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)
I Am He
Nothing is known about the church in Thyatira, Asia Minor except John’s reference in the Revelation. Among the seven letters written by the Lord to the churches, the letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira is one of the most exacting condemnations of the sin that filled the church. The Son of God begins by describing Himself with eyes like flames of fire and feet like polished bronze. Homer Hailey writes, “The Son of God’s eyes flash with indignation as they penetrate with piercing insight into the corruptness of the prophetess’ false teaching; His feet are ready to trample and burn to ashes all who yield to her seductions.” There is a great judgment coming against the church and the Lord reminds the saints that nothing is hidden from the mind of God and all things will be laid bare in judgment. All the churches will know that He is the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. There is nothing that can be hidden from the eyes of the Creator. As a result, the Lord will give to each person whatever they deserve.
The word “minds” is also the word “reins” and literally means the kidneys. This would seem to be an odd use of the word for Jesus to use this in describing the omniscience of the Divine. Albert Barnes explains, “In the Scriptures, it is used to denote the inmost mind, the secrets of the soul; probably because the parts referred to by the word are as hidden as any other part of the frame, and would seem to be the repository of the more secret affections of the mind.” All the emotions of man, his affections, the will of man along with everything he thinks and believes are open for investigation under the microscope of God’s will. Men are limited in the knowledge of others but the Lord has full knowledge of everything. The Lord searches the mind and the heart and from this view will render judgment.
Jesus is the I AM of knowledge. As the discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart, the Lord has a clear view of every aspect of life. His message to Thyatira is to know whatever is done is known by God. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God but to no avail. God knew the hearts of men were evil in the day of Noah and destroyed the wicked. The Lord reminded Samuel the prophet and judge of Israel that when it comes to choosing a king, the Lord looks at the heart of the man; not the outward. During His ministry, Jesus knew the heart of men. As the Son of God, Jesus is the I AM to know all that transpires in the life of every human being that has ever lived, living now, and will live before He comes.
The paradox of the Day of Judgment will be that all men will be gathered together before the Lord but all men will be judged alone. Every person will stand before God and accept personal responsibility for every work including every secret thing, whether good or evil. The great I AM of knowledge will open the book of life and examine the character of each person and judge accordingly. There will no longer be a need to search the reins and hearts of men as all things will be completed, the story ended. Judgment – good or bad – will come from the knowledge of what is known from the ‘kidneys’ of man.