Previous: Revelation 2:20 continued - 10


21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. - Revelation 2:21-23

After our lengthy overview of one thousand years of Church history, we need to return our attention to the First Century Church at Thyatira, where the Lord Jesus gave a stern warning to Jezebel, the evil false teacher there. "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent." The good news is that our God always gives an opportunity to repent (see notes on chapter 2, verse 5). He does not desire for anyone to perish, but prefers that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). That is why He always sent prophets to warn people in time to turn from the judgment they deserve. Those who have rejected God's mercy will never be able to blame Him for their plight. In this case the Apostle John was the prophet, and his warning was delivered via this written message.

This Jezebel's greatest sin was sexual immorality. As we pointed out above, this is a translation of the Greek word porneia, which is also rendered as "fornication." We get our word pornography from this same term. It is different from the Greek word for adultery (moicheuo), which is used in the next verse. Adultery is unfaithfulness to one's marriage partner. Porneia is the much broader concept of sexual perversion.

This is why Jesus said divorce would not be permitted except in the case of fornication (Matthew 19:9). He didn't use the word "adultery." Adultery is terrible. I always advise couples who are planning to get married that one simple act of adultery will almost always ruin a marriage. However, fornication is even more damaging. If a person's mate is addicted to evil sexual desires like child molestation, homosexuality, pornography, or repeated adultery Jesus granted that it was not right to be united to such a person.

Jesus therefore pronounced judgment on Jezebel. "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds." The Greek word for bed could also mean a couch used for carrying a sick person. This is the image of the immoral false teacher, afflicted with the diseases that accompany her immorality, both literally and figuratively. False teachers are spiritually ill even if they do not know it.

One of the most shocking stories in the Bible is about the death of Queen Jezebel. Elijah was told to prophecy that the wicked King Ahab would die a violent death and the dogs would lick his blood (1 Kings 21:19). But his queen Jezebel, who was even worse than him, would have a grotesque end.

And concerning Jezebel the LORD also spoke, saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. - 1 Kings 21:23

2 Kings 9:30-37 tells the story of her death. She was killed by one of her enemies, and before she could be given a burial her body was eaten by dogs, just as Elijah had predicted.

Those who follow a false teacher will also have to go through "great tribulation." This was true for the Church at Thyatira and it was also true for the Church during the Middle Ages. And beyond that, it will be true for Christians during the end-times. It is significant that these words are used together in Matthew 24:21, where Jesus talked about that great future period of trials in the end-times.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. - Matthew 24:21

The only other time the expression is found is in Revelation 7, where it speaks of the martyrs of the Tribulation period.

And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. - Revelation 7:14

This future Tribulation coincides with the seven-year covenant between the evil world dictator and Israel foretold in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 9:25-27). We will explore Daniel's prophecy when we start chapter 6 of Revelation.

Again, there is a ray of hope for the followers of the false teacher. This is a last-minute invitation to repent: to believe the Gospel and be converted. Those who would repent will no longer be considered "her children." Their future will be investigated later, starting with verse 24, which is addressed to the believing remnant.

Come back soon for the next installment of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation.
Next: Revelation 2:23


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