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Pergamos (Reading Revelation- 10)

Shawn Boonstra


Look back at Christian history especially during the middle ages. Sometimes Christians really have to hang their heads in shame over what they did. How do we explain the dark ages in light of the Jesus you find in the gospels. How do you explain torture chambers, burning people at the stake? As it turns out the Bible actually predicted we would do those things. Today Shawn shows you where it says that.


Shawn Boonstra

Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy media ministry.



  • December 26, 2015
    11:30 AM
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Look back at Christian history especially during the middle ages. And sometimes Christians really have to hang their heads in shame over what they did. I mean how do we explain the dark ages. In light of the Jesus you find in the Gospels. How do you explain torture chambers burning people at the stake. As it turns out the Bible actually predicted we would do those things. And today. On the voice of prophecy. I'll show you where it says that the Roman author Pliner. Once described the ancient city of Pergamos. As the most illustrious city of Asia. Of course. When you and I think of Asia we tend to think of countries like China or Japan maybe even India. The purpose was in Asia Minor. Which is more or less the modern country of Turkey. And this place really was a lustrous. It was built on a high hill. With only one narrow path to the top. And it was a home for home or. The great poet and Herat of us the great historian. PURDUM us was a place where educated people wanted to live. And the reason they loved it was because it boasted the second largest library in the whole world. The library in Pergamos was second only to the famous library of Alexandria Egypt. In fact. It was so successful as a center of learning that academics down in Egypt got jealous at one point. And they stopped. All their shipments of. Pirates that ancient paper. Up to Asia Minor. They were hoping to put a dent in the growth of the world's. Other big library. But this wasn't just a center of learning it was also the center of political power for the Roman province where it was located. If a Roman Caesar. Issued a decree. It would go first to the city of Pergamos. And then be issued to the rest of the province. From there. And it was also. Enforced from Pergamos. The Roman Supreme Court made its home there. So if you were brought up on serious charges that was a pretty good chance you might end up in the city. And there was also a pretty good chance that the magistrates of Pergamos. Might give you the death penalty because part of mess. Was the seat of power. Now. In Revelation Chapter two. There's a specific message from Jesus to the Christians living in Pergamos. Toward the end of the first century. Of course. We've already discovered in previous programs that. All of these letters are also messages to Christians who would live in the future. After the time periods described by the letters written to them. So. AFA says pointed to the first century church and Smyrna pointed forward to the persecuted church from the end of the first century. Roughly down to the beginning of the fourth. Now. If you missed those earlier episodes don't worry I've got you covered you can still go to the website V.O.P. dot com and catch up on all the study that we've already done. But for today what I want to do is dig into this message from Jesus to Pergamos. And we'll start reading in Revelation. Two verse twelve. Here's what it says. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos right. These things says he who has the sharp. Two edges sword. Never remember. In every one of these letters Jesus introduces himself in a very specific way. And he actually uses symbols from Revelation chapter one where he first appears to John. In Revelation one. Jesus. Basically shows John. Everything. All of the symbols. And then he hand picks just. Some of them for each of the seven churches. In this case Jesus introduces himself as the one who has the sharp. Two edges sword. And that's a very appropriate interjection. For a city that represents the seat of power. Pergamos was very Roman. The Caesar. As a sort. The Roman Army has a sort. They have political authority. But Jesus. Has more authority. His very words are a sword. Now. Historically speaking. The Romans were very fond of double edged swords. And eventually they became a symbol for the highest political authority. In the Empire. If you don't toe the line in Rome. If you threaten the peace and unity of the empire you could expect to lose your life. In that Roman context. Jesus appears to the church. As the ultimate power. The altar metaphorically far above all of the princes of Rome. But you'll notice the Jesus sword is not in his hand. It actually comes out of his mouth at least. That's where you find it back in Revelation Chapter one. So why would that be. I mean. Why would a sword come out of Jesus' mouth. Of all places. Well if you keep one finger here in Revelation to flip over to Revelation one thousand for a moment and you'll see this is not the only place where we find this temple. Look at this amazing description of Jesus starting down in Revelation nineteen verse thirteen. And actually begins well before this first but. I want to save the rest of the description for the day that we actually get to this chapter. Let's say for now that. What we're looking at is a description of Jesus leading the armies of heaven into war. It's another passage that would probably have gotten the attention of the Romans but. Let's just look at verse thirteen. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood and his name is called. The Word of God. Now. Now that's a central concept understanding the sword that comes out of Jesus' mouth. Jesus' name is the Word of God. Verse fourteen. And the armies of heaven clothed in fine linen white and clean followed him on. White Horses. Of course white being the symbol of purity. First fifteen. Now. Out of his mouth goes a sharp sword. There it is again it's coming out of his mouth. That with it. He should strike the nations and he himself will rule them with a rod a virus. He himself treads the wine press. Of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. Now what this is a Revelation nineteen is a description of the Second Coming. This moment. When it will be too late to change your mind and sinners will have to own their lives. And of course. When we eventually get to Revelation one thousand in this series will spend more time on it but for now. There are just two things that I want you to notice first of all. Jesus is called the Word of God and. Second of all he has a sword that comes out of his mouth. That take that information and flip back through the pages of your bible and go to Hebrews Chapter four. Because I want to show you something really important and I think it. It'll help tie everything together. Don't lose a track of Revelation Chapter two we will eventually get there again but. Now we're in Hebrews four verse twelve where it says. For the Word of God. Now remember Jesus is called the Word of God. For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword. Piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow. And is a discerner. Of the thoughts. And intense of the heart. So what do Christians call their bible they call it the Word of God and. The Bible itself compares God's word to a sharp two edged sword that cuts. Right to the heart of every matter. In the book of a fish in chapter six were told that the Word of God is the sword. Of the Spirit. What the Bible says is that you can trust God's word he doesn't lie. He doesn't get his facts mixed up. He doesn't misrepresent. Anything. God's Word is the. Unvarnished truth. And when you come face to face with what God says. Sometimes it pierces right through to your heart. I might think I'm all that. But the word of God tells me I might be tempted to justify my behavior in front of my family and friends but. I'm not fooling caught. And his word. Will cut away the facade and reveal my heart the way. It really is God's word lets us see ourselves. The way that. God sees us. And really. If you read the whole Bible. It and you have to do that if you want to understand the Book of Revelation you have to read the whole thing. If you read the whole Bible you'll discover that God's word has been called into question. Since the very moment we sinned. Maybe you remember the serpent didn't just contradict God in the Garden of Eden. What he did was raise doubts about God's word. He said to Eve Did God. Least say that. When the Bible shows us a sword coming out of Jesus' mouth it's a warning. It's reminding us that in the end. It's not going to matter what you said. It's not going to matter what I said. It's not going to matter what your favorite preacher said. The only thing that matters in the end is. What did God say. Now. I've got to take a quick break but I don't want you to go away because we're going to come back and see what the Word of God said. To Christians living. All the way back in the fourth century. Hello. I'm Jim do you feel as if you have more questions than answers in your life. Are you searching for answers to some of life's biggest questions. Well the Discover Bible guides can help you find the answers you are looking for is a death. At Bible studies dot com or call us at eight eight four five six seven nine three three. For your FREE. Discovery by the guides visit by the study stop calm and begin your journey today. To discover answers to life's deepest questions. OK We are back and. Since today we're talking about the Word of God I hope you were listening. And I hope you'll take advantage of that free comprehensive Bible course the Discover. Bible course. It's going to give you a lot of the tools you need to just understand Bible prophecy for yourself. Now if you didn't get a chance to get the information in the break just hang in with me because I I think will run that information again before the show is over just before we broke away to that information. We were talking about this sword that comes out of Jesus' mouth Revelation Chapter two. The sharp two edge of the sword that represents the Word of God. Of course we know Jesus is the Word of God. And the Bible uses that terminology to describe him back in John chapter one. When it describes Jesus as the creator of this world. In the letter to Pergamos here in Revelation to Jesus present some self. As the Word of God. The sword. The sort of the Spirit. Is coming out of his mouth. And that kind of sets the table for what Jesus needs to say to these people. Because he's about to speak to a group of believers who were beginning to compromise. Back in the letter to F.S.S. Jesus presented himself as the one who walks among the candlesticks the one who never leaves his church. Even though he had physically gone back to heaven. In the letter to Smyrna Jesus presented himself as the one who died and rose again because he knew the church was going to go through a horrible. Period of persecution. At the hands of the pagan Roman Empire. But now we have this strange turn of events. Because in the year three twelve. October in fact. There's a man by the name of Constantine who suddenly marches on the city of Rome. At that point in history the Roman Empire had been fragmented. Broken into pieces because. Diocletian actually divided power in his empire among four different rulers. Yet a senior ruler called an Augustus. Over in the eastern half of the empire. And you also had a. CAESAR. A kind of a junior ruler in the same half. The western half of the empire you have the same arrangement and Augustus a senior Emperor. And a Caesar who was a junior Emperor. But at the end of Diocletian. Career. When he went into retirement. Something that was frankly unheard of in those days. When he went into retirement the Empire fragmented. And there was such a power struggle that you actually had six or even seven emperors at one point. But in three twelve eighty Constantine was closing in on. Reconsolidating power under his own rule. And there was this. Impostor by the name of Max N.T.'s living inside the city of Rome. Who had convinced the Senate that he should be. The emperor. And that such a great story I wish we had time to go back in history just unfold the whole story I could spend hours on it but it's not really the point for today. What a boils down for today is this. Constantine. When he won the battle. It's the reason you're probably familiar with his name. But there was a twist to the story. As his soldiers were preparing for the battle of Millvina bridge. He suddenly has every man paint a Cairo. Some people say key row. On their shields. Now. What is a Cairo. Well chances are you've seen what kind of looks like the letter P with an X. through it. It's a symbol that you still see on a lot of Christian churches. It's actually the Greek letter which is more like a C.H.. But it looks like an X.. The other part is the Greek letter row which really looks like the letter P. But it's more like an R.. The reason you see that symbol on Christian churches today. Is that the two letters together spell. Well. The equivalent of C H R. The first few letters in the name of Christ. But it's not really a Christian symbol it predates Christianity bay quite a few years and it has a pagan background. Those letters also happen to be the first few letters in the word. Chrestus with an easy not an eye. And that's a word that meant. Victory or. Good luck. Now. It's a long story and we don't really have time for. What you need to know today. Is that Constantine won the battle. And he became the undisputed emperor of Rome. Ten years later after he wins. He retold the story of his conquest to a church historian by the name of you C.B.S.. And on that occasion ten years later. He adds an important detail that has now become the stuff of legend. When we were on our way to Millvina Bridge he said. I looked up and saw a cross superimposed on the sun. And I heard a voice telling me conquer. In this sign. Constantine told you C.B.S.. That the Christian God told him to paint that symbol on the shields. And to conquer Rome. As a Christian. That story doesn't show up for ten years. It's highly dubious that it actually happened but that's what he said to you C.B.S.. And sure enough when. Constantine marched into the city of Rome in three twelve eighty. He refused to offer sacrifices at the temple of Jupiter. Every other conqueror before him had done that. But for all intents and purposes on that day. Constantine appeared to have dropped his pagan religion. Now. Whether or not Constantine was ever a true convert to Christianity is a matter for debate personally I actually doubt it. He refused to get baptized until shortly before his death and he still went on to murder a number of his own family members I think we actually have records of his mother praying for his conversion. After he supposedly had been converted. So. I personally doubt he ever did convert. But generally speaking Constantine. Did have a soft heart for the Christian faith. And that was probably because his mother actually. Was a Christian. And this is actually where the letter to Pergamos comes into play. Christianity had been going through. Unbelievable persecution all the way through the second and third. Centuries. But in three thirteen a Constantine suddenly puts a stop to all the persecution with the. Edict of Milan the ten years or. The ten prophetic days of Revelation two verse ten were now over. And Christians were suddenly free to practice their faith. Everywhere. In the Roman Empire. But more than that the church began to look to the Roman emperor for help when a Christian controversy erupted down in North Africa. The Donatist controversy. The church actually begged the Emperor to help them settle the dispute. When the area and heresy. Erupted. Were certain Christians were starting to deny the full divinity of Christ. Again. The Christian Church. Turned to Rome for help. And what happened. Was a blending of church and state. And that wasn't particularly healthy for Biblical Christianity. Under Constantine. The persecution stopped and it actually became fashionable to join the church. And because the emperor favor the church. It meant that a lot of people signed up just because it seemed like a ticket to power. And because of that the church began to compromise. You and I go back and look over our Christian history and we feel some in Paris Mint because we can't deny that the official state church. Did some pretty horrible things. Throughout the Middle Ages. We burned. People at the stake we did that. We tortured people to get confessions or to scare them into towing the official line. And you know try as you might. You can go all through the Bible and you will never find a command from Jesus to do that stuff. We need to be embarrassed about what we've done. That behavior. Was born through the blending of Christian faith and Roman politics. We actually important the tactics the methods of the Roman emperor straight into the Christian church. And it's this period of history that Jesus is speaking about. Listen to this in Revelation to verse thirteen. Jesus says. I know your works and. Where you dwell. Or Satan's. Throne. Is now. If we had more time. I would describe. All city of Pergamos was actually home. To a temple of the serpent God. The whole city was a center of pagan worship. And of course when. Roman politics started mixing in with Christian faith. The remore than a few of their pagan ideas that made their way into church circles. Jesus continues. And you hold fast to my name this is verse thirteen. And did not deny my faith. Even in the days in which. Anti pass. Was my faithful martyr. Who was killed among you where Satan. Dwells. Jesus appears to be talking to those Christians who were resisting the change that was taking place in the church. He's speaking to the ones who were trying to stay faithful to the Word of God. But you'll notice now in verse fourteen even. They were in danger of making compromise. Here's what Jesus says. But I have a few things against you because you have their votes who hold the doctrine of Baylor. Who taught Bale lack. To put a stumbling block before the children of Israel. To eat things. Sacrificed to idols. And to commit sexual immorality. Now. You have read that you've got to admit those are pretty serious charges. So right after we take a quick break we'll come back and we'll. Unpack that verse. A little bit. Don't go away. We'll be right back. Hello. I'm Gene Boone. Do you feel as if you have more questions than answers in your life. Like where is God When people suffer. Or can I find real happiness. And is there any hope for our chaotic world. Are you searching for answers to these and other of life's biggest questions. Well the discover by the guides. Will help you find the answers that you're looking for Visit us at Bible studies dot com. Or give us a call at eight eight eight. Four five six seven nine three three. For your FREE. Discovered by the guides. You can choose to study in the format that's most convenient for you. You mean either do the lessons completely on line or have them mailed right to your home. Post options are completely free of charge. Visit Bible study stop come. And begin your journey today. To discover answers to life's deepest questions. You are listening to the voice of prophecy My name is Shawn Boone struck. And right before we took a little break. We were reading Revelation two in verse fourteen. Now because we took a break I want to read it again. And I want you to remember this is addressed to Christians living at a time when pagan philosophy and politics were starting to make inroads into the Christian church. Here's Jesus now in verse fourteen. But I have a few things against you because you have there. Those who hold the doctrine of Baylor who taught by a lack to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. Now those are pretty serious charges. Because all through the Bible God uses sexual immorality. To describe our. Unfaithfulness. To him. God's people are describe all from the Old Testament and the new. As a virtuous woman. The bride of Christ. But when God's people wander away from his covenant. When we begin to entertain false ideas and false gods. The Bible calls that adultery it says we're cheating on God. What we're reading here in Revelation two is a warning to fourth and fifth century Christians to stay faithful. Careful Jesus to say you're going to face influences that tempt you away from the Word of God. You're going to face trends that try to push you in the wrong direction. That's what it's talking about when it mentions the doctrine of they if you remember Belem was an Old Testament prophet who turned his back on God for the sake of making some money. They lacked the king of Moab. Was trying to get him to curse the Children of Isreal and. Only divine intervention. Stop it from happening. The Christian Church. After Constantine. Faced the same kind of temptation. There were all kinds of people joining the church who really had never had a conversion experience. They were joining for political gain or. Monetary advantage or just to align with the wishes of the supposedly Christian. Emperor. But these people coming in didn't actually know Jesus. And they had no intention of abandoning their ancient pagan religions. They just took their whole lives neatly right into the Christian church without making any real changes. And honestly it had to be tempting for Christians to just go with the flow. After all they had just faced. Centuries of harsh persecution. And now the tide had turned in their favor. They began to think this through. They thought well maybe God did speak to Constantine. Maybe this is the kingdom of God on Earth. It's not hard to imagine what some people must have been thinking because we still face the same temptations Today we tell ourselves. If we could just accommodate to the culture maybe Christians could rise to the halls of power and establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. I still hear it around election time. I still see it in the things that Christians write in the things they say. You and I have begun to compromise. Biblical truth. In these days. In order to win the favor of the prevailing culture. And in that regard. The warning to Pergamos. Also applies to us. The Word. Pergamos itself. If you dissect the etymology look at the roots. It implies. Marriage. And in this case. We're not talking about a good marriage. When you comes to human marriage we know those are based on a healthy compromise. But in this case. What happened was a very unhealthy compromise. This is why Jesus is reminding the church to stick with the Word of God the sword. You're not going to be judged on what Caesar says. But what the Word of God says. What took place historically was a marriage of pagan philosophy Roman politics and Christianity. And it actually turns out the program US may have been the perfect city to illustrate all of this. Back when the ancient city of Babylon way back when. When it was conquered by Cyrus the Persian A lot of the Kal D.M. priests the masters of the mystery religions of Babylon. They fled for their lives and they settled in Asia Minor. In the city of. Pergamos. So the city became a key center for pagan religion. And from there. Mystery Babylon. Actually continued her influence. And the sad story in The Book of Revelation. And you'll see this in more detail when we get to Chapter seventeen. The sad story is that a woman God symbol for the church. Becomes compromised. And corrupted. To the point where she actually gets marked with the name. Mystery. Babylon. It's a very sad development in our Christian history. Listen here to verse fifteen. And this is revelation. To verse fifteen. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolay atoms. Now you might remember these characters the Nicolet ins from our study on the letter to F.S.S.. But in a nutshell one of the things the nickel Latins were guilty of was encouraging. Compromise with culture. They said among other things that the moral laws of God don't really matter. That we're free under grace to do whatever we want. Compromise they said with the culture might actually help sell Christianity. The early church the church of FS has resisted the Nicoletta. But now the later Church the Church of Pergamos. Is being infiltrated by them. First fifteen again. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolay a tense which thing. I hate. Repent. Or else I will come to you quickly. And will fight against them. With the sword. Of my mouth. Over and over again Jesus. Points us to the sword that comes from his mouth. Not because he wants to destroy us but because he wants to save us. I mean if Jesus just wanted to destroy everybody he wouldn't bother with a warning. The warning is clear. You ultimately can't trust people. You have to stand on the Word of God You need to test every idea every philosophy. Against Scripture. And the reward for that will be unbelievable. Verse seventeen. He who has an ear. Let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes. I will give some of the hidden manna to eat and I will give them a white stone. And on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him. Who receives it. You know all through history God rename some of us people to emphasize what he expected from them. Jacob became. Israel. Abrams became Abraham. And you. Well. At some point if you stick with Jesus God's going to say you know. I know what your parents named you. But I've always thought of you more as day. And then he gives you a new name a name that you get to keep for all eternity. Here's the ultimate message in the long run compromise just isn't worth it. Look at what it led to in the dark ages. The the hidden man. Was the man a hidden in the most holy place in the old temple. It represented Jesus Himself the Bread of Life won a match in the arena. Sometimes the Emperor gave them a white pebble with his name on it. And that white pebble entitled him to special privileges. So what does it mean for you got a saying. Stay faithful stick with Jesus. The Living Word of God. And one day soon. He will hand you a white stone. With your new name. Even though you don't deserve it even though you couldn't possibly. Earn it. Jesus has one for you. All the rights and privileges of his kingdom. And he invites you to live and reign with him. Believe me. There's no compromise. That will ever give you thet I'm Sean bone structure. And you've been listening to the voice of prophecy. Hello. I'm seemed unstrap. Are you searching for answers to life's. Toughest questions like Where is God when we suffer. Can I find real happiness. Or is there any hope for our chaotic world. Are you searching for answers to these and other of life's most challenging questions. Whether discover Bible guides will help you find the answers that you're lucky for Visit us at Bible studies dot com or keep us a call at eight eight eight. Four five six seven nine three three. For your FREE. Discover Bible guides. Study on line on our secure website. Or have the free guides mailed right to your home. There is never a cost. Or obligation to discover Bible guides are. Power free gift to heal. Find Answers think I'd like to have my life really matter to God and. A second chance at life. You'll find answers to the things that matter most to you. In each of the twenty six discovered by the guides. Visit Bible studies dot com and begin your journey today. To discover. Answers to life's. Deepest questions. You were born with a little one on one with the little.


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