Summary: The cost of Compromise in an evil society
TAKING A STAND WHERE SATAN SITS - REV 2:12-17
AD 312: AFTER THE EMPEROR’S DEATH ROMAN GENERAL CONSTANTINE HAD HIS FORCES IN NORTHERN ITALY AT THE MILVIAN BRIDGE. HE STATED THAT BEFORE A BATTLE HE LOOKED INTO THE SKY AND SAW A FIERY CROSS: HE HEARD A VOICE SAY TO HIM, ’IN THIS SIGN CONQUER’. HE WON THE BATTLE THAT DAY AND SOON ASCENDED TO THE THRONE OF ROME. HE DECLARED HIMSELF THE ’DEFENDER AND PROTECTOR OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH’. What was once persecuted by Rome was now it’s official religion.
An accurate picture of the problem of the church in Pergamum. The name literally means, ’an exalted marriage’. Constantine tried to wed the church to the world, which is tragically still attempted to this day. The cost of the wedding is simply COMPROMISE.
Each of these churches struggle with different issues that are attatched to Satan’s strategies throughout the church age.
Ephesus-Poison the doctrine/Smyrna-persecute the Saints/Pergamum-Promote compromise.
1) Someone has said that the devil really only has two strategies: intimidation & enticement. Make you knuckle under the pressure or lure you into compromise.
2) He comes in one of two ways: A roaring lion or an angel of light
Look this morning & evening at Rev 2:12-17 and use the same outline we will use with all the churches we study in chapters 2 & 3: The Patient - The Physician - The Positive - The Problem - The Prescription - The Possibilities
THE PATIENT - (12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write;
1. THE CIVIC CLIMATE: 50 miles N. of Smyrna & 135 N. or Ephesus.
a. Pergamum was the capital city of Asia. It was called by ’The greatest city in Asia Minor’. Legend states that it was founded by the son of Hercules. No trade routes, no harbor
b. It was a sophisticated city that was a center of the Greek culture and education.
1) Had a great university, medical school and the world’s largest library at one time: 200,000 volumes with no printing press. Discovered a way of printing on dried skins: called parchment and actual word is same name as city (pergamena). Library was moved to Alexandria Egypt when it was given away. Marc Antony gave it to Cleopatra.
c. Strong Roman presence: Roman guilds which were the equivolent of modern day labor unions. You had to be in good with to find a job. You had to accomidate your morals to their celebrations.
2. The Religious Climate: Center for four cults
a) Temple to Caesar: First city in Asia to have such a Temple. This meant that there was an expectation of worshipping there and in so doing you would have to take a pinch of incense and drop in the altar fire and say, ’Caesar is Lord’.
b) Temple of Dionysius(Baccus) god of revelry. Quote such pagan scriptures as ’taste’s great/less filling’, or ’it’s miller time’. Worship centered around wine drinking. Pastor’s must have been bartenders.
1) He was the goat-god. He was depicted with horns but with the upper part of a man and his lower part, a goat with cloven feet and a tail.(make him red with a pitchfork and he is still seen today)
c) Temple to Asclepius(scalpel) god of healing. Chief god in town and people came from all over seeking healing at his temple. Caesar Augustus used to come each year mainly to dry out since he was an alchoholic) Asclepius’ insignia was a twisted serpent entwined on a staff(familiar: still a medical symbol today)
1) The Image of Asclepius was a serpent(again like satan)
HEALING PROCESS: Walk through long tunnels and above are holes that look like airholes for ventilation but are not. As you walk you hear voices saying, ’You are going to get well, you are going to feel better, you are going to be healed’. You go down to the hot baths where you are given a massage. There is a little theater that gives plays on healing. If none of that works they put you in the temple at night and turn lose nonpoisonious snakes which crawl all over you. You either get healed or go crazy.
THE PHYSICIAN - ’The One Who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:’
1:16 ’ out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword..’
1. TWO EDGED SWORD is a symbol of the Word of God:
Eph 6 ’ take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God’
Heb 4:12 ’the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any
Two edged sword’. Sharp ’cut to the base’
2. In the midst of such error there is the truth: We are surrounded by many outlets of error in our society today: Politics - television - people’s opinions vary - schools teach different truths(what is right) Jesus comes and says that a people falling into compromise need to be reminded where truth can be found: It comes from the mouth of God. On Jesus know the difference between wheat/tares