Summary: Lessons from the church of Pergamos. Email me for power point slides and video clips u
(TAB -video) Most hear of the book of (TAB) Revelation and think “end times”. But Revelation is more than that. It prepares US – the church - individual Christians, to be what the world need as the end times approach.
Before Jesus reveals all the details of “His wrath to come”, He commands John, the last of the 12 original disciples, to write (TAB) 7 letters to 7 churches.
We need to hear these letters. We’re not ready to hear the details of the coming judgment until we first examine & align our lives with these letters.
We’ve looked at the letter to the church in Ephesus and the church of Smyrna. Today, the church of (TAB) Pergamum. Please open your Bibles to Rev. 2.
The name, Pergamum is where we get the word (TAB) parchment from. And in fact, it’s here in Pergamum that parchment was invented in the 2nd century B.C.
Pergamum was called the (TAB) “greatest city in Asia minor”. For awhile it was the capitol of Asia Minor. And it was a religious center. (TAB) Look with me read Rev. 2 beginning with v. 12 (Read v.12-17).
Notice how Jesus describes Himself, “Him who has the sharp double-edged sword.” We’re told elsewhere in scripture what this means: (TAB) “God’s word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
So the sword, is God’s Word… It’s depicted that way because of its use: to judge. Swords are used in combat, right? God’s word is also powerful! In Genesis, God spoke, it was so and it was good. If His words are powerful in creation how powerful they must be in judging sin. So we see Jesus as a mighty judge here.
This isn’t the way we normally think of Jesus. We know He’s powerful, but we think of His grace, love, and how he came to rescue us from sin. The truth is, He’s all that and more.
It reminds me of C.S. Lewis’, (TAB) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All 4 of the children have entered Narnia. (TAB)They meet Mr. & Mrs. Beaver, who tells them that the King of the land is Aslan, the great lion. (Aslan is also the Jesus character in the story). Susan responds by saying, “Aslan is a lion- thee Lion, thee great Lion." "Ooh" "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
We tend to associate Jesus with His first coming (TAB) a rescue mission of love, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But it’s important for us to know that’s not a full picture of Jesus. In Revelation, we have His 2nd coming, where He’s (TAB)righteous judge coming to war. His eyes are like flames of fire, and He’s clothed in a robe dipped in blood. And on his thigh, YES HIS THIGH it is written: KING of kings & LORD of lords. And with a mighty army He comes to strike the nations. As Mr. Beaver said, “SAFE? Course He isn’t SAFE. But He’s good. He’s the KING”
THIS is the one we worship. (TAB) And if we were in His physical presence, we would fall on our faces, in fear and trembling. Just like John did in cht.1
(TAB) 2 Cor. 7:1 say “…beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Yes, Jesus is a God of love! Yes, He’s a God of grace!…. But He’s also Holy, and He call us to holiness. He has a double edged sword and will judge the earth. We worship and adore Him but we are also to fear Him… with reverent awe.
And he wants the church of Pergamum (and us) to understand this. We need to see the full picture of Jesus. We don’t want to make Him out to be something He’s not.
This brings us to vs. 13 - Jesus’ words of commendation:
“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.”
Pergamum was the first city in Asia to have a temple dedicated to Caesar worship… But it’s not the only temple and altar of worship. There’s also the temple to (TAB) Athena (the goddess of wisdom), (TAB) Asklepios (the god of healing – part of healing ritual including giving the sick a potion, and when unconscious, drop them down into a den of snakes – it’s where we get the (TAB) medical symbol of the rod and snakes for healing. (TAB) Dionysus could also be worshiped in Pergamum (the god of wine and ecstasy –imagine his worship practices), (TAB) Demeter (goddess of agriculture), (TAB) Serapis (the god of the underworld), (TAB) Zues (The sky god, the father of the greek gods and the all powerful one), all these along with worshipping dead Roman Caesars made people travel here from miles around.