Who Is Jezebel of Thyatira?

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 27. Revelation 2:19-20.

After the Lord reveals Himself to be the Son of God, He says to the church in Thyatira: “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” (Rev 2:19).

Although the Lord has serious criticisms of Thyatira, He offers great praise in advance. Such is our God! He is righteous and doesn’t overlook anything you’ve done for His name’s sake. He knows exactly how His love is working in you. He tests the measure of your faith; He records your patience. Externally, Thyatira was a wonderful church. The Lord even attests to the increase in her activity, saying that her current works are “more than the first.” Unlike the church in Smyrna, which was passively suffering through tribulation, this church was actively serving the Lord. But this is precisely the point in which it becomes clear that increased activity can be hiding serious sin. Immediately afterward, the Lord continues:

“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” (Rev 2:20).

The exalted Lord’s accusation against Thyatira is all the more serious because it is a hidden evil that far outweighs all of their existing devotion to the Lord. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal 5:9).

“That woman Jezebel” isn’t a reference to just one individual. Instead, she represents a system, a pernicious doctrine. A woman appears in Revelation four times in this kind of symbolic-prophetic representation, in both positive and negative ways. In a positive sense, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev 19:7; 21:9). This refers to the whole of the church of Jesus. “A woman clothed with the sun” (Rev 12:1) is Israel in its redemptive-historical meaning; the remnant saved through the Tribulation. A symbolically negative representation is “a woman sit[ting] upon a scarlet colored beast,” “the great whore” (Rev 17:1, 3). The Great Whore is a metaphor for the apostate end-time Church, which engages in political prostitution with the rulers of this earth. And here in Revelation 2, we see the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.

False teachers always try to make a name for themselves and speak about themselves a great deal. Satan does that too. The Lord Jesus says of him, “…He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

The Lord criticized the church in Thyatira, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel…” In other words, “You’re tolerating this teaching in the church.” The Lord is talking about disastrous tolerance!

We’re already familiar with the woman Jezebel from the Old Testament. She grew up in Tyre, the Phoenician port city. Her father, King Ethbaal, also served as the priest of Astarte and offered sacrifices to Baal. The Phoenicians, a seafaring people, traded in precious wood, gold, and precious stones. They lived in several thriving cities around the Mediterranean. By marrying Jezebel, a Phoenician, the Israelite King Ahab hoped to secure friendship with the region’s strongest trading power. But Jezebel was his undoing. She only brought misfortune, turmoil, and hardship upon the kingdom of Israel. She introduced idolatry and became the murderess of the prophets. At this, the prophetic Word in Israel was silenced.

“Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest…,” says the Lord to Thyatira. The false prophetess Jezebel stifled the prophetic Word. That’s most likely the reason that the Lord speaks very little of His coming here. Only to those in Thyatira who “have not this doctrine” does He say, “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come” (Rev 2:25). When the prophetic Word, urging sanctification, is displaced from a church, another spirit moves in. Then comes the spirit of compromise and fornication. This spirit of tolerance is terribly widespread today. The psalmist aptly says, “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Ps 94:20).

Midnight Call - 01/2022

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