“Searching the Seven Churches”
Satan’s Throne – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 12-17)
This is the third of the seven churches, Pergamum. It could be described as post-martyr, it has stood the test and not denied the faith (v13). The church here has rest from her enemies. That though is always a very dangerous time, after you have stood, or won a battle, we tend to let our guard down, to relax. Christ depicts himself here as the one who wields the sharp two-edged sword (v12). He designates himself as is appropriate to the situation at a given time in the church. Remember these letters go to the church universal and all of these situations are that which she will face at different times in different degrees through to the end of the age. Jesus Christ stands in the midst of the church, always. He stands in the midst of the church at Pergamum as a threatening judge with a two-edged sword, she has an angry Jesus in her midst. There are weakness and compromise, a worldly church is what she has become. There was a time when she stood firm but that is in the past, history. That was in the days of Antipas when he was martyred for his faith in Jesus (v13). You recall the great victory of Elijah the prophet on Mount Carmel when all the prophets of Baal were slaughtered. After that victory what do you find Elijah doing? Running for his life from the evil Jezebel. Another lesson we learn from this is you cannot live on past glory. We are told by the Lord Jesus we must take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Because like Pergamum you took up the cross last week, last year doesn’t mean you will take it up today, or tomorrow. We cannot live on what the saints have done in the past. We love to bask in the glory of our church history heroes, how they faced the stake, the sword and the gallows. But that was them, that was then. What about now, today, are bearing the cross, that is identifying with the crucified and risen, Redeemer? Are you fighting his fight and for his cause? Or maybe as so many fighting a cause of your own, your own pet theological shibboleths. But will you continue to stand in the midst of the apostasy and growing wickedness in our land today? Or when the terror of Islam comes to our down as it surely must, will you stand faithfully with Jesus then?
Satan hasn’t gone away from Pergamum, he has simply changed his tactics. Now instead of as a roaring lion coming to devour he comes as an angel of light to seduce them. He seeks to choke the life-stream of the church, adding evil practices to it. So Jesus is not happy with this church he is ready to judge them. The sharp devouring two-edged sword it does hang over our nation today, doubtless, but judgment the apostle tell us always begins with the church (1Peter 4:17). The sword has two edges it inspires and encourages the faithful it is no threat to them. But to those who are unfaithful, it is a very serious threat. This is a correction who see only a loving, compassionate Christ. I say only, he is all that and more. One of the marks of the early New Testament church was one of fear (Acts 5:11). That is all but gone in this generation. He stands in the midst of this church with a sharp, very sharp two-edged sword. The problem with Pergamum? She tolerates evil men and discipline is slack. Once she made a faithful stance, even here, where Satan has his throne, where he has a stronghold. It’s the centre of Roman rule and idolatrous pagan religion. There was a temple built there, the first of its kind in Asia Minor. It was built for and to worship Augustus Ceasar. The cult of the Emperor it was called. Of course, refusal to do so was tantamount to treason. Then there was the serpent god of healing, the altar of Zeus. Pergamum was a stronghold of Satan, there he held sway, and these were some of the tools he used. We must always remember Satan is a spirit=being, he needs flesh and blood people to do his will and work his purposes in the world. Statism, worship of the state and pagan religion are just some of his tactics to rule completely. But there is one tiny little barricade in his way that he must demolish in order to get his way. It’s the church of Jesus Christ in Pergamum. It’s a fight to the end beloved, put on the full armour of God, be alert, on your guard, you have an enemy, the devil, “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)