Today’s modern Christians may not be aware of the severe torment these faith driven heroes of the church mentioned by the Apostle John in Revelation were gone through or they might be hindered to know. Either the truth was obstructed or distorted but the faithful legacy of those heroes and saints were alive even now. It touches the hearts of the modern faithful Christians like a raging fire and they cannot be silenced to continue proclaiming the power of the Living God! What would it be like to be trapped in an enemy’s territory? Haven’t you wonder how these faithful survived and rewarded by standing on Jesus?
The letters to the seven churches share a similar structure. We can see the state of each of these seven churches — and the state of our own walk with Jesus — by looking at what Jesus has to say to each church in each section. The two churches of Smyrna and Pergamum mentioned in Revelation are both considered as in a SATANIC ZONES churches. The evidences of John mentioning the “SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN” Rev. 2:9 in Smyrna and the “THRONE OF SATAN” Rev. 2:13 mentioned in Pergamum. Churches in Revelation which is the seven Lampstands in first 2 chapters. The congregations are in the Asia Minor the modern Turkey. The 7churches constitute a crown geographic. These churches are real they lived 2000 years ago. These Symbolic 7seven Letters represents the universal churches the church of all places of all times who believe in the Lord Jesus.
Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna: (Revelation 2:8-11.)
“I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN.”Revelation 2:9 ASV
This was a large, beautiful, rich and proud city. “Smyrna was an outstandingly beautiful city. It claimed to be the ‘Glory of Asia.’” (Barclay). In Smyrna different Jewish tombs were present indicate the present of the Jewish people in those times there were Jewish communities. In this was the emergence of christian community from the Jews followers of Jesus. During those times Paul always came to the synagogue and Jews followers of Jesus with him. In the beginning of the apocalypse there were separations lasted for centuries of the Jews who follow Christ who became Christians, and those Judaism allied with paganism who did not follow Christ. So we have the growing church and the Judaism as we know it today.
Jesus also knew their works, tribulation, and poverty, He knows their hardships. Polycarp the old disciple of apostle John one of the bishop of the church of Smyrna was murdered. Smyrna was a prosperous city, yet the Christians there were poor. The Christians of Smyrna knew poverty because they were robbed and fired from jobs in persecution for the gospel. “Early Christians joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (Hebrews 10:34).” This kind of economic persecution was one important reason why Christians were poor in Smyrna. Even today, this is a common form of persecution against Christians. “ I know the blasphemy”: Jesus knew the abuse these Christians endured at the hands of “religious” men, “those who say they are Jews and are not,” those who were in leaderships in the Jewish temples but conniving to worship the Roman Emperor to be spared from persecution these are the evils in the “synagogue of satan.” They don’t claimed to be Christians but proclaimed they were Jews yet supported the Roman Emperor . They are pious devout in the worshipping both the emperor and being a Judaism in the synagogues. Could there be a relation to why the CATHOLIC CHURCH of today is attached to ROME and make its name a ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH to be spared from this persecution and torments and so sided with the Roman Emperor?
“But you are rich.” Every outward circumstance said that the Christians in Smyrna were poor, even destitute, but Jesus saw through the circumstances to see that they were really rich. “Sweet smelling Smyrna, the poorest but purest of the seven.” (Trapp). This is what Jesus thought of them, and if Jesus considered them rich, then they were rich in the eyes of God. Our estimation of ourselves is far less important than God’s estimation of us.In contrast, the Christians at Laodicea thought they were rich, but they were really poor (Revelation 3:17). Laodicea was a poor rich church. Smyrna was a rich poor church. “Better to be a rich poor church than a poor rich church!”
Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamum: ( Revelation 2:12-17)
“I know where thou dwellest, even where SATAN’S THRONE is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth.”Revelation 2:13 ASV
In ancient time Pergamum is the mighty city in the book of Revelation. Persecution was incredibly strong. The letter proclaimed that the SEAT OR THRONE of Satanic power was on this city. The place was devils capital . Witchcrafts were the heart of their pagan rituals, made this city a very dangerous place for Christians. Antipas was mentioned in Revelation was murdered burned alive. By the order of the provincial governor he was killed because Antipas prayer drove out demons and destructed pagans rituals being celebrated in the city. So pagan priests complained about this on the Roman government. Pergamum built in a mountain overlooking metropolis is the most impressive archaeological site in Turkey. The final king of Pergamon was given the kingdom to the Romans. The Romans made Pergamum the first capital of Asia before moving the center power to Ephesus. It is a strong and powerful city with huge political and religious influence. The only remains found in the city now was the gigantic dimension of the ancient Roman temple . The pagan deity were given the worship in the city same as serpent worship means healing and eternal life. Pergamon the center of snake worship deserve satanic reputation. The altar of Zeus the extremely important building in the history of Pergamum a place where they made sacrifices 24hours a day . The throne of satan therefore referred to the altar of Zeus. Pergamum the example of the early imperial cults worship in Asia. The center of pagan rituals.
THE PERSECUTION AND THE WORSHIP OF THE ROMAN EMPEROR:
The Roman Emperor Domitian (a.d. 81-96) was the first to demand worship under the title “Lord” from the people of the Roman Empire as a test of political loyalty. According to ancient church history, it was under the reign of Domitian that John was banished to the Island of Patmos where he received this vision. Emperor worship had begun as spontaneous demonstration of gratitude to Rome; but toward the end of the first century, in the days of Domitian, the final step was taken and Caesar worship became compulsory. Once a year the Roman citizen in this Asia regions must burn a pinch of incense on the altar to the godhead of Caesar; and having done so, he was given a certificate to guarantee that he had performed his religious duty.” They will say, ‘Caesar is Lord,’ receive their certificate, and go away and worship as they pleased. But that is precisely what the Christians would not do. They would give no man the name of Lord; that name they would keep for Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. They would not even formally conform.” (Barclay) and so persecution severely happened!
The tension grew in jewish community on what to do with Jesus’-followers which were growing. John addressed here what they were doing with Jesus followers pushing them out in the synagoue and in the jewish community. For John the synagogue of satan referred to those who claimed to be jews yet opposing christians , accusing , reporting them to the authorities of Roman empire as not true Jews in order to be persecuted. The position of christians became extremely difficult they were called anti social, rebellious, towards the established order of Rome. Rome begun a wave of persecution of the christian church. This tragic event made the situations even worst. In 63 AD. A fire rage the capital of Rome . Nero blamed the christians and so a great persecution takes place. He tortured them and calling the RELIGION CHRISTIANS as evil superstitious. In the direction of the current Vatican Emperor Nero created a roads of crosses in which christians were crucified as living torches of fire . Christians were killed in testimony of their faith rather than renouncing their beliefs in CHRIST JESUS. They choose to die horrendous death for their faith.
Nevertheless, the day of martyrs is definitely not past. All over the world, Christians face persecutions, especially in Asia, Eastern Europe, and in the Muslim world. Some people estimate that more Christians have suffered and died for their faith in the 20th Century than in all previous centuries combined. “He who has an ear let him hear:” the Spirit has something to say to us through every one of the churches. To this point, we simply don’t face the kind of persecution the Christians in Smyrna and Pergamum experienced. They were remarkable example of both the persecution and the courage of early Christians. But the Revelation prophecy declares here the coming eight beast who was actually from the seven beast, could it be the return of the Roman Emperor ? : … “And the beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goeth into perdition.” Revelation 17:11 ASV
REWARDS: CROWN OF LIFE, HIDDEN MANNA AND A WHITE STONE!
“Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the CROWN OF LIFE.” Revelation 2:10 ASV
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the HIDDEN MANNA and I will give him A WHITE STONE, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17 ASV
HIDDEN MANNA: This is God’s perfect provision, the true bread from heaven (John 6:41). A WHITE STONE: In the ancient world, the use of a white stone had many associations. A white stone could be a ticket to a banquet, a sign of friendship, or evidence of having been counted a seat in heaven. Jesus may have any one of these meanings in mind, but at the very least we know that it has the assurance of blessing. With their name inscribed on it; which badge entitled them, during their whole new life, … these were called “tesserae” among the Romans. Bible Commentator Clarke then gives examples of the different kinds: “Tesserae conviviales, which answered exactly to our cards of invitation, or tickets of admission to a public feast or banquet; when the person invited produced his tessera he was admitted… But the most remarkable of these instruments were the “Tesserae hospitales,” which were given as badges of friendship and alliance, and on which some device was engraved, as a testimony that a contract of friendship had been made between the parties.” And on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it!
God allowed this attack of satan so that they “may be tested,” in the sense of being PROVEN! Through their suffering, God displayed the TRUE RICHES OF THE CHURCH to everyone, including themselves — even though GOD knew they were RICH already. “TO SHAME SATAN THAT NOTHING CAN DESTROY A TESTED, PROVEN, RICH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS!” Are your faith ready to be tested?
References: https://youtu.be/EGwT9Uj5XaQ. Dr. Stephen R. Phinney documentary .
Bible commentary by David Guzik.
2 comments on “The Testing of Faith in a Satanic Zone: (Revelation churches of Smyrna and Pergamos)”
This was one of the most eye opening posts I have read all morning, and I cannot tell you how much was revealed to me through it. There is a meditative quality to the pictures you provided that is beyond words for me. I am finding a great joy in rediscovering my faith, and thank you kindly for posting this, it provided me great peace.
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Thank you. God bless you more my friend.