Jezebel

” The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this…” (Rev. 2:18 NASB)

In this scripture, the Lord is telling the apostle John what to write to the Thyatira messenger. He emphasizes two personal characteristics regarding his eyes and feet. Vincent says regarding the “eyes like a flame of fire”:

“Fire, in scripture, is the expression of divine anger. The figure may include the thought of the clear and penetrating insight of the Son of Man; but it also expresses His indignation at the sin which His divine insight detects.”

The Moody Bible Commentary says the following about “His feet are like burnished bronze”:

“His bronze feet were ready to trample His enemies should they not be devoured by the sword in His mouth.” (Isaiah 11:4 says about The Lord Jesus, “…He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.”)

Dear Reader, what an awesome and Holy God we serve. Jude exhorts the believers in Jude 21 to “keep yourselves in the love of God..”. Pay close attention to yourself and never be found involved in anything that is an abomination to your God. Instead,

“…let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12: 28-29 NASB).

After He commends the church messenger on several items, He tells him:

” ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eats things sacrificed to idols. (Rev. 2:20 NASB).

I have read that Benjamin Franklin was a Deist. A Deist believes in a Creator who, after creating, does not interfere in His Creation. Mr. Franklin must have never read the seven letters in Revelation. Here we see the Lord being intimately involved in the lives of His people. He is correcting the messenger in Thyatira for tolerating a woman in the church who said she was a prophetess but was not. She had turned the grace of God into licentiousness in some of the unsuspecting. This is exactly what Jude and Paul were warning the churches about.

The Lord uses the name “Jezebel” to identify the woman. It is not known if this is just a symbolic name or her actual name. If it is symbolic, it is referring to the notorious OT Jezebel (I Kings 16:31). She was the daughter of pagan King Ethbaal of Sidon and with her marriage to King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel, Israel’s apostasy became more decided and deadly. She attempted to kill all the prophets of God. She was a priestess of Astarte (or Ashtaroth) and also worshipped Baal the Sun-god. She built a large temple to both in Israel. One had 400 priest to Astarte and the other had 450 priest to Baal. Even Israel’s King Ahab offered sacrifices in person at these temples. In the end she was killed by being thrown out an upstairs window and dogs consumed her corpse. (Vincent)

We will have to wait until heaven to find out if her name was symbolic or was her actual name. Either way, by using the name, I believe He was telling the church she was not born again but a worshipper of a pagan deity. Eusebius’ early church history tells us that Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9) faked his conversion recorded in Acts and was a false Christian who seduced God’s bond-servants. Many years ago, I had a former high school friend tell me that the only reason he had attended a certain church was to seduce the young ladies there. He and I had walked the aisle to receive Jesus at the same time when we were pre-teens. Paul had talked about being in peril from false brethren. Dear Reader, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Through the woman’s false spiritual gift, she “…teaches and leads my bond- servants astray…”. In the Greek, what she was teaching lead to a fundamental departure from the truth (Vincent). This is the changing of the grace of God into licentiousness that Jude warned about. In Roman 1:1 Paul calls himself a bond-servant; therefore, we know these are born-again people. The deception she spread caused these people to believe it was okay to “commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols”.

We will discuss these two acts in our next post. Hopefully we have a renewed vision of our Lord and an appreciation for the need to be vigilant in our Christian walk. Thank you for your time.

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)

Carl

Lord Jesus Deals With False Teachers

“But I have this against you…” Jesus (Rev. 2:20)

Welcome back in 2018! I hope you had a wonderful celebration of the Lord’s birth and a safe and happy New Years celebration. May you bear much fruit for the Lord in 2018; thereby, glorifying the Father.

We will now return to our study of the book of Jude. Before Christmas we had concluded our study of Jude’s description of false teachers. Now, we will look at our Lord’s reaction to these false teachers.

In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John records how the Lord Jesus appears to him and, among other things, gives him a message for seven churches in Asia Minor.

In the letter to the “angel” or messenger (pastor or elders) of the Thyatira church, the Lord Jesus identifies a false teacher tolerated by the church:

” ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.'” Rev. 2: 20-23 NASB

In the letter to the Pergamum church, He identifies those who hold to false teaching:

” ‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there, some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.’ “. Rev. 2: 14-16 NASB

In the letter to the Ephesus church, He commends them because:

” ‘ …you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false. (2: 2) Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’ ” (2:6 NASB)

In the letter to the Sardis church, sin had made such inroads into the church that He tells them

“…I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up…If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” (3: 1-3 NASB)

Paul says we were “dead” in our trespasses and sin before we were born again. I think this describes how far Sardis had backsliden in their Christian walk. If you looked at their deeds, they evidently were like the deeds of those who had no reverential awe of God, the ungodly. He tells them to “Wake up…”.

In the letter to the Laodicea church, they had reached such a state of deception, that He told them:

” ‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because year are lukewarm and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth…(v 3: 15-16) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent’ “. (3:19 NASB)

So we see that five of the seven churches had false teachers, had people in their congregation who believed false doctrine or were in a corrupt state brought on by error. We also know that Peter, John, and Paul warned about these false teachers that were deceiving the early church. Today, you only have to read your Bible and look at Christendom to realize that the false teachers are still hear today.

The next post will expand on the Lord’s comments to Thyatira and how this corresponds to what Jude has warned us about. In the mean time,

“keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).

Sanctifying grace and peace be upon you.

Carl

Jude: A Serious Warning From Jesus’ Half Brother

Jesus family

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude v4 NASB)

The Book of Jude in the Bible was written by the Lord Jesus’ half-brother Jude (Judas in the Greek), who is named among the Lord’s brethren in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He is also the full brother of James, the head of the early Church in Jerusalem. Jude warns that certain people in the early church were perverting the grace of God. His message is needed today because the grace of God has been and continues to be perverted.

In verse 3, Jude says he set out to write about our common salvation, when the Holy Spirit burdened him to exhort true believers to earnestly contend for The Faith, once delivered to the saints. The term “faith” does not refer to individual faith, but to The Faith, Christianity itself, in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation. There is only one Faith and another will not be given. Understanding this, highlights the serious danger these people presented.

In Part One, we will look at the two things the false teachers were deceitfully propagating.

In verse 4 he writes:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed….ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

  1. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness (NASB).

We first need to look at what the “grace of God” is to understand what the false teachers corrupted.

God called us in the sphere of grace. That is when He effectually summoned us to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross. It was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by us and freely bestowed with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. God’s ultimate purpose in offering this grace is to conform a group of people to the derived image of His Dear Son, Jesus. God said this through Paul in Romans:

“And we know with absolute knowledge that those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to HIS PURPOSE. Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be CONFORMED TO THE DERIVED IMAGE OF HIS SON, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 28-30 Wuest ET Emphasis mine)

Wuest explains this beautifully:

“…in the process of sanctification, the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus. The word “image” is eikon, a derived likeness. The image of the Lord Jesus in the saint is not accidental but derived, as the likeness of a child is derived from its parents. Through the new birth we become children of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:13) and thus inherit his image. This image, indistinct in the new convert, becomes progressively clearer and distinct as that believer grows in the Christian life.”

By exercising our faith to receive this “grace of God” we become partakers of the promises of God (II Peter 1: 3-4); whereby, we can walk in agape love for our Father,  Christ Jesus and our neighbor (kingdom duties) which will mature us in agape love (I John 4) making the image of Jesus more distinct in us. Paul’s instructions to the Philippians talks about our “duties”:

“Only [since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your pioneer advance in the Christian life], see to it that you recognize YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CITIZENS [OF HEAVEN] and put yourselves to the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERFORMING THE DUTIES DEVOLVING UPON YOU IN THAT POSITION, doing this in a manner which weighs as much as the good news concerning the Christ… ” (Phil.1: 27 Wuest Emphasis Mine)

Therefore, I believe, the term “grace of God”, as used by Jude, is another way of saying The Faith or Christian system of belief (which is what Jude wants us to earnestly contend for) and all that it entails, including the change in our character/behavior, that results in this image of Jesus being developed.

In the place of His holy grace, these false teachers, through their deception, convinced some of the Lord’s bond servants that they could be their own lord and do what they wished including being immoral. Wuest says that the best English word to translate aselgeia (licentiousness) is wantonness” which is “being without check or limitation” and “the meaning of the word partakes of the spirit of anarchy….which refuses to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and itself sits in judgement upon it.” This brings us to the second point.

2. They denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the original language of the NT, “deny” was “used of those who deny God and Christ, who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality, are judged to have apostatized from The Father God and Christ (Thayer).” When someone is apostatized they have chosen to refuse to continue to follow or obey God’s commands. As redeemed people in God’s kingdom, we have to obey the authority of the Kingdom. The false teachers did just the opposite by leading those that they seduced in the visible church to do things directly opposite to what God The Father and the Lord Jesus commanded by His apostles. To them there was no need to seperate from the things of the world and sin, but instead they encouraged a “if it feels good, do it” attitude. Some scholars believe this may have been the forerunner of the Gnostics that believed that the spiritual was good and matter evil; therefore, what you did with the human body was not important; hence, immorality was rampant.

Therefore, in conclusion, God saved us for a purpose and it is our responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our inner being. The false teachers taught no restraints, no Father or Lord, no commandments, you could do what you wanted including immorality; thereby, changing the grace of God into wantonness or licentiousness. As we shall see, our Lord did not tolerate this. If this is not clear to you now, it will be abundantly clear as our study progresses.

Did they come into the early church and preach this openly? No, they did not because the leadership would have put them out immediately. As we look at the false teacher’s character in the next post, we will see how they manipulated Jesus’ bond servants.

Please join us as we continue our study. Thank you and let us thank Him for all the blessings He has blessed us with! Comments and questions welcome.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.”” (I Peter 1: 15-16 NASB)

Carl