Sermons

Summary: THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES ON THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN REVELATION. SMYRNA WAS A SMALL BUT FAITHFUL CHURCH IN THE FACE OF OVERWEALMING PERSECUTION.

THE CHURCH CHRIST CROWNS 1

REVELATION 2:8-11

MAY 12, 2019

TODAY WE ARE LOOKING AT THE SECOND OF A SERIES OF SEVEN LETTERS THAT GOD DICTATES TO JOHN IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION. WE RECENTLY COMPLETED A STUDY FROM REVELATION CONCERNING THE EVENTS THAT OCCUR AFTER THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH, THESE LETTERS DEAL WITH ISSUES THE CHURCH CAN AND DOES FACE BEFORE THE RAPTURE.

EPHESUS WAS A CHURCH THAT ALTHOUGH VERY ACTIVE, WERE JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS AND RITUALS OF BEING A CHURCH. THERE WAS NO LOVE FOR THE LORD AND CONSEQUENTLY NO MEANING IN WHAT THEY DID.

SMYRNA IS ONLY ABOUT 40 MILES FROM EPHESUS AND IF WE WERE TRAVELING FROM CHURCH TO CHURCH IT WOULD BE SECOND ON OUR LIST.

SMYRNA WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN ALL OF ASIA. IT WAS REFERRED TO AS THE “FLOWER OF ASIA”, “THE CROWN OF ASIA”, OR THE “JEWEL OF ASIA”. IT STOOD ON THE TRADE ROUTES TO THE FAR EAST. ONE ANCIENT WRITER SAID THAT THE HARBOUR WAS SMYRNA’S FEET, THE VALLEY HER BODY AND THE HILLS HER HEAD, CROWNED WITH TEMPLES BUILT TO VARIOUS GODS.

SMYRNA WAS A WEALTHY CITY AND FULL OF CULTURE AND WAS NOTED FOR AN HERB FROM WHICH “MYRRH” CAME. THE WORD “SMYRNA” MEANS MYRRH AND YOU CAN HEAR IT IN THE WORD. MYRRH WAS A SWEET PERFUME USED IN EMBALMING THE DEAD, SO IT BECAME A WORD RELATED TO SUFFERING AND DEATH, AND WOULD BE VERY APPROPRIATE FOR THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA.

SMYRNA WAS FIERCELY LOYAL TO THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT, AND HAD A LARGE JEWISH POPULATION, ALL OF WHICH WOULD WORK AGAINST THE BELIEVERS IN THE CITY.

FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE CHRIST WAS BORN PEOPLE WERE IN AWE OF ROME, AND A CULT HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED CALLED “THE SPIRIT OF ROME. OVER TIME THE SPIRIT OF ROME BECAME IDENTIFIED WITH THE EMPEROR AND, IN AD25 CITIES COMPETED FOR THE HONOUR OF BUILDING A TEMPLE TO HONOUR EMPEROR TIBERIUS WHICH SMYRNA ALSO WON.

ALL OVER THE ROMAN EMPIRE THE DECREE WENT OUT THAT EVERYONE MUST UTTER THE WORDS “CAESAR IS LORD” OF THEY COULD FACE DEATH. THE PEOPLE OF SMYRNA WOULD HAVE TO GO TO THE TEMPLE DEDICATED TO THE CAESAR, AND REPEAT THIS STATEMENT. IF THEY DID, THEY WOULD RECEIVE A NOTE OR A CHIP, A PENDANT OF SOME KIND, THAT WOULD TELL PEOPLE THAT THEY HAD WORSHIPPED THE CAESAR, AND THEY WOULD BE ALLOWED TO BUY AND SELL MERCHANDISE.

NOW DOESN’T THIS REMIND YOU OF SOMETHING?

REVELATION 13:15-17:

15 THE SECOND BEAST WAS GIVEN POWER TO GIVE BREATH TO THE IMAGE OF THE FIRST BEAST, SO THAT THE IMAGE COULD SPEAK AND CAUSE ALL WHO REFUSED TO WORSHIP THE IMAGE TO BE KILLED. 16 IT ALSO FORCED ALL PEOPLE, GREAT AND SMALL, RICH AND POOR, FREE AND SLAVE, TO RECEIVE A MARK ON THEIR RIGHT HANDS OR ON THEIR FOREHEADS, 17 SO THAT THEY COULD NOT BUY OR SELL UNLESS THEY HAD THE MARK, WHICH IS THE NAME OF THE BEAST OR THE NUMBER OF ITS NAME.

THE PERSECUTION THAT THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA WOULD FACE IS THE SAME AS THE PERSECUTION THAT THE CHURCH WILL FACE DURING THE GREAT TRIBULATION. THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA NEVER KNEW WHEN THEY WOULD COME UNDER THE PAINS OF THIS PERSECUTION.

IT WAS TO THIS STRUGGLING SMALL CHURCH THAT THE LORD WOULD SEND HIS SECOND LETTER THROUGH HIS SERVANT JOHN. IT WILL BE ONE OF ONLY TWO CHURCHS THAT IS SEEN AS FUNCTIONING AS IT SHOULD. THE WORDS SPOKEN TO SMYRNA ARE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT, TO PRESS ON IN THE STRUGGLE. LET’S LOOK AT THE PASSAGE AND IN IT WE WILL DISCOVER AN ANSWER TO A QUESTION THAT HAS BEEN ASKED FOR CENTURIES, WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

REVELATION 2:8: 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.

THE LORD HERE IS REFERRING TO HIMSELF IN WAYS THAT THE PEOPLE OF SMYRNA COULD UNDERSTAND. IN REVELATION 1:8:

REVELATION 1:8: “I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA,” SAYS THE LORD GOD, “WHO IS, AND WHO WAS, AND WHO IS TO COME, THE ALMIGHTY.”

HE REFERS IN VERSE 8 TO HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION. THE PEOPLE OF SMYRNA CAN RELATE TO AS IN 700 B.C. THEIR CITY WAS TOTALLY DESTROYED AND FOR MORE THAN 400 WAS LEFT DESOLATE. BECAUSE OF IT’S LOCATION IT WAS REBUILT AS A PLANNED CITY. IT IN FACT WAS A CITY WHO DIED AND THEN CAME BACK TO LIFE.

REVELATION 2:9: 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.

WHAT PERSECUTION DID THE CHRISTIANS IN SMYRNA LIVE UNDER.

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