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[THE MYSTERY OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS, CONT.]
The third letter was to the church at Pergamos. This church represents that period in church history following the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the
Roman Empire, early in the fourth century. It represents the period of great spiritual decline, and the ascendancy of man-controlled apostasy. Since this was a gradual process, there were still many who held fast to the faith and did not deny my name. But others became so engrossed in counterfeit forms of church life that the very seat of Satan became entrenched within the growing church structure. Thus it was a period of increasing contrasts and conflicts. And so did I speak after this manner: ‘I know your works, and where you dwell, even where Satan's seat is; and you hold fast my name, and have not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells.' (Rev. 2:13). Antipas is representative of all those who remained faithful and resisted the encroaching apostasy of this period. The fact that he was slain, speaks of the power of entrenched authority to ‘kill out’ the resistance of those who continued to stand for pure and unadulterated Christianity.
The ability of Satan to so rapidly establish his 'seat of power' within the organized church structure was a direct result of the church-state marriage. Such a union constituted spiritual adultery and unfaithfulness to me. Therefore, I withdrew my favor rapidly. I expressed my disfavor in these words; "But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.' (Rev. 2:14). Balaam was a true prophet who was corrupted by desire for material gain. Therefore he promoted compromise with heathen religious practices in order to secure what he wanted. Balaam therefore becomes a type of ambitious leaders who increasingly caused the people to ‘sacrifice to idols' by introducing many pagan beliefs and practices; and by leading the people into further 'fornication' with the state, they caused the 'arm of flesh’ to arise in strength and dominate the affairs of the church.
Not only did the 'doctrine of Balaam' become firmly entrenched during this period, the 'doctrine of the Nicolaitanes' also increased rapidly. And thus the 'deeds of the Nicolaitanes' among a few in the apostolic period of the church, became in the Pergamos period an established doctrine. Increasingly the ministries took on sacerdotal importance, becoming fashioned after the priesthood of the pagan religions. This put more and more power into the hands of fewer, as a hierarchy of authority began to grow. Thus the ground work was being laid for complete carnal usurpation of my spiritual authority, and the bringing about of a counterfeit form of Christianity, the nadir of which would be reached in the next period of church history.
But for those who would hear what the Spirit was saying to the church, I did speak a word: "To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows save he that receives it' (Rev. 2:17). The overcomers are always privileged to ‘eat’ of that which is not available to the many, for they draw on my grace to rise above the carnal tendencies which continually draw most of my people into various compromise positions in their Christian life. The hidden manna was that which was placed in a container and deposited in the ark of testimony as a memorial of my sustaining the people of
in the wilderness. It was hidden within the ark. Was not the ark a type of me, in my incarnation and glorification? Am I not ready to reveal my hidden mysteries to those who are ready to receive? (See Matt. 13:11). Did not the apostle Paul speak of me when he said, 'In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?’ (Col. 2:3). By the Spirit of revelation do I give to those who are hungry to eat of the precious truths of the living Word. To the overcomer was also promised a white stone with a new name written. The white stone is a token of a course finished and a race won; it constituted the prize, in ancient times, for those who were victorious. The new name written on the stone is symbolic of the new realm of glory which will be inherited by those who attain to the prize of the high calling (see Phil. 3:14). The whiteness of the stone indicates that purity of life which marks those who will enter that realm where they will see me and be in constant fellowship with me. It is symbolized elsewhere as being clothed in white (Rev. 3:4-5, 7:9, 19:14). Israel
Because of the Increasing apostates of the Pergamos era, my words were spoken as a sharp sword with two edges. (Rev. 2:12). My command was to repent; 'or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth’ (Rev. 2:16). This I did by raising up many faithful servants who denounced the false teachings and practices of a power-hungry clergy who were increasingly making merchandise of the people to further their own ends. By the time this era of the church came to a close, the darkness which almost totally eclipsed the light of my truth had engulfed the Christian world. For several hundreds of years there would be only slight glimmers of light among small groups of faithful followers here and there. Truly the night had come when no man could work effectively, (see John 9:4-5).
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