Summary: Smyrna received no criticism from Christ, one of the only ones in Revelation 2-3. But they were going through terrible persecution. Jesus gives them comforting counsel and promises in Revelation 2:8-11.
The Pain Won’t Last Forever
Sermon 2 in the Series “You’ve Got Mail”
July 17, 2011
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TEXT: Revelation 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.”
* What would you do if when you became a Christian, people started persecuting you, you lost your job, you lost all of your possessions, and supposed friends slandered you?
* What would you do if you were thrown into prison?
* What would you do if the government came into our church this morning and said you had to bow down and burn incense and say, “The United Nations is lord”?
* If you did this, you’d receive a certificate from the government allowing you to operate your business or trade. If you didn’t: no certificate!—And without the certificate, no work!
* What would you do if other religious groups here in town were working for the government as spies to tell on you if you weren’t complying?
* And what if the spies were telling lies about you to defame you and imply you were seditious and a threat to the government?
The message we’re going to look at today is the one to the church at Smyrna. Smyrna was a beautiful city, famous for its wide paved streets that ran from one end of the city to the other. It had a famous stadium, an impressive library and laid claim to the largest public theater in all of Asia Minor.
Smyrna was also fiercely loyal to the Roman Government and there was a large Jewish population that was not very loving to the Christians. Despite these splendors, Smyrna was a cauldron of suffering for believers for the reasons I mentioned above. In the midst of this suffering, I wonder if you would be tempted to ask, “Where is God?”
Unlike of the messages to most of the other churches in Revelation 2-3, Christ has no criticism for the church of Smyrna. I suppose this is what you would expect. If you’re giving it your best in the face of adversity, you don’t need a kick in the tail. This is a letter designed to encourage the church at Smyrna.
Let’s look at it and see what Jesus has for us in His message to the church of Smyrna:
I. NOTICE FIRST OF ALL THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH.
Simply put, Smyrna was not a friendly place to be a Christian. So Jesus assures them that He’s aware of their situation.