Summary: Johns letter to the church at Pergamon - a church who were compromising.
The Revelation to Pergamos - Words to the Compromising.
Frank Sosienski was a postman in Louisville, Kentucky, who didn’t want to deliver some of his mail. Perhaps it was the hot summertime, like we’re experiencing now. Maybe the mail was heavy; maybe he wanted to quit his route just a little early each day. In any case, there were eventually complaints about mail not arriving, and they traced the problem back to Frank. When the postal authorities investigated, they found the mail that was missing. Most of it was in Frank’s attic. You see, over a six-year period he stashed away 15 tons of other people’s mail. They discovered over 1200 bags of undelivered mail in Frank Sosienski’s attic.
Question: a mail carrier is supposed to… what? Answer: To deliver the mail. Truth is, a mail carrier who doesn’t deliver the mail hasn’t done a very good job of being what they’re supposed to be or doing what they’re supposed to do.
Now, another question: a Christian is supposed to… what? Well, there are many ways to talk about what a Christian is - what we’re called to do and be. But one pretty good definition is that that a Christian is someone whose faith is in Jesus Christ, and is faithful in serving him.
But that’s not always easy, is it? We can be honest enough with each other to confess that following Jesus, and serving him is not always easy to do. It’s a jungle out there. There are a lot of people who make it difficult to be nice. There’s times we really don’t feel like being forgiving. And there’s situations in business and at work and on campus and at school where… Well, let’s just say we sometimes we may be tempted to be Christian the way Frank Sosienski delivered mail. Let’s let it slide, just this once. What harm could it do?
John, the author of the book of Revelation, was writing from the island of Patmos, where he was exiled. He addressed his writing to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. This was during a time when the Roman Empire figured a good way to unite the people they ruled was to make them worship the Roman emperor. Problem was, the Jews and Christians had been taught that there was only one God, and that worshipping any one or any thing other than God was wrong. Now the Jews had an advantage here -- sort of a "grandfather clause". The Jews had received permission to refrain from worshipping the emperor, because they were seen as an ethnic group. But these Christians --- they were not a specific ethnic group. All kinds of people, from all sorts of nations and races were becoming converts to this new religion, Christianity.
So John writes to these Christians, telling them to "hang in there". We do know that some of these folks tried to find ways to do both -- to do the emperor worship thing and to remain part of the church. You can imagine what family and friends and co-workers and neighbors might have said: "Look, we’re not against religion or anything, but you don’t want to look like some kind of weirdo, do you?" "This emperor stuff is just something you’ve gotta do if you’re going to get ahead." "You’re not going to get invited to this Friday’s orgy." "People aren’t going to hire you if you take this Christian thing too far…."
The letter to the Pergamum believers acknowledges the struggles they were going through and encourages them to stand firm and not compromise their stand.
Let’s read the letter together. - Rev 2:12 - 17.
A Picture of Christ (vs 12)
This letter is the third of 7 recorded letters written to 7 churches. The letters were given to John by Christ, while he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Christ introduces himself to the Pergamum believers in vs 12 when he says of himself “These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword”. It is probably fitting to use a sword here since the sword would have been a common implement of death in Pergamum. But here the usage is more likely that it is to be used as an implement of judgment rather than condemnation. Other parts of Scripture use this metaphor also. Heb 4:12 says “For the word of God is living 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.” God’s word convicts and spurs us onto actions
While here in Revelations, this is God’s word written specifically to the Pergamum church, it is also meant for us all - so let’s pause and ask God to speak to us individually right where we are at today. PRAY