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 Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 22) (verses 12 - 16)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 22) (verses 12 - 16)   Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:20 pm

Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 22) (verses 12 - 16)

We now come to the church in Pergamum. If you’ve been following along closely, you’ve learned that the 7 churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 were 7 real churches during the time of John, the one who penned Revelation. Each of these churches had some combination of flaws and merits. These flaws and merits, through the prophetic power of God’s word are prophesies that depict church history in the order that these churches are addressed by Jesus. While in a general sense, every church age has some form of these flaws and merits, these flaws and merits are climatic at their specific respective prophetic age they represent. The quality of the churches in John’s day highlights the greatest sin, flaw, and merit that predominates the age in history of its respective church.

The church in Pergamum (the Pergamus church), will be diagnosed by Jesus with 3 good things, and 1 bad thing. The city of Pergamum was the center of emperor worship. The word “Pergamus” in the Greek contains the word "gámos", which means “marriage”. Our English word “polygamy” is derived from this word. Pergamum was the capital of Rome for 400 years. Notable things about this church include: it was renowned for a famous library; it had a huge Zeus altar; a temple for Asclapius, who was a god of healing, also called “savior of the world”. There was a temple coin that contained the insignia of a serpent coiled around a stick. The location of Pergamum today would be in Asia. Prophetically, the church in Pergamum represents the age of the marriage of the church to the world. Rome and the church were demonically married. The prophetic climatic clause of this passage is within verse 14: “the teaching of Balaam.”

The age this church represents is from 300 AD to 500 AD. In fact, this period picks right up from when the previous church age ended. You recall that Diocletian was the last major ruler of 10 who severely persecuted the Christian church. Ten years after Diocletian, Maxentius, Rome’s last emperor was conquered by Constantine. Some notable things about Constantine include the following: he was carried around on a golden throne. He changed the structure of Roman society. He purportedly saw a vision of the Cross. This vision led him to imposing Christianity upon the people by the sword. He not only legalized Christianity, he made it a mandatory religion. It was Christianity or the sword. Although he legalized Christianity, Rome was far from a Christian nation. The church was in essence, united with the world. Pagan festivals were held under a Christian garb. Pagan temples became churches. Pagans became priests. Many symbols were added to Christianity that had nothing to do with Christianity. This was all the birth of the Roman Catholic Church.

Revelation 2:12 reads, “These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.” We discussed the double-edged sword when we covered Revelation 1:16. The word for “sword” here is the Greek word for a long sword. Interestingly, whenever the sword of the Spirit is mentioned in Revelation, the chosen word is the Greek word for a long sword. In other places of the New Testament, the Greek word used is the word for a dagger. Ephesians 6:17 reads, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit…” The word for sword in these last two quoted passages means “dagger.” A dagger is short and can be concealed. It is used during hand to hand, close combat. Paul says, when we fight the devil with the sword of the Spirit, we are to use this dagger to fight him up close and personal. We are to keep the dagger concealed by our side for whenever we need to quickly pull it out and use it. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is the one who uses the sword of the Spirit. This word is always the word for a long sword. A long sword is not concealed. All can see it from a distance. It is more deadly than a dagger. There will be nothing hidden or concealed when Jesus opens his mouth and judges by this sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God that he speaks from his mouth. In Revelation 19:15, Jesus spews out the long sword from his mouth. It reads, “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” And verse 21, “The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of his mouth…”

Continuing, Revelation 3:13 reads, “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.” Satan is not omnipresent. He has to set up his throne at one particular place at a time. Satan is currently the “prince” of this world. He is free to move his throne (where he sits) around. (1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”) So what Jesus says here indicates the sinfulness of this city, Pergamum. But no matter how sinful the culture, we are to hold to truth and stand firm in righteousness in Christ. Jesus commends the believers in this city that they still have faith in Him despite the paganism around them and despite what happened to their Christian associate Antipas. Antipas was the first martyr in Asia. Tradition tells us that he was slowly roasted to death in a bronze kettle sometime between AD 81-96, during the reign of Domitian. God honors martyrs for him. Antipas receives the same label that Jesus has in Revelation 1:5, “faithful witness”. This would be the only commendation the church of Pergamum would receive from Jesus.

Revelation 2:14 reads, “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.” You might recall that this verse contains one of the clauses that signify a prophetic message. The clause here is: “the teaching of Balaam.” The prophetic era as we said, represents is AD 300-500, which continues just after the last church’s prophesy. If you need a refresher on the significance of Balaam and Balak, it might be best to pause here and read Numbers 22-25, and also Numbers 31:15-18. If you never read it, it is one of the great passages of the bible where God opens the mouth of a donkey and the donkey speaks to its rider and rebukes him. In this rare occasion, we get to see the thoughts of an animal. What is important to know as it relates to our passage in Revelation is the following synopsis: Balak, the king of Moab saw the massive population of the Israelites that had just come out of Egypt. He saw or heard what they did to the Amorites and so he was petrified and paranoid that Israel was about to attack him and his people. Israel, unknown to him, had no such plans at the time. Balak summoned Balaam, a false prophet who was renowned for his divination. He asked Balaam to put a curse on the people of Israel. God later came to Balaam and told him that he is not allowed to put a curse on His people. Balak offered Balaam gold, power, and many things for him to curse Israel. Balaam wanted to, but God prevented it. God made Balaam speak to Balak blessings only for Israel, but curses for Moab. Since Balaam was unable to speak curses on Israel, he suggested to Balak that he can attack Israel a different way. He told Balak to simply entice Israel to commit sexual immorality with Moabite women and teach them to sacrifice to Moabite gods so that they can defy their own God. Israel ended up bowing down to Moabite gods and committing sexual immorality, thereby bringing curses upon themselves through their sinful rebellion.

The sin of Balaam is compromise. It is to compromise with the world and to mix the world with God. It is a tolerance of sin within the church. That is not unlike what the Roman Catholic Church did during its inception. The Roman Catholic Church was a mix of priests with pagan temples. Satan used compromise to attack the church of Pergamum. He enticed this church to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Is it just a coincidence that many Roman Catholic priests these days have been caught having crude sexual relations with minor boys? Such was the prominent sin of the day that this church represents (AD 300- 500). Revelation 2:15 reads, “Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” The word laity is within the word “Nicolaitans”. The Nicolaitans were a worldly laity. We mentioned them when we covered Revelation 2:6. They preached a mix of worldliness and godliness. Much of the Catholic Church today is made up of what man created. This was true in its beginning, and it is still true of it today. They added laws, rules, works, symbols, and even a new deity (Mary) that God never spoke or gave. Jesus warned this age in Revelation 2:16, saying, “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Jesus said that he will come, if they don’t repent and change, and fight the false laity Himself.
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Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 22) (verses 12 - 16)
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