The problem with the church in Thyatira was a flirtation with seductive, devilish ministries. Imagine the pastor’s reaction when he read these words: “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire” (Revelation 2:18).
The letter continues with a commendation: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (2:19). Once again, Christ is saying, “I know your deeds. Your love, faith, service and perseverance are greater now than when you began.” Best of all, the Lord tells them, “I know you love Me.” He doesn’t reprimand them for a loss of intimacy with Him.
But then we read these piercing words: “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (2:20).
Who, exactly, is the Jezebel mentioned here? Jesus is speaking of false shepherds. He’s reproving the pastor in Thyatira for tolerating covetous ministers who seduce His people. The Jezebel reference here indicates more than just ministers who are covetous. These false shepherds actually invent schemes to carry out and fulfill their lusts. Simply put, the name Jezebel is a byword for all that’s evil and detestable in the eyes of the Lord.
What a perplexing picture we’re given. These are people who love the Lord, devoted men and women of God. They’ve persevered, they’ve given faithfully, and they love Jesus. How could these believers be attracted to false prophets? How could they ever be seduced by wicked ministers whom God despises?
All through the gospels, Jesus warns of false shepherds who come seeking to devour, deceiving many. Yet I’m shocked by the lack of discernment in multitudes who abide their false gospels. Has this happened to you? Does your soul feed on some TV gospel that’s actually demonic? Do you drink in a message from prosperity preachers that appeals to your lusts and takes the last dimes of the elderly?
Jesus admonishes those who’ve faithfully stood against Jezebel ministers: “That which ye have already hold fast till I come” (2:25). He’s saying, “You’ve learned true discernment. You won’t let yourself be twisted by every wind and wave of doctrine. So, for now, just keep holding on. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived. That’s all I ask. I won’t put any other burden on you until I come back” (see 2:24)