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Pergamos: Will You Stand or Fall? 520. March 10, 2024

Updated: Mar 17



KEY SCRIPTURES: Revelation 2:12-17

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.


RELEVANCE

What is your faith worth to you?


Like many essential life strategies, faith comes into its own when there is much to lose. When there is little sacrifice, faith remains almost dormant, ticking over.


Faith, like physical strength, is needed when we're under trial. Yet, it is built up by practice in dormant times.


At the time of John's letter, the congregation at Pergamos was made up of two camps—those who believed the God of Paul and the Apostles and those who had little desire to leave the flesh behind.


The Roman-influenced environment was hostile to Christians, spiritually, physically and, as a consequence, emotionally.


Those who held strong to their faith, such as Antipas, were confronted by Satanic provocations daily, taking up their cross as Christ proposed. The others disregarded Paul's simple command to the Gentiles forty years earlier that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication. (Acts 15:29)


The unfaithful held onto the doctrine of Balaam, which incorporated the same behaviour s Paul scolded. Numbers 31:16 Behold, these (Moabite women) caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.


Balaam was a prophet-for-hire hired by Balak, King of the Moabites, to curse Moses and the Israelites as they passed. God told Balaam not to curse His people, so he didn't. However, Balaam didn't stop there. He tried something else. He got the Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men as they passed through. It began with eating things sacrificed to Moabite gods, then moved to fornication, as it does. "It's not that bad", "God will forgive", "You're only human", "But, I love her", "It shouldn't matter where she's from", "Food is food", "It tastes like the Egyptian food we miss so much."


We see the report in Numbers 25: 1-3, And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.


1500 years later, in a New Testament Church with the Holy Spirit, the same seduction occurs: people being swept away in a tide of wickedness due to lukewarm belief and light understanding. If there is one uncontrollable torrent that has swept through the world in the past 70 years, it is the overwhelming rip tides of mass adultery, fornication and multiple gods. As if enormous floodgates had been opened, this demonic trio poured into the world, drowning institutions, families and individuals in their demand for the worship of their beastly practices—an excellent coup for Satan. Bible-believing churches are the bastion of hope.


V13 states that Pergamos was the place of Satan's seat and where he dwelt. Missionaries and local Christians in many places around the world today could say the same thing, that they lived where Satan's seat is: the persecution is so fierce. But persecution doesn't make everyone's faith stronger, only those who love their Lord. The rest follow their lusts, as with the children of Israel, when Moses led them through the desert.


God's seat and dwelling place are in Heaven, while Satan's seat and dwelling place are on Earth, although I believe the saying is a metaphor. It will not be long before they are situated in the Lake of Fire. But for now, we must abide his outpouring of wrath, defending ourselves with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


A seat is a throne from which judgements pour. Psalm 1:1 says  Blessed is the man that walketh NOT in the counsel of the ungodly, NOR standeth in the way of sinners, NOR sitteth in the seat of the scornful.


The world presently has some interesting "seats".


The European Parliament presides in a building that resembles the Tower of Babel. Out the front, a bull with a woman riding it and a flag with twelve stars. Its poster is "Many Tongues, One Voice". Make of that what you will. Following the Treaty of Rome, the EU started in 1957 as an economic community to supposedly simplify trade. Now, it completely legislates over those countries that signed the agreement. Each of the current 27 countries relinquished their sovereignty to the EU.


The United Nations, another seat, has 193 member states. 64% of its Human Rights Council (HRC) consists of non-democracies. The UN, in a type of irrational obsession, disproportionately condemns Israel. From 2015 to the present, its General Assembly Condemnatory Resolutions have been marked with Israel 153, Iran 8, North Korea 9, Russia 24, and China 0. Despite Qatar using forced labour to prepare for hosting the 2022 World Cup, the UN gave it 0. Further, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Condemnatory Resolutions 2015-present are Israel 10, yet not one condemnation to the other 14 countries in the region.


Emperor worship at the time of the letter made life hellish for Christians in Smyrna and Pergamos. It condemned all who would not bow to its man-made policies, costing believers their businesses, homes, freedom and, at times, their lives. Under that pressure, one can become spiritually straitened, following their Saviour more closely, or morally looser, giving way to the flesh by blending sin into their spiritual lives.


Spiritual direction was their responsibility, as it is ours, birthed by our desires. We either yearn to become more Christlike and ashamed of our shortcomings or give way to lusts and be swept off by the undertow of sensual passions.


PRAYER

Dear Lord, I wouldn't have liked to be around in the time of those seven churches. Especially with such ruthless overlords and humanistic laws makers. Thank you for the strength of those who stood strong and remain examples to us today.

Photo by Alex Shute

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