The Church at Thyatira


Series: Revelation

Passage: Revelation 2:18-29

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

The 7 letters now reach the final 4 churches, which still exist (prophetically) today. Easily the most controversial of the 7 letters, Thyatira speaks of the Catholic Church.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

Have you heard the rumor there are those who are saying that the Book of Revelation is hard to understand, but that's preposterous, say we for you see the word itself, revelation means something has been revealed. That's right. And the first words of this book tell us exactly who is being revealed. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. This book is a revelation of Jesus. And God wanted us to read this book so much that he promised those who take the time to read and respond to it a special blessing.

And that blessing is found in Revelation, chapter one, verse three. It says, Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. But God knew that there would still be those who would claim revelations. Hard to understand. So to make this book easy to understand, he also included an easy to follow outline. And that's found in Revelation chapter one, verse 19, where Jesus gives John these instructions.

Write the things which you have seen. And up to that point, John had seen the resurrected and glorified Jesus in Chapter one. Then Jesus tells John to also write the things which are, and that refers to the church age, which began around 32 A.D. continues to the present day and has prophesied in chapters two and three, which we are studying today. And finally, Jesus tells John to write the things which will take place. After this, John is told to write about the future events which will take place after the church age ends in the original Greek.

The words used for the phrase after this are meta talita. And that's significant because in order to help us find the place in Revelation where that third act begins after the church age ends, God marked it with that exact same phrase, Meta Taruta. So all you have to do is look for the next place in the book where that phrase shows up and you'll find the start of the third act of Revelation. And that place is Revelation. Chapter four, verse one.

Let me read it to you after these things. There it is. Metadata after the church age is over. John writes, I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard, which was the voice of Jesus in Chapter one, was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this. And to ensure we don't miss the X that marks the spot, the Holy Spirit begins revelation for one with meditator and then ends revelation for one with meditator.

And despite appearing over 20 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, guess what word never again appears in the narrative after revelation. For one, it's the word church, and we're going to learn. That's because the church will no longer be on the earth after revelation. For one, the church like John is going to go up. And when the church goes up, what comes down? The wrath of God. And we find that in Revelation six sixteen, where the time period known as the Tribulation begins.

And we're told the response of those who are still on the earth at that time, it says they said to the mountains and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne. That's God, the father. And from the wrath of the lamb in the Bible, who is the lamb? It's Jesus. Then it goes on in verse seventeen of chapter six and says that the people will cry out. The great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

There's going to be a progression will travel through twenty years of church history in chapters two and three. Then the church goes up in Revelation for one and wrath comes down in chapter six, verse sixteen. There will be seven years of tribulation that will be documented from Chapter six up to chapters nineteen when Jesus will return to the Earth with his church in what is known as the second coming. And they'll be even more revealed later on in our study through this incredible book.

But here's what we need to remember. If you love Jesus. In your story is going to end with the words and they lived happily ever after. We are in Revelation Chapter two, studying the second act of the book, which Jesus described to John as the things which are today. We will be studying the fourth of seven letters written by Jesus to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. And we know that each of these letters speaks on four different letter levels.

Each letter speaks to the local literal church in Asia around 96 A.D. Each letter speaks to all churches at all times. Each letter speaks to all believers at all times, including you and me. And each letter speaks to prophecy. It lays out two thousand years of church history in advance in precise order. And regarding that prophetic application, the first church, Ephesus, covered the apostolic age from around 32 A.D. to around 180. The second church, Smyrna, covered the suffering church from around 54 A.D. to around 313 A.D..

The third church, Pergament, which we looked at last time, covered the compromising church from around 313, add up to around 600 A.D. And today we will be studying the fourth church, Thyer Tirah for this study. We're going to focus primarily on the prophetic application of this letter, which covers a huge period of time in church history. We're going to see the natural progression of the things we touched on in the last letter. The Church at polygamists compromise and paganism infecting the church as a result of her marriage to the Roman state.

If you felt a little bit tense during our previous study, I should let you know that it was not the most politically incorrect of the seven letters that honor falls to this letter. If you come from a Catholic background, large parts of the study may be very difficult to hear and very difficult to even consider. Everything we're going to study will come straight from God's word and documented, accepted secular history. I promise I don't have an ulterior motive or vendetta or any impure agenda, and I hope that the way the information is presented will make that clear.

If you disagree with the contents of this message and don't draw the same conclusions from the biblical text as I do, that's OK. In fact, I encourage you not to believe a word that I say, but rather do your own homework. Be like the Marines who are commanded in the Bible for searching the scriptures to see if the apostle Paul was teaching them the truth. If I offend you and that causes you to dig into God's word and investigate it for yourself, that would be a wonderful thing.

It's OK to be offended, but it's not OK to dismiss information simply because it's offensive. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be more concerned with the truth than with our feelings. Finally, I'm going to ask you to listen to this entire message, even if you're deeply troubled by its contents, because there's good news in here, too. But you're going to miss it if you quit too early. Jesus will have some very good things to say about this church.

And if you've never had anything to do with the Catholic Church, don't get too smug, because in the next chapter, Jesus is going to criticize Protestants and he's going to have a hard time finding anything good to say about the mainline denominations. Throughout these seven letters, Jesus will praise what is good wherever he finds it, but he will also call out whatever is bad, wherever he finds it. It's a safe assumption that whatever church background you're from, there's going to be something challenging to hear in at least one of these letters.

And you can trust that I'll do my best to be equally offensive to everyone as we go through these seven letters together. And that's how you wrote People in before you start a Bible study. By the way, at the time this letter was written by a TIRO was a blue collar town. It didn't have the intellectual prestige of Ephesus, the beauty of Smyrna, or the political power of a polygamous. It was the center of trade guilds, what we would call unions.

And each guild adopted a pagan deity as their patron. Many union meetings, therefore, would involve acts of worship toward their adopted patron pagan God. You can easily imagine the catch 22 this would create for Christian tradesmen, they couldn't get jobs unless they were in a guild, but if they were in a guild, they would be expected to participate in pagan worship rituals. Sidenote you probably guessed it, the whole concept of patron saints related to specific occupations goes back to thig attire in these times and the trade guilds there.

One of the attire as primary industries was textiles, fabrics and clothing. And they had developed a world leading technique to produce purple dyes. They excelled at manufacturing cardinal fabrics, which were highly sought after because their color evoked wealth and royalty. It was basically an old school way of saying I'm rich, like wearing a Gucci belt or having a Louis Vuitton bag. And you might remember Lydia, who helped the apostle Paul start the church in Phillipi. Scripture tells us she was from theater and made her fortune in the trade of these purple fabrics.

She was a legit fashion mogul, and there's a good chance she had a big hand in planting the church attire, even if through funding. While we don't know much about the church at Théâtre around 96 A.D., I believe the contents of this letter allow us to safely assume that she had taken things a step further than the church at polygamists, meaning they had allowed their church to be fully infiltrated by paganism and had fully embraced the unholy fusion between the pagan world and the church.

Prophetically, this church covers the time period from around 600 A.D. to the present day, and there's just no getting around this. It's the first fill in on your outlines. We'll refer to her and you'll soon see why as the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, and if that term is uncomfortable for you, she can also be accurately referred to as the Middle Ages Church. This massive swath of history covers the rise of the Catholic Church to its position as the most powerful church in the world.

As I just mentioned, it's simply a continuation of what began in the Pergament age. We don't have the real estate in this study to list the seemingly endless examples that would prove the point. But suffice to say, this era is marked by incredible wickedness in the church heresy, blasphemy, paganism, indulgences, Simmone, which is the selling of important positions in the church, including the papacy, genocide and every sin imaginable. And on and on and on we could go.

While it's true that the church has almost always had people doing wicked things in its name, including today, the Catholic Church is unique because unlike the Protestant church, the Catholic Church has a clear, centralized, top down hierarchy and her historical wickedness was sanctioned through the centuries from the highest levels down. My intention is not to bash the Catholic Church for fun, and for that reason, I'm just going to ask you to do your own research into her history and her many institutional sins, because it's all very well documented in the historical record.

As we now know, the Catholic Church emerged from the marriage of the church in the Roman state that began under Constantine and 312 A.D. The church was flooded with pagan professional priests who wanted the job security afforded by working for the state. The situation got so bad so quickly that the leadership of this newly formed state church was quickly filled by men who overwhelmingly were not even Christians. They did not love or serve Jesus or believe in him as their savior and God.

The result, inevitably, was that paganism, selfish ambition, greed and hedonism began to run rampant in the church. It's been accurately observed that that generally politics comes down to two simple goals. No. One, gain power and no to maintain power. Since the dawn of time, men have craved power even after salvation, the desire is still present in our flesh, in our sinful bodies, and we must continuously reject it and consciously choose to instead walk in the spirit.

As the scriptures say, the Catholic Church was mostly founded by men who were not walking in the spirit because many of them were not even saved. Therefore, they did not view their desire for power as something to be rejected, but rather as something to be pursued and embraced through the vehicle of the church. While not true of all Catholics. The Vatican has always been first and foremost concerned with power. And if you disagree, I will humbly again ask you to study her history across the centuries.

It's obviously true that many individuals in the church have done wicked things even within modern evangelical Christianity. But there's a widespread understanding and acknowledgment within Orthodox Christianity that those things were and are wicked. In other words, when there are weird Christian people doing things, exploiting the poor, teaching false doctrines, most of the Orthodox Church condemns that and doesn't agree with that without getting into what would be a book's worth of material. I'll just say that the evils perpetrated at cross history by the Catholic Church in her lust for power are legion.

And here's the difference. In almost every case, the Catholic Church remains, to this day unrepentant. Fire Tirah was named by the conquering king Salukis, the first Nicotero in 290 B.C., after hearing the news that his wife had just given birth to a baby girl. It comes from the Greek word for daughter and literally means a woman, a woman. You can write that down. That will prove to be significant because we're going to find that this church prophetically is all about a very specific woman.

Before being renamed Thuraya Tira, the city was known as Semiramis. There are some compelling connections between the prophetic identity of this church and a historical mythology that connects a woman bearing that name to ancient Babylonian paganism. But after extensive research, I have not been able to verify that information to my satisfaction. And so while some of you will be aware of that information for that reason, I'm not going to be including it in this Bible study. Let's take a look at verse 18 in chapter two.

It says, And to the angel, or I would say to the pastor of the church, Synthia Tirah, right. These things says the son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire and his feet like fine brass. In choosing this title, Jesus reminds the church in theater and you're going to want to write this down. He reminds them that he is the son of God. And he alone is the judge of truth. He's the son of God and he alone is the judge of truth.

Let me explain in scripture, bronze is the medal associated with judgment? Think of the bronze serpent raised on a standard by Moses. While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, everyone who looked upon it was healed of their sickness because the bronze represented the fact that their sin had been judged. While it might seem odd that a church would need to be reminded of such basic facts about Jesus, we're going to find that the problem in this church is that they don't revere him as the son of God as much as they revere him as the son of someone else, the queen of heaven.

This is the only letter where Jesus really asserts his authority. And we'll find out. That's because this church is more focused on a woman than they are on him. And as a result, they no longer view Jesus and his word as authoritative. After that heavy start, let's find out what the commendation is that Jesus has for the church and thigh attire on their report card. These are the things they're doing. Well, In verses 19, he says, I know your works, love service, faith and your patience.

And as for your works, the last or more than the first Jesus points out that this church is doing a lot of really good stuff. This is a real compliment. And when I read this, I think of people like Mother Teresa who loved people selflessly in the slums of Calcutta in their most desperate hour. There was a time when the Catholic Church had orphanages all over Europe. They were feeding the poor and confronting social justice issues and making a huge difference for good in the world.

No church in history has ever come close to the social impact that this church was having at certain points in history. Jesus even goes on to say the last or more than the first, the ideas that they were increasingly doing good works at this time. They were getting even better at it. Don't miss that. It's an incredible commendation. And regardless of where you fall on the issue of the Catholic Church, they are a church. They're here in the Book of Revelation.

And we Protestants, we need to remember that. In the next chapter will meet the Reformation Church, and Jesus won't have anything this good to say about them because their good deeds will never get close to those of the Catholic Church accomplished at certain times in history. If you're like me, then you're kind of glad for that commendation just to break the tension here a little bit. Well, hold on to something, though, because here comes the criticism, Verse 8 20.

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you because you allow and then underline this, that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. It seems that around 96, 80, the church at Thyer Tirah was welcoming the heretical teachings of a female false prophet symbolically identified by Jesus as Jezebel. She was teaching the Nicolay. It's an message that it was acceptable for Christians to engage in sexual immorality and the worship of other gods, seemingly involving herself sexually with even members of the church like the Gnostics.

She likely taught that the spirit is the only thing that matters, and therefore whatever you do with your body doesn't matter. Prophetically, the woman this church is named for and adores is viewed very differently by Jesus. We're told that this Jezebel is not a prophetess, but presents herself as one. In other words, she does not speak for God, but claims that she does notice that Jesus refers to believers in this church as my servants. The idea is that they're supposed to be following him, but somehow they've ended up serving her instead.

All of this is incredibly serious criticism, so let's unpack it. Jesus doesn't refer to that woman who is like Jezebel. He says you allow that woman Jezebel. That's who she is. Jesus is is very specific. Out of all the examples in the Bible that Jesus could have used, he intentionally chooses Jezebel. You've probably never met a woman named Jezebel. That's because while most of us don't know why she's bad news, we do know that she is bad news.

And Christians have been using her name as a substitute cuss word for centuries. There are a couple of things we need to understand for this part of the study, because the parallels to church history that are going to emerge are unbelievably awkwardly specific. As we mentioned back in Chapter one, the Book of Revelation contains over eight hundred references to the Old Testament, and we're at one of them right now. So we need to go back to find out who Jezebel was and what she did.

So let's investigate. Let's begin turning now, if you would, to First Kings Chapter 16, and I'll give you a good amount of time to find that it's going to be back in your Old Testament First Kings Chapter 16. And when we get there will be in verse 30. And I'll give you the set up here. At one time in Israel's history, the country had a king named Ahab. Jezebel was the daughter of football, the king of the sides.

Iranians and Ahab married her to seal a profitable trade alliance between Israel and Phoenicia in first King 16, verse 30. We read this now. Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the side of the Lord more than all who were before him. And it came to pass as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jarboe him, the son of Nebahat that he took as wife Jezebel, the daughter of football, king of the sides unions.

And he went and served but all and worshiped him. The word tells us that what Ahab did was worse than anything any other King of Israel had done up to this point in history. What did he do? He engaged in a polygamous and unacceptable marriage, uniting himself and God's people with paganism and Jezebel, his father's name was FBAR all which means with Paul, who was the pagan god of choice at that time in the region. Obviously, God hated but all worship.

And this Sidonie and royal family was totally committed to it and literally named themselves, after all, write this down. So the first thing we need to notice is that Jezebel was a pagan queen who took up residence in the Palace of Israel. Jezebel was a pagan queen who took up residence in the Palace of Israel. As the story progresses, we see Jezebel leading God's people into paganism by engaging in ball worship that included sexually immoral rituals. But she will also lead them to worship the queen of heaven, the feminine divine, the central female goddess figure that appears in practically all expressions of paganism under various names.

And together, Jezebel and Ahab will usher in the worst period of pagan idolatry in Israel's history. And that's saying something, by the way. Writing from God's perspective, the prophet Jeremiah documented the Israelites participation in these pagan celebrations, he said the children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the woman need dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods that they may provoke me to anger. God was looking at his children at this time and saying, What are you doing?

So make a note of this. Jezebel also let God's people into idol worship and sexual immorality. She led God's people into idol worship and sexual immorality. Well, if that wasn't bad enough, the next thing the Bible tells us is that Jezebel killed prophets, those who truly worshiped and served God. One day, King Ahab decides I need to talk with Elijah, so he sends Obadiah to go and find him. Obadiah is a good guy. He's a smart guy.

And he thinks to himself, You know what? The other guys tried to take Elijah by force and fire came down from heaven and burned them to a crisp. I think maybe I should try a different approach. Elijah ends up appearing in front of Obediah pretty much out of nowhere. Obadiah falls on his face and begins to speak with Elijah. One of the questions he asks Elijah is, was it not reported to my Lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hit 100 men of the Lord's prophets, fifty to a cave and fed them with bread and water.

You see, when she became queen of Israel, Jezebel made it her mission to kill all the prophets of God. Let's recap what we've learned thus far. Jezebel moved into the palace of Israel's king, who was supposed to appoint people to worship God. She became the first pagan queen of God's people, killed God's prophets and true believers, and led the rest of the people into paganism. But what Jezebel is most infamous for is found in First King's twenty one.

Let's read from chapter one of First King's twenty one, it says, and it came to pass after these things that Narberth, the Gezari lt had a vineyard which was in general next to the palace of Ahab, King of Samaria. So Ahab spoke to Narberth saying, Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is near next to my house. And for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth and money.

But Narberth said to Ahab, the Lord forbid underline that the Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you. So Ahab went into his house, sullen and displeased because of the word which Narberth off the Israelites had spoken to him for. He had said, I will not give you the inheritance of my father's. And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel, his wife, came to him and said to him, Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?

He said to her, Because I spoke to Narberth, the Jesuit, and said to him, Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it pleases, you will give you another vineyard for it. And he answered, I will not give you my vineyard. Then Jezebel, his wife said to him, You now exercise authority over all Israel. Narberth wasn't trying to be disrespectful to his king, he was simply doing the right thing by honoring God above Ahab.

Back when Israel had conquered the promised land, it was divided among the 12 tribes of Israel and God commanded them to never sell land between tribes. That meant that Narberth could not sell his land to Ahab, who was a member of a different tribe without violating God's word. So was Ahab sulks like a spoiled brat. I want us to notice some things. A corrupt and wicked man wants property, however, the current owner of the property is a believer who is more concerned with honoring God's word than pleasing the corrupt and wicked ruling authority.

Jezebel comes along and says to Ahab, Last time I checked, you were the king. In other words, we don't have to take no for an answer. Continuing in the text, Jezebel's says, to have a rise, eat food and let your heart be cheerful, I will give you the vineyard of Narberth, the Gezari of Light. Underline that Jezebel's says, I will give it to you. And she wrote letters in Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal and sent the letters to the elders in the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Narberth.

She wrote in the letters saying, proclaim a fast and seat neighborhood with high honor among the people and seek to mend scoundrels before him to bear witness against him, saying You have blasphemed God and the King, then take him out and stone him that he may die. Pay attention to how Jezebel gets Ahab, the property he wants. She claims to be doing something legitimate in the name of the king. She sends out instructions to the local authorities and tells them to announce a religious ceremony, a fast that the locals will participate in.

At this event, the owner of the property is to be singled out and falsely accused by two men. Other translations call them worthless Amen of committing blasphemy. Notice that there's to be no trial and no investigation to establish the validity of the charges or the witnesses. It's a rigt court and the sentences to be served immediately. The target of this operation doesn't stand a chance verse 8 11, so the men of his city, the elders and nobles who were inhabitants of his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, and it was written in the letters which she had sent to them.

They proclaimed a fast and seeded Narberth with high honor among the people and two men. Scoundrels came in and sat before him and the scoundrels witnessed against him against Narberth in the presence of the people saying Narberth has blasphemed God and the King. Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones so that he died. Then they sent to Jezebel's, saying Narberth has been stoned and is dead. With Narberth out the way, Jezebel takes possession of his vineyard, mission accomplished.

Second, King's nine 26 tells us that they also killed all of Namath's heirs so that there was nobody alive who could claim the vineyard. Bottom line, make a note of this neighborhood was killed for honoring God's word. Narberth was killed for honoring God's word. And out of all the sins of Jezebel, the Bible could have documented in detail. Killing profits, we get a few lines about that, but we get all this detail about her acquiring property through false accusation.

That's interesting to me. While King Ahab may have been wearing the crown, it's obvious that Jezebel was the one calling the shots. She was the one truly in charge of the kingdom. She was the power behind the throne. Jesus big issue with this church is that they allowed Jezebel to run the show instead of him. Why that whole sidebar to talk about Jezebel and Sabbath's Vinyard? Remember, of all the stories in the Bible that Jesus could have referenced in his letter to Thyer Tyra, he chose that one and he did that on purpose because there are connections that I believe he wants us to make.

Let's talk about them. After centuries of unbelievably corrupt people rule, the Catholic Church had developed a seemingly insatiable appetite for wealth and power, and its true nature was on full display in the historical event known as the Inquisition. It was perpetrated from around 12 08 A.D. all the way up to the eighteen thirties across and around Europe. And it was a means to accomplish two of the Vatican's highest priorities, eliminating those who were opposed to its rule and acquiring vast amounts of property and wealth.

How did they do it? While they didn't technically rule Europe, they did hold massive influence over Europe. So the Catholic Church partnered with kings and sovereign powers in a campaign that worked something like this. If you were discovered to oppose the Catholic Church in word, deed or thought someone would be arranged or bribed to bring an accusation of heresy or blasphemy against you to get to the truth, you would be tortured until you confessed. That confession would then be used in a sham trial where additional false witnesses would show up and testify against you.

Your sentence would then be immediately applied jail for the rest of your life or more commonly. Being burned at the stake. This tactic was not only employed against those who oppose the Vatican, but also against those who simply had the misfortune of owning wealth or property that the church decided it wanted, the Catholic Church would conduct the investigation and the trial and render the verdict, but the local authorities would execute the sentence in exchange for their cooperation. The local rulers would get to split the person's wealth and or property with the church.

As you can imagine, this created an insidious incentive for both the church and local authorities to uncover heretics all over the place in the Midwest and hundreds. There was a man named John Knox who fled England and settled in Germany to escape the inquisition. There, he wrote or wrote a book later, commonly known as Fox's Book of Martyrs, in which he chronicled the persecution of Christians taking place across Europe. Here are just a few descriptions of the Inquisition from his writings.

At first, the Inquisition was only concerned with charges of heresy, but it soon expanded its authority to include such charges of things such as sorcery, alchemy, blasphemy, sexual aberration, infanticide, reading the Bible in the common language. Regardless of the charges, the inquisitors performed their examinations with the utmost severity, having little or no mercy on anyone, no matter what their age, sex, race, high birth, distinguished rank or social standing or physical or mental condition.

And they were especially cruel to those who opposed papal doctrine or authority, most particularly those who were once Roman Catholics and were now Protestants. And it gets a little graphic here to do this. Every method of physical torture known or that can be imagined was used, such as the stretching of limbs on the rack, burning with live coals or heated metals, breaking fingers and toes, crushing feet and hands, pulling out teeth, squeezing flesh with pincers, inserting hooks into fleshy parts, and pulling the hooks out through the flesh, cutting off small pieces of flesh, sticking pins into the flesh, inserting pins under fingernails or toenails, tightening ropes around flesh until they cut through to the bone, scourging with rods or various kinds of whips, beginning with fists, rods and clubs, twisting limbs and dislocating joints.

The methods used by the sadistic inquisitors are too numerous and horrendous to list. This was a dark, dark time in church history, if you go back and read First Kings Chapter 16 again, you'll realize that the Inquisition employed the same tactics Jezebel used against Narberth to acquire his property. Please don't miss how incredibly specific these prophetic parallels are, I personally find any suggestion of coincidence much harder to believe than intentional design on the part of the Bible's ultimate author.

As a result of the Inquisition and the other campaigns of terror, the Catholic Church became the largest landholder in the world. Today, they are still the second largest landholder, having been surpassed only by Queen Elizabeth the second. It's a matter of historical record that the Vatican has never even attempted to return any of the property or wealth it acquired through the Inquisition to families or countries. The Inquisition also transformed the Vatican into what is believed to be the wealthiest country in the world.

When you factor in debt load, you see the Vatican has no debt, while America is trillions of dollars in debt. The fact is, when you tally her impressive financial assets and ludicrous amounts of property and lack of liabilities, the Vatican is easily the wealthiest country in the world. I feel I should acknowledge the fact that there were Catholics then, as there are today, who saw these things happening and said this is not of God, as we're going to find out, sometimes there are some godly people in very ungodly institutions.

While recent popes like Benedict and Francis have publicly condemned some of these phases of Catholic history, they continue to allow the Vatican to operate in a similar vein. We know that both have personally been involved in burying sexual abuse and financial impropriety within the Catholic Church. Even though they recognize these things as evil, they cannot bring themselves to act to stop them. Could it be because the real power behind the Vatican is not the pope, but rather the woman Jezebel?

You'll need to come to your own conclusions on that one. Look back in Revelation chapter two at verse 20, where Jesus says that this Jezebel leads people to commit sexual morality and eat things sacrificed to idols, the sexual morality is both literal and spiritual. It's literal because around 96 A.D. pagan worship included sexually immoral rituals. And this woman, Jezebel, this false prophet in the church, was encouraging people in the church to participate in that. But it's also spiritual because in his word, God consistently refers to worshiping false gods as fornication.

He talks about it as adultery, cheating on him with one's affections and allegiance. This is what any individual or church is doing when they involve themselves with paganism. They're cheating on Jesus. In our study of the first letter to the church at Ephesus, we learned that in this context, the phrase eight things sacrificed to idols refers to participating in pagan worship practices, the ceremonies and rituals. And as we said, we know that Jezebel did that in leading the Israelites to worship by all.

But there's a second meaning to the phrase eat things sacrificed to idols in the prophetic level of application that's worth considering. The Catholic Church teaches a doctrine known as transubstantiation, which declares that in communion, which is traditionally wine and bread, those elements transform into the literal body and blood of Jesus. When consumed Vatican papal doctrine states and I quote The mass, the Lord's Supper is a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated, perpetuated. The Vatican teaches that communion there mass is a continuation of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Every time they observe communion, the Lord's Supper, they believe that Jesus's body and blood are being sacrificed again to cover our sins. But what does the Bible say? And Hebrews Chapter seven. It says it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, Jesus, by the way, not the pope, wholly innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens who does not need daily like those high priests to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people.

Because here's the key. This he did once and for all when he offered up himself. Jesus died once for our sins. It is the unfinished work of Jesus on the cross that saves us, not communion. Jesus wants those. It's theater to know that they're not taking communion as he gave it to the church. They're sacrificing to an idol. They're buying into a false teaching. They're not worshiping him. Jesus doesn't say that Jezebel is the problem.

He says that the church tolerating Jezebel is the problem. He says the issue is that they're approving of her. The demonic entity behind Jezebel will exist and operate on the earth until Jesus comes back and he knows that. But the Lord does not expect his people and his church to approve of and embrace that spirit. Take a look at verse 21. Jesus says, and I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, but she did not repent.

This is the longest of the seven letters, and the reason is likely because prophetically, this church exists for the longest time of the seven churches, verse 22. Indeed, I will cast her into a sick bed, sick bed, or however your Bible translates, it does not appear in the original Greek. It was their best guess at translating a word that that more likely means something along the lines of death or hell or Hades, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation underlying great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds.

Remember, Jesus views those who should be worshiping him, but are instead practicing paganism as a wife, sexually cheating on her husband. If you don't believe that Jesus is going to deal very severely with those who follow Jezebel. You need to open your Bible and read how the story of Jezebel ends in Second Kings Chapter nine verses 30 through 37. But wait till the end of the message. Notice that Jesus doesn't say you'll have trouble, as he said to the church at Smyrna when he told them that their persecution would continue.

Prophetically, Jesus referring here to the Great Tribulation, the future time when the church will be safely with Jesus in heaven while he pours out his wrath on those upon the earth. Let me be clear. Jesus is telling the church at Thyer Tirah that their institution and those who participate in their institutions, spiritual immorality, those who buy into all the paganism in this church, will be left on the earth for the Great Tribulation. It's an incredibly serious warning that also implies believers who do not buy into the paganism of this institution won't be here for the Great Tribulation.

There are real believers in this church, but Jesus expects them to repent, meaning turn away. Jesus's expectation is that when the true believers in this church read this letter, they will recognize the paganism that he points out and turn away from it. If it's possible for those who buy into this church to be left on the Earth for the Great Tribulation, then this church must exist all the way up to the Great Tribulation, in fact, will discover that this church and the next three churches all exist up to the time of the rapture and therefore exist today.

Isn't it interesting that after Jezebel rose to power in this part of church history, the church began to emphasize the worship of Jesus's mother, Mary? Jesus makes it clear in this letter that they're not worshiping his mother. They're worshiping Jezebel, it's a demonic entity, it's the feminine divine, the queen of heaven, of paganism, and I believe the real Mary. Is dismayed by what this church is doing in her name. In John, chapter two, verse five, we read the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for the last time in Scripture.

And I want you to hear this, this is what she says, the last thing Mary says in scripture, his mother said to the servants, whatever he says to you. Do it. Whatever he speaking of her son, Jesus, says to you, do it another time in his ministry. A woman tried to venerate Jesus mother by crying out blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed. And it says this, but he Jesus said.

On the contrary. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it. If Mary were with us today, I can tell you what her message would be. She would say, follow Jesus, follow Jesus. Verse 8 23, I will kill her children with death, the term children there refers to spiritual children, not biological children. It refers to the generations that kept these heresies going after they were first introduced. Ataya Tirah. If your Bible doesn't say death or something similar, it's an inaccurate translation.

And I suggest it's referring to the second death that we talked about a couple of weeks ago. If those who are placing their faith in this church to save them don't repent, their earthly physical death will be followed by an eternal death. Because hear me on this. The Catholic Church or the Protestant church cannot save anybody. Only Jesus can save the literal church at Théâtre, would not repent and cease to exist by the end of the second century, then Jesus says, and all the churches shall know that I am he he, not her.

I am he who searches the hearts and minds. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Underline one of you your works. Even though Jesus condemns the direction of this church institutionally, he will judge each person in it individually. In Jeremiah Chapter 17, verse ten. God, says I, the Lord search the heart. I test the mind even to give every man according to his ways. According to the fruit of his doings, Old Testament readers took the title Lord, which is Adonai in Hebrew to be a reference to Almighty God.

So when Jesus says I am he who searches the minds and hearts, he's pointing back to this verse in Jeremiah and once again claiming that he is that same God spoken of in Jeremiah. Jesus is the God Almighty of the Old Testament. He is one with the father and he's one with the spirit. Are you ready for some good news? It's a little overdue, right, Verse 8 24 now to USA and to the rest in theater. As many as do not have this doctrine who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say.

I will put on you no other burden but hold fast what you have till I come right that down. Jesus's exhortation to true believers is simply hold fast, hold on to the truth, stand firm. Remember, at this time, the few faithful believers at the church in Thyer Tirah didn't have other churches they could go to. They couldn't just cross the street and go to some other mega church. Their church may have been corrupted, but it was the only church in town the church had.

Thyer Tirah was the church. Athea Tirah. Jesus understood this, which is why he said, I know that some of you in this church are grieved by all this paganism and you're not buying it. You recognize Jezebel and you're not bowing to her or her teachings, you hold on, because I'm coming for you real soon. Prophetically, we'll see in our next study what happens when Jesus comes to this church and wages war against her with his word, when Jesus calls the things going on in this church institutionally the depths of Satan, he's referring to how intimately this church is associated with the type of paganism that traces all the way back to Jezebel and all worship.

Verse 8, 26, and he who overcomes and keeps my works until the end, Jesus wants those in this church to do his works, not her works to him. I will give underline power over the nations and then underline In verses 27. He shall rule them with a rod of iron. They shall be dashed to pieces like the Potter's vessels, as I also have received from my father. The Rod of Iron is a reference back to Psalm Chapter two, specifically verse nine, which is a messianic psalm that speaks prophetically about the power of Messiah that's going to culminate on the Earth during the millennium when Jesus rules and reigns here.

We don't have time to do it now. But I would urge you go and read all of Psalm two this week in light of today's study. There's a lot there that you can mine into and similarities and points you can find. Jesus is here once again referring to the incredible plans that he has for us, namely ruling and reigning with him in the millennium, which we'll discuss when we get to Revelation 19. Paul wrote this to believers in First Corinthians, Chapter six.

Do you not know that the Saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? If you come from a Catholic background, then you might be aware that the Vatican teaches the Catholic Church will rain on the earth at the end of all things. The only problem is that, according to his word, Jesus has other plans to the overcomer in theaters around 96 A.D., Jesus is saying, if you reject the paganism that has invaded the church and stay faithful to me, you will rule and reign with me in a glorious future when I crush all false gods under my feet to the overcomer.

In the age of the Catholic Church, Jesus is saying, if you'll reject Jezebel and instead be faithful to me, I'll give you what Jezebel has always craved most power and authority. The Catholic Church might call you a heretic. They might excommunicate you, they might burn you at the stake for blasphemy, but when I reign on the Earth, you will reign beside me. They won't. Verse 8 28 and I will give him that's the overcomer, the morning star, he who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the church's revelation 22 16 tells us exactly what the morning star is.

It says, I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you. These things in the churches. I am the roots and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. Jesus promises to give those in this church who reject Jezebel and her paganism himself. He says, I'll give you myself. And I think that's important because this church teaches that there are all kinds of protocols and rituals you must go through in order to interact with God.

But Jesus says, if you'll simply focus on my word and my will, I'll give you myself. And praise God, he has done just that, no matter who we are, we are blessed with direct access to God through the sacrifice of our mediator and high priest. Jesus Christ, would you write this down? Jesus promises the overcomer. They will rule and reign with him. They will rule and reign with him. Jesus's message to all churches reading this letter is simply don't tolerate Jezebel, stay faithful to my word and keep the focus on me.

This means we cannot dismiss the heresies of the Catholic Church in the name of unity or different expressions of the faith. We are not talking about issues like election versus free will, the gifts of the spirit or different church leadership expressions. We're talking about an institution that places itself as the mediator between man and God, a position that belongs exclusively to Jesus. Unless there were total abandonment and repentance of such heresies, which this letter tells us there will never be, there can be no unity between the institution of the Catholic Church and the rest of the church to borrow Paul's teaching on believers not marrying unbelievers.

What communion has light with darkness and what agreement has the Temple of God with idols for you are the temple of the living God. Most of us live in places where we do get to choose what church we belong to, and I don't know that it's possible for a believer to be made aware of the things Jesus points out in this letter, genuinely repent, genuinely turn away and then continue attending this church. I'm not sure what kind of Catholic wouldn't participate in mass, go to confession or believe in the authority of the Vatican, every former Catholic that I've known went through a progression like this.

They began to see the things Jesus talks about in the word. They became troubled by them. They researched them further in the scriptures for themselves. They worked through their Catholic guilt and their families, sadly inevitable condemnation and then eventually followed the truth out of this church if you're involved with the Catholic Church. I hope you'll take the words of Jesus in this letter to heart and begin following the truth wherever it leads you, whatever the cost, because I promise you.

Jesus is worth it. For those of us who are not part of the Catholic Church, we're generally all tempted by legalism. There's something about outsourcing our relationship with God that appeals to our flesh, perhaps because it's easier to indulge our flesh when our relationship with God is kept at arm's length, a big part of us likes the idea of being saved by a list of do's and don'ts because it makes it easier for us to be our own savior and do whatever we want in the time between those lists of do's and don'ts.

The apostle Paul confronts this issue head on in his letter to the Galatians. They had experienced the freedom of the gospel, yet they were choosing to go back to living under the law of Moses. The insanity of this decision prompted Paul to lament over Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you. Paul explained that when Jesus went to the cross, he took the punishment that the law assigned to each of us because we're all guilty under the law. From the laws perspective, we died when Jesus died.

Therefore, we are now what the Bible calls dead to the law. As far as the law is concerned, we're dead. It's over. Then Paul took it a step further, explaining that living under the law meant that you were rejecting the grace that God offered through Jesus. In other words, you were rejecting Jesus as your savior. That means that living under the law, living under legalism, for all intents and purposes, is no different to pagan idolatry because you're making an idol out of your behavior.

When we substitute a genuine relationship with Jesus for a list of do's and don'ts, we're drifting into legalism, the law and, yes, even paganism. The power of the gospel is that it gives all of us direct access to God, and one of my favorite verses in all of scripture exhorts us in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

I believe Jesus would have every believer take this charge from his letter to fire Tyra, do not allow anybody. To place themselves between you and me or above my word. As we wrap up this study. It's worth pausing for a moment to just reflect and marvel at the stunning specificity and accuracy of the prophetic layer in these seven letters, the level of detail in this letter is astonishing when you compare the story of Jezebel and Neighbor's vineyard to the history of the Catholic Church.

And if you're still not convinced of this whole prophetic angle in the seven letters, just wait until we get into the next letter. Remember, if any of these seven letters were in a different order, the chronology wouldn't line up with church history. By the time we reach the final letter to Laodicea, it'll be glaringly apparent that there are only two possible explanations. This is genuine prophecy given by God or coincidence beyond the point of absurdity. And I think you're going to end up on the prophecy side.

I want to encourage you with a question. How long has it been since you just spent a few minutes thinking about how amazing it is that you have access to God? You have direct access to God, to the throne of grace, if you've placed your faith in Jesus as your savior, then he's with you right now. He is where you are through his spirit. Think about that last sentence. Think about it until you feel blessed. Because you are.

Would you buy your head and close your eyes and pray with me? Jesus, thank you so much for your word. Thank you for loving us enough to confront us in the areas where we are straying from what is good. And from the paths that lead to life, thank you that every correction you share is rooted in love and out of a desire for us to experience your best lord. And so, Jesus, we just ask that that you would do a work in us if it needs to be done.

Lord, if we are drifting into any type of legalism, reducing our relationship with you into a list of do's and don'ts, Lord, forgive us and bring us back to your throne of grace. Help us to come to you directly. Enjoy the experience. You be filled up again with your spirit even now as we pray, Lord, and just enjoy the access that we have to you knowing that we have everything we need in our savior and mediator and great high priest.

Jesus Christ Jesus. Thank you. That you are everything that we need, everything that we need. We love you so much, Lord. It's in your precious name. We pray. Amen.

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