The Seven Churches
The Church of Pergamos
The city of Pergamos was located near three rivers. It was a beautiful city with public walkways, parks, and a library second only to Alexandria. John’s message to the church here was this:
Revelation 2:14 – ‘But I have against thee a few things: That thou hast there those holding the teaching of Balaam, who did teach Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat idol-sacrifices, and to commit whoredom; (YLT)
Who is this Balaam that John is referring to? The story of Balaam is found in the Old Testament. Balaam was hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel:
Numbers 22:5-6 – sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said: ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.’ (NIV)
God then tells Balaam directly repeatedly not to curse Israel:
Numbers 22:12 – But God said to Balaam, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on these people, because they are blessed.’ (NIV)
Balaam becomes torn and keeps changing his mind on whether or not he should curse Israel. Eventually, he decides to ignore God and persuades some of the Israelites to intermarry the Moabites, thus introducing them to idolatry of Baal-peor.
Numbers 25:1-3 – While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. (NIV)
Even though they were deceived, God was angry with Israel and cast a plague on them that killed 24,000 Israelites (Num. 25:9). How can this be applied to the prophetic church age of Pergamos? Pergamos means “married to power.” After Constantine legalized Christianity, the Church gained a lot of power and learned how to abuse that power. The Church used “Christianity” to obtain the trust of many people under a controlled hierarchy. They integrated pagan beliefs including the Cult of Isis, Mithraism, and Henotheism in order to gain as many members as possible, as I discussed in my article on Catholicism. However, God will not tolerate this. Even though Catholicism is similar to true Christianity, God will bring His judgment upon those that follow false beliefs.
Revelation 1:16 – ‘Reform! and if not, I come to thee quickly, and will fight them with the sword of my mouth. (YLT)
Despite this message of doom, the very next verse in Revelation praises the overcomers:
Revelation 1:17 – He who is having an ear – let him hear what the Spirit saith to the assemblies: To him who is overcoming, I will give to him to eat from the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, that no one knew except him who is receiving [it]. (YLT)
The hidden manna mentioned in this verse is a reference to the hidden manna in the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 16:33, Heb. 9:4). This is similar to the High Priest who had access to the Most Holy Place in Ezekiel’s temple. Having access to this manna is symbolic of hearing God’s voice. Only the overcomers have full access to God’s voice, and thus can avoid being deceived by false teachings.
The Fall of the Western Roman Empire
The last pagan Roman Emperor was Julian who ruled from 360-363. Afterwards, the Roman Empire adopted “Christianity” as their religion, although it had pagan beliefs integrated into it. Then in 476, western Rome fell with Emperor Romulus Augustulus. This caused a major shift in Christianity. It was now centered in eastern Rome. In 529, an entire new law was written called the Codex Constitution, which combined orthodox Christianity with Roman law. This new law meant the start of a new church age, in which the law and the church were seen as one entity.
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