12“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” — Revelation 2:12-17
In the passage above, John the revelator writes a message to the church in Pergamum, as instructed by the Lord Jesus Christ, commending the church for their steadfast faith, even in the face of persecution.
On the other hand, He is also warning the church about a few things that He is against, that the church is doing. He calls them to repent, and then He releases a promise, to them that would harken to His voice and that would overcome. But,
Why did Jesus call Pergamum, a place where Satan has his throne?
“Today, all that’s left of the city of Pergamum, now in modern-day Turkey, is ruins. But when the Apostle John wrote his letter to the church there, it was one of the most influential cities in the Roman Empire. “Pergamum had a unique status that was different than any other city, because it was the political centre. It was from there that all the rulings were made that affected the whole of Asia Minor. The people of Pergamum were inventors and innovators. They perfected a parchment made out of calfskin and built the world’s first psychiatric hospital.
Pergamum was also a well-known centre for the arts. The city’s theatre seated ten thousand people a night. The acoustics were so good that a whisper on stage could be heard all the way in the top row. The city’s acropolis rivalled Athens, and its library was the second largest in the ancient world. Its collection was so great that the Roman general Marc Antony presented it as a wedding gift to Cleopatra. At the end of the first century, Pergamum was a thriving city. So why does the book of Revelation call it the dwelling place of Satan? The answer lies in the ruins of the city’s temples. On one side, it was a very beautiful city, but on the flip side, it was one of the darkest, eeriest cities in the whole Roman Empire. The people of Pergamum were known as the “Temple-keepers of Asia.” The city had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperor, another for the goddess Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Many scholars believe this altar is the “Throne of Satan” mentioned in the book of Revelation. That word “throne” was used in a personal private residence, and it was a chair for the lord of the house, the master of the house. The very fact that Jesus would use this word means that Satan felt at home there. He sat on a throne there. It was his territory. He was the master of that house.
The people of Pergamum worshipped a myriad of Greek and Roman gods, but when Christianity arrived with the belief in just one god, the city’s pagan priests went on the attack and their most famous victim was a man named Antipas. In the book of Revelation, Jesus called Antipas “my faithful martyr”. He was the bishop of Pergamum, ordained by the Apostle John, and his faith got the attention of the priests of Asklepios. “He had cast out so many devils that the demons had been complaining to pagans, saying, ‘You’ve got to do something about this Antipas’. The pagan priests went to the Roman governor and complained that the prayers of Antipas were driving their spirits out of the city and hindering the worship of their gods. As punishment, the governor ordered Antipas to offer a sacrifice of wine and incense to a statue of the Roman emperor and declare that the emperor was “lord and god.” Antipas refused. “If you reject the divinity of the emperor, then that is the equivalent of rejecting the city of Rome, and believers were killed for this.” Gordon Robertson (CBN), with quotes from Rick Renner, the author of A Light in the Darkness.
Many cities in South Africa and on the continent have some characteristics of Pergamum, or are slowly becoming like that ancient city. The rising of the resistance to the Word of God being preached freely in our nation, the persecution of the Church in other regions of the continent, the evil agendas that the enemy is pushing through to the Church, etc., all attest to the fact that we are “dwelling where Satan dwells”. The Lord is aware of this and is commending us, His church, for our faith. He is pleased that His name has not been renounced by His followers, even in the face of opposition.
On the other hand, the Lord has something against His Church. Or rather, shall we say, He has a correction for us.
Holding to the teaching of Balaam
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. — Revelation 2:14
In the book of Numbers chapter 22, the Bible tells us about the Balak, the king of Moab, who consulted Balaam, a man from Pethor, a city in Mesopotamia. Since Balaam lived in a gentile land apart from Israel, he was a gentile. He had a gift of prophecy. On occasions, God talked directly to Balaam. Therefore, Balaam had knowledge of who God blessed and who God cursed. He knew that those nations on which God pronounced a curse, were cursed indeed, and those on which God pronounced a blessing, were blessed indeed.
Balak had sent his men to ask Balaam to come and release a curse over the Israelites, who were slowly approaching his territory. He was afraid of these Israelites, because of what they had done to neighbouring countries. Balak promised to reward Balaam handsomely for this work.
The first time the men from Balak came to speak to Balaam, God told Balaam not to go there, because he could not curse the Israelites, and Balaam obeyed. Balak sent other men again with the same request, and this time God permitted Balaam to go, but He instructed him to only speak what came from the mouth of God.
And that is what happened. Every time Balaam opened his mouth to curse the Israelites, the blessings came out of his mouth instead, because God made it that way. This, of course, angered Balak, and it meant that Balaam was not going to get any payment.
Enticement to sin, a trap that leads to self-imprisonment
In Revelation 2:14, however, the Lord Jesus Christ, refers to Balaam as the one who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin, so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.
Balaam knew that if the people of the Lord, the Israelites, broke their covenant with their God, they would attract a curse on themselves. He knew that if they remained obedient to their God, the blessing would also remain. (Deuteronomy 28, 2 Chronicles 7:11-22).
In 2 Peter 2, we also see that the downfall of Balaam was the love of money. Even though he occasionally heard from God, and was corrected and guided in the beginning, it appears that Balak’s offer of payment eventually motivated him to try and override God’s instructions.
In 2 Peter 2:14-15 Peter refers to the false prophets and teachers as those “With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.”
Jude 11 says: “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”
Therefore it was a much better strategy for Balaam to entice the Israelites to sin, rather than to try to release a curse over them because that never worked. The Israelites were the blessed of the Lord.
Balak therefore, with help from Balaam, enticed the Israelites to eat food sacrificed to idols and he used the Midianite women to entice the Israeli men into sexual immorality. The men fell into the trap very easily and were cursed as a result.
In Numbers 31:16, after the Lord commanded Moses to send his army to destroy the Midianites, we see Moses being angry with the army leaders who spared the Midianite women and came back with them from the war.
In verse 16, he asks: “Have you allowed all the women to live? They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people.”
It has always been the well-planned strategy of the enemy, to lure Christians into idolatry and rebellion, and to use strange women to entice lustful men, destroy the Church, and hinder the destinies of nations.
This aggressive strategy of the enemy calls for an even more aggressive response from the Church, in the way that we resist the traps and enticements that lead to self-imprisonment. This will determine whether we are going to get the promised manna, the stone and the new name.
Satan’s aggression in promoting sin
I watched CNN’s Richard Quest’s interview of Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa on YouTube. As a result of many prayers, the Lord is slowly shifting the nations of Afric into new eras, in many unique ways. This is not an overnight work, but surely, the Lord is at work.
After everything that Africa has been through, after all the challenges that Zimbabwe has faced in the past, one would think that the media, the western world and people in general, would want to know about issues and matters of morality, basic human rights, justice, development, etc.
However, I was shocked when most of the questions from Richard Quest to President Mnangagwa, were focused on whether he would campaign for gay marriages or not. Like really? Is that the important issue to the people of Zimbabwe right now? When some of them go to bed without food, should we be requesting their president to campaign for gay marriages, instead of addressing the needs of the people?
This is just one of the examples of how aggressive the enemy is, in leading the Church and the nations into sin, so that they lose the blessing that is right at their doors.
Today, Cape Town is known as the pink city, and we, the Church, seem to be okay with it. We are so scared to say anything against that pinkness, just in case we face fierce opposition and attack.
The western world has pushed various evil agendas of the enemy right into our homes and into the Church. They are continuously funding these agendas, and we are helping them to do that. The whole world emulates the west in everything, from music to culture, to behaviour, to worship, etc.
One pastor said to me, Cape Town, is known as the city of dogs in the spirit realm. I must say, I was a bit upset about this. To be frank, I got a bit offended. I mean, how could that be? We are praying here, and we have claimed this city and this nation for the Lord Jesus Christ. How could someone say this?
I was not happy at all until the Lord revealed Revelation 2:13, where Jesus says: “I know where you live, where Satan has his throne. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith………”
Then I realised that, actually, it is a daily task in the aggressive agenda of the evil one, to try and exalt his throne above the throne of God. He wants to call Cape Town, “the city of dogs”. And the Lord knows about this too; for He knows where we live.
However, it has to be our daily task and daily agenda to reject this evil plan, by resisting the teachings of Balaam –the traps and the enticements to sin. We have to embrace true holiness and righteousness.
This of course, will not be by power, nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord. We only need to be willing to search our hearts daily, be fully surrendered to the Lord, remain in Him, and He will help us.
Victory can only be obtained through repentant hearts and holiness. The blessing can only remain where there is obedience. We know for sure, that in these latter days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple, will be exalted as chief among the mountains, it will be raised above the hills (above the throne of Satan), and all nations will stream to it. — Isaiah 2:2.
We know that the Kingdom of God has come. We also know that we have overcome by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony.
To be continued …