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Addresses on the Seven Churches: 3: Pergamos

By G.V. Wigram


      REVELATION 2: 12-17.

      As before observed, we find a remarkable harmony between the character in which Christ comes to address these churches, and the promises given to them. In the epistles of Paul we notice, that when the state of the Church is low the higher subjects cannot be introduced to them, and when they are in a higher state they do not need the lower points so especially. In the epistle to the Hebrews, who were in danger of going back to ordinances, offering bullocks, etc., all the official titles of Christ are brought out; while in the epistle to the Ephesians we have the truths connected with the Church, the helpmeet for Christ, the sharer of redemption-glory, as Eve was to share with Adam all his glory and dominion. To this Church at Pergamos Christ comes in an official character. (v. 12. See also Rev. 1: 16.) That which proceeds out of His mouth is the "sharp sword with two edges." The word is the detective power of God to deal with evil. There will be no need of the sword to cut in heaven. Now God comes into the circumstances, and makes everything bare by His word; He lets nothing pass. (Heb. 4) This is not needed in heaven. In the passage referring to the word in Hebrews 4, Christians are apt to get hold of the lower part only; and this is likely to have a false effect, because if I think only of the sympathies of Christ as consolation for me in my weakness it strengthens my weakness; but if I see that He sympathizes with God, is full of zeal for God, and brings God's light to me, and in view of that, shows me my wrong motives, lifts me up into God's light, coming down to me in my need, putting His hand under me to help me, I am strengthened in God's way. Christ is zealous for God, and so zealous for me. The word is the perfect expression of the divine mind, and Christ sympathizes with all that is new in us, not with what is of the old nature. He had to do with that on the cross, when He bore our sins; but now He bears up whatever is pure to God.

      Christ comes to the Church at Pergamos as having the "sword with two edges," an implement discerning and penetrating all. It is not in days of quietness and ease that Christ's sympathy is most realized. Here were some bruised under Satan's power; but Christ could not stand by and not take knowledge of it. And He lets them know it too. Christ's sympathies are engaged for those surrounded with evil while He is in opposition to it. (v. 13.) "Holding fast His name" is noticed by Christ. It is communion with Christ cultivated in the midst of the sorrow. "Hold fast" means treasuring up. (v. 14.) This is very solemn. It is not positive sanction of the evil, but allowing it by being present, and not protesting against it.

      There is a farther thing in the Church at Thyatira, where Jezebel is teaching. If an assembly take the position of covering over evil it is like this (v. 14), and it shows the want of power of life. There is a contrast between Balaam and Jezebel. Balaam was the last prophet to the Gentiles. He prophesied truth, for he could not help it; but he sold himself for a price. Jezebel took a place amongst the people of God, and taught what she ought not to have done. Rome has no right at all to take a place over God's people; the world can have no right to triumph over the people of God. There are others in the Church of God who have a gift, and are selling themselves for a price, like Balaam. Suppose a person having a gift, and being a man of God besides, a price having drawn him aside, he is drawn out of his place by the gift; he tampers with the world and with consciences, and so gets those to whom he ministers into a place which needs to be judged by God.

      Babylon signifies confusion, mingling with the world what God has given from heaven. The doctrine of the Nicolaitanes is not known, and probably we are kept in ignorance of what it is to keep the conscience alive. The churches present a state not true fully now; but there are assemblies of saints to whom in their corporate position the word may be applied: "He that hath an ear, let him hear," etc. (v. 17.) They were in a state here to need the sword, the use of which was to break bands as well as to strengthen and nourish that which was good.

      The promise (v. 17) is a very blessed one, and in its harmony with the office in which Christ comes to address them. There is hidden glory connected with the "sharp sword" -- the word, and here the thing promised is what is hidden from the eye of man, but gathered up to be God's delight. The manna was food given to the people in the wilderness. When it fell they said, What is it (manna)? Food unsearchable and past finding out. Christ, as manna, is food for the wilderness, not Christ in every relationship. The manna could not be kept without stinking -- it bred worms when they laid it up. This may be significant of Christ, the manna for His people 6,000 years, but in the seventh thousand there will be no manna because He will be personally present to feed His people. Individually, communion now brings all in Him as the answer to our hungering in the desert, which is a very different thing to having in ourselves store -- old stores put by to feed on. This is the hidden manna spoken of, that which God has. God was so pleased with His provision for His people, that He would have a memorial of it, and directed a pot of manna to be laid up before Him in the ark. God's delight in what Christ has been, as the food of His people in the wilderness, we shall know, as though God said, "I delight in what Christ has done, and you shall taste of my delight" -- in the manna. God will share His delight with us. God would have us occupied with His own joy in Christ, but this is what we come so short in. "I will give him to eat of the hidden manna." Christ Himself will do it, just as if Aaron had taken the people to look into the ark where the manna was laid up. He has overcome and sat down, and He will give us to share with Him as overcomers.

      "I will give him a white stone." This is an allusion to the ancient custom of making an election by giving the white stone. "And in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." It was the custom of monarchs, not only to give fancy names to their favourites, but names the meaning of which was only known to themselves, the explanation being only given to the one who received it. So when Christ gives a name, He knows it, and the one who receives it knows it. Christ gave names to His disciples -- Cephas, a stone; and Boanerges, sons of thunder; and it would seem that the name given to the overcomer here spoken of would bring out to the remembrance of him who has it what his character had been here. Jacob, the supplanter, would be no more called by that name, but prince with God; this new name being the expression of God's grace in his change of character. I know who this prince with God is, he is one who was tricking and deceiving all his life; but he had to learn to come to the end of himself, and then God triumphed over it all. All the Scripture names have a meaning. The name of Jesus -- Saviour -- how precious that name will be to us in the glory! The Saviour Jah will be ever remembered as the One who served God by letting the glory of redemption in, and served us by saving us from our sins.

      The word is precious to God. We have it not only as judging, but as nourishment for His people, and not only so, but God's own delight in Christ. There are two precious things for us to rejoice in. First, God's all-searching eye upon us, having all circumstances purified out, so that we can stand before God in glory; and secondly, nothing is hidden from the overcomers; the ark with the manna, all open to them, and individually they are able to taste God's delight in Christ.

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See Also:
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: Introduction
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 1: Ephesus
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 2: Smyrna
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 3: Pergamos
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 4: Thyatira
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 5: Sardis
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 6: Philadelphia Lecture 1
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 7: Philadelphia Lecture 2
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 8: Philadelphia Lecture 3
   Addresses on the Seven Churches: 9: Laodicea

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