Revelation 2:8-11 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
We have been studying through the Book of Revelation, so named in the first verse of the first chapter:
Revelation 1:1 (KJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
John was given this Revelation of Christ while suffering for the faith on the Isle of Patmos. The Christian is well acquainted with suffering. The Christian and the Church that suffers for the Name of Jesus will be persecuted by the world. Tonight we look at a Church called Smyrna, the Suffering Church.
Of the seven Churches that the Lord Jesus Christ addresses in the Book of Revelation, two Churches – Smyrna and Philadelphia – are not rebuked.
Only four verses of Scripture were written to Smyrna, and every bit of it is encouraging.
If you examine the name “Smyrna” you’ll see three letters “MYR” in the middle. The city of Smyrna was famous for producing Myrrh. Myrrh was one of the three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – that were brought to the baby Jesus by the wise men from the east (Matthew 2:11). Myrrh comes from a shrub like tree that produces a bitter gum. It is made by stripping the leaves from this tree and then pressing or crushing them until the gum came out. Though the gum was bitter, it was very fragrant, and was used in the practice of embalming. When a loved one died the Jews would mix myrrh and aloe, and then use this paste to wrap the body to prepare it for burial. When Jesus died the Bible tells us that:
John 19:39-40 (NKJV) And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
Myrrh became associated with suffering and death. Our Lord was aware of Myrrh, and He was aware of Smyrna. As Jesus speaks to His suffering Church He tells them:
Revelation 2:8 …. These things saith THE FIRST AND THE LAST …
Jesus is “The First and the Last”. This is an Old Testament name that God applied to Himself. He said:
Isaiah 44:6 (KJV) Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isaiah 48:12 (NKJV) … I am He. I am the first, I am also the Last …
Jesus Christ is God. He is the One of Whom the Father says:
Hebrews 1:8-9 (NKJV) Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
Jesus is God, God in the flesh, God manifest. And yet even God suffers. He says:
Revelation 2:8 … These things saith the first and the last, WHICH WAS DEAD, AND IS ALIVE;
Jesus was dead. He suffered on Calvary. He suffered the whip. He was beaten and bruised for the faith of God. He died …. but He now lives forever. Jesus is not a perpetual Victim, but the eternal Victor. He was killed. He was wrapped in Myrrh and Aloe. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. But Jesus rose again on the third day, and is alive forever more.
The Working Christian Suffers
Revelation 2:9 (KJV) I know thy WORKS, and TRIBULATION, and POVERTY, (but thou art rich) ….
The Church that does nothing will not suffer.
The Church that compromises with the darkness will not suffer.
The Church that exalts itself and not God will not suffer.
But the Church that works for Christ will suffer.
The Church that acts as the hands and feet of Jesus will suffer.
If Jesus had entered this world and never did anything contrary to the world, then you would never have heard of Jesus. Jesus was not mediocre. He did not blend. He came to “work the works of God” (John 6:28). Jesus came to “be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus worked so hard for the Father that He said “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Christ was persecuted because He stood for the Father.
The Church that stands for the Son will be persecuted.
Jesus said in John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
The Church that lives on GIMME will never suffer or be tried. But the Church that lives for Jesus will be tried. Jesus said
I know your WORKS …
and your TRIBULATION …
and your POVERTY…
To stand for Christ costs us something, and it should cost us something. Are we willing to stand for Him though it lead to TRIBULATION? Are we willing to stand for Him though it lead to POVERTY? Will we follow His Word regardless as to whether it is fashionable, even if they call us …
Will we stay the course with Christ while the false churches prosper? Jesus told Smyrna:
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE NOT, but ARE THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN.
There were people in “Synagogues” or local Church buildings that said “We are Jews. We are Christians”. They had Christian names posted on their signs and doors. They had creeds and covenants hanging up in frames behind wooden, quite Christian looking pulpits. But God was not in them. They were of the Church of Satan. Where is the Church of Satan today? There was a formally constituted “Church of Satan” founded by Anton Szandor LaVey on April 30th 1966. Chelsea Clinton tweeted to the Church of Satan wishing them a Happy New Year this very year. But the Church of Satan that is dangerous is not LaVey’s Church, but the Church that professes Christ but is not possessed of Christ. They “say they are Jews – God’s people – but ARE NOT”. Christ is not honored in their midst. God’s Word is not elevated in their practice. They do not love Jesus, but love the trappings of godless religion. These false churches destroy the witness of God throughout the nation.
The Church at Smyrna SHINED for Jesus. They were not ashamed of Him or His Word.
They stood up for Him, believing His Gospel and His Spirit.
Jesus told the saints at Smyrna …
Revelation 2:9 (KJV) I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty,
(BUT THOU ART RICH) …
Smyrna was rich because these believers had their treasure in Heaven. They loved one another and loved the Lord Jesus. The other pretend Christians who said they were of the Jews were in reality like Judas Iscariot. They were of the synagogue of Satan, advancing not the Kingdom of God but helping the devil.
The Shining Church Will Suffer
As our Lord spoke to the Church of Smyrna He didn’t tell them “I know you’ve suffered. Don’t worry – it’s going to get better”. That’s the kind of preaching that everyone loves to hear. You’ve suffered, but it’s almost over. You’re suffering. Here’s how to get out of it. This is the preaching you’ll hear in many pulpits today. Notice what Jesus said:
Revelation 2:10 … FEAR NONE of those things which thou SHALT suffer …
Trials are coming for every Church in America that is doing the will of Christ. True Christians are fair game in our society. Years ago I said:
“I believe the day is coming when same sex marriage is not only legalized,
but forced upon us.”
I said this just four years ago. Today it is legalized, and people are being forced to cater to those who believe in same sex marriage. I believe there will come a day when Churches and Pastors will bew forced to acknowledge what the Scripture says is wrong.It’s coming.
I believe there will come a time when the Gospel is outlawed as hate speech. We will not be able to preach …
Acts 4:12 (NKJV) Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
or … John 14:6 (KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus was quite specific that faith in His finished work is the only Way to the Father. The early Christians were accused of being Atheists by the worshippers of the Roman gods and goddesses. The world will attack the claims of Christ. What does Jesus tell Smyrna?
Revelation 2:10 ….. behold, the devil shall cast some of you into PRISON, that ye may be tried; and ye SHALL HAVE TRIBULATION TEN DAYS
Note two things in this text. You shall have tribulation. It is coming. It is certain. The darkness hates the light, and will fight the light. BUT … TEN DAYS tells us that GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!
When God created our world and our solar system in Genesis 1 the phrase “God said” occurs TEN times. Creation did not come out of nothing, but from our God. Our God is in charge. He is in control.
Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Ten plagues were placed on Egypt.
Psalms 46:1-3 (KJV) God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 [Though] the waters thereof roar [and] be troubled, [though] the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
Grow in your knowledge of God. Know that He is with you. Love Him. Focus on Him, not on the threat that is to come.
Back in the days of the Old West the townspeople were warned that there was going to be an Indian attack, so the people left their homes and moved inside of the walls of the nearby Fort. Once everyone was safely inside the Commander of the Fort called for his Indian tracker. He asked the man, “Can you find out how badly the Fort is going to be attacked?” The tracker said nothing, but knelt down and put his ear to the ground. The tracker, a native American with broken English, said “Bad attack coming. Four chiefs. Four tribes. Many horses. Many guns. Many people. Very bad!” The Commander looked at the tracker and said, “Good grief, you can tell all that just by putting your ear to the ground?” The tracker said, “No! Just looked under gate!”
Jesus told us that we would be persecuted. He told us in the Gospels, and tells us tonight. Yet in the persecution Christ will be with us. Let us look to Him and love Him, remembering that we are His Ambassadors. He has promised to us …
Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
When tried …. keep your eyes on the Lord!
Dr Charles Stanley spoke of the time early in his ministry when he was surrounded by the bulls of Bashan in his Church. People were attacking him daily. One little old lady in his Church asked for him to come and see her, but he kept putting it off. He figured it was just one more attack. Finally, after many calls, he went to her house. When he got to her house she led him into the living room and pointed to a picture of Daniel in the Lion’s Den that hung on her wall. She asked, “Young man, what do you see?” Charles said “Well, I see Daniel and the lions”. She said “No, no. Look closely. What do you see?” Not knowing what she was looking for and weary from attacks Charles said “I’m sorry. My mind is just not focusing today. What do you want me to see?” She said, “Brother Stanley, look closely at Daniel. What is he looking at?” Charles said “It hit me like a ton of bricks. Daniel was not looking at the lions, but he was looking upward through an opening into Heaven!”
Jesus told His poor, beleagued little Church:
Revelation 2:10-11 (KJV) …. be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Jesus said, “He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death”. The false believer of the Church of Satan will not stand for Christ, and therefore will never enter Heaven. Hell is where Satan and his followers will go, a place called the “second death”, that terrible Lake of Fire. Those who have not accepted Christ as Savior end up in this place of terrible torment. The Bible says:
Revelation 20:14-15 (KJV) …. the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
If Christ is yours and you are Christ’s then your name is written in the Book of Life.
If Christ is yours and you are Christ’s then His Spirit indwells you.
If Christ is yours and you are Christ’s then you know you are His Child.
If Christ is yours and you are Christ’s then you will not collapse when tried.
Bless God for the trials that wake us up. When Jacob wrestled with God he was made lame – and discovered he needed to be saved. When Job was tried though he suffered greatly he said, “I know my Redeemer liveth!” (Job 19:25).
2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Are you His? I pray that you can answer yes with both lips and heart this very day!