Grace and Peace
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11)
“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 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” (Rev. 2:21–23).
Jezebel was a false prophetess who made room for sexual license among her disciples, a doctrine that is too often an easy sell. She was a professing Christian and was part of the church there in Thyatira. The Lord’s judgments are not always immediate. In this case, He had given her a warning, and time to repent of her fornication. But she did not take advantage of the opportunity, and refused to repent.
Sexual immorality is not just a sin for which there will be judgment later. It is a sin which is in itself a judgment. The sin incurs a judgment, and the sin is a judgment. In Romans 1, it is the wrath of God that gives men up to unrighteous desires. “The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: He that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein” (Prov. 22:14). We find something similar here. Those who commit adultery with Jezebel will together with her be pitched into “great tribulation”—unless of course they repent. They will suffer greatly, and Jezebel’s children will die. But note that all these consequences for the adultery (which are judgments) are the result of what happened in the bed of adultery—and it was the Lord who cast her into that bed.
The Lord is the one who judges the heart, as we would put it. In the Authorized Version it says that God searches “the reins and hearts.” This is a reflection of the Greek original. Reins refers to the kidneys—which, according to the ancient Hebrew metaphor, referred to the innermost part of a man. God sees all our actions, all the way to the bottom layer, and He is the one who judges us according to our works.