The Church in Pergamum is where “Satan has his throne.” Pergamum was also a city of many gods, and as long as you didn’t prefer one god above another, you were accepted.
The pressure to be conformed to the world for the believers in Pergamum was enormous, and the cost of not conforming was high, as may happen to us soon in the Western world. But if they did not conform, they (and we) are promised “hidden manna.” What does that mean? We’ll seek this out together.
Joseph Stowell asks penetrating questions at the close of a very helpful documentary on Pergamum that you’ll watch early this week. He asks questions like:
Are we willing to confess that hell is real? That Jesus is the only way? Or do we fudge?
Are we holding to God’s standard for sex? Or compromising?
Are we obeying the great commission, boldly sharing about Christ with those in our path? Or are we hiding our light under a bushel?
Quite honestly, when someone is not compromising, they shine.
Let me tell you Lara’s story. She clerks at a grocery store in Egg Harbor, Wi. and shines. I’ve heard it said that today’s young Christians have compromised on sex, are sexual atheists. So when they don’t, they stand out, like a city on a hill.
Though she’s had to wear a mask in the last year, that doesn’t hide the twinkle in her eyes, or the joy that overflows from her redeemed heart. And now she bravely wears a mask that says: Jesus Loves Me. Whenever I come into The Market and she sees me, she calls out: I LOVE YOU, DEE! People turn to look and I laugh and call right back: AND I LOVE YOU, LARA!
Lara is such a bright light in our little church as well. She lives on a shoestring in a rented trailer, and sometimes our church has tried to give her money, but she always knows someone needier than she and gives it away. We asked her to share her testimony at this year’s Easter service. She was so brave, for she told how Jesus helped her overcome her battle with lust. She did it wisely, so it went over the heads of children, but it packed a punch. Here are a few highlights.
“When my mother, my rock, died of cancer, I started asking “Why am I here? What is life all about?” Then an aunt invited me to her church in Madison. It was so big I thought it was a college, but they preached the Word, told me I was a sinner, and I knew it was true, and that I needed to be cleansed.” Then Lara used a line from the chosen.
Then she told how God led her to our area, and how her ex-husband followed her. She let him move into her trailer while he looked for a job and “got on his feet.” But he wasn’t looking for a job — while she went to work each day, he stayed home and watched television.
“I was venting to Debbie, a woman at my church, and she said, ‘Bring your television to me. I’ll store it in my garage.’ I was scared to do it because even though I was mad he wasn’t looking for a job, I’d been in lust with him since I was eleven, and was rationalizing that since we’d been married once, how we were living now was okay. But in my heart, I knew it wasn’t. I knew I was living in sin. So, at a women’s Bible study I asked them to pray for me to be delivered of lust. Then, by faith, I took the TV to Debbie’s. He was so mad, saying it was the meanest thing I’d ever done, and moved out. Amazingly, I was okay! I was delivered from lust.” Then before she sat down, Lara said:
I can’t tell you exactly how it happened, but I can tell you that
Listen to this short video (under 4 minutes) and share any thoughts today.
Today or tomorrow, watch this 25 minute documentary and take notes. It’s on You-Tube so if you have that you could watch it on your big screen. Or, watch it here.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Where are you tempted to compromise? (Let’s each of us let God search us.)
Monday: Documentary on Pergamum
3. Share your notes from the above documentary with Joseph Stowell.
Tuesday: Where Satan Has his Throne
A theme that will appear and re-appear in Revelation is that when the governing authorities and the religious authorities (the counterfeit church, not the true Church) agree to oppose Christianity, Satan is behind it. We saw this in the trials of Jesus when the religious authorities and the governing authorities became allies in their opposition to Jesus. We see this in Pergamum, where there is a Temple to the Emperor and temples to false gods of healing, fertility, etc. who all oppose Jesus. Jesus says this is where Satan has his throne! We saw this in Nazi Germany when Hitler came up with the new German church that taught that Jesus hated the Jews! Hitler and the religious authorities stood together to oppose true Christianity. We need to be alert when the governing authorities, the religious leaders, and the culture aligns against Christianity so we remember we are not fighting against flesh and blood, so we need the armor of God.
4. Read Revelation 2:12-15.
A. To whom is the letter addressed? (Rev. 2:12)
B. How is Jesus described and why is this particularly relevant to this church.
C. For what are they commended?
D. For what are they rebuked?
E. How are they to respond to this rebuke?
F. Find both the warning and the promise.
5. Read Dr. Campbells first three paragraphs under “The Church at Pergamum and list his main points. (In the kindle, stop at the sentence that begins “Christ now comes.”
6. In his commentary on Revelation, Michael Wilcock makes an apt comparison of Pergamum to our western world which preaches “tolerance.” Wilcock writes: “…a soft-centered permissive society can be curiously hard on those who refuse to go along with it.” How do you see this today in our western world?
Wednesday: False Teachers Like Balaam
Next, Jesus mentions the prophet Balaam (Numbers 22 and 23) who was seduced by offers of wealth and fame by Moab’s King Balak who wanted him to curse Israel. What I find interesting about this account is that Balaam’s words sound good, but he found a way to still curse Israel and curry favor with King Balak.
7. The King of Moab offered Balaam both wealth and power if he would curse the Israelites.
A. What does God tell Balaam in Numbers 22:12?
B. What does the King Balak of Moab tell Balaam in Numbers 22:17?
C. What does Balaam do according to Numbers 22:21-23 and how does God stop him?
God finally lets Balaam go to the King. In Numbers 23-24 he refuses to verbally curse Israel. But the story isn’t over.
8. What do you learn about Balaam from Revelation 2:14? How was this a sneaky way to curse the Israelites?
I find this very sobering, for it shows how devious false teaching can be. In my community, we have many ministers who claim to be Christian but you will not hear about the blood, about hell, or a true presentation of the gospel. These ministers could preach in Iran and never go to prison. They preach homilies about love and use Scripture to do so, so people are deceived, thinking they are hearing true Christianity.
9. What do you learn about false teachers and prophets like Balaam from the following:
A. 2 Peter 2:1-2?
B. 2 Peter 2:13-19?
10. What application do you see for your life or your church from today’s lesson?
11. What two promises are made to the one who hears and obeys and is victorious in Rev. 2:17?
Thursday/Friday: Hidden Manna, White Stone, New Name
12. What do you learn about the hidden manna and the white stone from Dr. Campbell in his closing three paragraphs under The Church at Pergamum? (Begin in kindle with “Christ now comes” and go to end of the section.
13. In a longer commentary that Dr. Campbell did with G. K. Beale, we are given these insights. Please comment on any of them:
A. Hidden Manna: This refers to the food (now not visible)to be consummately consumed at the marriage supper of the Lamb (19:9) and thus represents fellowship with Christ. The reference to the manna as hidden means that it will be revealed to God’s people at the end of time and possibly beginning at death.
B. White Stone: The white color of the stone portrays the righteousness of the saints in not compromising and “soiling” themselves. …There is an association of white with righteousness in direct connection with the admission to a banquet (19:8-9) where the fine linen, bright and clean” represents “the righteous acts of the saints.”
C. A New Name: This refers to receiving Jesus’ victorious, kingly “name…no one know except Himself (19:12-16) …To know someone’s name…often meant to enter into an intimate relationship with that person and to share in that person’s character or power. To be given a new name was an indication of a new status.
14. In Joseph Stowell’s documentary he likened the Hidden Manna to the joys of fellowship with Christ — illumination, wisdom, the sense of His presence, and answered prayer. How have you experienced any of these recently?
15. What is your take-a-way this week and why?