“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” – Revelation 2:12-17
Jesus has a ‘sharp two-edged sword’ coming out of His mouth which represents His ability to judge. Nothing is hidden from Him. He can divide between the soul and the spirit of man and He knows the thoughts and intents of mankind’s heart. Pergamum was the center of emperor worship, having a 200 ft statue of Zeus. They also worshiped Asclepius, the god of healing whose symbol was the serpent wrapped around a staff. Doctors today still use this symbol to identify their profession. I am not saying the use of medicine is wrong, but putting medicine or doctors in the place of God is wrong!
Jesus said, ‘Satan’s throne’ was there and ‘Satan dwells’ in Pergamum. Does this mean Satan has a specific place of dwelling on earth? To understand the answer to this question, we have to review some history about God. When Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, God declared His desire to dwell in their midst and showed Moses how to build a dwelling place for Him – a Tabernacle. Over the course of time, God chose David to lead them and because David had a heart to build a house for God in their midst, God instructed them to build the first Temple on the highest mountain in Jerusalem in which the Ark of the Covenant was placed. God came down and rested between the Cherubim on the Ark and declared, “I have set My Name there.” That place was called “the mountain of the Lord.”
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.” – Micah 4:1
For this reason Satan, who hates God, has always wanted to destroy God’s people, Jerusalem, and the Temple where God put His name. He is jealous. He once was in this exalted position in the mountain of God in heaven until he was cast down due to his own sin. As Ezekiel and Isaiah reveal –
“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.” – Ezekiel 28:16
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – Isaiah 14:13,14
When the Greek successor of Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, invaded Israel he took over the Temple and desecrated it by erecting a altar to Zeus. He even sacrificed a pig on the altar. It was forever after referred to as the “abomination of desolation”. This led to what is known as the Maccabean revolt and the cleansing of the Temple. This re-dedication is commemorated in the feast of Dedication, which we call Hanukkah , and marks the Jewish New Year. A second similar event occurred in 130 AD by the Roman Hadrian, which involved the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to the ruins of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in 70 AD by Titus. At first sympathetic towards the Jews, Hadrian promised to rebuild the Temple, but the Jews felt betrayed when they found out that he intended to build a temple dedicated to Jupiter (the Roman version of Zeus) upon the ruins of the Second Temple. The resulting Jewish revolt led to the expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem, the renaming of Israel to Palestine (Roman for Philistine), prohibiting the Torah law and the Hebrew calendar, and destroying the association of Jews to Judea and forbidding the practice of Jewish faith. This is history but, prophetically, Jesus predicted it would happen once more –
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” – Matthew 24:15
Now to the question of what is Satan’s throne? When Hadrian built an altar to Jupiter on the Temple mount, a copy of it was built in Pergamum because it was the center of emperor worship at that time. Only they called it the throne of Zeus. After Rome became Christian under Emperor Constantine, the altar fell into disuse and was gradually covered
by the sands of time. Eventually, it was re-discovered in the early 1900’s by a German archaeologist and moved to Berlin, where it was reassembled and made into a museum. In 1930, Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, designed a copy of it in Nuremberg where Hitler announced his famous ‘final solution’ to the Jewish problem. There is no doubt that Satan dwelt there when Hitler tried to destroy the Jewish people.
When Jesus dictated this Revelation letter to John, Satan’s throne was literally in Pergamum. But in the 1930’s it was moved to Germany, and I believe it will be found somewhere in Europe at the end of the age. one thing is sure however, wherever persecution and hatred of God’s people is found, Satan dwells there.
Smyrna was not the only church to suffer persecution. Here in Pergamum Antipas was martyred. Social and political pressure from the government of Pergamum not only led some in the church to compromise with idolatry but also with sexual immorality. Faced with martyrdom for being too obedient or different, many were willing to allow the world to gain an inroad into the church. Satan was able to deceive them with the spirit of Balaam. (You remember Balaam, who could not curse Israel so he instead advised Israel’s enemies to entice her into immoral relationships, knowing this would weaken her.) Pergamum also had those who held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans (see To the Seven Churches-Smyrna), which Christ hates.
Why does Christ react so strongly to sexual immorality? Because, the Church is called to be the Bride of Christ and sexual impurity is the same as apostasy and the breaking of covenant relationship.
The same spirit is at work in the Church today. Rampant divorce and remarriage amounts to the same problem Pergamum had. Jesus likens it to adultery.
“But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. So He said to them, whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” – Mark 10:2-12
The Apostles also taught the same thing (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 5:11. 7:10-11, 18-20). This is a serious problem. Adultery will keep us out of heaven! But, is it a more serious problem than any other sin? No, because all sin is a result of lawlessness. Jesus taught –
“Because lawlessness (wickedness) will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
Paul even addresses the situation of a believer and an unbeliever being married. He teaches that if the unbeliever is willing to stay married, the believer should not divorce, but if the unbeliever leaves, the believer is not to blame. Yet, they are not given the right to remarry (1 Cor 7:11, 12, 15, 17).
What do believers do if they divorce and remarry as believers? The same as you do for any other sin – repent. Until you do, the devil has a foothold in your life. Nevertheless, even though you can be forgiven, that may not erase the harm that has been done, especially if children are involved. Many people have been divorced and remarried before they became believers. To them, the Scriptures say remain in the situation you were in when you came to the Lord.
The best approach is to teach God’s standards and live by them. Then believers should not be yoked to unbelievers. Don’t rely on the hope that you will change them after marriage. Why hope that God will honor your prayers after you have rebelled and disobeyed Him? I do not say these things in a legalistic way. The only way to bring peace and stability into our lives is to obey God’s rules for living.
We have come to a time in history when we can no longer trust society; it is too spoiled by lawlessness. We must trust only God and His precepts. Society has rejected God and His precepts and barred them from public view. The political system is corrupt and truth takes a back seat to power. The education system is presenting the false idols of humanism (the religion of man) as the standards to live by. The religious system, like Pergamum, has allowed the world to influence it. Society is filled with violence and sexual immorality.
Judgment is about to fall on America because the shedding of innocent blood through abortion and because of lawlessness. Only those who take the message given to the church of Pergamum to heart will be protected from it by the Lord.
Jesus gives the way to overcome these deceptions – the sword of the Lord. Paul also refers to this sword as the word of God –
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Eph. 6:17
Before Jesus Christ returns, the Church must purge itself of all impurities, as it declares in Revelation 19:7 –
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
Notice, it is the Bride that makes herself ready! There is a separation coming between the holy and the profane, between the fully committed and the ‘lukewarm’, between the ‘faithful even unto death’ and those who compromise with the world system because it is easier.
Even so, come Lord Jesus, Maranatha!