The Letter to the Church in Pergamum in a Nutshell
Jesus the one with a double-edged sword says He knows where they live. He knows the people are holding firm to His name and that one of them has already paid the ultimate price for following Him. But He also knows that they have let in and tolerate people who are trying to lead the astray. They need to repent and turn back to Christ. He says if they will then He will give them hidden manna and white stone with a new name.
There is really just so much here. If you have read the Old Testament and specifically the account of the Exodus and the wandering in the wilderness then you can see the connections here. I am going to have to work hard here to keep this brief.
This is another some good some bad letter (like Ephesus). Here Jesus tells them that He knows where they live, and that is important to note because Pergamum was the center of emperor worship. They worshiped the emperor like a god, and one of their own had already paid the price for not conforming.
OK, we’ve got that and as much as I would like to talk about that I really want to talk about Balaam. You might remember his story because he was the one who’s donkey spoke, but there is a lot more to the story. Balaam was hired by a fellow by the name of Balak to curse the Israelites but when he tried he found he could not. He makes a fantastic statement in Numbers 23:19 which was actually the first verse I ever learned.
God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?
Basically, what it means is if God has determined something then no one and nothing can come against it. So the problem was Balaam could not curse what God what God had blessed; however, the people could go astray from what God had called them to. Balaam figured that if the people broke God’s commandments then He could not bless them while they were being disobedient. But what do we do with that? As Christians, we are not bound to the Mosaic law but under grace. Well, that is true but we can still be disobedient to God. God cannot bless you if you are being willfully disobedient to Him, and that is what is going on here. As an example think about 1 Peter 3:7 where Peter tells the men to love and respect their wives so that their prayers are not hindered.
The people in Pergamum had let in people that were trying to get them away from following God’s truth. You might have heard the expression “exchanging the truth of God for a lie” and that is part of what this means. They were letting people in the church teach them things that lead them away from God. We can do this in our own lives. We can let TV, music, friends, work, or really just about anything come into our lives and take over our values, morals, and ideals. We have to get rid of those things. It is not easy, but it is necessary. I used to go through a purge every couple of years where I would find everything I thought was causing me to stumble and dump it. Then, of course, I would add stuff back in and then purge again. This cycle kept on until I started to realize what I needed to stop and not allow in my life that did not belong there. It can be different for everyone so you need to watch your own steps.
For example, I was a huge grunge fan growing up. I had the look, the attitude, and the music memorized. The whole scene summed up what I thought about life. I was also a bad kid. I mean I was nasty, mean, and usually on something. So now while I still love me some grunge music I can’t listen to it now. It brings me somewhere I can’t go. So I don’t let that thing in my life that has the ability to make me stumble. Everyone has their own thing. We all have areas like that. Areas that we need to guard against and protect. We can’t let someone or something into our lives that takes us to a place that Jesus said we should not go and expect Him to bless us there.
Just a thought,