It may be a change to read about something positive, or at least as the Lord viewed the church at Smyrna. This is a church, which may well reflect in the universal church, your local church, and of course, the church is people, it is a good standard to judge our personal spiritual position.
The word Smyrna has as its root, the word myrrh is a substance that has the sweet smell and used in the making of perfume, incense, and medicine. Smyrna was a beautiful city with rich farmland; and often referred to as the ‘crown of Asia.’ Nonetheless, it was also the center of Caesar-worship in Asia Minor; the infamous ‘golden street’ that ran from the harbor up to Mt. Pagos. Along the way one passed by an imposing array of pagan temples to Cybele, Apollo, Aesculapius, Aphrodite, and Zeus. Yet, there was a Christian church, which would only relate to the persecution that the Christians underwent. It was the martyr Polycarp who was burned at the stake for his Christian faith in Smyrna.
In the Revelation of John, we read the running commendation of Jesus as he found no fault with the church.
Revelation 2:8—11 … “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write. These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life… 9). ‘I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich; and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10). ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11). ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ‘
First, allow me the opportunity to clarify just a couple of things here. In vs. nine, the church was not rich with money, but in faith and commitment, the Christians were the outcasts in this stronghold of paganism, and under persecution from the Jews and Romans as well.
Jesus has a wonderful way of calling it like it is; the Jews, whom he is speaking, were Jews who found favor with Rome, because of their trade, and they kept that relationship going by worshiping Caesar. Jesus therefore called it, as it was, the synagogue of Satan. Of course, that would only cause additional persecution from the Jews in Smyrna.
Some of the Christians would be thrown into prison; the indication of ten days refers to a ‘short’ period; yet some would die during the mal-treatment or persecution. Jesus promises a “crown of life” for those who stand strong in the faith. “He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This refers not to the pieces of flesh and gristle hanging on either side of one’s head; rather to the spiritual ears, which hear the voice of the Spirit.
In a time of serious persecution, this church stood firm in the faith, they kept doing what Jesus expects His church to do; love Him enough to keep teaching and preaching in the Spirit and Truth. Not to hide under a bushel, or fall to the ways of the world. The persecution will get stronger, as time goes on, but we need to be about the Lords business, and above all, they did not deny Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Today, it seems as though the world is on fire. The chaos in the world today only verifies that the Devil is truly, what scripture says; he is the prince of the air, and the ruler of principalities. It a world that is poised to engage in world war three, or so it seems. Jesus told the disciples that the end is at hand, the end is near, and problem is, we do not know what actual span of time ‘near’ is.
The church at Smyrna knew the end was near, and it escapes my thinking, that this church, under such circumstances just did not throw up their hands and leave. By all indications, the church survived through earthquakes, pestilence, death, and serious persecution. During the time of Muhammad, Smyrna was considered an infidel stronghold; (Christian population). Nonetheless, they stayed strong in the faith, even after their first Bishop Polycarp was martyred.
Today, it is difficult to recognize our most eminent danger nor the severity of the danger. We think we are persecuted, but we have yet to experience any serious persecution. The churches of our time who fall short of the church that Jesus intended or more of the world than of Christ, will find out just what these seven churches warn us. This is a church, which found favor with Christ, Christ’s promise is a crown of life, and this church would not be harmed by the ‘second’ death. What is the ‘second death?’ To the Christians in Smyrna it meant the first death of which they would endure, the physical death through which we all must travel. Nevertheless, the second death would be the death of the soul, which they would not have to endure; the protection of the crown of life, life everlasting.
The hope that is in us is Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, brings the promise of life and life everlasting, life after the first death, which is the physical, our soul lives on in the presence of God when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we receive life everlasting. The Gospel of John, Jn. 3:16… For God loved R.S. Helms that He gave His only begotten Son, that if R.S. Helms believes in Him; R.S. Helms shall not parish but have everlasting life. It just does not get any better than that. That is an example of how personal my relationship is with God.
The church at Smyrna had such a relationship with God, they were the overcomers, and Jesus knew the condition and position of the church, the people; therefore, Jesus launches into his running commendation of the church. Today, we face the same foe. The enemy is cunning, bold, strong, smart, and gaining ground. We watch as this enemy, (Satan, his demons, and his devils), have our Christian nation in chaotic evil hatred of one another.
For ages, the enemy’s war on the people of God waged on with a fervor, ever escalating to its end, when the final battle is finished, and God takes the book of life, and reads the names of those whom are contained within, to stand at his right hand. They are the ones who stood firm in the faith; they, like the church at Smyrna, have recognized the false doctrines of men, and showed them to be of the synagogue of Satan.
I firmly believe this nation is a Christian nation. What others may try to make you believe, or force you to do, is of the world, if it is not of God. Satan used scripture to temp Jesus; however, Jesus used scripture to defeat the temptation. Providing you are in Christ, you can discern what is of God and what is of the doctrines of man.
It is time to take back what charlatan preachers have torn-down with false teachings and doctrines. It is time for the Christian to reclaim the freedoms, which liberal Marxists stole from the people. All of this can be done only if the overcomers listen with the spiritual ears what the Spirit is saying to the church, confess our transgressions, repent, and pray as one people with one mind, then God has promised to hear and heal our land.
God, let my life so reflect the mindset of the church at Smyrna, and stand firm in the face of persecution to overcome the doctrines of the world. Amen.