3. The Message to the church of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17)
This church seems to be in a rough side of town (Revelation 2:13), but they are holding on to Jesus Name and, they are not denying their faith, even on the face of death. They sound pretty good! However, they are letting a lethal false doctrine sneak in; they are actually letting sin in openly. This is where we begin to see Spiritual Punks in leadership. Revelation 2:13-16 tells us,
‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. (NASB)
This is a good warning for all of us. Notice how strong this church is regarding holding on to the Name of Jesus and notice how strong they are in their faith; but at the same time how weak they are when it comes down to these doctrines that promotes sexual immorality.
Curiously, most other biblical references to Balaam are negative. Though the account described above reports that he refused to curse Israel and rejected the handsome payment offered by the Moabite king, other texts denounce him as a prophet for hire (Josh 13:22, Josh 24:9, and Neh 13:2) and report his execution (Num 31:8) as punishment for involvement in the Baal Peor incident (Num 25), where he is blamed for inciting Moabite women to entice Israelite men to sin.
Later in chapter 2 of Revelation, the author seems to link the practices of the Nicolaitans with the practices of those who listened to Balaam (Revelation 2:14-15). Those who followed Balaam back in Numbers used Midianite women to seduce the men of Israel and lead them to worship other gods. Examples of such acts have played out with Solomon, for instance, when his wives from pagan religions led him astray and after other gods (1 Kings 11:1-5). Because Revelation seems to link Balaam with the Nicolaitans, one can assume the church of Ephesus faced a similar dilemma. Immersed in pagan Roman culture in that city, the sect of the Nicolaitans may have attempted to woo the Christians away from their religion, just as they had been wooed before.
It is important to point out that Jesus stated, “…because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam…” It was not the entire church, but the problem was the church’s leadership was not paying attention. I wonder if they justify all these mess under the umbrella of love, mercy, grace, peace and unity; but Jesus tells this church to repent.
4. The Message to the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24 But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.25 Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. 26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 2:19-29 (NASB)
The first thing that I want to point out is the perfect justice of God. This church is under severe judgment of God; they received a very serious warning with devastating consequences. However, in verses 24 and 25 the Lord stated, “But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.25 Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” Even in the worst churches there will still be people that are honestly following God and are perhaps, the people God will use to bring the church to repentance.
Again, we see a problem in this church and, again, the problem is not related to the church building or parking expansion or the color of the new sanctuary… the problem has to do directly with the false doctrine these spiritual punks are allowing to infiltrate in their local churches; “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This church was allowing the spirit of Jezebel to run freely in the church.
As detailed in 1 Kings 16:31-32, Jezebel persuaded her husband to promote the worship of deities, Baal and Asherah, among the people of Israel. It was common during this era of kingdoms for the king to establish worship facilities for foreign wives. In this case, Jezebel required the installation of a temple and an altar for Baal, which was built in Samaria. Since she was Phoenician, Jezebel more than likely had a role that was more active than what was normal in Hebrew rule…
During Ahab’s reign in Israel, the people were deeply divided as to either worship and serve Baal or the Lord. Animosities were so heighted that Jezebel ordered the death of the Lord’s prophets, while she fully supported the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Obadiah was a governor in the region who greatly feared the Lord. He protected 100 of the Lord’s prophets, hiding them in caves and feeding them (1 Kings 18:3-4).
The Jezebel spirit is very active in the church today. It is not only a spirit that promotes sexual immorality as a way to move God’s people away from God, but there is even greater danger. The spirit of Jezebel hates the prophets. The Apostle Paul stated that he wishes that all prophesize (I Corinthians 14:5), but have you notice that it is rare to see a church that flows in the prophetic? You wonder why? The Jezebel spirit, that’s the reason why! Look at the brutal consequences that God has reserved for those who partake of this spirit, “Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with pestilence…” Revelation 2:22-23 (NASB) Beloved, this spirit will bring forth sickness and death; the death of our children. This should get our attention.
To be continued…