“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18 NIV)
In the time of the prophet Elijah, not all of Israel were Israelites by faith. Among those living under the reigning Ahab and Jezebel, there remained a corps of Yahovah believers. They had not bowed to Baal idols neither had their lips kissed him. One might say they were the true Israel within Israel. In those times, if one was searching for what an Israelite was supposed to be, the greatest opportunity for finding one would be within Israel.
The same goes for a Christian. Though not guaranteed, the best place to look for a genuine Christ follower is within a church.
The Son of God’s blazing eyes of fire fell upon the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). (They also gaze upon Christ’s church today.) Thyatira’s works were commendable. The Lord recognized their good deeds, but all was not well. Jesus had something against them; the church gave Jezebel (a woman who called herself a prophet) a place of prominence.
Just as Queen Jezebel led Israel into idolatry, her evil likeness was at it again in Thyatira. Her history of persuading God’s servants to engage in sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols had resurfaced. Jezebel’s ways were beyond repentance.
When the Lord’s grace period expired, Jezebel’s followers would join her on her bed of intense suffering. Her children would be stricken dead (2:21-23).
It is not ours but the Lord’s to avenge. He separates the wheat from the chaff. Not all in the church (the wheat) are the church (the kernel).
“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you); Only hold on to what you have until I come.” (2:24-25)
Elijah thought he alone remained faithful (1 Kings 19:14). When believers swim against the tide of a godless culture, it is difficult to spot others who are also struggling.It may seem as if there is no one righteous, not even one; or there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. It may seem that all have turned away, they have together become worthless or that there is no one who does good, not even one (cf. Romans 3:10-12). Yet God has preserved a remnant in Israel who have not kissed the Baals.
Is the Lord finished with a church that tolerates Jezebel or holds to Balaam’s teaching (Rev. 2:14)? Is the Lord finished with America or North Korea or the Muslim world? While grace is extended, within these spheres a righteous remnant exists. Despite their difficulties, like Antipas (Greek = against all), they will remain true to Jesus’ name (2:13).
We do not have to renounce our faith even if we reside where Satan has his throne. We do not have to yield to wickedness or fear persecution–as many in the church will do (Matthew 24:9-13). Eventually the cream rises to the top. So there is a Church within a church. With time and hardship, it will all be revealed.