“Searching the Seven Churches”
Stand Firm! – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 18-29)
There is something more that we need to say before we move on from Jezebel and her children (v23). The reference to her children could mean her followers, “and those who commit adultery with her” (v22). Although the present writer does not think so for they’re threatened with tribulation (v22), and not death (v23). We need to remember that God deals with the human race as an organic entity. The human race develops in the generations, in the seed of the woman, i.e., the church. And the seed of the serpent, i.e. the non-elect, the world (Genesis 3:15). The two develop together, the weeds and the wheat, “let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:30). The election of God runs in generations, through the seed of believers, i.e., their children. No, this does mean that all the children of believers are in the covenant line, by no means. Sometimes it may be only one child in the family, sometimes it is entire families. The salvation of families, households is prominent in the New Testament. In regard to the seed of the serpent, it is often the case that wickedness likewise runs through their generations, in their families, examples of which we have in the Old Testament. The point of this being, there are times when in order to purge the evil, to keep it from continuing, God has to deal in judgment with an entire family. Again, Achan in Joshua’s day is a prize example of this (Joshua 7:24-26). In order for the is wickedness to be stemmed in the church here in Thyatira, this family has to be excised. However, we ought not by this time to be thinking of Thyatira as a single, independent church, the Bible knows of such a thing as an independent church. All these churches stand together, the seven churches constitute one church, the church of God in Jesus Christ. And these issues we see being dealt with here may be common to all local expressions of that one church, throughout the age. To some lesser or greater degree, at times perhaps not at all. God saves his church by judgment. In Noah’s day, God judges the entire world by means of a flood to preserve the seed of the woman. And no not all Noah’s family were in the line of the covenant. Time and again Israel throughout the Old Testament history were rescued by God in his judging the surrounding nations. In the end, we see from this very book we are studying that God in Christ will come and judge the world, fully and finally. Just when it appears that wickedness has prevailed, he comes and saves his people and destroys the wicked unbelieving world once and for all.
But for the rest, those not caught up in this evil. They are urged to “hold fast” (v24). In order to do so, this surely means avoiding any alliance or activity with any works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Point blank refusing to indulge in worldly passions in order that grace may abound (Romans 6:1; Titus 2:11-12). They are under attack from the Devil, but from within (2Peter 2:1-22). But they must stand firm, and having done all to stand firm, they must stand firm (Ephesians 6:13-14). If they do so, faithfully, it may be by the grace of God that this local expression of God’s church may continue on. Of course, the ungodly element will look upon the faithful remnant with derision, they will see them as being weak and fearful. But, “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). Because they do not plunge themselves into the same worldly passions as they do. To the conquerors, they will be given spiritual authority (v26). To rule with God’s anointed King over the nations (Psalm 2:8; v27). This promise, of course, passes all our earthly comprehensions, but we are not asked to comprehend, just to stand firm. Such faithful ones will, in the end, be the star attractions (v28). The star is Christ himself who heralds the coming dawn (v28), and his faithful will be part of his army, the triumphal procession when he returns in glory. There are two ways to go out of this world. One, in defeat, like a damp squib, changed to the Devil and fit for the lake of fire. Or, two, following Jesus Christ in this grand procession of conquerors (1John 5:4). Which will it be for you?
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)