Welcome back to Revelation 2, as we continue through seven letters to seven churches, written by Jesus to His church – both in 95 AD, and prophetically throughout church history.
Well, letter number four is for Thyatira. Again, a real church in the first century, and I believe also representing the age of the Catholic church in the west and Orthodox church in the East from 590 to 1517 AD. And in some ways, both of those churches today. Thyatira means “continual sacrifice,” which is exactly what Catholics hold the mass to be: a never-ending sacrifice of Jesus’ body. But Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.”
Jesus introduces himself in verse 18 as “the Son of God,” with eyes of fire and feet of bronze. He sees, and he judges. In verse 19, Jesus commends the church for their good works, with love and faith, service and perseverance.
And he says their works are getting better! It’s true – the Catholic & Orthodox churches have done and still do phenomenal good works around the world, from Father Damien to Mother Teresa to countless more. But in verse 20:
“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel…” (Revelation 2:20).
Jezebel is an Old Testament villain, wife of Ahab, an awful king. Jezebel murdered the prophets of God, and in one story she helped her husband steal property by falsely accusing the owner of cursing God. She arranged an inquisition to have the man accused and put to death, all just to take his property.
Back in church history, the period from 600 to 1500 was a time of great power and corruption for the church. The Inquisition made many false accusations, and with them stole incredible amounts of property and land, just like Jezebel. Back in verse 20, Jesus says, “By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality.” Church history is far too full of sexual immorality. From popes to priests and on down.