Summary: Look at what the Lord says about the 2nd church of Revelation.
INTRO: Today maybe you’ve come and you just don’t feel right. Maybe you’ve been feeling some pain and heartache. You’re possibly in a situation that’s not bringing you a lot of happiness. Perhaps the last
year you’ve lost a loved one. Job is not what you thought it would be. You feel persecuted on every side.
-There’s a letter written to you, it was written about 95 AD - a letter sent to suffering Christians.
TEXT: Rev. 2:8-11 (Read)
TITLE: Poor Little Church
I. Review: 7 churches in Revelation describe churches today. I believe churches fall within one of these seven, also the Christians as well.
Church in Smyrna
A. History - 2nd largest city in Asia minor what we call Turkey today. Population 200,000 people, second only to Ephesus which we looked at last week
1. Visit today - it’s called Ismear, a strong, thriving, large city to this day.
2. Long history - in 195 BC it took a loyal stance with Rome. It allied itself with Rome even when it looked bad. When they lost a few wars, city of Smyrna would send clothes, food, men, money.
3. End result loyalty Rome - 23 AD - First city to institute emperor worship. Given priviledge to build temple, Caesar Tiberius.
B. Mandated emperor worship - In 81 Al) 15 years prior to writing this letter.
1. Meant - once a year every citizen had to come to the temple of Caesar and declare "Caesar is Lord." -This is where this little church was located in a town that believed in this.
C. Jesus says - v. 9, "I know your afflictions and your poverty."
1. Afflictions - literally means to be crushed. Often used in literature of the classical greek days describing the execution of a criminal by rolling a huge stone over him.
Idea: Intense pressure
2. Jesus knows our afflications (intense pressure we feel).
Matthew 26:36-46 (Read)
a. Gethsemane means oil press - literally what Jesus was going through. It was so intense Luke tells us his sweat was like drops of blood.
-Jesus himself declared he’s so troubled he feels like he is going to die.
-Ask his father if it is possible to take this cup of suffering from him.
-Jesus’ position praying (prostrate, knees, up, down).
-Showing he is so troubled he can’t sit still.
b. No matter what you’re going through, lord knows your affliction (pressure).
3. Jesus not only knows our afflictions but also our poverty.
a. Poverty means absolute destitution. Christians were reduced to absolute poverty (bare necessities).
-This was strange because the city was a very wealthy city. Affluent city called the flower of Asia. A city that was laid out and planned by Alexander the Great.
-The city was so rich it had a golden street (street literally laid with gold).
-There were several temples to Zeus, Apollos, Aphrodite, center of advanced culture, huge library.
-Modern historians described it as the Paris of Asia.
b. City so wealthy - how come Christians were so poor because the city was so wealthy.
1. Christians were blackballed - There were no opportunities (put out of business). This is why church was a poor church.
2. Children lack of opportunity - kids reached about 8 or 9. Age you started into a trait (get into the system). You have to commit allegiance to state.
ex......Owatonna basketball, hockey - have to get into early age if want to excel at sports. -Christian Smyrna had choice follow Christ or career.
-Tough parents go through, but having your children suffer, it makes it even harder (no career, because they carry title - Christian).
D. Jesus says they are rich - that’s the message this morning despite afflication/poverty. You are rich in Christ.
-Lord’s not saying being poor is a great reward.
1. I’ve run across some who think they’re spiritual because they’re poor - has nothing to do with it. It’s who you rely on is the key.
2. Good saying: If you add up everything money can’t buy and death can’t take away, that is true wealth.
-That’s what Jesus is saying!
Key: When you realize that Jesus is all you got, you realize He is all that you need.
ex Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, famous Russian writer and dissident, wrote a book about the Gulag, concentration camp in Siberia. He tells how he entered into this horrible environment and the brutality of the guards, the horrible workingconditions, bad food Aleksandr became deathly ill and was brought into the doctor, and as the doctor was treating him he began to tell him about Christ. Aleksandr remarks bow gentle and loving this doctor was. (Doctor told him he was not going to live very long because Christians
were usually killed).
Later that night as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lay in bed he awoke in the middle of the night to see the doctor being beaten to death. Here’s a quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "Bless you prison for having been in my life, why? Because it was there in that hell hole that I found Christ."