Summary: A series of messages from Jesus to the 7 churches in Revelation.
March 4, 2012
Church at Pergamum
Every city likes to have unique and catchy nicknames. Something powerful, positive, attractive and welcoming. Here are a few from Indiana. I admit I spent too much time on this part of the message . . . There’s ~
Churubusco - Turtle Town, U.S.A.
Clay City - Mayberry of the Midwest
Elwood - Buckle of the Gas Belt
Marion - Queen City of the Gas Belt
Evansville - Stoplight City
Lawrenceburg - Whiskey Town, U.S.A.
Logansport - City of Churches
Peru - Barbecue City
Roselawn – Naked City
Prairie City - Pittsburgh of the West
Van Buren - Popcorn Capital of the World
Warsaw - Orthopedic Capital of The World
Speed Trap City ─ Romulus, Michigan
Cow Chip Capital of the World ─ Beaver, Oklahoma
Barbecued Mutton Capital of the World ─ Owensboro, Kentucky
The City Built Inside a Meteor Crater ─ Middlesboro, Kentucky
Christmas Pickle Capital of the World ─ Berrien Springs, Michigan
Of course, we know that Alexandria is called “Small Town USA.” But you probably didn’t know the tag on local paper used to read ~ Alexandria, Indiana/Home of the Rock Wool/Not on the Nile/But just as worthwhile.
So, what does that have to do with the 7 Churches in Revelation? Jesus gave Pergamum, a nickname, and it wasn’t too flattering. He called it “The city where satan has his throne.” Now, that would look great on a travel brochure.
So, what was going on in Pergamum? It was 65 miles north of Smyrna. There was a university with a huge library of 200,000 books. It was the ancient capital of Asia Minor, filled with beautiful palaces and pagan temples. There was a massive altar to Zeus, the god of all gods. Pergamum was also known for its temple in honor of Asclepius, the pagan god of healing whose emblem was a serpent entwined on a pole. Which is still the symbol on ambulances. As I mentioned last week, every citizen was expected to offer incense and declare “Caesar is Lord."
No Christian could do that in good conscience. Thus the stage was set for all-out spiritual conflict.
In verse 13 we read, I know where you live — where satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name.
When Jesus says that Satan has his “throne” there, He means satan has found a place where he can exercise his evil influence. Pergamum was covered with evil. Even today, satan still has his thrones.
There are places where satan has been in control for generations. Missionaries know about this. They speak of cities clothed in spiritual darkness, which fiercely and bitterly oppose the gospel message.
Maybe in our world we’re more apt to find satan hiding in places of cultural influence, in universities, in politics, in areas of economics; and even in religious centers where prayer is offered many times a day but where Christ is nowhere to be found.
satan has many friends in politics, and on Wall Street, on the Internet, and all over.
It’s to the credit of the church that despite the widespread evil, the early Christians remained strong and steadfast in Christ.
It wasn’t easy to be a Christian in Pergamum. It’s still not easy to be a Christian in many parts of our world. In universities, on facebook, in Europe, in muslim and hindu parts of the world. Sometimes even in our own backyard. If there’s not outright opposition, there’s subtle and unrelenting pressure to keep quiet, to keep quiet about your faith, and to refuse to speak openly about Jesus Christ.
In this great battle, the believers were standing strong in Christ! Are you?
Jesus praised the people, as He said, You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city — where satan lives. (2:13)
We don’t know anything else about Antipas. What matters most is the fact that Jesus knew his name and knew that he didn’t give in to the evil. We don’t know who he was, yet, Antipas was remembered in heaven. All the martyrs, known and unknown by humanity — are known by Christ, and are experiencing their reward.
When we see these martyrs, we marvel and admire their courage, strength and faith, but sometimes that’s all we do, we admire from a distance. We don’t pick up their sword or banner, we sit idly watching and waiting for someone else to pick up Christ and go to battle.
Are we guilty of that? We see someone taking action; we agree with them, but we sit and watch. We honor them, we thank God for them; and we thank God, it wasn’t us, either. Was the church at Pergamum guilty of honoring Antipas while neglecting to follow his godly example?