Smyrna was the most beautiful city of Asia Minor located 35 miles from Ephesus.
The Lord says in every letter to the 7 churches, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.
Lord was compelling every believer to pay utmost attention and listen to the Holy Spirit’s words.
Smyrna means ‘bitter’ and is related to the word ‘myrrh’.
Verse 8: “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of Him (Jesus) who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
“First and Last” points to the eternal nature of our Lord.
“Who died and came to life again” points to His humanity.
This statement declares HIM to be God, who became a man to die for our sin, paid the price for sin, rose victorious from death and is now living.
So we better pay real attention to what HE says to us today.
Verse 9: I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Smyrna was a courageous, committed church in the midst of suffering.
The Lord knows their miserable conditions and sufferings with extreme poverty.
Yet the Lord declares them to be rich in HIS sight.
Their persecution was as a result of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two groups of people persecuted them.
One group belongs to ‘Roman imperial cult’ who proclaims Cesar is God.
The other group belongs to a synagogue that rejected Jesus as Messiah.
Our Lord declared them to be “A synagogue of Satan”
Both groups became the instruments of Satan to torture and persecute believers all times.
Lord Jesus does not condemn the church but commend them for their commitment.
Study by Regent University:
In 1999 – 164,000 martyred
In 2000 – 165,000 martyred
Since AD 70 – 70 million for their faith in the Lord
Today believers in the Lord face a different kind of persecution in America.
We are seeing consorted efforts by the liberal Media, liberal progressive intellectuals (include professors, teachers), atheists, and homosexuals to oppose Christian values.
Like erasing Christian signs, preventing prayers in the public arena and enforcing political correctness.
We are seeing the gaining momentum of these forces to dismantle Christianity brick by brick.
Verse 10: Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prisonto test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Verse 10 clearly points to the future persecution of physical danger and death.
The Lord was saying to the Church at Smyrna, “Do not lose courage” and be faithful.
It is not the people but the devil, the Evil one using people against the believers.
Lord Jesus was preparing them for their future.
All of us may not face such persecution but the Lord wanted us to be faithful till our death.
One author says that Smyrna was a “comforted Church”.
“I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”
Lord is saying to them directly that when you are killed for my name sake, you step into the eternity with ME in the next second.
Death is not the end of a believer but the beginning of an eternity with the Lord.
Verse 11: Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
“The one who is victorious will not be hurt at allby the second death.”
Every person born to a woman dies once, the physical death.
But the Lord says that those who rejected HIM as Lord and Savior will die for the second time which is the spiritual death.
The Scripture declares that all unbelievers will be thrown into a Lake of Fire for eternal damnation and suffering.
What we commonly identify with hell.
Lord Jesus is commending every church, every Christian for their steadfast faith and life.
Satan will definitely use people to persecute these believers even to the point of death.
Our Lord is encouraging every believer to stand firm in the midst of sufferings and persecutions.
Today many Christians are being put in prison and even put to death in some countries.
Some may not face that moment in their life.
Others may stare at death for the sake of their faith in the Lord.
The Lord is encouraging us this morning to stand firm till our last breath.
We have the promise of eternal life with HIM as all believers never face the second death.