Summary: Relates the seven points Jesus said to the church at Smyrna to us today
REVEALING REVELATIONS -2
"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. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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 the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna was a port city, as Ephesus was. It was located in Turkey along the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, Smyrna was only about 35 miles north of Ephesus and I wouldn’t be surprised if the churches didn’t associate and visit one another occasionally. Paul probably started this church on his third missionary trip, scholars think. It was a city of about 100,000 in Paul’s day.
Jesus’ words to this church falls into 7 parts.
1. A greeting.
2. A Christ reference
3. A Compassionate Word
4. A Commendation.
5. A Charge
6. A Call to hear.
7. A Comforting promise.
First, the greeting. Last week we said that the word ‘Angel’ means “God’s messenger. The greeting was to the pastor or “God’s messenger” to this church. The message was meant to be passed on. John began this letter by saying:
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Rev. 1:3
This letter is meant for you. This letter is meant for me. Our great Heavenly Father, who loves us so much, wants us to be prepared. He doesn’t want us to be surprised. So He warns us. He cautions us. He prepares us.
And who is this One who is preparing us for what is to come? 2. The Christ. Listen:
“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Revelation 1:12-19
John wants to make sure this church know who this is. He says,
“These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”
What an awesome visualization of Jesus! Each one of those picture words has great meaning. I don’t have time to go into them today. But just know, the robe, the sash, the white hair, the blazing eyes, the bronze feet – all mean something. Scholars differ somewhat on what they mean – but check it out sometime. What I what you to get today is the message. He is saying, “Listen Up! This is Jesus who is about to speak to you!” That’s good instruction for us as well. Let’s listen up and see what Jesus is going to say to us.
I want you to notice again how Jesus uses Plus+ Minus –Plus+ in His communication. He begins, 3. Compassion, with a word of compassion. He says, “I know your afflictions and your poverty”.
The church in Smyrna was a persecuted church. The Jews were very strong in this city. It had a number of synagogues. They controlled the city and the wealth of the city. I imagine it was difficult to find a job or eke out a living if you were not a part of the ‘good ol’ boys’ group. The Jews were very strong in their opposition. One of the pastors that preceded me in one of the churches I pastored was converted from a Jewish family. I am told that when he converted to Christianity his family had a funeral for him. It was as if he was dead to them.