|It is no accident
that the description of the Christ is the one with the eyes like blazing fire
- for here He penetrates behind the
disguises to the heart. (Rev 2:18-29)
|The church appears
to be a blessed church. It is full of
love and faith, showing perseverance -- all admirable qualities in any
church. Indeed, these qualities are growing. If you or I were to walk into this church,
we’d be impressed. What’s wrong? We have no records to tell us who this
woman Jezebel was specifically -- we must take the name as referring to an
influence like that of Jezebel in ancient Israel. So what was that influence?
|It’s still with
us. Jezebel (not a native Israelite)
was the wife of King Ahab, and the power behind the throne. She was the one who connived to get
Naboth’s vineyard; she was the one who
fed the prophets of Baal. She was the
one who killed the prophets of the Lord, threatening Elijah (remember the
showdown on Mt. Carmel?) and finally was killed at the hands of Jehu. She is a figure of backstage intrigue who
introduces “compromise” (“let’s be open minded about this -- it doesn’t
matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere, one religion is just as
good as another....”).
|Adultery, from the
earliest of the prophets, is taken as symbolic of idolatry. Indeed, the metaphor is the entire basis of
the book of Hosea.
interpretation is especially appealing here.
This is the time when the worship of Mary and the saints, the use of
statues (idols, to some) in the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches grows
rapidly. It is a time of great piety
-- Notre Dame de Paris was built in this age -- and great faith. Indeed, Will and Ariel Durant, in their The
Story of Civilization, entitle this volume The Age of Faith. Jezebel represents all this idolatry which
is creeping into the church.
|Note then the
admonition of the Lord: “Hold
on.” He does not impose upon the
peasant of the Middle Ages the sore duty of reading the Scriptures (which by
now have been locked up in Latin). He
says, simply, hold on. Don’t plunge in
to the “dark secrets of Satan” but hold on to the faith. Surely this is great assurance for the
Christian in the dark.
|And the reward? He gives two things:
|• He mentions that
the overcomer will have authority with Him.
This is explicitly proclaimed (see Matthew 19:28) to the Apostles and
elsewhere confirmed in Revelation. The
quotation is Psalm 2:8-9.
|• He will give him
the “Morning Star.” This might seem
perilous, for in Isaiah 14:12 Satan is so described. But at the end of Revelation (22:16) he
makes it clear: the Morning Star is
Jesus himself. We shall have him.
|This last would have
had special appeal to the saints of the middle ages. Thomas Aquinas -- practically the
definition of the Mediaeval church -- has a legend about him. After writing his Summa Theologica
God appeared to him, saying “Thou has written well of me. What would you have for your reward?” “Only thyself, Lord; only thyself.”