Monday, September 19, 2011

The Letter to the Congregation of Pergamos

This one is a tough one.  And it will probably be long.

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:  “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

Pergamos/Pergamum means “Mixed Marriage” and also “Harlot.”  This letter represents the time period from Constantine (beginning in the year 312) to about 900.  Satan is switching tactics – persecution was making the church stronger.  He is going to interject paganism.  

The two-edged sword is God’s word and the Holy Spirit. 

Regarding satan’s throne – When Cyrus conquered Babylon, he formed the new city of Pergamos – a Babylon worship center, which was eventually transferred to Rome.  Babylon the Great is also in Revelation.  Babylon is the source of all paganism, starting in Genesis 10:8 with Nimrod – a mighty hunter before the Lord.  He built Ninevah and the Tower of Babel, which was going to be for astrology.  They wanted a unified empire, just as Antichrist will try to unify the world in the end. 

So who was this Nimrod?  Ancient Jewish writings call him the mightiest rebel in the earth.  He was a hunter of the souls of men. His wife was Semiramis – she was called the Queen of Heaven. When Nimrod died, he was elevated to the status of Sun god. Legend says that Semiramis becomes miraculously pregnant, and gave birth to the son of the Sun god and named him Tammuz. Tammuz is killed by a boar while hunting, and she weeps for him 40 days (this is the origin of Lent). Then he rises and declares that he and his father Nimrod are one. 

The death of Tammuz was celebrated on winter solstice, and his resurrection was celebrated on December 25. To celebrate, they trimmed a tree (See Jeremiah 10) and burned a yule log. Mistletoe represents the fertility of Semaramis to get pregnant by the sun ray.  When the nations were scattered when the Tower of Babel was destroyed, the goddess Semiramis and her risen son were taken all over the world.  In Egypt, they were Isis and Osiris.  In Greece, they were Aphrodite and Eros.  In Babylonia, they were Ishtar and Tammuz.  In Rome, they were Venus and Cupid.  Similar deities were found in every culture on the globe, all of them featuring a mother goddess of fertility, along with her child.

The following came from a pagan website, describing the Babylonian goddess:
Babylonian scriptures called her the "Light of the World, Leader of Hosts,
Opener of the Womb, Righteous Judge, Lawgiver,
Goddess of Goddesses, Bestower of Strength,
Framer of All decress, Lady of Victory (Yikes! I went to a Catholic grade school by the name Our Lady of Victory)
Forgiver of Sins, Torch of Heaven and Earth.

Can you see the counterfeit religion that the devil has created? 

Anyway, I digress. 

What is this about the doctrine of Balaam?    Balaam tried to curse Israel but couldn’t.  So he came up with another plan that worked –  we read in Numbers 31:16 that he counseled Balak how to get Israel cursed - basically he said, Put your prettiest girls on the border to entice them, and they will marry with them, fall into idol worship, and then God will curse them. 

In Numbers 25:6, right after the first part of the Balak and Balaam story, we have the account of the Israelite and the Midianite woman.  Her name was Cozbi, which means falsehood, and his name was Zimri, which means truth.  The result of this mixing of truth and falsehood was death - they were thrust through with a spear by the priest Phinehas.  Did God rebuke him for this action?  No, he blessed him!  God hates mixture of truth and falsehood.

Look at Jeremiah 7:16-19 and see God's reaction to idolatry in Judah:  "Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.  Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.  Do they provoke Me to anger?” says the LORD. “Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?” 

Now visit Ezekiel 8.  Read the whole thing, but see what the Israelites were doing in verses 13 and 16.  In 13, the women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.   In  verse 16, they were worshiping the sun toward the east.    Here is part of God's reaction in verses 17 and 18:  ... Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? ...Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

Ok, so having said all that about paganism, what in the world is represented in the church at Pergamos?

In the year 312, the Emperor Constantine had a vision of a chi rho - a type of cross, before an important battle, which he then won. He declared Christianity the new legal religion of the Roman Empire, repealed the persecution of Diocletian, and made himself head of the church. Heathen religion was “Christianized” – heathen temples became Christian churches, heathen festivals became Christian holidays, and pagan priests became Christian ones. A change in name only. Eventually it became a law NOT to be a Christian.

Teachers in Pergamos taught that it was ok to mix paganism into the church.

There is also an admonitian regarding the doctrine of the Nicolaitans – the ruling over the people by the church leadership, which God hates.  Yeshua washing the disciples’ feet was the example for the church leaders to follow.  The clergy was just getting warmed up during this time period - it will become full-blown in the next letter.  (You'll see more on my next post). 

To the overcomers, then, is promised hidden manna, white stone, and a new name.

What is the hidden manna?  It represents communion with Him.  The white stone with the new name that only you and God know  is a picture of intimacy with God.  Names are important and you will get a very special one – something that He loves about you, a special treasure with you.  This is something to be greatly desired!  The manna, which was white, and the white stone symbolize purity (un-mixed faith).  They are hidden – holy – set apart!

There was a black stone in Pergamos, thought to be a meteorite, worshipped by the pagans.  There was also the custom of voting with a white stone or a black stone in their juries – guilty or not guilty.   What a beautiful picture - to be given a white stone by Yeshua and declared Not Guilty!

In 204 B.C., the great mother goddess of Pergamos moved to the city of Rome, along with the black stone.  Sometime between 610 and the death of Muhammad, the black stone was moved from Rome to Mecca. Muhammad had all the 360 idols thrown out of the Kaaba, and replaced them with the black stone, which is worshipped and kissed by millions of Muslims today.  They believe it came from the moon. To this day, a crescent moon can be found at the front of every mosque, acknowledging that Allah was and is still their moon-god.  The next time a well-meaning Christian tells you that we worship the same god as Islam, please correct them. 

Worshippers at the Kaaba in Mecca, with the black stone at its center.

The bottom line is this:  God's word says that He hates mixing.  So what do we do with such things as the holidays of Christmas and Easter?   I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I'll tell you what I have done.   Our family has gotten rid of the mixed things.  To me, God's Word is way more important than tradition.  The Feasts of the Lord that are outlined in scripture are way more fun, anyway.  And they paint a complete mural of God's dealings with mankind through His Son, Yeshua.

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