Summary: Churches Then & Now: Smyrna – When Suffering Strikes – Revelation chapter 2 verses 8-11 – sermon by Gordon Curley. PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1). Address (8a).
(2). Attribute (vs 8b).
(3). Approval (vs 9-10a).
(5). Advice (vs 10).
(6). Assurance (vs 11).
• “We don’t look alike, we don’t act alike.
• We don’t dress alike.
• We have different tastes in the food we eat.
• The books we read, the films we watch, the cars we drive and the music we enjoy.
• We support different football teams or have different leisure interests;
• We ascribe to different philosophies and differ over politics.
• Our weights vary, our heights vary,
• So does the colour of our hair and skin.
• But we all have one thing in common;
• We all know what it means to hurt!”
• TRANSITION: Suffering is a universal language.
• We all know what it means to hurt.
• And at some-time in our lives we will all ask the questions “Why me, why us?”
Suffering and persecution have always been the experience of the Church;
• Just think of the disciples of Jesus:
• According to tradition only the apostle John died of old age;
• All the other disciples were martyred for their faith.
• And today, according to the Christian organisation Open Doors;
• Each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith.
• 214 Churches and Christian properties are destroyed.
• 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians
• (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages)
• According to the United States Department of State,
• Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments;
• Or surrounding neighbours simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
Quote: I am reminded of Amy Carmicheal’s poem:
• Amy Carmicheal (1867-1951):
• Missionary in India for 55 years;
• Author of 35 books,
• Worked among girls who were victims of sexual-abuse, or temple prostitution.
• Help with the babies born as a result of the temple prostitution.
• On numerous occasions she faced legal charges of kidnapping,
• And often faced physical threats.
• Following a serious fall;
• She spent the last the last twenty years of her life as an invalid.
“Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wounds nor scar?”
• TRANSITION: The church at Smyrna understood such language.
• They had experienced first-hand hunger, loneliness, fear, and pain.
• So as we open this short letter;
• Feel the heartache and remember their pain as we try to grasp the message.
(1). Address (vs 8a)
“To the angel of the Church in Smyrna write…”
Question: What do we know about Smyrna?
(a). It was a beautiful city.
• Smyrna was a seaport located thirty-five miles north of Ephesus;
• In fact the two cities rivalled each other.
• History records that Smyrna was given a number of titles;
• They were called the "Pride of Asia," & "Glory of Asia” & the "First of Asia,"
• In 700BC the city was destroyed and lay in ruins for three hundred years;
• Then it was then restored, raised from the dead.
• So the city had died and come back alive again!
• At the time of Jesus Smyrna was nearly 100,000 in population.
• Today it is Izmir, Turkey, the third largest city in Turkey;
• With a population of over four million.
• So the city “was dead and is alive again”;
• No doubt you noticed that expression in the letter.
• Verse 7: Jesus described himself as the one: “…who died and came to life again.”
Smyrna was a beautiful city:
• They boasted of an excellent harbour, lavish temples,
• A famous stadium, and one of the largest public theatres in Asia Minor.
• It was one of the few planned cities of antiquity.
• In the middle of the city was a famous thoroughfare called the Street of Gold,
• Which was from beginning and end full of temples.
• In Blackpool (in the UK) they have ‘a golden mile’
• The seafront that stretches between the North and South piers,
• A ‘Golden Mile’ of sandy beach;
• As well as a ‘Golden Mile’ of amusement arcades, family attractions, theme pubs,
• Fish-and-chip shops, souvenir stalls, and in the winter the famous illuminations.