Good evening! Today was a very long day so good! The theme was restoring security and desires.
We began in the upper part of Sardis. We first saw Artemis’ temple. We were unable to climb to the top of the hill where the acropolis was (the highest point of a city known to be the home of the gods and emperors) due to erosion. In Sardis’ history, there was a siege laid upon them, but they were able to get to the fortified acropolis that was impenetrable. However, the enemy was able to sneak in through a secret door revealed to them by a soldier who had dropped his helmet over the wall. Immediately, all their security they had supposedly had was gone. We were also able to see a church that had been built against one of the walls of Artemis’ temple. Though Artemis’ temple was bigger, stronger, and more beautiful, it was the church that was still standing. Christianity had been the religion to continue on. Artemis, like her temple, has been left to ruin. the goddess all their faith had been for safety, dead just like their empire. Once we moved to the lower part of the city, we saw the largest synagogue found outside of Israel, plus a marketplace and the gymnasium.
Our second stop of the day was Thyatira. This is another city who has a modern day city built on top of it. Though we only saw a small section of excavated land, the teaching was provocative. To be able to work in these times, one had to be a part of a workers' guilds. These guilds would partake in drunkenness, sexual immorality, idol worship, and eat meat sacrificed to idols. All things Christians should avoid. These early Christians were faced with the tension of providing for their family or staying holy amidst great evil. This church had fallen into a false doctrine that it was fine to partake in order to create security for their family. It must have been terrifying thinking of putting one’s entire family at risk with no security to continue in their pursuit of righteousness. In Revelation, Jesus criticized them for this. He was not happy with their compromises. It begs the question: what are you willing to do to provide for your family and their security?
Finally, we ended the day exploring the first half of Pergamum. Here we switched themes to restoring power. Pergamum was once one of the most powerful and influential cities in the Roman empire. It has the highest acropolis in Asia Minor. Here, Jesus criticized them for knowing where they dwell, the throne of Satan. We saw many potential candidates for this place from Zeus’ altar to the emperor Trajan’s temple center for imperial cult worship. Tomorrow, we are eager to each decide which place we think Jesus is referring to. With the largest library at its time and a temple for Athena, it was clear these people viewed wisdom and knowledge as power. We are so excited to be back in this beautiful place tomorrow to discover more about this city.
We are all extremely tired, but the Lord has been our strength! We were all very excited for a bed and warm shower. We are resting up for another big day tomorrow!
Featured Signature Tour
Sep 3-14, 2023
Experience Israel for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.