THE MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA
Our Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Last week we learned about the message to the Church of Ephesus. This was a big modern city of her time and was home to the temple of Diana, once listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the known world. The lesson we learned was that we can never take our eyes off of Jesus. It was Jesus Christ that paid our debt that we could not pay. It is Jesus Christ that will lead us in to Heaven and eternal life. There is no other way to get there. You know Peter took his eyes off of the Lord when he got out of that boat and he began to sink but it was the long arm of God that reach out to him and carried him back to the safety of the church. That church, the one that clings to the Lord Jesus as a loving bride is the one that is going home soon to Heaven.
Today we look at what Christ said to the Church of Smyrna. The church in Smyrna was a much-persecuted church in a wealthy city that had little time for Christians. The city itself, founded about three centuries before Christ, was a well-planned accomplishment of Alexander the Great. The commercial center of Asia Minor, it was on the direct trade route from India and Persia to Rome. The large variety of coins found by archaeologists in the city clearly indicates that it was a wealthy city. The Jewish segment of the population seems to have been most irreligious and neglectful of spiritual things. Few specific details are known of the history of the Smyrna church other than what is given here in the book of Revelation. It can be safely deduced, however, that it was a most faithful church in the face of persecution. From this account, the known characteristics of the conditions in the church at Smyrna indicate that the judgment seat of Christ will reveal this church to be one of the most outstanding local bodies of believers in all of church history.
The city’s name means “myrrh”, which is obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense and tastes bitter. Myrrh was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. This type of embalming was used in Egypt and Judea. Smyrna was located about 40 miles to the north of Ephesus and was likely founded by the apostle Paul. The celebrated Polycarp, a pupil of the apostle John, was in the second century a prominent leader in the church of Smyrna.
The origins of the Christian community there, which was established in the 1st century, are unknown. Ignatius of Antioch stopped at Smyrna on his way to martyrdom in Rome in 107 AD, and he sent a letter back to the Christians there from later in his journey. Smyrna’s bishop, Polycarp, was burned at the stake in Smyrna’s stadium around 156 AD.
Some say this church represents the Age of the persecuted church but if you ask some in India, and China, and Russia or especially any of the Muslim dominated countries you will see persecution is still rampant in this world. It can be said that many more than 100,000,000 Christians have been murdered since the time of Christ and many of those by the so called Christian church. The false church of Satan is alive an well in this world and we will learn the destruction of this beast in this very book we are studying.
*****Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Here again we see this word is given to the pastor of the church. We know the work of the pastor.
Jer 17:15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now.
Jer 17:16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; [thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee].
A true Pastor has to preach God’s word in truth:
Jer 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. [But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay].
A true Pastor has a mission from God Himself:
Eze 3:19 [Yet if thou warn the wicked], and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
A true Pastor will preach the entire word of God:
Act 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you [all the counsel of God].
A true Pastor is always aware of the false preachers so, they will always speak of Christ:
2Co 2:17 [For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God]: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Does our church have a true Pastor? I know we do here at Gethsemane Baptist Temple. Does yours?
Then they should also preach this Book of the Revelation of Christ Jesus. He (Jesus) gave these words to the Pastors of these seven churches to “Preach”.
The last time our Lord was seen on this Earth, He was alive!
Act 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Act 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, [while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received
him out of their sight].
He was seen of the Apostle Paul after that:
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, [but by the revelation of Jesus Christ].
Eph 3:3 How [that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery]; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Eph 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
In fact Paul gave us these words:
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
1Co 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
1Co 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of [due time].
I believe Paul thought he should have been one of the 144,000 by his words due time. I try to pay my bills before they are due. That is a future date not one from the past.
We are also taught of God that by Jesus were the worlds created:
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Heb 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
There is only one true God:
1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
My God is alive. He walked on the Earth with Adam. He walked on this Earth as Jesus. He walk out of that grave as Jesus, “alive” not some ghost. He walked on this Earth for forty days after the grave in a body which was glorified. He was alive when the Apostles saw Him go into that cloud. He was alive when Paul saw Him and he was alive when The Apostle John saw Him this day. Our God is alive and He always will be.
Rev 10:6 says And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
If we are with Him as He says then this very day of endless time will be our beginning of “eternal life”.
*****Rev 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.
The phrase “I know thy works” is used [exactly seven] times in the Bible and it is only used when Christ addresses these seven churches.
Does God know everything?
Job said God had perfect knowledge: Job 37:16
The Psalmist said God’s understanding was infinite: Psa 147:5
Samuel says the Lord looks all the way into the heart of man: 1 Sam 16:7
King David told Solomon that God understood every thought of man: 1 Chron 28:9
Jeremiah wrote God knows everything we do: Jer 17:10
It tells of this in Hebrews and, In Isaiah, in fact Isaiah says God even knows the future before it happens: Isa 41:21-24
Isa 42:9 says Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Jesus said God even knew how many hairs were on the head of each and every one of us: Matt 10:30
God knows everything and He knows what we are doing and what we have done since we got saved. Jesus gave this message to the pastor so the pastor could preach to the church. Jesus is talking to you and I on a personal level when He says “I know your works”!
James the half-brother of the Lord writes:
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
And you can say that a church without good works will be dead also.
If God knows our works He also knows how much we have suffered to do those works. Now this is different from punishment for sin. God will use that Heavenly Hickory from time to time. This is different from the things that happen because of the curse on this world. The Sickness, and things that come from aging, and things from more natural causes.
This is the tribulation we suffer just because we say we are “Christians” and just because we are trying to do the work God has commanded us to do. We are all suppose to be Evangelist for Jesus in any way that we can and with all our heart. We have freedoms here in America that some do not have in other countries, So God will expect more from us but He expects us all to do our part. Even when we are old and weak, we can pray for the word of God to go unhindered throughout the world. We can pray God will place a hedge of protection around His children, His sheep.
During this time in Smyrna it was a time of Emperor worship. The Caesars had declared themselves god’s and it could mean death to not bow down to them or their statues. The Temple of Zeus was there which goes back to the days of Nimrod. The Temple of Cybele was there which was their version of Diana and the queen of heaven. This was a hard place to be a Christian. The Romans hated all Christians. The imperial laws against Christians were enforced severely in Smyrna. At that time this helped the Jews who also hated all Christians.
The Smyrna church was a persecuted church. The name Smyrna comes from the word myrrh, the sweet smelling
incense. The aroma permeated the space when myrrh is crushed. It is used even today is incense. The Smyrna church was sweet smelling sacrifice to God. You could say it was bitter-sweet to be a Christian in this place. They were mercilessly put to death by fine Roman methods -lions, stakes, and torches. Romans were connoisseurs of torturing. To this tortured persecuted crushed church Jesus writes a comforting letter.
The Church at Ephesus in it’s period had lost it’s first love; therefore, the Lord permitted chastisement to come to that Church. In Smyrna the prophecy of persecution and death is seen. We now will also see there are rewards for the sealing your testimony with your own blood.
Any person that converted to Christianity in Smyrna were not only persecuted but they were not allowed into the system. No employment. No place to sell their wares and what they owned was taken away from them. Sadly this still happens in Muslim control countries and in some other places as well.
But they were rich:
Jas 2:5 says Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and [heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him]?
Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and [what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints],
2Co 6:10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; [as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things].
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: [for great is your reward in heaven]: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Mat 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and [he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward].
2Jn 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
(That say they are Jews)
There are always people that claim to be something they are not. There are many living in America today that call themselves Americans but do everything they can to change things to something from their past. These Jews probably were not as persecuted because it was the time of the Church. They were still suppose to be God’s people! When they added to the persecution of the Church they brought the wrath of the Lord down upon them. Jesus Christ Himself was born a Jew in the flesh through His mother Mary but He is the foundation of the Church.
Rom 2:28 says For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
These are His words recorded here to His own Earthly race. God does not sugar coat any of His words. His word is always true.
Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Just because they had a family tree in the Jewish history it did not make them Jews. The Lord said if you were Abraham’s seed you would do the works of Abraham. And what was the work of Abraham.
Joh 8:37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
Joh 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
Joh 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, [If ye were
Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham].
Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, [Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God].
A friend of God would not persecute other believers!
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
Synagogue of Satan:
If you do not belong to God then you belong to Satan and wherever you gather you are in his house. Today we hear that all religions should pull together under one roof. This could never be the truth without the truth first and only being Jesus Christ.
Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Two names are used for the enemy of mankind in Revelation:
1.) Satan- which means “adversary”.
2.) Devil- which means “slanderer”.
He is both these things to the church of the Living God. He is the instigator of all persecution and of all slander brought forth to the Church.
*****Rev 2:10 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.
We that know God, know that all power comes from Him.
Psa 62:11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
Satan cannot come close to one of God’s children without His (God’s) express permission!
God said to Satan about Job: Job 2:6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
There is no power but of God:
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: [the powers that be are ordained of God].
To resist God’s power is to ensure your place in Hell:
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and [they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation].
The persecution of Saints has it’s own purpose and God is in control of it’s use and it’s outcome! God’s purpose of persecution will cause repentance, purification and will strengthen the love, faith and courage of the Church.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Luk 12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
Luk 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Luk 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
Luk 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Luk 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
That number “Ten”. The first thing we should know is that this is not referring to any time of the tribulation period. That would be later and the Church will already be with our Savior.
Ten is a big number in the Bible.
1.) There are “Ten” Commandments.
2.) God would not have destroyed Sodom had He found “Ten” righteous men.
3.) God named the place we live Earth in the “tenth” verse.
4.) God tells us of the Generations of Noah in the “Tenth” Chapter.
5.) There are “Ten” Generations till the time of Noah.
6.) There are only “Ten” recorded Passovers in the Bible with Jesus dying on the Cross of Calvary at that “Tenth” one.
There are also “Ten” known era of Christian persecution with the last one, the Diocletian period lasting exactly “Ten” years.
1.) Nero (66 A.D.)
2.) Domitian (93 A.D.)
3.) Trajan (102 A.D.)
4.) Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Verus (166 A.D.)
5.) Septimus Severus (201 A.D.)
6.) Maximin (237 A.D.)
7.) Decius (251 A.D.)
8.) Valerian (259 A.D.)
9.) Aurelian (273 A.D.)
10.)Diocletian (302 A.D.)
Ten is also one of the perfect and complete numbers with three, seven and twelve being the others.
The number ten is the start of a whole new order of numbers and the culmination of the numbers that come before it. This may seem to be merely a distinction given to ten under our decimal numbering system. However the numbering systems in use in the time that the Bible was written were also based upon the number ten. Furthermore numbering by tens is built in to our very anatomy, count up on your fingers and when they are all used, make a mark on a piece of paper and start from your first finger again. Soon you will have a number of marks, each representing ‘two hands’ worth. Thus in ancient times as in modern times ten is the start of a whole new order of numbers and the culmination of the numbers that come before it.
Let’s make it simple:
In the Book of Daniel we see these words:
Dan 1:12 [Prove thy servants], I beseech thee, [ten days]; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Because Daniel and his friends stayed by the word of God, God gave them wisdom and understanding.
Dan 1:17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
In fact they were “ten” times better than those false men of understanding.
Dan 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
God is no respecter of persons:
Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Act 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
God could not do for Daniel and not do for these that were persecuted in Smyrna. He would only allow Satan to prove them for “ten” days. Their end result would be a homecoming!
2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2Co 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Mar 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
*****Rev 2:11 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.
Seven times to these churches does the Holy Spirit tell the individuals to hear what is said. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to hear God’s message that is taught in the Church. God will accept no excuses at the Judgment Seat. We cannot depend on others to do our learning, our hearing, our praying nor our confessing.
He that overcomes will not be hurt in the second death.
It is a good saying, that he that is born once will die twice but he that is born twice will die only once.
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
The first death is the death of the flesh. That second death is in the Burning Lake of Fire. No “Born Again” child of God will ever see the Burning Lake of Fire.
A person has to reject God’s word to get there and sadly many will. To be a child of God, washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, you will suffer persecution that will increase as time goes by. It may cost you some friends. It will cost you some popularity. It may cost you your job. Many of these Saints at Smyrna lost their lives because of their faith. God pity you and I if we cannot suffer some in the name of Jesus Christ.
1Pe 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: