Especially here in Cleveland, Ohio, we Americans are distracted more about our own politics and the events surrounding our own lives, rather than on what the Bible says about the world we are living in and the prophetic events that are unfolding even in these recent days in the Middle East.
Tonight, at sundown, not only marks the Holy Sabbath, but also a very sad day in Israel's history. The 17th of Tammuz. The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז, Shiv'ah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple, at the hands of the Romans. Essentially, it is the anniversary of the current Exile of the people of Israel. Observant Jews will begin fasting after the Sabbath on Sunday. If that is not enough...
The liturgical reading from the Torah on this week's liturgical calendar is "Balak" Numbers 22:2-25:9, which is the story of Balak the King of Moab who hires a sorcerer by the name of Balaam to curse the Jewish people. When that fails, instead they resort to seducing the men to commit sexual immorality with the Moabite women and to worship their gods in pagan idolatry. Why is this significant at this time?
This sorcerer Balaam is also mentioned in Revelation 2, where Yeshua the Messiah rebukes a city in what is now called "Turkey". It is the city of Pergamum. Yeshua is rebuking the congregation or K'hal, a Messianic congregation that was there originally in the area now known as Turkey. And Yeshua had this to say to them, and to us...
Pergamum: Beware the Trap of Balaam
12 To the angel of Messiah’s community in Pergamum write: “Thus says the One who has the sharp two-edged sword 13 I know where you live—where satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to hold firm to My name, and you did not deny your faith in Me even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness, who was killed among you, where satan resides.
14 “But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who was teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before Bnei-Yisrael, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent then! If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities. To the one who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone—and written on the stone a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”What do we know about this city Pergamum (i.e. Turkey)? Why does the Messiah call it the "Throne of Satan"?
There are 3 factors of significance of this city in Turkey:
- It was a city of great Roman influence – political power
- A city of great Pagen influence – spiritual darkness
- A city of great persecution of believers in Yeshua
According to Biblical scholar John Gill, writing in the 19th century: "this was a city of Mysia, situated by the river Caicus, formerly the seat of the kings of Attalia, and was bequeathed by Attalus, their last king, to the Romans: it is famous for being the native place of Galen the physician, and of Apollodorus the rhetorician, master to Augustus Caesar, and for the invention of parchment in it, from whence it seems to have its name: it is now called by the Turks Bergamo, and is almost sixty four miles from Smyrna..”
In it was a congregation (i.e. “k’hillah”) of Messiah, but when it begun, and how long it lasted, is not certain.
Antipas, who is mentioned, Revelation 2:13; is thought, by some, to have been the pastor of it. Though, according to the Apostolical Constitutions F19L. 7. C. 46. , Caius was the first bishop of it; and it appears, that in the “second” century there were several in this place that suffered martyrdom for Christ, as Carpus, Papulus, and a woman whose name was Agathonice F20Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. C. 15. . Attalus, the martyr, who suffered in the same century, was also a native of this placeF21Ib. l. 5. C. 1. . In the “fifth” century there was a bishop of Pergamos in the council at Ephesus; and in the “sixth” century, there was one in the “fifth” synod at Constantinople; and in the “seventh” century, Theodorus, bishop of the church here, was in the sixth synod held at the same place; and in the “eighth” century one Pastilas was bishop of Pergamos; and in the same age, Basil, bishop of this place, was in the Nicene synod F23Hist. Eccl. Magdeburgh. Cent. 5. C. 2. P. 3. Cent. 6. C. 2. P. 4. Cent. 7. C. 2. P. 3. C. 10. P. 254. Cent. 8. C. 2. P. 4. ; and the Christian name now is not wholly, though almost extinct; for when our countryman, Dr. Smith F24 Notitia, p. 120. , was there, there was a little church called St. Theodore’s, whither a priest was frequently sent from Smyrna, to perform divine service, there being but a very few Christian families in it. This church represents the church from the time of Constantine, and onward, rising up to, and enjoying great power, riches, and honour Pergamos signifies high and lofty; things that were sublime and lofty, were, by the Greeks, called τα περγαμα, and also all high and lofty towers F25 Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. L. 1. P. 403, & l. 2. P. 633. Ed Basil. 1586. . It was built under a very high and steep mountain, upon the top of which a tower was erected, by the lords of the lesser Asia, which still continues F26Smith. Notitia, p. 112. . The church it represents had its principal seat at Rome, where Satan dwelt, Revelation 2:13; which signifies exalted likewise; and it introduces the man of sin, antichrist, the popes of Rome, who exalted themselves above all that is called God, princes, kings, and emperors; whom they excommunicated, dethroned, trod upon their necks, kicked off their crowns, and obliged them to hold their stirrups while they mounted their horses, with other haughty action, too many to name,"
Another significant point of Pergamum ("Turkey") is it's spiritual condition (i.e. "The Throne of Satan").
Christian Author Rick Renner writes in his book, “A Light in the Darkness”:
“So why does the book of Revelation call it the dwelling place of Satan? The answer lies in the ruins of the city's temples.
“On one side, it was a very beautiful city,” says Renner. “But on the flip side, it was one of the darkest, eeriest cities in the whole Roman Empire.”
The people of Pergamum were known as the "Temple-keepers of Asia." The city had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperor, another for the goddess Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Many scholars believe this altar is the “Throne of Satan” mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Antipas was sentenced to death on the Altar of Zeus. Most of that altar still survives today, and surrounding it are some of the world's most famous marble friezes. They depict the Gigantomachy, or the battle between the Greek gods and the giants. At the top of the altar was a hollow bronze bull, designed for human sacrifice.
Renner describes the method of execution suffered by Antipas.
“They would take the victim, place him inside the bull, and they would tie him in such a way that his head would go into the head of the bull. Then they would light a huge fire under the bull, and as the fire heated the bronze, the person inside of the bull would slowly begin to roast to death. As the victim would begin to moan and to cry out in pain, his cries would echo through the pipes in the head of the bull so it seemed to make the bull come alive.”
Even in the midst of the flames, the elderly bishop Antipas died praying for his church. The year was AD 92.
A few years later, the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, mentioning the death of Antipas in Pergamum. Today, all that's left there is the foundation; the Altar of Zeus is more than a thousand miles away.
In the 19th century, German engineers dismantled the altar and took it to Berlin. The so-called "Throne of Satan" went on display in the city's Pergamon Museum in 1930, just in time to inspire one of the most brutal dictators the world has ever seen. (Robertson, 2016)
The reassembled "Altar of Pergamum" which has been in a Berlin Museaum since the 1930's currently being restored and will be unveiled again in 2020!
Hitler held his rallies in Nuremberg at the Zeppelin field in front of the tribune modeled after Satan’s Altar of Pergamos, above...
In 2008, after President Obama had visited Berlin and the Altar of Pergamum, which led to his inspiration of the Democratic National Convention that year in Denver Co.
Today, a new dictator has arisen, and he has been no friend of Israel. In fact he has taken what was once a predominately "Secular Turkey" as is advocating for another "Islamic State" (see the article above "Who is Erdogan?"
And just tonight at sundown as we remember the anniversary of the Roman Exile beginning, this same evil Throne of Satan, this Satanic spirit is busy back again in Turkey, establishing a new Totalitarian Dictatorship, right under our noses! Just this week, Erdagon survived a failed coup and he has forced his Parliament to grant him absolute power and control over the country! He is currently rounding up anyone who has dissented against his authority - police, soldiers, even university professors are being rounded up, arrested and God-knows what else!
Turkey is under a State of Emergency! See the article from yesterday: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/07/21/turkish-lawmakers-set-to-give-erdogan-sweeping-new-powers-after-failed-coup.html
Ladies & Gentlemen, friends, tomorrow on Shabbat, I will be addressing these current events from the pulpit and not only how they affect our world, how and why they are significant to us as believers who live much like the way the early Messianic Jews in Pergamum lived 2000 years ago.
We face a spiritual enemy, a threat to Israel and a threat to our own lives. On this Shabbat, 17th of Tammuz, I pray that you will stay alert in the Messiah spiritually. Let us not fall asleep!
1 Peter 5:8
Stay alert! Watch out! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour.
37 “Happy are those slaves whose master finds them alert when he comes. Amen, I tell you, he will prepare himself and have them recline at table, and will come and serve them.
See you tomorrow, Shabbat Shalom,