Imagine you are walking down the streets of the village of Thyatira (a small town in the province of Asia inside the Roman Empire) during the first century. While you are walking, you hear of someone talking about the “son of god.” Who do you imagine they are talking about?
For a 21st century American, we most likely would assume that they would be talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. However, there is a decent chance, that the conversation about the “son of god” in Thyatira would have been referring to Augustus Caesar (or one of the other Caesars)! Starting with Julius Caesar, the Romans believed their human leaders were gods, so the kids of these Roman leaders were sons of the divine — and all these leaders were considered worthy of worship. Large temples were built in their honor, and all people were required to make sacrifices to them … or face the consequences.
This was the situation on the STREETS of Thyatira. But what about conversations inside the CHURCH in Thyatira? What was happening there?
In the church in Thyatira, there was a woman who called herself a prophetess. By prophetess, I mean that she was claiming to speak for God. The story she was telling was a similar one to the things that the Nicolaitans were preaching down the road in Pergamum and over in Ephesus — basically, worship the Roman sons of gods on Monday-Saturday at the pagan altars, then worship the true Son of God on Sunday in church. That way you avoid Roman consequences while still reaping eternal rewards. AND … by assuming the role of prophetess … this woman was claiming that her message of compromise was baptized by God Himself.
So, to the Christians in Thyatira, the question remained … which Son would they orbit around?
Would they rotate around the sons of god (like Augustus)? Would they rotate around the compromising prophetess who claimed to speak for the Son? OR … would they hold fast to Jesus?
Now, before we look further to see how THEY responded, I want to ask each of us a question as well. Around what does our life revolve? What holds the most gravity in our lives?
- the world
- a personality in a church who claims to speak for God while promoting compromise
- or … Jesus Himself?
This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be in part 6 of the “Lord of the Church” series as we look at Revelation 2:18-29 and see the longest of the 7 letters Jesus wrote to the churches of Asia … the letter He wrote to the church in Thyatira. This letter will remind us that Jesus truly is the Son at the center of our system. Make plans to join us at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 … or online in the stream. See you there – and bring friends!