“…..you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me….. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you……..”
PERGAMOS: In the days of Roman dominance throughout Asia Minor, became the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Not only was Pergamos a government centre with three imperial temples, but it was also the site of the temple of Asklepios (the Greco‑Roman god of medicine and healing), and the medical centre where the physician Galen worked (about A. D. 160). Here also was a temple to Athena and a temple to Zeus with an altar showing Zeus defeating snake‑like giants. In the Book of Revelation, John spoke of Pergamos as the place “where Satan’s throne is” . This could be a reference to the cult of EMPEROR WORSHIP, because Pergamos was a centre where this form of loyalty was pledged to the emperor of the Roman Empire. ANTIPAS: a Christian martyr of the church of Pergamos . According to tradition, he became bishop of Pergamos. (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Pergamos was the official centre of “emperor worship”: “I know where you live‑‑ where Satan has his throne…..your city‑‑ where Satan lives. 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.” <2:13-14; cf Num. 22:5‑24:25; 31:16; Deut. 23:4‑5; Josh. 13:22; 2 Pet2:15; Jude 11>. There are scores of references to idolatry in the OT, which reveals the fact that idolatry was by far the greatest temptation faced by our spiritual forefathers. Israel’s ancient neighbours believed in many gods, and most probably insisted that the idol was only an aid to worship. The Word of God, however, strictly forbids the making of images of any kind, because the images eventually become the centre of worship. The Hebrew conquest of Canaan introduced new temptations for idol worship, and in many instances the people were faced with the classic question “whom will you serve”: . Still others tried the route of compromise, that is, the mixing of idolatry with the worship of the true God. In both of these instances the people idolized an object that was created and used for the glory of God; however, the object now replaced God in the minds and worship of the people. The Ephod was a sacred priestly garment worn by the High Priest and was representative of God’s presence in worship. The Brazen Serpent was used by God as an instrument of healing to the people, and also in later years was used as a picture of Christ Himself . In these instances then we see a compromise; what appeared as a simple image or representative of Christ, became the very object of worship. In the NT period, idolatry became not the “bowing down” before an idol but the replacement of God in the mind of the worshipper, and does not necessarily come in the form of an object but could be an attitude:
. Therefore, our objects of worship can include such things as fame, reputation, hobbies, pride and deeds done in the name of the Lord. Idolatry is thus a dangerous and deceitful sin!
“Eating food sacrificed to idols”: This was customary and signified fellowship : the assimilation of physical food results in physical growth and development; similarly the assimilation of spiritual food results in spiritual growth and development. Growth and development, therefore, is directly related to the food consumed. Eating food sacrificed to idols eventually identifies the person with the idol in the same way that eating the “Bread of life” identifies the person with the Son of God. “We are what we eat!” Idolatry is a subtle sin, and does not take control of us all at once; it gradually “creeps” over us before we are aware of it (if we do become aware of it). The scriptures therefore warn us to flee idolatry even in its simplest form! The OT law listed certain things that should not be done by God’s people because these were associated with idolatry. We too as believers today have to be very careful as to the customs we adhere to that they do not reflect some form of idolatry. <see Deut.14:1; Lev.19:28>
These practices are as old as civilization is, and include homosexuality, fornication and adultery. These sins and those who participated in them were many times brought under the judgment of God in OT times. These practices were also dealt with in the early church in NT times, and unfortunately are gaining increased acceptability in the church today. In the NT era, some groups found a way to compromise with the pagan society so as to “legalize” these practices in the church, and in the present time we see the same things being done. “Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”. The Nicolaitans were a heretical sect within the church, that had worked out a compromise with the pagan society, apparently teaching that spiritual liberty gave them freedom to practice idolatry and immorality. (NIV Study Bible). Nicolaitans unfortunately still exist in today’s society (not in name but in nature), and we see their influence in various ways in the mainstream of our churches. The following are extracts from publications as indicated:
THE BATTLE OVER GAY CLERGY (Time Magazine Nov.13/1989)
“Not so long ago, Christians who were homosexual devoted much of their energy to cloaking that fact. Today not only have many of them come out of the closet, but they are also staging rallies, disrupting worship services and aggressively demanding church endorsement of their life‑styles”.
ROLL OVER JOHN CALVIN ‑ The Presbyterians rethink the sexual revolution (Newsweek: May 6/1991) ‑ sub title “A New Gospel Of Love”
“On Ethics: A Christian ethic of sexuality is needed that honours but does not restrict sexual activity to marriage. On Homosexuality: The fundamental moral problem is not gay men and lesbians but rather heterosexism, the oppression of this sexual minority by the privileged majority. On Fornication: No longer will the church insist that celibacy is the only moral option for single persons. The moral norm of Christians ought not to be marriage but “justice‑love”.”
WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN (Time:Magazine May 6/1991)
“To mark Earth Day……The ceremonies were part of a growing U.S. spiritual movement: Goddess worship, the effort to create a female‑centred focus for spiritual expression.”
DRAWING DOWN THE MOON (Christianity Today Apr.29/1991 pp 14‑19 by Dave Bass) “Many Europeans and Americans are getting involved in the philosophical movement that can be called neopaganism (neo = new). ….. the common denominator of all neopagan groups is inclusivism. ….. neopagans view Christianity and Judaism as exclusivistic and intolerant. Led by a priest or priestess, they meet outdoors at every full moon and new moon. ….. also criticize Christianity as being totally useless to women because of its patriarchal mentality. The ancient theme of man as god crops up frequently in neopaganism……they argue that all human desires are good and should be satisfied.”.
“Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” > The Word of God is the only effective weapon against all ungodliness, in the church or in the world.
“To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” : “the hidden manna”: ‑ overcomers enjoy the secret things of the kingdom. : “a white stone”: Figurative of the witness of the Spirit (Naves Topical Bible): “a new name”-The name of the Victor; – A new name ‑ a new status.Such will be the status of Jerusalem in a future day; such will be the status of the “overcomers” as well: .