Scriptures: Revelation 2:8-11 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
The Church of Smyrna was one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, Jesus gave these words of Revelation to John, the beloved disciple of Christ. Each of this churches Jesus gave his commendations/praise, His instructions and promises, but only the church of Philadelphia and Smyrna, Jesus gave no criticism at all, the other Churches Jesus pointed their lack of love, their reputation of being alive but dead, being corrupt,compromising and lukewarm church.
In general Jesus is speaking to the body of believers as a church in a particular place , but if we will examine it deeper each of this churches could also means and represent our stages of spiritual growth as an individual church. We as believers who have been born-again, by the Spirit and will of the our Father God. Our bodies become the living temple of God as we received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit dwells in us. (2 Corinthians 6:19-20).
From being born-again, we become like babies or “Newbie”, new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) irregardless at what age you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then we have known and experienced His love and joy, we turn into a “Freebie”– It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, no longer slave to sin but sons and daughters of the Living God (Galatians 5:1) then as we grow and matures in our spiritual walk with God, we desire to be a “Wannabe” we discovered that we have been blessed with all of His spiritual blessings and spiritual gifts. God make known to us His will and desires for our lives through His words. He made plans and purposes in our lives, as He devises His ways specifically and systemically through trials and testing of faith, weaknesses and temptations to overcome, molding our characters in every situations and circumstances to abide in Him and bears “Fruit of Righteousness” until we would become the “man/woman to be” in Christ Jesus. And I believed in each of those stages in our spiritual growth, God is patiently and lovingly working in our lives, that growth and maturity is long and takes time, careful and sometimes painful process to go through. And if we are not watchful though prayers and devotions to God’s words, if we lacks discipline and being disobedient to God, we ourselves can be corrupted, compromising, loveless, lukewarm and a dead church.
We have heard many times that we are now living in the last days and this is not just a product of an imaginative mind, or because of what is happening all over the world, climate changes, the increase in men’s wickedness, poverty and famine, plaque and pandemic, wars and conflicts. I mean even before our generations, many centuries ago, even before Christ came to live among men all these things happened and continues to happen now.-(Historical records to prove) “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I think the only difference in our generations is the advancement of human technology and weapons of war.
And if you are reading your Bible, you will find that all men’s wickedness and perversion were all written. So what makes us Christians sure, that we are indeed living in the last days? The Bible told us in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 “There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power,…. swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
But isn’t it all these things as well, already happened in the past and yes continually happens until now, we just give them a “new term or label” so not to be sound vulgar. So where can we find that specific answer that we are living in the last days? Remember God alone determines that time and the seasons in our lives, and in His time, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8) To Him, who is the Fist and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8)
Acts 2:17-18 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.— This marks and established God’s kingdom in our hearts!
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
The one true sign that we are indeed living in the last days, is that the Kingdom of God is within us.(Luke 17:21) And when this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
But up to this moment, most of us seems to be stuck and living comfortably in receiving the gospel of our salvation but not manifesting the power of the gospel of the Kingdom living.
True Christianity is more than just having a personal relationship with Christ, it is more than church attendance, studying His words, becoming His disciples or followers, doing works of charity and service to others it is more than that, because any religious people can do that, Unless hearts and minds are transformed by the Spirit of the living God. Oswald Chambers said, “It is not a question of being saved from hell, but in being saved in order to manifest the Son of God in our mortal flesh.”
The Church of Smyrna, In NKJ translation it was entitled “The Persecuted Church”. Jesus commended Smyrna for gracefully bears suffering, instructed them not to be afraid and to be faithful until death and His promise to them is that they will received the victor’s crown of life.Smyrna was a wealthy city, yet the Christians who are living there was in poverty because of the persecution, they have lost their possessions and wealth for Christ.
- First He assured them, I know your afflictions and your poverty.
Thank you Jesus! Such a comforting words from the Omniscient God, who knows,hear and sees our suffering. Knowing and believing that He is merciful and the Righteous Judge we have the assurance as the Scriptures says that “He has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help. (Psalm 22:24). But sometimes having known this truth, we are still questioning God and his ways, we still struggles in our faith and most of the time we felt downcast and weary as we go through afflictions and financial difficulties and many of us sometimes wanted a quick solution to that problem or we can choose to endures the affliction, trust the process, waiting patiently for God’s divine intervention and hoping for better days to come.
Yet you are rich! what an irony, How can someone living in poverty be rich? Someone who are facing difficulties be rich? Jesus himself acknowledge that fact that they are living in poverty because of the affliction and difficulties the Smyrna is going through. But, looking deeply into Jesus words, His intention is for us is not to magnify the problem and deliver us from afflictions and poverty but to remind us to be steadfast in our faith, that whatever the present circumstances we are in for now, it is not the reality of who we are in Christ Jesus, no matter how it may appear real in our lives, makes us poor and causes us pain that is not our final state or condition, if we could only see things through the eyes of faith in Jesus.
Have we lost our worldly wealth for Christ sake, Because we choose to serve Him and obeying His will and purpose? Remember true richness is not amassing worldly possessions, for life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) but rather we should be rich towards God, a treasure in heaven that will never fail. By recognizing that we are rich with God allows us to be satisfied with where we are. We are able to be content when we stop looking at all the physical things we do not have and see all the spiritual things we do have.
I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Slander is an assassinations of one’s character and reputation, a very serious offense and God is not taking it lightly. Scripture warns us “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” that all of us will will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word we have spoken. (Matthew 12:36-37).
The next time we accused and judge someone because somebody told us, or because we think and feel based on our observations without confronting and finding the truth about that person not even praying for that person, we are heaping judgment to ourselves.
Jesus says that they say they are Jews but they really are not. It is just like saying they are Christians but their words and actions denies their confessions, proud and rebellious in their spirit. Jesus words are even harsh for these pretenders and called them Synagogue of Satan.
Lastly, Jesus warns the Church of Smyrna to expect more suffering,persecutions and testing but also exhort them not to give and succumb themselves to fear but to remain faithful until the end even to the point of death.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Revelation 17:14 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Confession and dream – Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. … Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. – (eternal banishment from the presence of God)
Romans 8:37-39 “ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.