“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Depths of Satan – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 18-29)
The name Jezebel’s symbolic of course, of an evil woman (v20). It has been suggested how this could perhaps play out in a church such as Thyatira. A forceful and vocal woman in the congregation gives voice in the mid-week meeting. She speaks in silky and seducing tones. She is known for her mystical excursions. She speaks to them of a vision that she has received in which the Lord appeared to her. She claims to be a prophetess. Her claim is that in this dream the Lord revealed to her the horrible depths of Satan, the abyss of sin and iniquity. And she claims the Lord would have them all to know that if they would truly taste of his grace and infinite mercy, they must needs with her descend into these very depths and know them by experience. For, says she, the more they are able to realise the depths of Satan by experience, the more they will be able to appreciate the Lord’s salvation. She claims this experienced these depths of Satan herself. To have committed fornication and feasted with the heathen in their sacrificial meals. She has subjected her body to the vilest extents of sin. Well, that is but an imaginary scenario, and perhaps you say what could be worse than that? This, and this is not imaginary. The church remained silent, the angel of the church said and did nothing. Nobody raised their voice in protest against this wicked woman Jezebel. And it is obvious from the text that the Lord Jesus has had dealings with this woman but she failed to repent (v21). This woman has been turned into an instrument of Satan. She lives by her female intuition, subjective feelings, and mystical experiences. With her emotional nature, this appears to appeal to the mystical tendency and loving character of the church. Thus, the church is being more and more seduced by her and her teaching. We do not deny for a moment that people have both wonderful and genuine experiences with the Lord. But, every experience we claim beloved must be brought to the yardstick of God’s word. If you cannot square it with scripture forget it. Sheer mysticism, of course, is often a reaction to an arid intellectualism, and cerebrally dusty church. But our spirituality must be in line with the Bible and we strive to keep a healthy balance. When you leave the Bible behind you can end up anywhere, even in the depths of Satan.
The church is not told exercise discipline that has been taken out of their hands (v22-23). He, the Lord Jesus Christ himself will exercise the discipline. He warned her, he gave her time but she did not repent. Notice will you the seriousness of this situation in the reference to her children (v23). The very bloodstream of the church’s life has been poisoned. The church’s witness has been perverted and her activity paralysed. The surgery the Lord is about to perform is for the sake of the church in its entirety. It is the revelation of the divine anger of Jesus Christ against impurity in his church. The sins of the mother are manifest in her children, whether they were born in or out of wedlock is of no consequence. This wickedness has to be surgically removed from the church. I don’t doubt that for some modern day Christians they would be appalled at the very thought of such action. But that is mainly because they have never been taught or never grasped the seriousness of sin and the awful, awful holiness of God. This is the same Lord who dealt Achan’s sin in the Old Testament (Joshua 7). His attitude to sin does not change from one Testament to the other as is commonly thought by some. However, this revelation is given so that “all the churches will know” (v23), that Jesus sees and knows everything that takes place in his church. Hence, time is given to Jezebel’s followers to repent, but failure to do so will incur the same penalty as she. It is clear from this that we must maintain the ability to discern in spiritual matters. Because if we do not how will we be able to judge in such matters? How will we know if we are looking at and dealing with some such devilish heresy or not? That healthy ability to discern does not come easily to us. It requires Bible reading and study, it requires minds renewed by the word of God daily (Romans 12:1-3). There are no shortcuts, we have to work at it. But the rewards are out of this world.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)