millo, on the road down to Silla. 21 The officials who murdered him were Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer. He died and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.

There were some issues that may also have been relevant to the Thyatira church, and to us as individuals.  

First, the people were still burning incense and making sacrifices in the high places.  Getting rid of idol worship seems to be impossible.  The Israelites couldn’t do it.  And while we may have different idols today, we can’t do it either.

Then there was the problem of the priests collecting money, but not doing the repairs to the temple.  Not repairing God’s house.  They were literally stealing money from God through their actions.  Another problem that just never seems to go away.

Joash was killed by some of his officers because he murdered the son of Jehoiada, the priest.  The treachery just continues.

Among so many other reasons, possibly learning some lessons from the past is why we really should study the Old Testament.  That a message Paul also tried to get across in 1 Corinthians.

Warnings From Israel’s History

1Co 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

1Co 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

1Co 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

To the extent we fail to learn from the Bible, New or Old Testament, we are doomed to relive it.

It’s a problem for all of us.  And for each of the seven churches in Revelation.  But apparently, a special problem for the church in Thyatira.  So let’s keep going with that in mind.

I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

Whoever is represented by the Jezebel in the Thyatira church, Jesus has been patient and has given her time to repent.  But there always comes a time of reckoning.  Since she is having such a negative effect on this church, both she and those who follow her will suffer.

Notice, that’s very much in line with the Jezebel of the Old Testament.  She convinced Ahab to follow her evil ways.  And ultimately, both she and everyone in the house of Ahab died horrible deaths.  And while we didn’t read the details, but did mention them, all the ministers of Baal were killed as well.

It seems that Jesus is going to do the same thing in this church.  In the next segment, we move on to the “so this is what’s going to happen” portion of the letter.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1Vos, H. F. (1988). Baal. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 239). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
2Newell, J. (2003). Asherah, Asherim or Asherah. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 125). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
3, 4Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

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