Like most of the seven types of churches Thyatira believes she, and she alone, comprises the mystical Bride of Christ. She sees herself as preeminent among human spiritual beings. She boasts of her “passion” for Christ, that she is a “forerunner” of Christ’s second coming and a particular “friend of the bridegroom,” a personal friend of Jesus. Her members tend to become spiritually arrogant because they believe that they alone walk in the profundity of God’s spiritual gifts and power. They also believe they work and live under a prophetic anointing which gives them a unique vision and understanding of the future. They do not realize they walk in Satan’s power rather than God’s.
Over 2500 years ago the prophet Ezekiel spoke about this apostate church. He wrote,
1Again the word of the LORD came to me: 2(A) ”Son of man,(B) make known to Jerusalem her abominations, 3and say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an(C) Amorite and your mother a(D) Hittite. 4And as for your birth,(E) on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. 5No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you,(F) but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred,(G) on the day that you were born.
6“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing(H) in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7(I) I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall(J) and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet(K)you were naked and bare.
8“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and(L) I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you(M) and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD,(N) and you became mine. 9Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and(O) anointed you with oil. 10(P) I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.[a] 11(Q) And I adorned you with ornaments and(R) put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.13Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth.(S) You ate fine flour and honey and oil.(T) You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14And(U) your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord GOD.
15(D) ”But you trusted in your beauty(E) and played the whore[a] because of your renown(F) and lavished your whorings[b] on any passerby; your beauty[c] became his. 16You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be.[d]17You also took(G) your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and(H) made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. 18And you took your embroidered garments to cover them,(I) and set my oil and my incense before them. 19(J) Also my bread that I gave you—(K) I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for(L) a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord GOD. 20(M) And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and(N) these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter 21that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? 22And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember(O) the days of your youth,(P) when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.
23“And after all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! declares the Lord GOD),24you built yourself(Q) a vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square. 25At the head of every street(R) you built your lofty place and made(S)your beauty an abomination,(T) offering yourself[e] to any passerby and multiplying your whoring. (Ezekiel 16:1-25)
In order to even begin to understand this passage one must know that the word “Jerusalem” here looks forward to the prophetic “New Jerusalem.” God uses New Jerusalem to picture to his Bride at the end of the Book of Revelation. The Christian calling culminates here. To understand God’s purposes for New Jerusalem please read the series “A Perfect Jewel.”
Ezekiel begins this passage by reminding us that God began his church with great persecution. She was covered with blood and no one would help her. But God declared “life” to her and in verse 8 he becomes betrothed to her, just as Boaz became betrothed to Ruth. Here, then, we see she who might ultimately become the Bride of Christ.
Next God bathed her with water, that is, he washed her with his word of truth. This prophesies the ministry of Christ with his church that we see in Ephesians 5:25-32. He clothed her in precious jewels and gold and silver. He fed her with “fine flour and honey and oil.” This illustrates her spiritual covering and spiritual food (truth). God intended that she eat only from his table, but she quickly went astray and began to eat from the table of demons. She trusted in her own beauty instead of God’s word of truth and she “played the whore” with a thousand counterfeits of that truth.
In verse 17 Ezekiel indicts the church for playing the whore with “images of men.” This speaks of idolatry and the spiritual adultery that always comes with it. In verses 18 and 19 she sets God’s “oil,” “incense,” and “bread” before these idols. Thus Ezekiel prophesied that God’s church would one day sacrifice food to its idols. But she does not stop even here. Next Ezekiel warned that she would actually slaughter and sacrifice her own children. This we see today in both natural and spiritual abortion. Christian parents buy abortions for their wayward sons and daughters (which they failed to raise in the fear and admonition of the LORD) and the entire Church of Thyatira sacrifices the spiritual manchild to her many idols. Jesus himself foretold this,
22Behold, 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, 23and I will strike her children dead. (Rev. 2:22-23a)
The Church of Thyatira today walks in all this wickedness foreseen by Ezekiel. She exercises no discernment with respect to the things of God. “All are welcome” in her high-ceilinged temples found on every street corner and public square. It doesn’t matter that those who enter praise not the name of Christ nor walk in his statutes, for neither does she or her leaders. She is faithless, brazen, reprobate. And God says that he will now judge her.