This Sunday we’ll be continuing through the letters to the seven churches in our study of the book of Revelation. We’ll be reading chapter 2:12-29, where the cities of Pergamum and Thyatira will be the recipients. Jesus follows the same pattern: commendation, correction, warning and promise.
We’ve been considering Jesus’ corrections for the churches to discern what it is God is expecting from the church as we live in these last days – what is our emphasis to be? What should characterize our ministry? As we looked at Ephesus and Smyrna, we learned that prioritizing love and minimizing fear were our expected attitudinal priorities.
Pergamum was a capital city in the Roman Empire – the ruling city of the province of Asia. Jesus refers to it as the city where Satan’s throne is…and Satan’s city. Jesus certainly does a little name-calling in these chapters. What do you think he means by this, considering that “satan” means enemy or accuser?
The church there had some good things going on, but Jesus addresses their tolerance of teachings that bear similarities with the actions of Balaam, the Old Testament rogue prophet. You can read about him in Numbers 22-24. Clearly, the symbolism is meant to indicate that the church in Pergamum was in danger of being absorbed by the cultural influences of their day. Applying that to our own time and culture, what influences do we need to be mindful of? What aspects of our present culture flow with the values of God’s kingdom, and what aspects do not? How do we make that determination?
The promise given is that of hidden manna in heaven. What did manna provide for the Israelite? What might this invisible, heavenly-sided manna be for us?
The promise of a white stone with a new name is intriguing. There are many different views about its meaning. I’m partial to the connection with the “tessara hospitalis” view. What does the white stone speak to you?
We’ll also be reading the letter to the church in Thyatira, and while it’s the longest of the letters, we’ll deal with it briefly, since it largely carries a similar warning to that of Pergamum. This time around, the false teachings being tolerated are compared to the Old Testament character Jezebel – whom you can read about in 1 Kings 18 and 19.
Committing adultery with “Jezebel” is symbolic in nature – indicating, not actual adultery, but spiritual unfaithfulness on the part of the church. Apparently they were being tempted to follow doctrines that led them away from Christ and to something or someone else. What things in our world vie for our affection or allegiance in competition with Christ? How can we examine our loyalties and see to it that Christ holds the highest priorities in our choices?
This will be a challenging study – hope to see you there!