Today we are going to read in Revelation Chapter 2 vs: 12-17 about the letter that Jesus told Paul to write to the Church in Pergamum.
The city of Pergamum was built on a hill 1,000 feet above the surrounding countryside, creating a natural fortress. It was a sophisticated city, a center of Greek culture and education, with a 200,000 volume library. But it was also the center of four cults, and it rivaled Ephesus in the worship of idols. The city’s chief god was Asclepius, whose symbol was a serpent and who was considered the god of healing. People came from all over the world to seek healing from this god.
As I read this it sounded like trying to be a Christian in the middle of Las Vegas where there are so many other “idols” and so much sin.
Revelation 2:12-17 reads…
“Write this letter to the messenger of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword. I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you here in Satan’s city. But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”
In this letter Jesus is commending the church for remaining loyal and rebuking them for Tolerating compromise. Their action was to repent and remain loyal.
**Just as the Romans used their swords for authority and judgement, Jesus’ sharp two-edged sword represents God’s ultimate authority and judgement. It may also represent God’s future separation of believers from unbelievers. Unbelievers cannot experience the eternal reward of living in God’s kingdom.
**As the center for four idolatrous cults (Zeus, Dionysius, Asclepius and Athene), Pergamum was call the city “where Satan has his throne.” Surrounded by worship of Satan and the Roman emperor as god, the church at Pergamum refused to renounce it’s faith, even when Satan’s worshippers martyred one of the members. Standing firm against the strong pressures and temptations of society is never easy, but the alternative is deadly.
Thought provoking question…. You think you are firm in your faith. How firm would you be to continue to worship God if you saw one of your friends killed for his or her faith? We have to be so grounded in our faith, and in the word, that nothing moves us from the will of God.
**It was not easy to be a Christian in Pergamum. Believers experienced great pressure to compromise or leave the faith. Nothing is know about Antipas except he did NOT compromise. He was faithful, and died for his faith. Apparently, however, some in the church were tolerating those who taught or practiced what Christ opposed. Compromise can be defined as a blending of the qualities of two different things or a concession of principles. Cooperate with people as much as you can, but avoid any alliance, partnership, or participation that could lead to immoral practices.
The bible says we have to “guard our hearts”. When we open the door, just a crack, to start listening to the lure of sin or those who place a question of doubt – we are giving in to the devil. He only has to get his gnarly fingers into a crack in the door and then he will push and eventually bust that door wide open leaving you with sin in your life or doubt. That’s how the devil works. It’s how he worked with Eve in the garden. He never denied God existed or had provided the garden for them. He just asked enough questions to put doubt in Eve’s mind (are you sure God said not to eat from this tree?) – and that doubt and confusion lead to compromise.
**The sword is God’s judgement against rebellious nations and all forms of sin.
**This “manna that has been hidden away in heaven” suggests the spiritual nourishment that the faithful believers will receive. As the Israelites traveled toward the Promised Land, God provided manna from heaven for their physical nourishment. Jesus, as the bread of life, provides spiritual nourishment that satisfies our deepest hunger.
**It is unclear what the white stones are or exactly what the name on each will be. Because they relate to the hidden manna, they may be symbols of the believer’s eternal nourishment or eternal life. The stones are significant because each will bear the new name of every person who truly believes in Christ. They are the evidence that a person has been accepted by God and declared worthy to receive eternal life. A person’s name represented his or her character. God will give us a new name and a new heart.
Walk in Love but Stand Firm in your faith my friends. There can be no room for compromise. If God said it, he meant it. End of story. He doesn’t change right and wrong dependent upon what we want to hear. As we read in the bible … “I am God and I change not.” That’s why this gospel has remained and set people free for over 2,000 years.
**Taken from the Life Application Study Bible