Can we please acknowledge right away that the promises made to Pergamum are the coolest of all the seven churches?
Heavenly manna? A white stone with a secret name? Without explaining
anything else, those base points are enough to excite my imagination.
But wait. There’s more.
(I’ve always wanted to say that.)
There’s an old Jewish legend that started just after Solomon’s Temple
was destroyed in the 6th C BCE. The legend claims that the prophet
Jeremiah hid some of the manna from within the Ark of the Covenant in
the ruins of the Temple, and some in a secret chamber at the base of
Mount Sinai. The Messiah was destined to come to those places and
reclaim the manna, giving it out during God’s new age to all those who
had remained faithful during persecution.
Manna was dessert in heaven.
And the white stone?
Law courts delivered their verdicts in black stones (for guilt) and
white ones (for innocence). Winners at the Olympic games were given
white stones. Priests sold white stones to their parishioners, believing
that the engraving upon the stones gave them special access to heaven.
Honored gladiators were given a white stone when they retired, with the
inscription “this man’s valor has been proved beyond measure.”
The white stone was the mark of victory, blessing, and vindication. And
the fact that Christ engraves our name on our own stone—a new name, no
less, like Paul’s new name (instead of Saul), or Peter’s new name
(instead of Simon), or Abraham’s new name (instead of Abram), or
Israel’s new name (instead of Jacob)—just makes it that much sweeter.
To think, one day I’ll be sitting in heaven eating dessert with Christ and he’ll give me a medal that says…