We learned that the city of Pergamum and the church there was all about compromise. What we need to understand is not only how it related to the church at that time, but how it relates to us today. No matter where you live, there is a spiritual dynamic at work, in your community, in your churches, in your government, in your schools, even in your own family, there is a constant battle, the ebb and flow of what's right and what's wrong. A world view if you would. A biblical world view. Pergamum was challenged with an alternative world view that began to infiltrate the church. Jesus tells the church, "I know where you live, I know who's throne is in your neighborhood." We here it all the time, location, location, location. Well in the city of Pergamum, the seat of Satan was right in the heart of the city. Satan himself was dwelling there in a sense, but Jesus was saying, "I know you are there."
Even though they were sitting in the middle of hell, Jesus wanted them to resist compromise. When we live in a place that is compromising, we need to remember Jesus' authority. "These things says He who has a two-edged sword." It was a sword that is sharp on both sides, however there was a Roman sword that was blunt on one side and sharp on the other. They would have to wield it around like a helicopter. But the sword Jesus has is one that when He swings it one way, He can cut someone down the knees in judgment, and when He swings it the other way, like a skilled surgeon He will cut out the pride in a man's heart, or apathy or false doctrine as this church would experience. It is interesting to note that Jesus was saying, "You need surgery and I am the great physician, and I'm going to give you my Word, that in the book of Revelation, we learned is a sharp two-edged sword that comes from Jesus' mouth in Revelation 1:16 and in Revelation 19.
Will you as a Christian, throw up your hands, give up the reins of your life and let Jesus rule inside your heart? Because if He is not the Lord in our life, then He is nothing to us. He calls the shots. If any church or pastor tells you anything that does not line up with scripture, that is outside of scripture, it's wrong! If that ministry points to a chapter and asks you to read it, telling you these are the verses that apply to your situation, then praise the Lord, they are watching out for your soul. I am going to go to heaven with or without you. I'm going because Jesus died for me on the cross. I'm going because He took away my sin. I'm still a sinner, but I hate it now. I hate my temper. I hate my thoughts, I hate it. But I know I am going to heaven. The Bible says He has washed me in His own blood. My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. People will spend three hours wasting their time sitting in the movie, but get the slightest bit grouchy when their pastors go over on their messages.
What kind of church are we, when compromise has surrounded us. (Verse 13).
Revelation 2:13 ~ "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."
Pretty rough neighborhood. We live in Southern California where things are pretty black and white. But not everything - shades of grey are creeping in. It is the Babylon in America. We are home to the pornographic industry of the world. We have more amusements in the world so people can unplug. Things are not always as real as they seem here. In Southern California where people's very existence is based on what they drive, or what they where, where they live. People come here to visit and they aren't sure if they can lean on that wall, because it might be fake. People don't know if the laws here are real or not. Is this man going to be a governor or an actor? The only thing people who live and were born here in Southern California know for sure, is if that was an earthquake or not. We are getting pretty experienced on fires, what a great place, shaking and baking huh? Southern California, it is known as the Babylon to the world. Have you noticed when some people come to visit, they say, "They can't wait to go back home?" And we think they are crazy! We wonder why there are not totally in love with this place. Why don't they want to move here permanently? People who are Christians, don't understand how we can put up with what we do. What we hear on the radio or on television. They have to cover their eyes and ears. What some people wear either, they simply can't take the temptation living right among us.
We live in a modern day Pergamum! The dangerous thing was in the time of Pergamum it was popular to be a Christian, if you did what the community did. They were surrounded by compromise. Eventually however, compromise creeps in.
Notice that He gives three commendations.
1. Where you dwell. 2. Where Satan throne is. 3. Where Satan lives.
Three geographical comments. Where do you live? Jesus knows about it. He knows exactly what city and place you are staying in. The word "dwell" means address. So in a sense, Jesus is saying, I know the address your stuck with. He is saying, "I know you live in a place that is very hard and all these things are pulling on you. I know that.
Secondly, it is where Satan's throne is. How would you like to live there? I'd love to show you a new house, Oh where is that? It's where Satan's throne is. What's that demon doing on your house? Oh you know that's just part of the neighborhood. How would you like to live there? Well Christians did. So why was it called that? Because on the throne of Athena, and on these various three gods we talked about yesterday, because based on archaeological discoveries, the serpent was present in all of their architecture. The serpent was worshiped along with things I can't share that deal with Satanic worship that they did with snakes, and the snake was exhaulted, placed on a pole and bowed down to, with perverse twisted acts. Children were sacrificed to these things. Aren't you glad you didn't live back then? That is what they did publicly on the mountainside on that great mesa of an altar. Nowadays people just go into the solitude of their own home. Turn on their computer and sacrifice their children as it were. They just turn on their altar. It's not 90 feet by 90 feet, and 40 feet tall. Not like the one they unearthed in Pergamum. No this one is just a couple hundred dollars and it's a 17 inch monitor and you type in a password, and you can go to hell on earth. Aren't you glad no one knows your doing that? How do you know someone hasn't told someone what is on your computer?
Sacrificing children? You would say that would never happen today! It happens every single day. People are having marriage problems over what is happening inside their homes. They don't pray together anymore, they don't read the Bible anymore, they aren't showing one another they love each other in a physical way any more. They are broken completely. What you come to find out, is that the husband or wife is on the internet, dealing with pornography, or dealing with chat rooms with members of the opposite sex pouring out their hearts to someone on the other end who they think understands them. If that is the case in your home? Get rid of it. Throw it away, smash it so it can't invade your home again. If your concerned with how much money it costs, consider what it is costing your marriage, your family, your kids? What is the cost of how much that is worth you? That is called bondage and compromise. Don't think that doesn't have a lasting impact in the lives of those who are part of that circle.
Jesus knows about our commitment of faith. He knows about our conviction. Jesus knows when we are surround by a world that is full of compromise, will we stand firm in our faith? Will we stand for what is right? Are the lines going to be so skewed that it's okay if this and that happen, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and we soon find we no longer have any convictions, we have no rudder, we would be liberal as a church and as a Christian. You no longer really look to the Bible for answers and instead look at a 12-step process to prosperity instead or perhaps how you can have a happy life, a carefree life and we are going to use THIS book instead of the Bible, that's compromise!!!
Jesus Christ is very clear about things. If the lines are grey, then why did Jesus have to die at all? If the lines are grey, then why did He have to suffer on a cross? If the lines are grey, then why did He give us a manual for life called the Bible? The truth is the lines aren't grey. God doesn't operate in the lines of grey because there is no grey. Look at people who are blessed by having Jesus in their life, when the world comes crashing down, they have a peace about they, and how they get through it. Then look at those who don't have Jesus, and how their life is so stressed and so worrisome and so bound up in the cares of this world. It's so sad. Life is never supposed to be like that.
Fresca from the Pergamum Museum in Berlin
The church of Pergamum allowed the doctrines of the world creep into their lives and their church. One of the things they had to put up with in their community was Askleeppus SoTar, the serpent savior. These were the chantings and worship of the altars in which the church of Pergamum grew up around. They also had doctrines and instead of them fighting against them, they gave up. It came into their church.
Jesus said to them, "You have not renounced your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city - where Satan lives." This is the conclusion of the three commendations Jesus gave to the church before His rebuke to them in verses 14 and 15.
Revelation 2:14-15 ~ "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have peopel 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. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans."
Can you imagine Jesus saying, "I hate this?" Balaam, you may have read about him in Numbers 22-25. He was a prophet of God. Balaam found out that after being in the ministry, he could make big money, so he used his office as a prophet, for a profit. He was a prophet for profit who prophesied to pagan nations for money. He sold his office, like Judas so to speak, sold his position with Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Balaam went to the enemy kings of the Israelites and he went to Moab and he said, "You want to whip Israel?" and they said, "Yeah! We sure do!" He said, "Pay me some money and pronounce a curse, I'm a prophet of God." So he goes and stand on the top of the hill and pronounces a curse over Israel. His own people! Is this guy Balaam not a wolf in sheep's clothing or what?
What we take away from the church of Pergamum is despite where they were living, He doesn't want them to compromise. You might be living in a place like this, the response from Jesus is the same to YOU. Don't compromise. Don't give up. The most loving person to ever come to this planet was Jesus. How do you reconcile this? The most hated person who graced this place was Jesus Christ. The church, the Christian is supposed to be exactly the same way. We are supposed to be the most loving institution and people on the face of the earth. But if we associate with Jesus, we are also going to be one of the most hated. Go figure that out. We just don't want to go around being hateful, ugly, mean and rude. We need to go around standing for the truth, and let our light so shine before men right, as it were, as Jesus said to do and people are responding to the light that is coming out of the churches or out of our lives, coming out of our families, you want to make sure that you are out of the grey zone. Be the light. We have to do that if we want to be that light. Be different.
It is interesting to realize that while we know the Bible to be true, the fact that archaeologists have dug up and reassembles the seat of Satan or the temple in the Museum of Pergamum is pretty amazing stuff. By the time you get to the top of this altar, you see the seat of Zeus, and all these biblical references in this secular museum from the Bible founded in this altar. I love that people are discovering the truth that we have always known from the Bible.