The Seven Churches of Asia
"And unto the angel of the Church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; 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. 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. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the Churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches." ó Rev. 2:18-29.
THYATIRA is only once again mentioned in the Bible, and it is very sweetly mentioned; it is where the account is given of the conversion of Lydia, and of the jailer. It says, "Lydia was of the city of Thyatira." When Paul preached at Philippi, these were perhaps the two most unlikely persons in the place; and yet these were the very two who were to be brought to Christ. Lydia was a stranger in the town of Philippi; perhaps, if she had remained at Thyatira, she might have been seduced by that woman Jezebel; but God brought her here. God always converts in His own way; He fixes upon strangers; He has the threads of every soul in His hand, and He draws the soul, and brings it to the very spot where the Son of Righteousness is to rise upon it. Has God done this with some of you? Has He not taken some of you who were strangers? God sometimes converts a soul in the bosom of its own family, and sometimes in a strange land; and it is always a sweet place to that soul where it first saw Christ. Ephesus had left her first love; Smyrna was poor and yet rich; Pergamos was where Satanís throne was; and now we come to Thyatira. All that we know about it is from books; there is no history given of it in the Bible. Very little is known about it, except by Christ; He knows the history of every place, and His history is always the truest. There are five thousand inhabitants in Thyatira; the houses are mostly made of mud; the town was taken by the Turks, and remains at this time in their possession. It is no longer Thyatira, but called by a Turkish name; but there are yet a few Christians there. The last missionary who was there, Mr. Parsons says: There is yet a form of godliness; there are two churches, and two schools, and there are a few Greek and Armenian Christians who meet on the Sabbath-day.
But let us see, first, the character Christ takes to Himself here. "These things saith the Son of God." Those of you who are believers, this is just what gives you peace, to know, that Jesus is divine, to know that He is the Son of God; because then you know that He has got all strength and all might. "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Cling to your Divine Saviour. But then this is a word of awful power to the unconverted, that He is the Son of God; that He is an infinite, an immovable, a divine, an eternal rock.
And then Christís "eyes like unto a flame of fire." If you put wood into the fire, it soon pierces through it; if you put stone in, it even pierces through it; or if you put iron in, it pierces through it too ó nothing can withstand fire. So it is with the eyes of Christ; they pierce and penetrate through everything. I told you this before the Lordís Supper, to try and keep away those of you who are without Christ; and now God has brought me to you, to tell it you again after the Lordís Supper, for a different reason. I would say to those of you who know you are Christless, remember man looketh only on the outward appearance, but Christ looketh on the heart: He not only looks on the heart, but He looks into the heart: He searches, He looks through, He knows all your wishes and designs. He says in the twenty-third verse of this chapter, "I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts." And there are some of you who were cleaving to Christ, but who seem already to have mixed with the world. Christís eye sees you; He has got eyes like unto a flame of fire, He has followed you. Those of you who are Christians, I would like you to look more at a whole Christ; not to take only part of Christ. You like to think of His eyes as they were on earth; you like to think of Him when He wept over Jerusalem, when He stood by the widow of Nain, when He was at the grave of Lazarus; for it is written, "Jesus wept." And God forbid that I should make you think less of the compassion of Christ; for it is great. No one can know the compassion that He has, the infinite compassion that is in Him; especially for those of you who do not love Him, His eyes are as it were streaming down with tears. But I would like Christians to remember, too, that Christís eyes are like a flame of fire.
And again, Christís "feet are like unto fine brass." In the first chapter it is said, "as if they burned in a furnace." Now what are they like brass for? ó that they may trample. You like to think of Christ as Isaiah did, when he says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" As the two Marys did, when they clasped His feet; and as the woman did which had been at a dinner; but the feet of Christ are also like fine brass, to tread down His enemies.
In Micah it is written, "Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." They used to put brass hoofs on the cattle, and send them into the threshing-floors to thresh the corn; and Christ seems to allude to that here. And in the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah it is written, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save," etc., etc. And in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation it is said that, when John saw Christ, "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew but He Himself: And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God."
Now, what shall we learn from all this! That Christ is not only a Saviour, but an Avenger too. He is the shadow of a great rock, where any weary soul may find refuge; and to those who have no covering, He says, "I counsel thee to buy of Me . . . white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear," but He is an Avenger too ó He will trample, He will tread down the Christless, and their blood will stain all His raiment. How much better to take Christ, as coming with His feet beautiful upon the mountains, than with His feet of brass as an avenger!
Let us now see what is the character Christ gives to Thyatira. The people in Thyatira put me in mind of Jeremiahís figs: the good among them were very good, and the bad were very bad. Let us look first at the good parts. Jesus says, "I know thy works," ó we have spoken of that before; and "charity": throughout all the Bible, this word means love; and it should rather be thus rendered. It is said of the woman who was a sinner, she was forgiven much, therefore she loved much. Do you love much? The fruit of the Spirit is love ó faith worketh by love. Among all the graces that are spoken of in the fifth chapter of Galatians, love is first mentioned. The buds of the trees, as the leaves open out in spring, are of a beautiful light-green colour; so love is the first budding of the branch that is joined to the vine ó the first budding of the soul that is united to Christ. Can you say, "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee!" Do you love Christ? Do you love the Christians? "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." "Little children, love one another." I know thy charity and "service." Christians are helpful to one another. When Jesus washed His disciplesí feet, He said, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one anotherís feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." Do you know the meaning of this! I believe there are some of you who although you were to think for a hundred years, would not find it out: if you had love, then you would know the meaning of "So ought ye also to wash one anotherís feet." "If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God."
And again, I know thy "service and faith." It is strange that Christ should mention love and service before faith. It is just because the more love and service you have, the more faith you will have. When a tree grows taller, its roots grow farther down; it takes deeper and deeper hold of the earth: so the more love you have, the more you do, you will have the more faith ó it will take deeper root. And thy "patience"; when a sailor is clinging to a rock ó when the waves come one after another, and try to suck him away ó he perseveres the more, he holds the faster to the rock. Why? Because it is for his life. So, when Christians have escaped out of the black waves of this world ó when they are holding by the rock ó the waves come and try to suck them away, and sink them in the whirlpool. What does this make you do? It makes you persevere the more ó it makes you hold the faster to your Rock ó cling the closer to Christ ó endure to the end. Why? Because it is for your life.
"And thy works; and the last to be more than the first." Are our last works more than the first? Are we doing more after this sacrament than after last sacrament? But there ore some of you, I know, whose last works are more than the first. Ephesus had left her first love, and Christ bid her repent quickly, and do the first works: how much more blessed to have the Saviour say unto you, that thy last works are more than the first!" He died for us that we who live, should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto Him who died for us, and who rose again."
Let us now see what Christ had to blame. It is written, "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." All the men of God have come to the conclusion, that a woman should not speak; and if you will only go to the Bible, and read it as little children, without being prejudiced, you will see that a woman should not teach, but should learn at home. This Jezebel was a wicked woman: "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." Now, what should they have done? They should have opposed her. Are there no Jezebels among ourselves, who try to seduce Christís servants! I will mention a circumstance which has happened in this place, and I do it for the sake of the children of God who have been seduced. We lately sat down at the Lordís Supper; and would the Devil let us alone? Oh no! There was what is called an Oratorio in the Popish Chapel; I wish you did not know what it means. It is taking passages out of the Word of God, and setting them to music, and they are sung by profane persons: they take the sweetest words in the Bible; the very words that are life to a believer. Was this not one of the depths of Satan! Now we should have set our face against it. You sat down and took the cup of the Lord, and then went and took the cup of devils; you were sitting in the temple of the Lord, and will you go and sit in the temple of idols [Mr. MíCheyne then read the following extract from the Rev. John Newton: "Whereunto shall we liken the people of this generation, and to what are they like?" I represent to myself a number of persons of various characters, involved in one common charge of high treason. They are already in a state of confinement, but not yet brought to their trial. The facts, however, are so plain, and the evidence against them so strong and pointed, that there is not the least doubt of their guilt being fully proved, and that nothing but a pardon can preserve them from punishment. In this situation it should seem their wisdom to avail themselves of every expedient in their power for obtaining mercy. But they are entirely regardless of their danger, and wholly taken up with contriving methods of amusing themselves, that they may pass away the term of their imprisonment with as much cheerfulness as possible. Among other resources they call in the assistance of music; and amidst a great variety of subjects in this way, they are particularly pleased with one. They choose to make the solemnities of their impending trial, the character of their judge, the methods of his procedure, and the awful sentence to which they are exposed, the groundwork of a musical entertainment; and, as if they were quite unconcerned in the event, their attention is chiefly fixed upon the skill of the composer, in adapting the style of his music to the very solemn language and subject with which they are trifling. The king, however, out of his great clemency and compassion towards those who have no pity for themselves, presents them with his goodness. Undesired by them, he sends them a gracious message. He assures them that he is unwilling they should suffer: he requires, yea, he entreats them to submit. He points out a way in which their confession and submission shall be certainly accepted; and in this way, which he condescends to prescribe, he offers them a free and a full pardon. But instead of taking a single step towards a compliance with his goodness, they set his message likewise to music, and this together with a description of their present state, and of the fearful doom awaiting them if they continue obstinate, is sung for their diversion, accompanied with the sound of cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of instruments, Dan. 3:5. Surely if such a case as I have supposed could be found in real life, though I might admire the musical taste of those people, I should commiserate their insensibility.]
"And I gave her space to repent." See the long-suffering of Christ. You have got space, too, to repent. But what is the judgment of Christ ó what will He do! "I will kill her children with death." How dreadful! ó with death!
But now what is the message? "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end." Let us fight, let us go forward as Christians, not fearing any man; and it is not enough that you keep Christís words to the end, you must keep His works too, to the very end. "And I will give him power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father." I do not know what this means; Christ says, I will put you upon a throne; and again He says, Dost thou not know that thou shalt judge angels? And here He says, He will give us power over the nations. I do not know what this is, but it will be a great glory.
And lastly, the reward: "I will give him the morning star." Now, what is this star? It is Christ ó "I am the bright and morning star." Balaam says, "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." When we see the morning star in the east, we say it will soon be daybreak. So, when we see the morning star going to rise upon any soul, we say of that soul, It will soon be daybreak, the day will soon dawn. But Christ says He will give us the morning star, which is Himself; He says He will give us to eat of the tree of life, which is Himself; He says He will give us to eat of the hidden manna, which is hidden Christ; and here He says He will give us the "morning star." He is our own Saviour even now and will be our own Saviour then, when we stand with Him in glory on the confines of the other world; when we are where there will be no night, where it will be all day; Jesus will give us the morning star.