Letter to Thyatira 4
This church was being subverted by heretical teaching from a Jezebel-like woman, who was tolerated by the leadership (Revelation 2:20-23). Despite that, the church was still active (Revelation 2:19). The Lord saw that many still held true to the apostles' teaching. In this final exhortation, Jesus addressed the true believers only, to encourage them that He knew who they were and that He would reward their faithfulness. For some, the struggle to remain authentic Christians had been intense, due to divisions in the church and lack of supportive leadership. So, Jesus had already urged them, "… hold on to what you have until I come." (Revelation 2:25).
Staying faithful to Jesus when powerful voices contradict you, is a battle (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus understood that each personal victory was hard won, persisting in daily obedience to Him until death or His coming. Jesus personally experienced what it was like to do His Father's will to the end (Hebrews 5:8), and it was a battle for Him too (Luke 22:39-44). In whatever way the battle might rage against the believers in Thyatira, Jesus commanded that they stayed true to Him. They needed to be alert and courageous all the time lest the attacks caught them off guard through the social pressure, temptation, false teaching and persecution from false brothers.
Father God has authorised His reward for the faithful believers (Isaiah 40:10). They will reign with Christ over the nations (1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 2 Timothy 2:12), alongside and in the presence of Christ (depicted as the 'morning star'). The word for 'rule' is interesting because it means 'shepherd', and yet those who resist His rule will be broken in pieces like clay pots (Psalm 2:9). The shepherd who tenderly cares for His flock will also furiously destroy the lions and the bears (1 Samuel 17:34-35). The true church will be shepherds with Jesus, protecting His own and destroying His enemies.
This is not just historical information; it is the voice of God's Spirit continuing to speak to Christ's church about what will happen (Revelation 1:1). We also must listen. There will be false prophecy and apostacy in some churches and weak leaders will fail to support faithful believers. But the faithful must remain faithful until the end. The reward is the huge privilege of sharing in the unstoppable reign of Jesus Christ. But it will be hard to be obedient every day, and keep true to Jesus every day, when friends or even powerful voices in the church do not. Without His mercy we cannot start each day and without His grace we cannot continue obediently until the end. So, let us hold onto His promises, obey and persevere.
© Dr Paul Adams