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Chapter 2 - Thyatira
Our fourth lesson is the fourth letter to the fourth church, which is the church of Thyatira, and we shall deal with these sections of that letter.
“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. 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. 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.”
And then, the letter ends with these words,
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my father. And I will give him the morning star.”
The church of Thyatira. We look up the word in our metaphysical Bible dictionary and we learn that the word Thyatira means “Rushing headlong, burning incense.” Metaphysically, this church stands for that center in our consciousness which exercises what we call zeal and enthusiasm. The great benefit which this church bestows on our overall development is that it enables us to be interested in and stimulated by all the factors of our being and our life in general. Without it, that is without what this church stands for in us, we would be entirely passive, subjective, and mechanical, but with it, we are able to be motivated and activated, and more than that, we are able to feel interested and enthusiastic about so many things, and especially about just life itself.
As in all the others letters, the Christ mind, who is dictating these letters, gives some words of praise to that zealous center of consciousness in us, church of Thyatira, when it says, “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.” Now, in these symbolic words, we find the praise exactly fitted to that which the zeal center in us accomplishes for our spiritual unfoldment, which is progress.
Notice the artful wording of this praise. The first thing mentioned is works. Then, some other good points are listed. Then, the last thing, mentioned again, is works, and the last to be more than the first. In other words, progressively greater works. This is progress, and it is the zeal center in us which is most directly involved in causing us to progress. The church of Thyatira. If this center of our consciousness were not active, our life would become a treadmill of tediousness, and our spiritual unfoldment would simply level off and then cease to have any importance for us.
And this would be deplorable, in fact unthinkable, but such is not the case. We are zealous. We are interested. We are enthusiastic, because our church of Thyatira has become activated. But, again, as is the case in all seven of these churches, all is not perfect as yet. In the church of Thyatira, we are told in our letter there is a dangerous presence. The same danger lurks in the zeal centers of every person’s human nature, which in our letter is called the presence of Jezebel.
In the text, the Christ mind dictates this criticism thus, “But I have this against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols.” Now, here you may notice we have almost the same warning as that given to the church of Pergamos, only this time, instead of Satan, who stands for wrong thinking being the danger, we have here his female Biblical counterpart symbol, Jezebel, who stands for wrong emotions. But, both Satan, wrong thinking, and Jezebel, negative emotions, both inspire the same bad results for us.
Now, when we look up the word Jezebel, which is a Hebrew word, we find that it means, among other things, licentious, adulterous, uncontrolled. Metaphysically, this all simply means negative emotions. Negative emotions can be very hard to control, but unless they are controlled, they can do us great, great damage, just as the character, Jezebel, in the Bible narrative, did great harm when she was given uncontrolled leeway in her violent outbursts, which we read about.
And the symbolism of this character, Jezebel, is most interesting. She is described as a seductive and extremely dangerous woman. Now, metaphysically, this is also true about what she symbolizes, negative emotions. There is a peculiar sort of seductiveness about our negative emotions, and we can observe that very few persons can successfully resist their allure. The temptations of negative emotions are very strong and alluring to many of us, but what a painfully high price we must pay for any connection we make with them.
Why is there something so strangely and dangerously attractive to us about our own negative emotions, our Jezebel nature? It’s hard to say. Possibly, one reason might be because negative emotions seem to stimulate our sense consciousness so keenly that we do get a temporary sort of artificial thrill from them, a sort of excitement, and as we know, many persons equate excitement with pleasure, even though these two things are not really the same. Negative emotions do not give pleasure, but they can give excitement. And, some persons do get a false sense of pleasure from the excitement caused by negative emotions, but such type of contact with negative emotions, the Jezebel in human nature, only leads to disappointment, exhaustion, and certain kinds of useless suffering.
The letter we are dealing with also makes mention in its criticism, of them that commit adultery with her, and these are to go into great tribulation. Now, this type of adultery talked about in this letter consists of our putting our feeling of “I am” into a negative emotion. You see, all persons feel negative emotions at various times, but no great harm is done unless one puts all his feeling of “I am” into any of them. Then, the serious mistake, called in the Bible “adultery,” is being committed.
Adultery metaphysically means putting your feeling of “I am” into anything negative, especially negative emotions. And when we do, painful tribulation becomes the offspring of such a connection. So, keep your feeling of “I am” out of any negative emotions you might have, because we learn that once we begin to practice removing our feeling of “I am” from any negative emotions we recognize, then we are on the way to perfect self-mastery and constructive self-control. And when we do this, which is a great overcoming by the way, we get a promise made to us in the letter by the Christ mind. We read, in verses 26 through 28,
“And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron as the vessel of the potter are broken to shivers, as I also have received of my father, and I will give him the morning star.”
The great meaning within this promise is that once you and I first of all believe that we at least can practice some control over our negative emotional states, all the nations, first of all by taking our feeling of “I am” out of them, then we shall rapidly gain complete constructive control over all our emotional states. That is found in these words, “I will give him power over the nations.” The nations meaning our emotional states.
Now perhaps I should illustrate this, how it can be done under average circumstances. Let us take a typical negative emotion, which comes to almost all persons. Let’s take the one called “Sadness” or “Unhappiness.” A feeling or an emotion of sadness or unhappiness comes into a person’s feeling nature. It is recognized, it is felt, and then you as an individual must decide what you will or will not do about it.
Now, the big mistake we often make is we recognize it, we feel it, and then we mechanically allow our feeling of “I am” to enter into it, making the two one. And then we say, “I am unhappy.” This is almost the same as saying, “I am unhappiness.” If we do this, we are committing adultery with Jezebel, metaphysically speaking, and greater unhappiness, greater sadness, will be the offspring of this union of “I am” with unhappiness, or sadness.
Now, we learn from this lesson that there is something we can do to either prevent this or to correct it if it has already happened, which is to take your feeling of “I am” out of the unhappy emotion. You can say, “I am not unhappiness. There is an emotion called unhappiness, and that emotion has invaded my feeling nature, but I am not that negative emotion. I am that I am. That negative emotion is a negative emotion. We are not one. It has only entered me, invaded me. I keep my feeling of ‘I am’ out of it.”
When you do this, dear friend, you have overcome adultery. You have overcome the mistake called adultery. By doing so, you are cleansed of this mistake, or sin if you want to call it that, and your feeling nature is again purified and made clean, healthy, peaceful, and full of good potential.
This is the type of positive, constructive self-control over the feeling nature which is talked about in this letter as the great overcoming. It is a beautiful feeling. It is a great accomplishment, and any person can do it, and in doing so, he perfects his church of Thyatira.
And then, there is this additional good thing added to the promise for overcoming, “And I will give him the morning star.” Now, most of us know what the morning star is, physically, but how many of us know what it is metaphysically? Physically, we know that the morning star is the herald of the dawn. Metaphysically, it symbolizes the dawning of the light of divine guidance in our consciousness. Divine guidance, the light which comes from the all-knowing mind of Christ, which tells us what to do and how to do it, which leads us, guides us, brings us right answers to the questions in our life. Divine guidance, illumination, coming to our mind from the all-knowing mind of Christ. This great blessing, resulting from the overcoming of the type of fornication we have described, is called in the promise, “The morning star.” The light of divine guidance, forever dawning in our consciousness.
Then, as we follow this divine guidance, this morning star, with the zeal and enthusiasm generated in our soul by our church of Thyatira, we find to our delight that our whole life becomes a progressive experience of interest, joy, and true inner satisfaction.