The punishment for sin (Revelation 2:22-23)
In our previous post, we saw that Christ was patient and merciful with Jezebel and her followers. But because Christ is also just, He also punishes sin that remains unrepented of. Consider what Jesus says in these verses:
Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:22-23)
Jesus was going to throw Jezebel onto a sickbed. This has some irony because her sin involved sexual immorality. So, she would be taken from her bed of adultery to a bed of sickness. What this means exactly is not known to us, but He was likely going to afflict her with sickness or disease.
The punishment wasn't going to be limited to her. Jesus would throw those who committed adultery with her into great tribulation. That's probably not referring to the great tribulation that'll be mentioned later in this book, but rather some sort of temporal suffering as punishment for their adulterous and idolatrous sins.
Again, Christ shows His longsuffering in saying, "unless they repent of her works." Even now, the door was not closed to repentance and restoration.
But if they would not repent, Jesus would strike her children dead. This is probably not talking about descendants, but rather her spiritual children, her followers. John and Paul, at some points, refer to their disciples as their children, and similarly, those who followed Jezebel were her children.
The result of Christ's judgment on them was that all the churches would know that He is the One who searches mind and heart. Christ not only sees our actions; He knows our thoughts, our emotions, and our motivations. And knowing those things, He gives to each person according to their works.
Now, this is not talking about works righteousness or works salvation. The only way someone is made right with God is by faith in Jesus Christ and receiving His righteousness. With that said, all those who are outside of Christ will receive their due. They will be punished according to their works, thoughts, attitudes, motives, etc. And furthermore, Christ's people will be disciplined for their disobedience. But that discipline is not out of vengeance, but instead out of love. God loves His people too much to leave them to their sin. Thus, God searches us and disciplines us as He sees fit because He loves us.
Reader, understand that if you are not one of Christ's, you will face Him for judgment in the end, and none of your sinful thoughts or deeds will go unpunished. But that day of judgment is not yet. This Judge is also the Savior, and He died on the cross for sinners like us. If you trust in Him, all of your sins will be forgiven.
And if you are a Christian, be motivated by the reality that Jesus searches your mind and heart. He not only knows what you do, but He knows what you think and feel. And His aim is to see you blameless and clean, which may involve discipline. Rather than face His discipline, follow His lead, and, by His Spirit, walk with Him in holiness and faithfulness rather than immorality and adultery.