Sermons

Summary: 1) Satan’s throne- the roaring lion 2) Satan’s subtlety- the Trojan Horse 3) the Saviour’s Sword- strats with the church

The message to the church at Pergamum. Revn 2:12-17

WBC am 29 June 2003

Satan’s throne- the roaring lion

These are scary words! “I know where you live. Where Satan has his throne”

Ancient Pergamum (modern Bergama) is located in western Turkey 16.5 mi. [26.5 km.] inland (as the crow flies) from the Aegean Sea.

It was founded as a major city in the third century B.C. and served as the capital of the Attalid Empire until 133 B.C. At that time Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans and in 129 B.C. this kingdom formed the core of the newly–created Roman province of Asia — with, initially at least, Pergamum as its capital.

This was a huge city with an acropolis (a hilltop socio-religious centre) and a lower city. (160,000+)

. Pergamum was the cultural, religious and intellectual centre of the region with a university that had a library of about 200,000 handwritten volumes.

But what about it being where Satan had his throne? (don’t go on holiday, there!)

Right on top of the hill, the acropolis, a temple was built for Emperor worship. Pergamum was the first to do this, in 29BC… a place for worshipping Caesar Augustus.

The Remains of the temple to the Emperor Trajan (AD 98ff) still remain, there.

Before this- the Temple of the Gk god Zeus (father of the ‘gods’) was established.

And besides this Temples of Athena, Dionysus, Serapis, Demeter and Asclepius have been found

Here’s the remains of the temple of Asclepius- looking up the acropolis and the Emperor and Zeus temples. Asclepius was the ‘god’ of healing (stick and snake) and so this became a ‘healing’ centre

Imagine being a Christian, there (or even a Jew!)- one who believed there was only One God to be worshipped, who you should make no image of

The opposition was fierce. The attack obvious. Satan stalked the streets like a roaring lion. Very little stealth or subtlety.

- stand up for Jesus and you could lose your life

- Just like N Nigeria, Indonesia and large parts of the Muslim world, today

o The body of Christ is still persecuted in this way

Antipas had stood up and out for Jesus. Had not compromised his faith… sprinkled some incense on the altar of Caesar

- and it had cost him his life

- the others had ‘remained true to Jesus’ name’, as well

- … and had not renounced Jesus (v13)

I want to say a few things about Satan, now

I believe very much in a personal and active evil force.

- to me, it is not only Biblically necessary, but theologically necessary

- it is the ONLY way of explaining the evils of this world, that are beyond man

- okay: man doesn’t often need the Evil one’s help. He’s able to do most of it himself in the most horrible way

- but… cutting a long story extremely short… belief in an adversary/enemy is essential

- unless you’re going to land some of the suffering at God’s feet… and ‘charge Him with evil’

- which is something we mustn’t do (Cf Job)

- you could summarise that Satan’s whole strategy is encapsulated in ‘trying to get us to believe that God IS the source of evil’

- ‘did God REALLY say?!’. ‘He must hate you. Be very sadistic. N Nasty’

… and sometimes it is ALL our faith is about to cling onto… and (in faith!) proclaim:

‘God is good. Oh give thanks to the Lord for His love endures’

Yes- I know: God can use evil… allows it… man is the cause of 90% of it… but (in the end… after MUCH theological musing), I believe

- God is good

- The devil is very real. AND theologically essential

- Man and the world is fallen

And (surprise, surprise- that’s the message of the Bible…. And Jesus’ whole ministry)

- He most certainly saw two kingdoms in conflict

The Bible summarises it best (and frustratingly adequately in Mt 13:28 ‘an enemy did this’

And there are times… places… when he fights so mean and dirty! It’s SO real

- ‘pastorally’ I believe in him as well

- SO often, when there is something significant in the offing, people come under tremendous attack from the lion

o All at once! Worst timing possible

 I know this is true for some of you

 Will be for all of us at some time/place

To me- this doesn’t negate God- it affirms the story that we believe in

- God is good. Satan is a destroyer of ALL that is good… and we are in a battle

o And it’s fierce at times. And there ARE casualties and real scars

 But the WAR is won. Foregone conclusion

• In one sense it seems Satan knows all about this (as he fights harder and dirtier)

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