Summary: Do we reflect the nature of God - do we remain true to his name?
Churches of Revelation#3 - Pergamum
February 2006 • Chris Rowney
These messages are also available as audio podcasts at www.tcfnet.org.au/podcasts
“12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
13 I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. 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.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
Revelation 2:12-17, NIV.
We are spending 7 weeks on 7 short letters found in the larger NT book of Revelation.
During the vision that John experienced, after seeing a picture of Heaven and the person of Jesus Christ John takes dictation, and records the words of Jesus to seven local churches in the region near where John was imprisoned.
Some have felt these letters each represent a historical period, one after the other until the end of history which is the description that comes after the seventh letter to the laodiceans.
BUT as just about every era of history has managed to recognise themselves in the seventh letter, and sqush the previous centuries into the other six.. no matter if it was the 3rd, 7th, 12th or 17th Centuries.. perhaps a better understanding is that the seven types of church co-exist in each and every age… and that in fact each and every church can learn from the things said to all of them.
So Jesus speaks to us…
Two weeks ago we saw that Jesus told the church in Ephesus that He knew their works,..
Last week to the church in Smyrna that he knew their troubles and here He tells the church in Pergamum that He knows where they live.
Sound ominous doesn’t it.. “I know where you live!”
“I’m coming to get you!”
BUT that is not why he says that… he recognises the fact that Pergamum (like many cities of that age) is not an easy place to live in and remain unstained by the immorality and idolatory of the surrounding culture.
And he assures them.. He knows where they live.. and understand their struggles, and above all, equips them with all they need to face them.
HISTORY ABOUT PERGAMUM HERE… PICTURES OFF WEB SITE.
Praised for their faithfulness, even under persecution that led to the death, the martyrdom of someone named Antipas.. the believers of Pergamum were challenged by Jesus for compromise!
Balaam was a pagan prophet in the Old testament times, who at one stage was offered money to ‘curse’ Israel, the people that God treated in a special way… He had an experience with a donkey and an Angel that convinced him not to speak a curse, but rather to announce that God had chosen to Bless Israel…
The king who had paid him was pretty mad.. but he got his money;s worth in the end, because Balaam advised him to have his people, especially attractive women, visit the Israelites, and entice them to attend and take part in the worship of their idols… part of which involved sex acts as ‘offerings’ to the ‘gods.
The Blessing of God departed from Israel while they engaged in immorality and while they gave their worship and attention to false Gods, instead of the true God.
Something similar must have happened in Pergamum… we know that some of the ancient gods and goddesses involved temple prostitutes, both male and female.. but while it may mean actual acts of sex, it may just be the immorality of turning from the standards God desired, to those of the culture in which they lived.
Feasts to the Gods were common, and it seems some of the believers were attending and taking part in these activites, while at the same time claiming to be Christians, to be ‘true to the name’ of Jesus.
AND WHAT IS CLEAR HERE.. is it is not just those who took part in these wrong practices.. but the whole church that is challenged by Jesus, because not taking part was not enough… there is a time when believers need to speak up about the things God desires and challenge one another to remain ‘true’ to those Godly desires.