Letter to Pergamum 3
Each of these letters to the seven churches included this instruction in their conclusion … "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches." The implication is striking: God is speaking but only some people are bothered to listen with care, to understand and obey. The others who resist His encouragement and rebuke will not be included in the promised blessing. In our computerised age, we are bombarded with information; much of it we ignore or briefly scan without doing anything about it. We are in peril if we treat God's Word in the same way.
In Pergamum, where believers were morally compromising their faith to do business and be supported by the society, this instruction to pay attention and take action has considerable force. It would be a battle, firstly within themselves, to agree with Jesus that they could not continue to behave like unbelievers (Ephesians 4:17-19). Then they would have to repent, change their life-style and take action on Jesus’ warning (Revelation 2:14-16); even though that risked their livelihoods and family security. There is no common ground between the temple of God and the temples of idols (2 Corinthians 6:16). If some church members could not understand that, they had a very weak grasp of the gospel, if they had grasped it at all.
In promising a blessing to the person who is 'victorious', Jesus set a battle ground in the hearts of the believers; and He expected them to make the right choices to win (1 Timothy 6:12). The promise of 'hidden manna' is most likely to parallel God's daily supply of food after His people left Egypt. God promised unexpected provision each day (Matthew 6:11), in what might well become a wilderness experience, for godly disciples in Pergamum. It would be hard to leave worldly security by choosing to leave the accepted way of doing society and business, centred on corruption and sexual favours, to live and work righteously (Colossians 3:17). They might lose much of what they had worked for, but would gain what Christ had won for them (Philippians 3:8-9). Although there has been much speculation about the significance of the white stone, it is clear that it represents Jesus' personal seal of approval, His reward (Matthew 5:11-12), in this life and the next (Mark 10:29-30).
Our lives are so conditioned by our culture, society, upbringing, peer pressure, business ambition and our fallen nature that any change will be a battle within ourselves, when we hear God's Word calling us to repent and change. He is already working within us (Philippians 2:13), but we need to cooperate and obey (James 4:7). It will shape the future of our society, as well as the church and our personal reward.
© Dr Paul Adams