Summary: The church was suffering, but Jesus was with them.
What would you do if not too long after you became a Christian, bad things started happening to you?
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 people would slander you?
What would you do if you were thrown in prison? What would you do if the government came into our church this morning and made you bow down and burn incense and say, “The United Nations is lord”?
After doing this you would receive a token from the government that would allow you to operate your business, without the token, you could not do business. If you refused to burn the incense, you could be put to death.
What would you do if religious groups here in town were working for the government as spies to tell on you if you were not complying? What if they were telling lies about you.
What if you were a person considering becoming a Christian and you saw this happening to the church? As a Christian, if you saw this happening in the church, what would you think about God? Would you keep the faith? Would you run from God? Would you compromise your faith to stay alive?
The letter that we are going to look at today is the letter to the church at Smyrna. Smyrna was a beautiful city that was famous for its wide paved streets, which ran from one end of the city to another. The city possessed a famous stadium, an impressive library and laid claim to the largest public theater in all of Asia Minor.
The city was fiercely loyal to the Roman Government; there was a large Jewish population that which was not very loving to the Christians.
The letter that we are going to look at today was written to a church that was experiencing all of the things that I mentioned above. This was a church that was experiencing a great deal of suffering.
Are you ready to join?
In this letter, we find no criticism of the church. This is what you would expect. If you are giving it you best in the face of adversity, you do not need a kick in the tail.
This is a letter designed to encourage the church at Smyrna. Today I want us to look at the Picture Jesus paints of Himself, the Persecutions that the church was enduring and the promises that Jesus makes to the faithful!
I. A PICTURE OF JESUS (8)
• SLIDE #4
• Revelation 2:8 (NASB) 8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
• What does this image mean?
• SLIDE #5
1. The meaning of the picture.
• Jesus says that He is the first and the last. This means that Jesus has been there and done that. He knows what it means to suffer because He had suffered Himself.
• SLIDE #6
• Jesus is saying that He defeated death! ROM 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
• When we face difficult times in life, don’t we want to be comforted by someone with whom we know has been through what we have been through before. PEOPLE WITHOUT KIDS GIVING PARENTAL ADVICE.
• SLIDE #7
2. The relevance of the picture.
• These people were facing some very difficult times; Jesus wants them to know that He understands what they are facing.
• What is the one thing other than a tax audit that all people fear? DEATH. Jesus lets them know that He is the one who defeated death!
• No matter what we face in life, we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus Himself knows what we are going through and not only does He know, but He cares also.
• This in itself can and should be a source of comfort for us.
• Jesus wants them to know that death was not the end for them.
• SLIDE #8
II. THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH (9-10)
• Persecution can show up in many ways let us look at a few of the things that were happening to the church.
• SLIDE #9
• Revelation 2:9 - 10 (NASB) 9‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.