THE three first addresses end with promise. The four last with exhortations. This is doubtless significant. The three first churches have the cheering word last, and the four last have the cheering word first, and the warning afterwards. In verse 18, we have the Lord coming to Thyatira as the Son of God, who had "His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like unto fine brass." The glory of the Lord is the prominent feature in the character in which He comes to them. The range is peculiarly large in this address, beginning with the Son of God, and ending with His rule over the nations (Rev. 2: 27) -- the range of His government.
The hope of the Church is Christ as the "Morning Star." It is quite different to be looking to see the Morning Star, and to possess Him. The overcomer will share all with Him, and more than that, he will possess the Morning Star Himself. The character in which Christ comes to the church of Pergamos, and that to this church, is connected. The sharp sword is sometimes the "eyes of the Lord," and when separated there is something to be remarked. The sword is never in heaven, but the eyes of the Lord are.
The sword, as in Heb. 4, implies something that needs putting away when He comes down from heaven to earth. It is the High-Priest's work for our blessing. The "eyes of fire" have to do with the person of the Lord, and relate to intelligence belonging to Himself alone. The bride who shares His glory will be able to look round on all the heavenly and all the earthly glory, but not to understand it all. Although she is with Christ, He has something more than she has. Though there will be communion, there is in Him the enjoyment of something entirely beyond her. "Feet like unto fine brass;" the feet are more connected with service than the eyes -- "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace," which signifies that if the heart is full of peace, the walk of such a person is marked by it. "Fine brass." The brass of those days was peculiarly fresh, and bright as gold, and adapted for all kinds of uses, and signifies here a readiness for all sorts of work. People often limit Christ's service to His humiliation, but this is not true. He is serving us now, and He will hold the servants of God in the glory. He not only loosed the bands of things down here, and can say to God, "Satan put Me to death, but I have risen up over him," but He will shortly be able to say, "I have destroyed the usurper." He will take the earth into His dominion, for He has bought the globe. He has done the work of Servant in the past; He is serving us now, and He will serve in the glory. If He is in service as the High Priest, it is as anointed with oil and sprinkled with blood, ready for all service here, and He does it all in the glory of His own Person as Son of God.
If Christ planted a Church, and cared for God's glory, He must come and seek for fruit from it; and if He cared for man, He must desire them to produce fruit. Therefore He comes to see their state. People often get the thought of not liking to be judged; but it is a wrong thought. If I were a father, I should not like my child to think that I did not care about his love, or was indifferent to his little offerings. There was nothing like the joy Christ had in serving. His delight was to do the will of His Father, and He would have us know it too.
"I know thy works, and charity," etc. Some future time we may dwell on that word "charity," which is very peculiar. It is that salt by which goodness can flow out in spite of evil. How little our hearts are exercised by the nice discernment of the Lord, which is so distinctive here in connection with the churches! Each word has a meaning, and how He reckons up what He can find in them!
Rev. 2: 20. The evil here is Jezebel in contrast with that in the last Church -- "Balaam." In reading any history of the Church, such as Mosheim, two things strike one. First, we find persons who have no right to touch the things of God, but have done it; and second, there are those who had power, and sold it for a price, as Balaam did. It cuts an immense knot when we see this. Constantine got into the place of power on earth, and usurped power in the Church. This brought in Jezebel evil. The other is also constantly the case -- persons who profess to own the Holy Ghost, and going about from place to place using their power to get a place, and lowering the truths they profess to hold. A doctor of divinity pays a price to take his place. This opens the door to all kinds of worldliness. Archbishop Leighton's heart was free from the world, and it was quite against his will to take a place in the Church; and therefore when he got into it he could preach against the world, and in the end he died at an inn. But the usual effect of taking a place in the world in connection with God's truth is "fornication," which with us is not worshipping stocks and stones, as with the Corinthians, but tampering with the world. It is a breach of the position in which we are set, if we patronize the world while professing delight in the things of the Father and the Son; and it becomes adultery.
Rev. 2: 21: "I gave her space to repent." This seems strange to us; but so precious to Christ was the light in which Jezebel was set, that He gave her space to repent. "I will cast her into a bed." (v. 22.) This means laying aside -- bedridden. It is important to notice that there are children who propagated what was false before God. To herself He says, "Repent," but of the children, "I will kill them with death;" and to the Church He says, "I have something against you for permitting, this evil." This searching the heart is very solemn. If a man is doing evil he will not come to the light; if he is doing good he comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3) But having come there is another thing. We have God's searchings then. Has it ever been a comfort to you that Christ searches the heart and reins? that there is not a single thing but what God sees? "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I, the Lord," etc. The reins are the seat of intelligence, and there is not one single thing that is hidden from His eyes. If I have been looking into my heart, I have found it utterly inexplicable to myself. True, I ought not to have looked for it; for I should have known that it is inexplicable. But whatever comes out, it is the greatest comfort to know that He knew what was inside before. What comes out must have been inside first. You cannot bear God's searchings until you know that He is love; and you cannot bear them till you know the eternity of His love, the completeness of His love. Though He knows all that is in me, He gives me to be the object of His service, and He gives me glory. Christ knows not only what I am, but what He was here. Can you be satisfied to be nothing? Is your heart never set on fire (because not in Christ's presence) when another is unkind to you? What He was down here was the "despised and rejected" One. No works done to Him pass without His notice. There are works ordained before the foundation of the world that we should walk in them every day, and the energy to sustain us in them is faith. If in the simplicity of my soul I look up to God and say, "What wilt thou have me to do?" I find He says, "Pure religion and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their. affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world;" and for this there is both present and future reward.
Christ will take knowledge of all. "Hold fast till I come." (Rev. 2: 25.) I should like to speak a little on the three things connected with the encouragement to this Church. Power over the nations," etc., is promised to the overcomers. The overcoming, as we have seen before, is believing that Jesus is the Christ.* There may, in a certain sense, be victory, having faith in Christ for life without the works being kept, but it is very sad when it is so only. See the contrast between Abraham and Lot. Abraham had the opportunity to return to the country whence he came out, but he would not return. But Lot chose the well-watered plain, clinging to a bit of straw. There is such a thing as works being burnt with fire. God would have us laden with fruit, and so stand before Him. Christ has for His reward "power over the nations," to "rule them with a rod of iron." He gives us both, but something more. When Christ wishes to show His love He makes me something to God; when God wishes to show His love He makes me something to Christ.
*The reader will note this interpretation throughout; but overcoming in the sphere of the Church would seem to be rather separation from the evil indicated. -- ED.
"Even as I have received of my Father." What He has from the Father He shares with us. Is He a King and a Priest? He has made us kings and priests. Here He takes up the two spheres over which He will reign. Consider this in connection with men's thoughts about an earthly reign. Men say, "We do not want an earthly reign." Men may have their carnal thoughts about it, but it is true that what the Father has given to Christ you will have, whether as now rejected by the world, or coming again in power and glory. Christ says, "Even as I have received of my Father." That was the precious thing to Him -- receiving of the Father. Judgment and rule are part of that. The stone will fall upon the nations and break them to pieces; but those who are upon the Stone are not broken. If Lot could have realized a fortnight before that the brimstone and fire were coming down from heaven, he would not have felt about Sodom as he did. If we have right thoughts about the judgment that is coming on the world shortly, we shall not wish to be mixed up with it. It is an old saying of Rutherford's, "The rooks will not rest when a forest is doomed" -- they quit the trees; so the people of God, when they see the world is going to be burnt up, will get out of it as quickly as they can.
In this promise of power there is real gospel; it was joy to Adam and Eve in Eden that God should raise up a power against the evil. The power of God coming in through redemption is the real gospel, and rejoices the heart. Our association with the power has this joy in it, that it is power to overthrow only that which is evil. I cannot desire Satan's power. It is really a good thing that God should say, "I will not let Satan have his own way, and I will come and sweep away everything that is hostile to Me." You take care you do not go down with that. Christ is calling on us to do now what He has to do hereafter. Keep clear of all the evil. The next thing is association with Himself, and we would desire association with Him in everything. Lastly, He will sweep out all that is against Him, and cause evil to make way for the good; this is not only the destruction of evil.
"I will give him the morning star." I do not agree with some in thinking this means the position of Christ as He is now. It is not characteristic of the glory of Christ as now sitting on the Father's throne, but as leaving it, and entering the Father's house. Directly He leaves the Father's throne the language of the Bride will be, "I must go up to meet Him," and immediately we rise up with Him. The "morning star" is that which precedes the day. Looking for and possessing the "morning star" are different, just as our feeding now on Christ as the manna, and eating of the hidden manna, are two different things. You ought to be able to respond to His joy when He says, "Rise up and come away." Now the time is come for the answer of all those expectations you have had all those years, while people have been saying, "Oh, no! He will not come yet." Christ has a joy in prospect, and He says, "I will let you into my joy of coming to take you., I will give him the morning star." It is one thing to say, "Christ is rising up from the Father's throne," and another to say, "I know His joy in rising up. The wilderness is all passed, and I shall now rise to His Father's house."
This solemn word, "He that hath an ear," is addressed to individuals in the presence of that which is just about to be spued out of Christ's mouth. Its solemnity is enhanced on that account, whilst it is the challenge of love to the hearts of the faithful ones.