The second part of our look at the church in Pergamum. The Christians had refused to renounce the name of Christ, but all news wasn’t good news. There were some areas where they had said…
“No, Dear” to God (2:14-16) 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Remember the story of Balaam from Numbers. Israel had left Egypt in the Exodus, and as they were traveling through Moab, king Balak became worried so he summoned the pagan priest Balaam asking him to curse Israel. Instead, God put a filter on the mouth of the pagan priest and forced him to bless them, each time to the utter frustration of the king. Yet, Balaam knew Israel’s Achilles hill. God protected them from any external threats, and so they would only be crushed when they compromised—so the king watched as the Israelites started to give into the sexual temptation of Moabite women. Although, the majority of the believers appear to have remained faithful, Jesus puts the faithful in charge of the fallen—false teachers had started leading people astray.
A New York family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name. “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y Ranch.” But where are all your cattle” the friends asked? The reply, “None survived the branding.” (Source unknown).
What are you marriage too? What have you been branded by?Faithful to Christ or flirting with the world? The overarching story of Revelation is not wild end-time philosophies, but a practical call to endurance in a world that isn’t ultimately our home. We see people all the time branded by a high school cliché, branded by a long-time profession, branded by a relationship, but Jesus calls on us to have one brand—branded by worship, not what happens between 10:30-Noon on Sundays, but worship as a way of life. Balaam’s brand is still visible, now more than ever those in the church are confronted by the chorus of compromise—Pornography is an epidemic outside and inside of the church (1 out of every 2 men, 1 out of every 4 women). Rick Warren pointed out the balance between being in the culture, but not being branded by the culture, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.