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Teaching in Pergamum

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I know where you live…where Satan has his throne, (Revelation 2:13).

I’ve been off the grid for a few weeks. I can tell you with great certainty that if you need to stay in touch with people via Internet, don’t sail the Aegean! I can also tell you with great certainty that if you ever get a chance to tour either the Holy Land or the areas of Paul’s missionary journeys you should do it. Think of it as a vacation with a purpose.

The picture you see was taken from the acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamum. In the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation Jesus referred to it as the “place where Satan has his throne”. The amphitheater you see is built into the hillside of the old city and you can see how high the city stood over the plain below. I had the privilege of teaching a group the message of the letter to Pergamum standing in this place.

Walking through the ruins of the city I had an experience of the reality of what it must have been like being a follower of Jesus in the middle of a city dedicated to the worship of Caesar. The Christian community here in the first century was small and faced death daily for their faith. The larger passage of today’s text makes reference to one of the early leaders of the church there named Antipas. Refusing to deny Jesus, and refusing to confess, “Caesar is Lord” (the days of Domitian) he was roasted alive in the brass bull altar where others burned their incense in worship of the emperor.

These were the days when John was still alive. He lived with Jesus for three years. He was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. He was there when Jesus rose from the dead. He encountered the risen Christ on Patmos and wrote the Revelation. It was all true. It was real. And walking the streets of the archeological ruins of these cities made it more real to me.

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