18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Letters to the Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3
|Addressed to the angel of the church||2:1||2:8||2:12||2:18||3:1||3:7||3:14|
|Some aspect of vision of Christ in ch. 1 related to the church||2:1||2:8||2:12||2:18||3:1||3:7||3:14|
|Commendation and/or encouragement of the church||2:2-3, 6||2:9||2:13||2:19, 24-25||3:4||3:8-10|
|Correction of the church||2:4||2:14-15||2:20-23||3:2||3:14-18|
|Call to repent and threat of judgment||2:5||2:16||2:21||3:3||3:19|
|Call to listen to the message of the Spirit||2:7||2:11||2:17||2:29||3:6||3:13||3:22|
|Promise to "conqueror" (one who perseveres)||2:7||2:11||2:17||2:26-28||3:5||3:11-12||3:21|
(Table adapted from Thomas R. Schreiner, ESV Expository Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews-Revelation, 569)
The term “one-percenters” is often used to conveniently identify bikers who are part of outlaw motorcycle gangs such as the Bandidos, Rebels, Mongols, or Sons of Silence.
I like to think of the Old Testament prophet Elijah as a sanctified biker who wore a fur coat with a leather belt, and was a dude you just didn’t mess with.
In 1 Kings 18 we read about a showdown between Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal, suggested by Elijah, with the goal of showing the people of Israel who was the real God, Yahweh or Baal. The rules of the showdown were simple: build an altar, slaughter a bull, put the slaughtered bull and some wood on the altar, and then call on their respective God to provide the fire for the burnt offering. The God who answers with fire is the true God.
The people of Israel thought this was a good idea (1 Kings 18:24), and the 450 prophets of Baal won the coin toss. They built their altar, slaughtered their bull, and called on their god Baal to answer them. Of course, Baal did not answer, and Elijah mocked and taunted them through the morning and into the afternoon. 1 Kings 18:29 reads, “And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.”
Now it was Elijah’s turn. He built his altar, slaughtered his bull, piled the wood, and had the spectators soak the whole thing with water three times. Then Elijah prayed, God answered, and God burnt up everything with fire from heaven: not just the wood, not just the bull, but also the stones and the water and the dust (1 Kings 18:38).
The people acknowledged that Yahweh, not Baal, was God; how could they not? And Elijah finished the day by rounding up the 450 prophets of Baal and slaughtering them with his sword.
Elijah was one tough dude, but even he ran and hid from Jezebel, the wife and queen of Ahab, king of Israel.
Jezebel is a name you’re probably familiar with. She was the wife and queen of Ahab, king of Israel.
In 1 Kings 16:30-33 we read:
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
How did things get so bad? Ahab’s wife Jezebel was a primary factor. She was a Baal-worshiper who turned Ahab into a Baal-worshiper, she killed all the prophets of Yahweh that she could find, and had Naboth killed so that Ahab, her weakling of a husband, could have Naboth’s vineyard.
In a parenthetical statement, the author of 1 Kings 21:25-26 writes:
(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. 26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)
Jezebel was an evil, wicked woman, and in the letter to the church in Thyatira in Revelation 2, Jesus compares a woman there with the Jezebel of the Old Testament.
One commentator wrote this about Thyatira:
“The longest and most difficult of the seven letters is addressed to the least known, least important, and least remarkable of the cities.” Hemer, 106
Thyatira in the first century was located about forty miles east of Pergamum on the south bank of the Lycus river. It was not an important city, at least not politically. What it lacked in political prowess it made up for in manufacturing and industry. A notable characteristic of Thyatira was the large number of trade guilds in that city.
A trade guild was sort of like a union, an association of merchants or craftsmen. Inscriptions found in the ruins of Thyatira mention “woolworkers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers, and bronze smiths.”
Here’s a side note that’s worth noting: Out of that list let me draw your attention to the word “dyers.” There was a special plant called a “madder root” that grew in large numbers in the Lycus river valley around the city of Thyatira, which was used to make a purple dye that was used for turning cloth purple. Stay with me here!
In Acts 16 Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke make their way to Philippi where, on a Sabbath morning, they meet a woman named Lydia who was from Thyatira and who was a seller of purple goods. She was the first recorded convert to Christianity in Philippi, whose heart, according to Acts 16:14, was opened by the Lord “to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” In other words, while Paul was telling her and the other women with her about Jesus and the gospel, the Lord regenerated her heart so that she believed in Jesus and was then baptized.
Back to the trade guilds in Thyatira. In that city, in that culture, being part of a trade guild meant being part of a religion or religions. And being part of these religions meant worshiping their idols, sacrificing and eating food sacrificed to these idols, and engaging in the sexual sins that were also part of their religious practices.
The trades and the local pagan religions were inseparable. To be in business in Thyatira meant that you were most likely in a trade. To be in a trade meant that you were part of a trade guild or union. To be in a trade guild meant that you were active in a pagan religion.
But what if you were a Christian? Trying to make a living in Thyatira while serving the one true God, Jesus Christ, who said that all other gods were not gods, could be difficult. Other tradesmen may not deal with you. Other citizens might not buy your products from you or hire you to do whatever your skill or trade was, because you had been blacklisted by the guilds.
After Jesus describes himself in verse 18, which we’ll come back to shortly, he tells the church in Thyatira, “I know your works.”
“Works” refers to their deeds: what they do, how they live, what they think, and what they say. He also says the same exact thing to the churches in Ephesus, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, “I know your works,” but here in the letter to Thyatira “works” seems to have a special emphasis. Jesus speaks of the works of the Christians in Thyatira in verse 19, the works of Jezebel in verse 22, the works of all the churches in verse 23, and his works in verse 26.
The works of the church in Thyatira
Look with me at verse 19 where Jesus describes the works of the church in Thyatira:
I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
Jesus, being God, is omniscient, he is all-knowing, and he knows the works of these Christians in the Thyatira. He knows of their love and their faith. Not only that they have love and faith, but that they are notable for these two particular Christian virtues.
Unlike the Ephesian church whose unbalanced emphasis on truth and correct doctrine had left no room for love, the church in Thyatira loved both God and people. Jesus makes no distinction here about who their love is toward, and we know from 1 John 4 that you cannot have one without the other.
If you truly love God, you will love your fellow man. If you truly love your fellow man, it is because you love God. And you love both God and man because God has loved you first.
Indeed, love is so much a part of God’s character, of who he is, that 1 John 4:16 tells us that “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” And Jesus is commending the Thyatiran Christians for their love.
And not only for their love. He commends their faith also. Despite the daily challenges of living in a pagan culture of idolatry that was so intertwined with economic well-being, their faith in Jesus, their belief in who Jesus is, had not wavered. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith like this:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The believers in Thyatira were assured of the things that had been promised to them and they were hoping for, because God had promised them, and Christian hope is a sure hope. And they had a conviction, a deep-seated belief, that the things they could not see, the heavenly and spiritual things they read about in the Scriptures, were real and true and guaranteed.
Hebrews 11:2 goes on to say:
For by it [by faith] the people of old received their commendation.
And like the people, the saints of old who received their commendation for and by their faith in God, the believers in Thyatira were being commended by Jesus for their unwavering faith.
These two foundational Christian virtues, their love and faith, became apparent and visible in their service and patient endurance.
The church in Thyatira was a serving church, a church that looked out for the needs of others and then helped with those needs. They put others’ needs above their own. They considered others to be more important than themselves. This is no small matter! This is love for God and others rendered visible to the human eye. This is love put into action. This is love doing what love is designed by God to do. This is what Christianity is meant by God to be known for. Jesus, on the night before he went to the cross, said to the disciples in John 13:34-35:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
They were also a patiently enduring church, despite their circumstances, despite the temporary setbacks of the challenges of living as a Christian in a rebellious world. They could endure hardship because of their faith in Christ. And they endured patiently. I don’t think this was a “grit your teeth and grind it out” kind of endurance. They were running with endurance the race that was set before them, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of their faith, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
But wait; there’s more!
Not only was their love and faith made visible in their service and their patient endurance, but their “latter works exceed[ed] the first.” In other words, they were growing in their Christian faith, they were maturing as Christians, they were putting off the old and putting on the new, and Jesus was commending them for their growth and maturity.
Jesus knows their works, and he knows that despite their “love and faith and service and patient endurance,” something is amiss, something is wrong in Thyatira.
When I was in Bible college a chapel speaker made this profound statement that I have not forgotten after all these years:
Truth without love is brutality; love without truth is hypocrisy.
The church in Ephesus personified the first half of that statement. They had and embraced truth, but truth without love results in brutality. In his letter to the Ephesian church Paul had instructed them to speak the truth with each other, but they were to speak that truth in love, and they had forgotten this essential apostolic command.
The church in Thyatira had set truth aside so that they could emphasize their love for God and each other, but love without truth results in hypocrisy, makes room for error and false teaching, and tolerates individuals like “that woman Jezebel.”
The works of Jezebel
Who is this woman Jezebel? Her real name was probably not Jezebel; even a truth-minimizing church like Thyatira would see through that smokescreen.
But like those in Pergamum who held to the teaching of Old Testament Balaam and personified his idolatrous and immoral teaching, this woman in Thyatira personified the Old Testament Jezebel who incited her husband Ahab to do all kinds of evil.
Jesus says in verse 20 that she “calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”
She claimed to be a prophetess, to speak for God himself. She claimed to know the deep things of God, things that are not found in Scripture, in God’s word, things which Jesus says in verse 24 are actually “the deep things of Satan.”
Her works go beyond what was happening in Pergamum. There the emphasis was on teaching; here in Thyatira it went beyond teaching as she was actually “seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” She was encouraging, exhorting, leading, seducing Christians to engage in sexual sin and the worship of idols.
Perhaps she did this under the guise of economic survival. To do business in Thyatira meant potentially compromising with paganism, as the trades were so intertwined with pagan idolatrous religion. “Surely God would want you to do well in your business and make a good living, and to do that, you need to participate in what the surrounding culture is doing.”
Whatever her reason and her justification for calling herself a prophetess, look at what Jesus says about her in verses 21-23:
I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.
Jesus “gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” Jesus is patient, and he gives sinners time to repent, far more time than any of us deserve. But she, like many, refuses to repent of her sexual immorality, of her sin and rebellion against God. What will be her outcome?
Jesus says he will throw her onto a sickbed. There may be some irony here; her bed of seduction and immorality will become a sentence of judgment and wrath.
Hebrews 13:4 makes this clear:
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
And what of those “who commit adultery with her?” Jesus says he “will throw [them] into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.”
Her works, Jezebel’s works, have become their works. Their lives have become characterized by her teaching and her actions. She refuses to repent and change her ways, but those she has seduced still have an opportunity to repent and seek forgiveness. If not, Jesus will throw them into great tribulation. We may not know what that tribulation looks like for them specifically, but judging from the rest of the book of Revelation it won’t be good, to say the least.
Jesus mentions another group of people: “and I will strike her children dead.” Who are her children? Those who have so bought into her teaching and her seductions as their spiritual mother, that they are described as her children, as members of her family. There’s probably another parallel here with the Old Testament Jezebel in 2 Kings 10:1-11, where Jehu kills the seventy sons of Ahab. Were all of those seventy sons Jezebel’s sons as well? Perhaps not, though some undoubtedly were, and if not physically her sons, the family connection was certain.
Jesus knows the works of Jezebel, the works of those who commit adultery with her, the works of her spiritual children, and that the church in Thyatira was tolerating this great evil in their midst.
The works of all the churches
In verse 23 Jesus makes a profound and penetrating statement:
And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
He says this to all the churches; to each of the seven churches of Revelation, and to all the churches around the world in every age. Jesus is “he who searches mind and heart.”
This is not a new revelation. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says this:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
In verse 10 of Jeremiah 17 it is the LORD, Yahweh, who searches the heart and tests the mind, and in Revelation 2:23 it is Jesus who does the same thing. Yet another statement among many in Scripture that tells us that Jesus is God.
Think of the implications of this statement by Jesus. He knows completely and exhaustively every single thought in the mind of every single person who has ever lived. He knows every single desire and inclination in the heart of every single person who has ever lived, and whether those thoughts and desires are for good or for evil, in the Spirit or in the flesh, of the old man or of the new.
This has to be one of the most humbling and motivating truths towards holiness, towards living a life of obedience that there is in the Bible.
But there’s more! Jesus says he “will give to each of you according to your works.” The Bible emphasizes this truth throughout the Old Testament, into the Gospels, and on into the Epistles and Revelation. We are not going to be judged and held accountable for what we believe, for our doctrine, but for our thoughts, desires, words, and actions, summed up here by Jesus as “according to your works.”
Does it matter what we believe? Absolutely. Should we be striving to learn and discern as accurately as we can what Scripture teaches? Definitely. But does it end there? Absolutely not.
What we believe is evident in how we live our lives, and how we live our lives is what we will answer to God for, to Jesus for. He says exactly that right here, in verse 23.
If you remember only one thing from this message, if you remember only one thing from this passage, remember this: Jesus searches and knows your mind and your heart, and he will give to you in the end according to how you live your life.
The works of Jesus
Jesus goes on to say in verses 24-25:
But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.
He implied in verse 20 that their tolerance of the error, sin, and evil that was in their midst needed to end. That they must reclaim the truth of the gospel and hold that along with their love and faith.
He encourages them here in verses 24-25 to “only hold fast what you have until I come.” Revelation is about Jesus Christ, given to him by God the Father to show his servants, Christians, what must soon take place, and the message of Revelation is summed up here in verse 25: “Only hold fast what you have until I come.” Hold fast, persevere, endure to the end.
In verse 26 Jesus says it another way:
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end
Conquering in these seven letters is persevering, enduring, and holding fast until the end. And in this letter Jesus adds one additional stipulation: “keep my works until the end.”
Keep my works. Do what I do. Live how I live. Speak how I speak. Think my thoughts after me. Keep my works.
In one sense, this is impossible. But in another, as we learned in Ephesians, we as Christians are in union with Christ, we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We can keep Jesus’ works, we can live the Christian life, we can walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh because of the indisputable truth of our spiritual union with Jesus Christ, and the power of God working in our lives to make that a reality. This command to keep Jesus’ works, all the commands of the New Testament, the New Covenant, are possible because of the gospel, because we have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ, because we have put off the old man and have put on the new man, because the Holy Spirit is living inside each and every one of us.
Jesus’ promise to the one conquers and keeps his works until the end
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
It is here also that I want to draw your attention back to Jesus’ opening statement in this letter, in verse 18:
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Do you remember that I said a few weeks ago that the key to understanding the book of Revelation is not current events, but rather the Old Testament?
In verses 26-27 Jesus quotes, loosely from Psalm 2:8-9, and he reapplies those verses to believers, to you and me, to the one who conquers and who keeps his works until the end.
Psalm 2 is a key Messianic psalm quoted by the Jerusalem church in their prayer recorded in Acts 4, by Paul in a sermon recorded in Acts 13, and by the author of Hebrews in both Hebrews 1 and 5.
It’s a psalm that describes the rebellion of people against God that began in the garden in Genesis 3 and continues today. It’s a psalm that was partially fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And, according to Jesus in this letter to the church in Thyatira, it’s a psalm that will be fulfilled in the eschaton, in the last days, or perhaps better yet, after the last days and on into the eternal future.
Turn with me to Psalm 2. In verses 1-3 the Psalmist, David, writes:
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
These verses describe the sinful rebellion that has been the state of humanity since Adam and Eve rebelled against God and plunged the human race into sin, what we call the Fall. And this rebellion continues now, and will continue until Jesus returns and time as we know it is brought to an end.
The nations, all of them, are raging against God, the LORD, and against his Anointed, who we know at this point in history is Jesus Christ. The peoples are plotting against God, but in vain. The kings of the earth and the rulers are against the LORD, not for him. Verse 3 sums up their words and actions: “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
But these verses were also specifically fulfilled when Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried, wrongfully convicted, sentenced to death, nailed to a cross, died, and was buried. We know this from Acts 4:27-28, where, in their prayer addressed to the Sovereign Lord, after the church quoted verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 2, they said:
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
They identified Jesus as the LORD’s Anointed, Herod as one of “the kings of the earth,” Pontius Pilate as one of “the rulers,” the Gentiles as “the nations” who rage, and the peoples of Israel as “the peoples” who plot in vain.
And in verse 28 we learn that all of this raging and plotting, this greatest of crimes against the LORD and against Jesus, his Anointed, was planned and predestined by God. The death of God in the person of Jesus had to take place not only because God determined and said that it would, but also because without Jesus’ sacrifice, no human being would have any hope at all of salvation and reconciliation with God.
In verses 4-6 of Psalm 2 we see God’s response to the futile actions of the nations, peoples, kings, and rulers.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
Verse 4 is an example of Hebrew poetic parallelism, where the second line helps us better understand the first line. God is not worried, he is not fretting that the kings and the nations will effectively overturn his rule over them. Instead, he is laughing. And what sort of laughter is this? It’s a laughter of derision, the laughter of an omnipotent, all-powerful and sovereign God who knows that his creatures, who he created, can do nothing beyond what he allows them to do.
And then his wrath and his fury will be unleashed, and he will tell them of his King, the true King, the one who is King over all earthly kings and Lord over all earthly lords.
We see some of that confidence and wrath evident in Jesus’ description of himself in verse 18 of Revelation 2 as he describes himself to the church in Thyatira. He has “eyes like a flame of fire,” eyes that see everything and burn with a righteous, holy flame, consuming all that is sinful. And he has “feet like burnished bronze,” feet that are invincible, strong, and powerful, that can crush his enemies and nothing can withstand.
In Psalm 2:7 Jesus, the LORD’s Anointed, joins the dialog and says:
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
In Revelation 2:18 Jesus identified himself first of all as “the Son of God.” Here in Psalm 2:7 Jesus tells that the LORD, God the Father, has decreed and said to Jesus that Jesus is his Son. The writer of Hebrews quotes this verse several times in making his case that Jesus is divine, that he is God, that he is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and that he is eternal, with no beginning and no end.
But if the Son of God is eternal, why does God the Father say in Psalm 2:7 “today I have begotten you?” Does this mean that Jesus had a beginning somewhere in time? We know from Hebrews and many other places in Scripture that Jesus is eternal. In the incarnation, when the Son of God became human in the person and man of Jesus of Nazareth, he was still fully God. He is both fully God and fully man.
There are cults such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim that Jesus is not fully God, that he had a beginning, and this is a critical distinction between false and true Christianity. Who is Jesus? Is he God?
This is where the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture really helps us out. In Acts 13 Paul is preaching in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, and in verses 30-37 Paul is defending the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Right in the middle of that defense, in verses 32-33 Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 as proof that God raised Jesus from the dead.
And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
“‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you.’”
This is one of those things that once you see it, I don’t think you can unsee it.
Paul has just said that God promised to the fathers, to ancient Israel through the words of David, the psalmist, that he would raise his Son, Jesus, from the dead, and Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 as the proof of that. The “today” in Psalm 2:7 is the day, a Sunday, the first day of the week, when God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. And on that day, God the Father begat, he has “begotten” his Son, which Paul says here is equated with raising Jesus from the dead.
God, the LORD, goes on speaking to his Son in Psalm 2:8-9:
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Jesus says in Revelation 2:26-27 that this is also true of those who conquer and keep his works until the end. All believers, all Christians, will have authority over the nations and “will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces.” I don’t know what that will look like, but knowing God and his promises and his plans, it must be a good thing.
Psalm 2 finishes with these words of warning and promise in verses 10-12:
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Jesus searches the mind and heart of every man, woman, and child, and knows all their works. This should and must motivate them and us to serve him with fear and rejoice with trembling, to keep his works until the end.
Psalm 2 ends with what to us may be a strange statement. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.” What does that mean? The story of Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel, and Baal help us here, I think. In 1 Kings 19 God is reassuring a depressed and despairing tough guy prophet named Elijah that all is not lost, that he should not give up hope, and in verse 18 God says this:
Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
To kiss the false god Baal in 1 Kings 19:18 is to be an idol worshiper. To kiss the true Son of God then in Psalm 2 is, as I see it, to worship, to serve, to acknowledge that Jesus is the true Son of God, the LORD’s Anointed, and to take refuge in him, and only in him.
The morning star
Jesus makes one more promise to the faithful in the church in Thyatira, and to us, and we’ll end with this promise. To the one who conquers, who perseveres in this life, whether it is difficult or not so difficult, whether it is short or long in years, to the one who keeps Jesus’ works until the end, Jesus will give that person, each of those persons, the morning star.
We could debate and discuss what he means by “the morning star,” but in Revelation 22:16 Jesus says this:
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
Jesus is the morning star. Yes, it is true that we have him now, in a spiritual sense, because of our union with him in salvation. But there is coming a day when the veil will be lifted and we will see him as he truly is.
Jesus himself is the morning star that he will give to the one who conquers. Jesus will give himself to us. There is no greater reward, there is no greater promise than this. This is the greatest incentive you could have to live a life of love, faith, and service to the one who searches mind and heart, and gives to each of you according to your works.