Brit Hadashah Reflections 18
Hebraic understanding Hebrews and Revelation
Revelation 2 : 12- 17
This is a part of Scripture which is avoided by many people because of its seeming complexity. It is the only book in our Bible attributed to Yeshua Ha’mashiach Himself. Written by the Apostle John late in his life during a visionary encounter with the Holy Spirit of God. At times John is prompted, even directed, by the Lord to write what he is witnessing. One can only guess at the amazing spectacle of being so directed. What he describes is sometimes very difficult to imagine. There are quite unusual events and situations, such as have never before been encountered by mankind, to be considered, evaluated, and reckoned with. But it all comes with a promise!
“He who has the sharp two-edged sword” told John to write a letter to the “ekklesia” at Pergamos. A city which today, with about 100,000 people, is known as Bergama, some 100 Km north of Izmir. It is a modern city, and just outside the town, on an impressive high mound overlooking the city, to its north, is the ancient site of the Pargamos Altar. It is this high place which was identified in our text as the place where Satan dwelt. There are still ruins there, and an extremely large amphitheatre, But the main structure was taken away by the Germans in 1878, and has since been reconstructed to now stand, a magnificent display together with a number of other ancient structures, including the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, presently (2018) having a five year long renovation plan in progress.
“I know your works, and I know where you live, where Satan’s throne is.” That is not some kind of sinister threat. It is a real appreciation that this “ekklesia” was situated, in a most difficult location, right in close proximity to the place where Satan himself dwelt and was worshipped. To emphasize the appreciation of this, he continued with the fact in these extremely difficult circumstances, they held fast to their faith. We may get some idea of the difficulties they must have faced when we are also told that one of their number, Antipas by name, was martyred there for his faith. But they remained steadfast.
Never-the-less, “I have a few things against you” He said. Firstly, there are some of you who ‘followed the doctrine of Baalam’. What was that? In a nutshell, the ‘doctrine of Baalam’ was that it appears that he would do anything for a profit! There seemed to be no moral compass in Baalam. As a prophet, he took a commission from Baal to curse the Israelites. But God intervened to prevent him. When he failed to produce the curse directly, he cooked up the plan to subvert the Israelites into sexual misconduct with the women of Moab and Midian. That worked, but with disastrous consequences. In any event, that situation was apparently also present in this “ekklesia” in Pergamos, although the detail, is not available to us. What we do know is that it involved, what was to the Israelites, prohibited contact and liaison between the two groups. It may be described as an “unequal yoke”.
Two weeks ago, in our ‘reflection’ on the letter to the “ekklesia” at Ephesus, we came across this “doctrine of the Nicolaitans”. Which Yeshua hates! Here it is again. There are many suppositions about this, but the most prevalent view is that it involved the very common practise of hierarchical control. If it was prevalent then, when this letter was written, there have been over 1900 years of practice to perfect the phenomenon! The word ‘Nicolaitan’ is derived from two Greek words. “Nikao” which means ‘to conquer’, and “laos” which means ‘people’, and from which the English word ‘laity’ comes. SO, the perceived meaning of ‘the doctrine of the Nicolaitans’ is the “conquest of the people” (by those in authority). That may take many forms. The most insidious of which, today, is the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the infallibility of ‘Il Papa’, the Pope. But they are not alone. Protestant denominations, possibly especially the Pentecostal assemblies, are rife with it. Most congregants are subdued by the exhortation to not speak against ‘the Lord’s anointed’! The more relevant exhortation would be to act as a ‘watchman’, protecting the ‘laity’ form abusive doctrinal control. Let me explain by quoting from an enlightening article I read recently on this subject (Author unknown). “That which we identify as “The Lord’s Prayer” says, in part, “let it be on earth as it is in Heaven.” In this ‘revelation’ of John he was led into the very throne room of God. There he observed 24 Elders, which we do not know much about, except that they are important. But when they hear ‘the four living creatures’ giving glory, honour, and thanks to God, they (as important as they are) fall down prostrate, worship Him and cast their crowns before the throne of God. No-one has any business claiming any position over any other person in God’s sight. It always leads to abuse.” And Yeshua hates it.
“Repent, or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” says “He who has the sharp two-edged sword.” Friends, we need to take heed to these messages to the ‘churches’. Most of us are part of a ‘church’. Time is short. Shorter now than it was then. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the ‘churches’.”