Summary: Jesus doesn't promise He'll deliver us from our stresses (Tribulation), He does, however, promise to use our suffering for good, and offers an eternal weight of glory in return for our sacrifice.
And to the Angel of the Church in Smyrna, write:
These things says the first and the last, who died and came to life
I know your tribulation (stresses) and poverty, but abudance
And the blasphemy of those who claim themselves to be Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.
Do not fear what you will suffer.
Look, the devil is about to throw some of you in prison, in order to test you, and you will have tribulation ten days.
Be faithful to death, and I will give to you a (victor’s) crown of life.
The one having an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The overcomer will not be injured by the second death.
v 8 Smyrna From the root word, Myrrh, an ancient fragrance made by the crushing of the myrrh plant, is modern Ismir, Turkey. It is still prosperous today as a seaport city with 200,000 inhabitants. It was the first city to build a temple to the dea Roma, or Caesar, in 195 BC. In 23 AD they built a temple to Tiberius Caesar. Smyrna was a center for the Caesar cult. They would burn incense and require the citizens to say, “Caesar is Lord”. The Christians would not. The city also had a large Jewish population that was particularly hostile toward Christians, and encouraged the Roman persecution of believers. The pastor of the church was Polycarp, an intern of John. He lived over 100 yrs. and was killed by the Romans February 22, 166 AD.
v 9 Tribulation means Pressure from outside oneself (1:9; Mat. 5:10-11). poverty is destitution, abject poverty. This speaks of such penury that one does not even have enough to buy daily bread. Those who would not worship Caesar had all their belongings confiscated. Vendors would not sell them food. Yet they were rich. Scripture promises spiritual wealth, and worldly tribulation (Rom 8:16-18; II Tim. 2:12, 3:12; I Pet. 3:17, 4:19; Rev. 2:10; Matt. 6:19-21).
v 10 II Tim. 1:5-8. The devil is given credit for putting believers in jail, yet Jesus speaks of a value in this persecution. Ten Days may refer to one of the following: 1) the ten general Roman persecutions, 2) The final of the Roman persecutions, which was the worst, from 303-313 (10 years). 3) A Hebrew expression for a short time. unto death--there were over six million (sixty lakh) Christians killed during the Roman persecutions between 100 and 313 AD (Rev. 6:9). This was at a time when the entire world population is estimated to have been only about 100 million. the crown stephanos, or wreath. It was the standard prize for the first place winner of an athletic competition.
v 11 Second death 20:13-15; 21:6,8.
Francis of Assisi traveled to the Middle East to meet sultans and share the Good News of Jesus with them. He hoped that in the process he would be martyred. That’s how he wanted to die. Unfortunately for Francis’ plans, the sultans loved him. Can you relate at all to his perspective?
Browse briefly any few pages of Fox’s book of Martyrs and you’ll be brought face-to-face with people who gave up and suffered much more than you have. Even starting with a few of the 12 Disciples is instructive.
Paul’s head was chopped off.
James lost his head too
John the Baptist too.
Peter was hanged on a cross upside-down (he requested this, as he felt he was not worthy to die the same way as his Lord)
John was boiled in oil, but it didn’t work.
And Thomas was pierced through with spears right here in India.
Most of them had time in prison.
All of them went to their death knowing all they had to do was turn their back on their faith and profess they had preached things that were not really true. Yet no one broke ranks. How could they? They knew God had only blessed them. And they served One who gave His life willingly. They were only following the example of their LORD. They were walking in His footsteps.
What’s your perspective?
When things go wrong, how do you respond?
Do you say “why me?” do you contemplate giving up the whole “let’s follow God wherever He leads us!” scenario?
If that’s how you respond, you’re normal & it’s ok, and, maybe we can all acknowledge there may be a better way.
We have a temporal, short-term perspective in all things. We see what’s in front of us. In fact, for me, I often don’t even see that much. Our current distress is the only world we know. We can’t see the future.
But God is outside of time, and inside it. He can see and feel our current sufferings, yet He is more concerned with the long-term blessings of everyone under His care. His concerns are always much bigger and wider and deeper and higher than we are able to comprehend. And that means there are times that the outcome of our eventual blessings outweighs and supersedes the negative impact of our current circumstances. Paul said it this way, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.