“Nevertheless, I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel” (Revelation 2:20)
The church at Thyatira has just been held up for it service and perseverance but now Jesus warns them about this woman Jezebeel (depicted above). He then reports that she was misleading some of his servants into sexual immorality and to food sacrificed to idols.
Who was Jezebeel?
No-one is certain if this is a new woman called Jezebeel or is someone who has the spirit of Jezebeel as described in the Old Testament. This Jezebeel was the wife of King Ahab who was said to be the worst of Kings (1 Kings 16:31). She was the daughter of a pagan priest Ethbaal (Worshipper of Baal) who had killed his brother to become the King of Sidon. She was known as the woman who lead Israel to worship baal (1 Kings 16:31-32).
The warning from Jesus given to John is interesting. Interesting because the warning indicates that not all of those in the church at Thyatira were her supporters or that they got mixed up with her sins. Nevertheless the warning that the church was given was clear, to simply not get mixed up in may not be enough.
Their sin was tolerating sin!!!
Jesus said they tolerated that woman, meaning that they allow that woman. In other words they may not agree with her or what she does, they may disagree with what others do in her name but simply remaining neutral or indifferent is not enough. They were tolerating, putting up with or simply washing themselves of responsibility from what was happening. This reminds me of Pilate washing his hands to imply that he wasn’t responsible for Jesus crucifixion when he clearly had the power to hand Jesus over or not e.g he was responsible.
Lets be clear on what Jesus held against them. He condemned them for allowing this sin to remain and doing nothing about it. So what does this so mean for all followers of Christ?
The scriptures indicate that instead of allowing or tolerating sin we must:
1) Expose sin
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
2) Rise up/Take a stand
“Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand against evildoers? (Psalm 94:16)
3) Silence/Rebuke sharply
“For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception….They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households…Therefore rebuke them shaply” (Titus 1:10-13)
4) Win sinner over
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” (Matthew 18:15)
To love God means to hate sin and we eagerly desire to see others freed from its deceitfullness. We expose it once we have taken the plank of pride from our eyes. We are no more righteous, we do not deal with sin in others because of our own sinless-ness but because we know how much sin, ignorance or rebellion towards God has damaged us.
We are as someone once said simply, one beggar trying to show another beggar where to find food. But in this case that beggar is also hurting themselves by the use of drugs and we cannot watch them destroy themselves.
CONCLUSION – We cannot simply abstain from sin and remain neutral towards the sins that we see around us in the church. We must speak up, expose, rise up against, rebuke but all with the goal of winning over our brothers and sisters from the sin which so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1).