Summary: The series of messages on End Times for Today will take the words from Revelation chapter by chapter and reveal the blessings that are promised within these pages. As we continue the message “The Rich Poor Church” I want to remind you that the city
As we continue the message “The Rich Poor Church” I want to remind you that the city of Smyrna was called “The Crown City” because it was surrounded by hills that resembled a crown. It was also called “The Flower of Asia.”
When the city chose a motto to be imprinted on their coinage, they chose the phrase “First in Asia in Size and Beauty.”
In this beautiful, wealthy pagan city, there existed a struggling Christian community.
The church in Smyrna was undergoing intense and withering persecution.
The Lord Jesus comes to them with a word of comfort for their dark days.
He tells them that even though they appear to be so weak and so poor, they are, in fact, rich beyond imagination.
So let us take a look at this “Rich Poor Church” and see how it relates to us today.
Turn with me this evening as we take our text from Revelation 2:8-11. Please stand and follow along with me in honor of the Word of God.
8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9I 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.
10Fear 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.
11He 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. Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)
This morning we covered:
1. A Crushed Church by Tribulation
2. A Crushed Church by Poverty
3. A Crushed Church what can it do?
And now we come to:
A Crushed Church by Persecution
The church at Smyrna was during the historical period where terrible persecution inflicted upon believers by the Roman emperors between the years of 100 AD and 312 AD.
Because of the events of today there are churches that are being persecuted because of their beliefs.
Even in America we are starting to see a push to discredit the New Testament church.
Hollywood portrays the New Testament church as that relies on the fables of an out of date book.
1. They Faced Prison – In verse 10, Jesus tells them that there is more trouble ahead! They will face more persecution. The “ten days” mentioned here might refer to the ten persecutions the Christians suffered under the Romans.
Refers to the ten Roman emperors during the time frame of the historical period of Smyrna, these were ten intense periods of persecution by these Roman emperors.
One example of their suffering comes to us from history, just a few years after they received this letter. In 155 AD, the Bishop of the church of Smyrna, a man named Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Beloved, was martyred for Jesus.
This man was arrested at the request of an angry mob that cried, “Away with the Atheists; let Polycarp be sought out!”
The old preacher, he was 86 at the time, was given the opportunity to renounce Jesus.
The magistrate, who did not want to see the old man die, said, “What harm is there in saying, Lord Caesar?”
But, Polycarp refused! When they entered the stadium, where the executions took place, they tried again saying, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.”
Polycarp fixed his gaze on the crowd, waved his arms at them and said, “Away with the atheists!”
The magistrate again attempted to get Polycarp to renounce his faith and said, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ.”
To that, the old man cried, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
After a few more attempts to get the old preacher to renounce Jesus, they led him away to the stake to burn him alive.
They were about to nail him to the post and Polycarp said, “Leave me as I am; for He that giveth me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile.”
So, they left him loosely bound and they lit the fire. As the flames rose around him, he was heard to pray and rejoice in Jesus. He died for his faith and in doing so he left an indelible imprint on the fabric of time.)