Posts Tagged ‘Church of Pergamum’

Revelation Chapter 2 – Pergamum

Messianic Community of Pergamum

Pergamum was a city in the ancient Greece located in a large valley in Asia Minor, 16 miles inland from the Aegean Sea.  This city was the political center for all of Asia Minor known for its library, the arts and its theater, as well as its psychiatric hospital. The city also had a healing center built to honor the Greek serpent-god Asklepios that offered everything from mud baths to major operations.

Pergamum had three temples built for the worship of the Roman emperor; Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war; and Zeus. The Great Altar of Zeus, believed by many to be the “Throne of Satan,” partially remains on the Acropolis today; the other part is in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, Germany. The word ‘throne’ also referred to a specific chair for the ‘lord of the house’ symbolizing that Satan was the ruling power in that home.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: “I know where you are living, there where the Adversary’s throne is. Yet you are holding onto my name. You did not deny trusting me even at the time when my faithful witness Antipas was put to death in your town, there where the Adversary lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have some people who hold to the teaching of Bil‘am, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Isra’el, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin. Likewise, you too have people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, turn from these sins. Otherwise, I will come to you very soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving it'” (Revelation 2:12-17). 

The third messenger is sent to Pergamum where Yeshua reveals himself as the “one who has the sharp double-edged sword.”  The double-edged sword is a description of the Word of God that judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).  Yeshua says the Adversarywho twists the Word of God, and hates Isra’el and the Jewish people, has his ‘throne’, his seat of authority, in Pergamum.  This community’s battle is with the Adversary; how he twists the Truth and leads the believers of Pergamum into deception.

The Snake OUT of the Garden

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14).

The Hebrew letter tet or ת, has a word picture of a ‘snake’ and means ‘twisting.’ When using the Hebrew letters to list the Ten Commandments, the letter tet refers to the commandment, “You shall not bear false witness.”

The Israelites complained to Moshe for bringing them into the desert where they had no food or water; they had tired of eating manna. Elohim sent poisonous snakes to bite the people, and many died. When they confessed to Moshe they had sinned, Elohim had him “make a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. When anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will live.  Moshe made a bronze snake and put it on the pole; if a snake had bitten someone, then, when he looked toward the bronze snake, he stayed alive” (Numbers 21:8-9).

The Hebrew text in Numbers 21:6 does not use the words “poisonous snakes,” but nachashim seraphim or ‘fiery serpents’ suggesting that the snakes didn’t just have poison, but a lethal burning power.   Hence, the thought of looking up at the replica of the very snake that was causing death probably seemed ludicrous, but it was Elohim’s way or die.  If they didn’t look at the snake, their bones would be left to decay in the desert sand.  It took a personal act of faith to look up at the ‘fiery serpent’ to receive physical healing from a spiritual disease called ‘rebellion.’

The ‘twisting’ of the snake on the pole to bring healing and life was initiated by Elohim; however, Pergamum distorted it to worship the Adversary bringing eternal separation from God. Even today, the symbol of modern medicine is the rod of Asclepius, a snake twisted around a staff. This suggests that medicine and its pharmecopeia, the Greek word for drugs, is not rooted in the healing power of Yeshua, but in the Adversary.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Fiery Serpent or nechashim seraphim – נחשיםשרפים

noon, chet, shin, yod, mem – shin, resh, peh, yod, mem

life protected by the consuming of the finished work of chaos

– the consuming head speaks the finished work of chaos

Nehushtanlife inner room bound to consume of the covenant of life

The Name Above All Names

The community in Pergamum is commended for holding onto Yeshua’s name.  Over the centuries, the Adversary has played a major role in changing the Hebrew name, Yeshua, which means ‘salvation,’ into the Greek rendering, Jesus, that some believe is a form of the Greek god, Zeus.   Using the given name of the Son of God, Yeshua, set people free from demons and the worship of other gods, but it also brought the prospect of death.

When the believers in Pergamum began standing against a multi-god worship, the citizens were outraged. This community watched one of their own, a faithful follower of Messiah who cast out many demons, be martyred.  According to Wikipedia,  Antipas was martyred in a bronze bull-shaped altar used for casting out demons as a way to try to discredit his work. 

“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has cupped the wind in the palms of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:4).

Balaam and Balak

Some believers in Pergamum hold to the teachings of Baalam.  Balaam was a prophet who was hired by the king of Moab, Balak, to curse Isra’el.  On his way to meet Balak, Baalam’s donkey saw an ‘angel of Adonai’ standing in the middle of the road. The donkey veered off the road, pushed Balaam’s legs into a rock wall, and then lay down. The ‘angel of Adonai’ that frightened the donkey held a double-edged sword to remind Balaam to speak only the Word of Elohim. Though he tried to curse Isra’el several times, he could not curse those whom Elohim had blessed (Numbers 24:9).  Instead, he prophesied over the people of Isra’el multiple times! However, once Balaam understood he could never curse Isra’el, he taught the King of Moab how to entice them to sin. 

When missionaries from western nations go into the world and preach a Jesus who doesn’t keep the Sabbath, doesn’t celebrate the Biblical holy days, and eats all manner of unclean foods, they also “entice Isra’el to sin.” Recently, we received a letter asking us to support a young woman who wants to go into the mission field in Isra’el.   She needed to raise thousands of dollars to “take the love of Jesus” to the Jewish people. Because we know her and her family, we also know she is steeped in anti-semitic church doctrines. Though her message may seem like one of love, it will not include obeying the commandments of the God of Isra’el. She will only lead the Jewish people into sin and ultimately make impotent the message of salvation from the One who carries the double-edge sword. 

The double-edged sword of Yeshua’s mouth will make war with those who curse Isra’el.  Baalam found out he could not curse people who are blessed by Elohim. Balak, too, saw that Elohim’s chosen people could not be cursed.  Those who reject the eternal promises given to the Jews in the Hebrew Scriptures blame those same people for everything from killing Jesus millennia ago to whatever happens in the stock market today.   Balak was warned by Baalam –– and the nations and churches hostile to Isra’el today should note that warning.  Isra’el is still Elohim’s nation; the Jewish people are still His chosen people. The Land remains His Land of Promise; His Name continues to reside in the eternal city of Jerusalem.  Those who curse Isra’el will be cursed; those who bless Isra’el will be blessed.   

“When they lie down they crouch like a lion, or like a lioness — who dares to rouse it? Blessed be all who bless you! Cursed be all who curse you!” (Numbers 24:9).

Hidden Manna

Believers in Pergamum who overcome the teachings of Baalam and Balak, and bless Isra’el, will receive hidden manna.  A jar of manna was kept in the Ark of the Covenant, hidden, as evidence of Elohim’s provision for the Israelites.  Manna is not only a physical food, but also spiritual nourishment.

Yeshua reveals himself to be the hidden manna, the bread of life that came down from heaven. Perhaps the manna that was once ‘hidden’ in the Ark will be restored so that the overcomer in Pergamum will actually eat the heavenly food.

“He rained down man on them as food; he gave them grain from heaven — mortals ate the bread of angels; he provided for them to the full” (Psalm 78:24-25).

“I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Manna – man – מן

Mem is ‘water’ and means ‘mighty’

Nun is a ‘fish’ and means ‘life’

Man – mighty life

The White Stone

The overcomer in Pergamum will receive a white stone with a new name written on it. This new name will complete their adoption into the family of Elohim. The new name will not be denominational, it will not be doctrinal, it will not be institutional; it will be Isra’el.

“One will say, ‘I belong to Adonai.’ Another will be called by the name of Ya‘akov (Jacob). Yet another will write that he belongs to Adonai and adopt the surname Isra’el” (Isaiah 44:5).

“He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be his [adopted] sons — in keeping with his pleasure and purpose —  so that we would bring him praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us through the Beloved One” (Ephesians 1:5-6).

A white stone was also given to the victor of a race.  Believers in the Pergamum congregation were running a race and heading toward the finished line (1 Corinthians 9:24).   They are only hindered by the sins of Baalam and Balak which need to be removed in order to receive the white stone. The overcomer will win the race over sin and lead a victorious life.

A white stone was also used as a banquet invitation for a special guest.  This white stone with a new name may be the invitation the overcomer receives to be included in the wedding party at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Luke 14:15-17).

“The angel said to me, “Write: ‘How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 19:9)

The White Stone in Pergamum

As evidence to the promise given to Pergamum about a special invitation, there is a white stone in this city on which Yeshua’s words are inscribed. Unfortunately, those who were given the initial invitation made excuses for not coming to the Father’s feast in the Kingdom. How many today make excuses for not accepting the invitation to take part in the ‘appointed times’ of Elohim? How many throw what could be their ‘white stone’ invitation onto the ground and continue going about their usual activities?

“I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet!’” (Luke 14:24).

Those [in Pergamum] who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit, Ruach haKodesh [the holy wind] is saying to the Messianic community ….”

Yeshua uses these same words in the gospels when he speaks in parables, however, he doesn’t include the words, “what the Spirit says to the communities.”  One reason that he taught in parables was so people could “look but not see, and listen but not understand” the message of the Kingdom (Luke 8:10).  Because his disciples were also his students, they were given a deeper understanding to the coming Kingdom; he would explain the hidden meaning to them away from the crowds.

The parables all occurred before the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot when the ‘holy wind’ was poured out and the new covenant was instituted (Acts 2:2).  With the new covenant, men and women, who believe the message of Yeshua, are given new hearts of flesh and a renewed spirit –– neshama.  The Ruach haKodesh within would compel them to obey Torah (Ezekiel 36:24-27). Elohim’s Ruach would give them “ears to hear what the Spirit was saying” so they could hear and obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but to ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd.  His sheep were to ‘listen’ to the message and ‘obey’ in order to be an overcomer –– Isra’el –– and receive an eternal reward.  

For he is our God, and we are the people in his pasture, the sheep in his care. If only today you would listen to his voice … “(Psalm 95:7-8).

“My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands” (John 10:27-28). 

“In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says, ‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah [repent and turn from sin], so that I could heal them.’

But you [Pergamum], how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear!” (Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13:14-16). 

Revelation 2 – Messianic Community of Thyatira

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