40 blogs of Lent – Day 13
More on persecution
Messages to the churches – Day 10
Pergamum – Day 2
‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
The first church, Ephesus was commended for having good work and good doctrine, the second Smyrna was commended for withstanding persecution. This church, Pergamum, was a bit of a mixed bag. Like the church is Smyrna they had withstood persecution.
Persecution at this time was localised ans sporadic, often led by angry mobs. This explains how some of the churches in this list are commended for withstanding persecution while it is not mentioned in others.
Today Christians in the world are being persecuted at an unprecedented scale.
July 2014: The Independent called Christians “The world’s most persecuted people.”
In July 2015: The Guardian carried a story that persecution of Christians had increased dramatically.
In November 2017, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. The story was covered in the Express amongst others.
10 January 2018: The Guardian (again) carried a story that 128 Christians had been killed in Egypt in the previous year.
The attitude of the early church is different to ours: They expected to be persecuted. Christ had died on the cross in living memory, Stephen had been martyred, then James the brother of John. There was no greater honour than to imitate Christ by having your blood shed by martyrdom. God here shows that he approves and blesses those churches that are persecuted yet are faithful, even when prominent members of their congregation have been killed.
We need to support and pray for the persecuted church.
And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practise sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.