Thursday, 24 September 2020
I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23
Jesus, still referring to the wicked woman Jezebel, continues with the promised punishments resulting from her actions. In this, He beings with, “I will kill her children with death.” The words of this first clause are emphatic, with the stress on “children.” Further, the word en, or in, is used. It says, “And the children of her I will kill in death.” The same phrase en thanatō, or “in death” is also used in verse 6:8. The word “children” here does not mean literal children, as will be explained below. It is the unrepentant offshoot (child) of a corrupt teacher who would be subject to judgment as well.
Placing the children in the emphatic position sets these people off as a different category than those referred to in the previous verse. There, it said, “and those who commit adultery with her.” The Lord said that He would punish them “unless they repent.” However, no such grant of grace is extended to “her children.”
What this is probably conveying then is a reference to those who have been “begotten” by her into her wicked ways. They haven’t simply committed sin with her, but they are converts to her ways. This is seen, for example, in the words of Paul to the Corinthians –
“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4: 14-16
Paul makes a similar statement in Philemon -10. Because they have taken on her perverse nature, they have never been converted to Christ. Thus, without ever having the gift of salvation, they will be killed “in death.” The meaning of this is debated, but because the word “kill” is used both here and in Revelation 6:8, it is probably speaking of a form of death, as most translations render it in 6:8, such as “plague,” “pestilence,” or something similar.
In other words, verse 6:8 says, “And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” One might get hit by a sword and live. One might be hungry, almost to starvation, and live. On might get attacked by a beast and live. However, the plague of “death” results in certain death. Once it attacks, the state of death is assured. Thus, to state, “I will kill her children with death,” is a way of showing the surety of what will occur. There is no hope of pulling through whatever affliction they face.
In this, Jesus says, “and all the churches shall know.” What will occur will be so obvious, so purposeful, and so complete in its scope, that what occurs will not be limited to just one church. Rather, all of the churches will hear of it and know that it came about because of judgment. The children of Jezebel – those begotten of her and her wicked ways – will be an example to all. In this, they will understand when Jesus says, “that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.”
The phrase, as spoken by Jesus, is a clear and unambiguous claim that He is the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament Scriptures. Time and again, searching the heart and/or mind of others is something that exclusively belongs to the Lord. For example –
“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10
This reference in Jeremiah is the exact claim of Jesus in Revelation. He 1) searches out the hearts and the minds, 2) rewards according to the ways that He has sought out. In the New Testament, this same action is also attributed to the Spirit of God. As Paul says –
“Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27
One can see the harmony of the doctrine of the Trinity when these verses are properly considered. Each member of the Godhead performs the actions appropriate to the situation and the circumstance of the events, and all of them are in harmony with the actions of the other two members. As Jesus next says, “And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
Here, Jesus shows that His actions against Jezebel’s “children” extend to all in the church who are involved with her. Whatever a person does, good or bad – the actions, intents, and fruits – will all be evaluated and rewarded accordingly. We can be confident of this because of the example seen here. God is no respecter of persons. What He decides will be completely impartial, completely fair, and all matters will be brought to their proper end by Him. Jesus is the One to determine these things.
Life application: Far too often, people make the mistake of speaking of God’s love while ignoring His judgment. Jezebel and “her children” would not be the recipients of His love.
It can be inferred that if Jesus cast her on a sickbed of suffering, the chances are that whatever communicable disease she got spread through her followers as well. But this is probably speaking of more than just physical death for these “children.”
In saying that they are her children, it indicates that they never received the truth of the gospel. Therefore, they would not just die a certain death, but they would also die the second death in the Lake of Fire. Such is the nature of appropriate divine judgment, and such is the nature of God’s wrath on sin for those who are never begotten of God through Christ.
Despite the terrifying nature of the words of the Lord here, we must remember that Jesus is a fair judge. What He determines will never be biased or vindictive. Rather, it will be perfectly just for all people. Believers have the full assurance of eternal salvation and rewards based on their faithful service. How much better is this than the prospect of eternal separation from God! Live for Jesus and bask in His grace.
Lord God, please change the hearts of those who are sinning, strengthen the hearts of those who are struggling, and continue to bless the hearts of those who are standing strong and faithfully in You. For those who have never come to You through Christ Jesus, move in a great way in this world so that they will want to have what is so wonderfully offered by You. May they see and call out for salvation through His precious shed blood. May it be so, in His wonderful name! Amen.