The Persecuted Church
8 “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.”’
The church in Smyrna is addressed by Jesus with the characteristic from Revelation chapter one that He is the First and the Last, who was dead and came to life. Remember we discussed in the address to each of the churches Jesus is described using one of the characteristics or descriptions of Him from Revelation Chapter one. The First and the Last, who was dead and came to life, is important to the church of Smyrna. Why? Well they, according to the scripture here, are about to be thrown into prison by the devil, that they may be tested. They are instructed to be faithful unto death and they will be given the crown of life. Being faithful unto death requires a faith in something greater than death. The address to them signifies Jesus is He who overcame death. He is encouraging these individuals and empowering this congregation with the fact that He is greater than anything they will face and He will supply their need. Take a look at what Jesus says here to the Church in Smyrna, I know your works, tribulation, and poverty. We need to understand something here, there is comfort in knowing that our Lord and Savior knows exactly what is going on in our life. Our struggles, He knows. Our labor and our works His eyes are on. Our poverty He understands and defines differently. The statement in verse 9, I know your poverty (but you are rich). The members at Smyrna were poverty-stricken people. Yet, Christ says they were spiritually rich. The contrast with Laodicea is significant. The Laodicean church assumed it was rich, but it was spiritually poor (3:27). Do you define your riches according to the world's definition or according to Jesus and His definition. You see our wealth and our concern about our wealth must be wrapped in our Spiritual condition. Money, fame, material possessions will not bring peace in your life. In fact, if not channelled in a direction for the Kingdom, they will simply bring about a distraction and a separation from Jesus Christ. Our money, fame, possessions should be about the glory of God. We were at Thunder on the beach this past week and these lovely older ladies, ladies of great wisdom I like to call them, were entering the restaurant, I was already at the table, but I noticed Luke opening the doors for them and they were talking with him. I thought they might have been asking him about his shampoo cause you know his hair, well let us just say it is full bodied. Anyway he came to the table and he had a small bag and a small booklet inside. The booklet was a beautiful letter written from God to us, every line was a scripture. Keith had one as well with a different track. These ladies were spreading the Gospel in Panama City during a bike rally. It was beautiful. Their resources were channelled. Their labor was channelled. Are yours? Are you rich or poor? Who do you allow to define your wealth, the world or Jesus? May we choose Jesus every time.
Brother Big Daddy