Summary: A look at the persecuted church

A study of the Book of Revelation < The persecuted Church> #5

Rev. 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.

Historical Perspective: Smyrna is the church that suffered martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus Christ and is still in existence today as modern day IZMIR in the nation of Turkey. I find it interesting that there are two churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, in Revelation 2 and 3 that received no condemnation from the Lord Jesus Christ and these are the only churches from Revelation still in existence today. While Christians are still persecuted today in modern Turkey, there remains a church in hiding among them.

Smyrna means bitter and it received it’s name from myrrh. There was a vanity or pride among the people with everyone trying to climb the social ladder one step higher than his neighbor. Keeping up with and passing the "Jones’" was the highest priority in the city and the highest seat, the one with the most recognition was the winner. Today Americans believe the same thing that somehow the man who dies with the most toys is the winner but the reality is the man who dies with the most toys, STILL DIES! Are they ready for the moment after their eyes close in death without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

· Want to lay a background for how strong the human will of survival is but I want to use an illustration from an incident that happened in the last few months. I’m sure that if we looked into other areas of study that we could find many examples of the overwhelming desire to live but this story meets our needs today.

· In the September 17, 2002 issue of the Meridian Star there is a story of a 48 year old grocery store worker who went to sea to make some extra money. Alvin Latham was put on trial for beating to death Raymond "Tinky" Leiker on a shrimp boat in Breton Sound just off the shore of Venice Louisiana. The shrimp boat began to sink and a struggle began over the only life jacket on the boat with Latham finally killing Leiker for it.

· As sad as that story may seem, what would you do or say or bow to in order to save your life? The church at Smyrna suffered poverty, ridicule, bitter affliction and even death for the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder if you would do the likewise?

Smyrna is a picture of what a true church of Christ Jesus should be: A DYNAMIC WITNESS through all circumstances, temptations and trials. It is a picture of a church that loves Jesus enough to stand up for him even when the community attacks it’s witness.

A. Every year there were many festivals and times to honor the idol gods in the city but the true Christian couldn’t participate in something like that so his social life was severed. ( Example would be Mardi Gras )

B. Because he was marked, he usually lost his job and all of his possessions were seized as well as putting his life in danger when he refused to say that ‘Ceasar was Lord’ as part of his civic duty every year as prescribed by the Romans.

Part One: VERSE 8, 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;

(1) The letter to the church at Smyrna is addressed to the or in the Greek which simply means both angel and messenger. That means it can mean an earthly messenger carrying with it the implication that the letter is addressed to the minister or leader of the church. That is significant because the leadership or minister is held responsible for the church and must the lead in standing fast against persecution and the issues of the time.

A. Sheep have to be led by their shepherd, not driven like a bunch of cows

B. Encompasses a lot more than just finding somebody to fill a position…

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