To the angel, divine messenger of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of Him who has and wields the sharp two-edged sword in judgment.
“I know where you dwell. A place where Satan sits enthroned. Yet you are holding fast to My name, and you did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one. Who was killed, martyred among you where Satan dwells.
But I have a few things against you. You have there some among you who are holding to the corrupt teaching of Balaam. Who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel. Enticing them to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of sexual immorality. You also have some who in the same way are holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Therefore repent. Change your inner self— your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior. Seek God’s will, or else I am coming to you quickly. I will make war and fight against them with the sword of My mouth in judgment.
He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God. To him I will give the privilege of eating some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone which no one knows except the one who receives it.”
The region of Pergamum was a jewel of the Roman Empire.
King Attalus who reigned around 200 BC signed a peace treaty with Rome and was given control over all of Asia Minor. Upon his death, all territory was bequeathed to the Roman Empire. Surrounded by the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Aegean Sea, all ports of commerce belong to the Roman Empire.
Pergamum was the breadbasket of the known world.
The city of Pergamum is the best excavated city of the seven churches. Excavations include:
The steepest theater of the ancient world, the Hellenistic Theater, which had a capacity of 10,000.
A library which at one time contained an estimated 200,000 volumes.
Temples dedicated to a multitude of Roman deities.
If you desired power, worship in the Temple of Zeus.
If wine and pleasure were your desires, worship in the Temple of Dionysus. Drunkenness, orgies and even murder occurred within the four walls of this temple.
If you desired a bountiful food harvest, worship in the Temple of Demeter.
If you desired physical healing, worship in the Temple of Asklepios. Pilgrims came from around the known world to this temple seeking healing. After a vision, priests would diagnose the ailment. The individual would then acquire the appropriate medication. There was also a snake healing ritual. At night Individuals would be enclosed in a room. After the priest induced a deep trance. Snakes were then released to crawl over them.
If you desired wisdom, worship in the temple of Athena. Something Roman military strategists did.
If you desired to affirm Caesar as the lord of your life, worship in the temple of Trajan. By doing so, your savior Trajan would grant you safety and peace.
Idolatry impacted every aspect of life in the city of Pergamum, and it eventually seeped into the Church of Pergamum. In the beginning, members of the church were unified in their faithfulness to Jesus and the Gospel. But over time, the idolatrous practices of sexual immorality, eating meat offered to pagan gods and satisfying immoral desires became common among some of the members.
The Church of Pergamum, like King Solomon, began well. Only later to be deceived by the teachings of idolatrous individuals.
Acknowledged as the richest and wisest man of the ancient world, King Solomon was blessed with both wisdom and wealth. Not because he sought it, but because he sought Papa and His righteousness— code of conduct.
At the beginning of Solomon’s reign, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask. What should I give you?”
Solomon replied, “You have shown great and faithful love to Your servant, my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness, righteousness and integrity. You have continued this great and faithful love for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today.
Lord my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
Now it pleased the Lord that Solomon had requested this.
So God said to him, “Because you have requested this and did not ask for long life or riches for yourself or the death of your enemies, but you asked discernment for yourself to understand justice. I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart. So that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for, both riches and honor. So that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life. If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life.” 1 Kings 3:5-14
Unfortunately, Solomon didn’t keep Papa’s statutes and commandments and suffered the consequences. Nearing the end of his life, Solomon realized what foolishness it was to live one’s life according to the wisdom of man.
I applied myself by heart and mind to seek and search out by human wisdom all human activity under heaven. It is a miserable business which God has given to the sons of man with which to busy themselves. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity— a striving after the wind and a feeding on wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is defective and lacking cannot be counted.
I entered into counsel with my own mind, saying, “Behold, I have acquired great human wisdom. Yes, more than all who have been over Jerusalem before me. My mind has had great experience of moral wisdom and scientific knowledge.”
I gave my mind to know practical wisdom and to discern the character of madness and folly in which men seem to find satisfaction. I perceived that this also is a searching after wind and a feeding on it. For in much human wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:12-19
The words of the wise are like goads. The collected sayings of the masters are like the nail-tipped sticks used to drive the sheep, given by one Shepherd.
Wise words ring true in our ears. Whether we want to hear them or not. They prod us, convict us and move us. Heeding them strengthens us.
So be warned, my child, of anything else that might be said! There is no end to writing books, and excessive study only exhausts the body. When all is said and done, here is the last word. Worship in reverence the one True God and keep His commands, for this is what God expects of every person. For God will judge every action— including everything done in secret, whether it be good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14
Do not misjudge Papa’s attitude regarding disobedience and apostasy. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God. Protecting and demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His.The Lord avenges, and He is full of wrath.The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Nahum 1:2-3
For His eyes watch over a man’s ways, and He observes all his steps. There is no darkness, no deep darkness where evildoers can hide themselves.
God does not need to examine a person further. That one should approach Him in court. He shatters the mighty without an investigation and sets others in their place. Therefore, He recognizes their deeds and overthrows them by night, and they are crushed in full view of the public. He strikes them for their wickedness because they turned aside from following Him and did not understand any of His ways. Job 34:21-27
Many of today’s Christians, like members of the Church of Pergamum, pick and choose biblical teachings that agree with their lifestyles. Ignoring that all of Scripture is God-breathed. In its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction and training for a life that is right. So that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
As Papa’s child, you are held to a higher moral standard than non-believers. Yes, your sin may be forgiven, and your eternal passport stamped. Nevertheless, there are always consequences for sin because sin mocks Papa’s holiness. It scorns His justice by thumbing its nose at His truth. Truth that demands the abolishment of corruption and immorality and punishment for those found guilty of peddling evil.
Woe, judgment is coming to those who call evil good and good evil. Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness. Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe, judgment is coming to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21