The Expansion of Apostasy
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.We have been looking at the four dimensions or aspects of apostasy. Three of them are mentioned in Jude 1:11 "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core."
Sermon Delivered 10/5/03
The first dimension of apostasy we looked at the Rejection of Godís Authority as illustrated in "the gainsaying of Core."
The second dimension of apostasy we studied was Rejection of Godís Grace as illustrated "the way of Cain."
The third dimension of apostasy is the Rejection of Godís Standards as illustrated by "the error of Balaam for reward."
In this message we will look at the last dimension of apostasyÖ
The rejection of Godís true Church is illustrated by Jezebel. We read this in Revelation 2:18-24 "And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden."
You will recall that Jezebel was the pagan wife of Ahab the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It is interesting to note that Jezebelís name is derived from the Hebrew lbz Ė Zebel means dung (manure). The name fits her well! She led her husband, King Ahab, and the nation into the dung pile of Baal and Astarte worship. Turn with me to 1 Kings 16:30-33 "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him."
Queen Jezebel was a big supporter of the god Baal and the goddess Astarte. We know this from reading 1 Kings 18:19 "Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table." She regularly fed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Phoenician goddess Astarte (Asherah).
Jezebel also stirred up Ahab to turn his back on the Lord and do all kinds of wickedness. We see this in 1 Kings 21:25 "But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up."
So, what is the connection between Jezebel of the Old Testament and Jezebel of Thyatira? One author says, "Jezebel of Thyatira was a false teacher in the mold and spirit of the ancient queen." Note Revelation 2:20 "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." Note the word seduce. It is a translation of the Greek word planaw planao (plan-ahí-o; 4105) which means to lead away from the truth, and to lead into error. Now, who was Jezebel of Thyatira leading into error? "My servants." You will recognize the Greek word translated servants. It is the word doulov doulos (dooí-los; 1401) which means a slave; one who gives himself up to anotherís will. The context makes it clear it is the leaders in the church that Jezebel us seducing from their purity into apostasy. Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers? 2 Corinthians 11:2-4 "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
Jezebel of Thyatira was leading church leaders and Christians into compromise, syncretism and ecumenism, consequently, apostasy. It is interesting to note that many, including this preacher, believe Jezebel of Thyatira represents the Roman Catholic Church. The old Baptist preacher John Gill writes Ė
The catastrophic departure of the Church of Rome from Apostolic Christianity began with the Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D. when church and state were united. They rejected the "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 1:3.
These things are spiritual "fornication!" They are Jezebelís teachings, doctrines from the "depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24). Thousands of once solid churches and professed Christians getting in bed and committing spiritual fornication with the Catholics. They are involved with the ecumenical movement. I remember how this came home to me several years back when I covered the award ceremony for the Templeton Prize. Charles Colson was to be awarded 1 million dollars. He was introduced by a Catholic cardinal. A Presbyterian brought greetings. Then a New Age devotee from the Templeton organization shared her comments. Next a Muslim opened in prayer, Colson spoke and a Buddhist closed in prayer, praying to his higher self. Thatís apostasy!
Friends, the ecumenical movement and
interdenominationalism is leading back to Rome. We dare not become
involved with them! The Church of England (called the Episcopal church in
the USA) is heading back to Rome. I saw it at Canterbury Cathedral.
Branches of the Lutheran Church are headed back to Rome. Many Protestant
churches are reuniting with Rome. Today, Rome, like Jezebel has "painted
her face" and is alluring many unsuspecting spiritual leaders and
Christians into spiritual fornication. Many professing Christians are
rejecting Godís true Church. Godís true Church are modeled after the New
Testament pattern. They are Bible Believing, Independent, Fundamental,
Separated, Churches, made up of born-again, baptized (by immersion)