By Mike Gilland
One of the most interesting books in the Bible – and simultaneously one of the most difficult to understand – is the book of Revelation. The imagery and style make a proper study a chore for even the most ardent of theologians. But while the mining of “gold” therein may be a challenge, there is much to gain from the hard work of digging deep into its pages.
Of the most fascinating sections are the letters to the seven churches. And from those, one of the most compelling studies is the letter to the church at Pergamum (Rev. 2:12-17). The Lord instructs that these opening words be given to the Angel at Pergamum:
“The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.”
Imagine this – a nickname for Pergamum could well have been “Satan’s City.” There was much idol worship in Pergamum, and the highest point of the city – rising some 800 feet in the middle of the area – was an altar to Zeus. It was so prominent and evident that there was no place in Pergamum where this temple was not in view.
In spite of that, and all of the sinful and evil things going on in Pergamum, there was still a church there. The Lord Jesus addressed that church by saying…”I know where you dwell…”
Yes, they were dwelling in a corrupt city – the abode of Satan’s throne. Yet, their home was not out of the mind’s eye of our Lord.
But Jesus was not merely mindful… He commends them for being a church that held fast to His name, even while living in the midst of a sinful city. And, He gave this church at Pergamum another picture. One that showed their Lord to be mighty, like a two-edged sword. No, there is not just a “single edge” to the Lord and His words – but a double-edge – able to cut deep from either direction.
Why was this imagery of the sword so impacting to those in Pergamum? The answer was that the city had been under the siege of Rome, itself symbolized by a sword. To the Roman, the sword represented Rome’s strength and sovereignty. Rome could rule over any oppressor by its sword.
But the sword of Rome was no match for the sword of the Lord.
What encouragement the church in Pergamum could receive as they realized that the Lord Himself was mighty. He alone was LORD.
Today, we too live in perilous times, with much wickedness throughout our culture. Yet, we are called to live in our day like those in Pergamum lived in theirs. We are called to hold fast to the name of the mighty Lord, and trust in Him – who has the two-edged sword.
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.