Summary: Do not define God by our experiences. God is with us in suffering. Stay faithful unto death and He will reward us with the crown of life.
Stay faithful to God. Don’t let disappointment and pain draw us away from Him.
?The church in Symrna was in suffering, under great persecution.
?But the Lord reveals Himself to them as One who is on their side, fighting the same foe.
?Despite the evil they see around and the hardship they are facing, Christ is still in control.
The Lord says He is the “First and the Last?and He knows “their afflictions and their poverty.?
?Nothing that has happened in this city was outside God’s watchful eyes.
?He knows what the devil is doing, and He knows how much the Christians are suffering.
?Everything is still within His plan and His control.
This is what we must understand today.
?We do not define God on the basis of our experiences.
?Suffering and pain does not negate a loving and powerful God.
?Our disappointments in life are not God’s fault. He is in them with us.
The Christians in Smyrna were persecuted, forced to worship the Emperor.
?The first temple erected in honour of the Emperor in the Roman Empire was in Smyrna (sometime in AD23).
?Later after AD81 the Emperor Domitian made emperor worship compulsory for every Roman citizen, on threat of death.
?Once a year, a citizen had to burn incense on the altar to the godhead of Caesar, after which he would be issued with a certificate.
Most Christians refused to do this and were put into prison as a result.
?Some Jews were coming against them, inciting hatred for the Christians.
?The Lord describes them as from the “synagogue of Satan?
One of Apostle John’s students Polycarp, who was ordained as the first bishop of this church, was arrested and given the chance to deny Christ.
?He refused and said, ?6 years have I served Christ, and He has done me nothing but good. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me??
?He was burned alive at the stake.
The Word says they were persecuted and they were in poverty.
?There seemed to be some form of sanction against the Christians who refused to participate in the emperor worship.
?They were not given the freedom to live a normal life.
Yet despite all these, the Lord says, “Yet you are rich.?
?In Christ, they were blessed. The Lord honours those who honour Him.
?He will give “the crown of life?to those who are “faithful, even to the point of death.?
The Lord says He is “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again?(2:8)
?In essence: “I died. I know what it’s like to suffer. I was persecuted even to death. BUT I came to life again!? Death cannot be a threat to us.
?Despite all that is going on, the Lord is in control.
Don’t be deceived by the appearances of evil. Don’t be overwhelmed by disappointments in life.
?The Lord knows. This is the striking mark of all His 7 letters to the churches.
?“I know…” your deeds, your afflictions, your poverty, I know everything!
?Therefore, “do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.?(2:10)
And then He tells them what they can expect:
“I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for then days.?(2:10)
?Amazing, right? We expect Christ to say, “Don’t worry, I will free you. You’ll be saved. No more pain.?