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Exploring Revelation
342
“The letter to Smyrna - pt. #2”
by Art Sadlier   
September 23rd, 2007

I remind you that the letter to Smyrna represented, prophetically, the period of Church History between approximately 100 AD. - 312 AD.

Let us look at the text, Rev. 2:8 " And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; these things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive." I remind you the word ANGEL means MESSENGER, God has divinely appointed a messenger to each church. The pastor is the divinely appointed messenger to bring God's Word to the church. He has no higher standing than others in the church, but he has a divinely given responsibility to feed the flock, by teaching God's Word to the congregation and to lead them in humility.

"The first and the last", a clear statement on the deity of Christ, (See Col. 1:14-18).

"Which was dead and is alive." Among other things we see here the humanity of Christ. We see God became man that He might die for our sins and rise again from the dead to justify us.

"Which was dead and is alive." The Lord gives a wonderful comfort here to those suffering believers. Their lives were in jeopardy, many of their friends and relatives had been slain. In that situation Jesus reminds them, I was dead and now I am alive.

What does that remind them of? It reminds them that men hated Christ, men persecuted Christ, men killed Christ. In the midst of persecution they are reminded that Christ had walked their pathway before them. Christ had been there before them and He is alive, He has overcome.

If He has survived and overcome, they will survive and overcome also! Jesus is saying, look, they did their worst to me and I am alive, I overcame and you will overcome also. You will live again, the sting of death is gone. They needed to hear that! You need to remember that!

"I 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 of the synagogue of Satan. Rev. 2:9. "I know thy works, they were a serving church, in spite of all the persecution they had not stopped serving Christ. True service is from the heart and is born out of first love, they had not lost their first love, therefore their works were pleasing to God, and He took note of them.

And tribulation," I know all about your sufferings the Lord reminds them. History tells of a pastor of the church of Smyrna, a man named Polycarp. Polycarp was a convert of John. At 86 years of age he was burned at the stake because he would not renounce Christ. His immortal last words have echoed down through the centuries, "Eighty-six years I have served Christ and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?"

History tells of a man who at 92 years of age chose death and abuse in a dungeon rather than deny Christ.

History tells us of a 15 year old boy who could not be deterred from confessing Christ and was finally crucified.

History tells of a young woman slave who showed almost superhuman strength under the most cruel tortures. She was finally wrapped in a net and thrown to the hungry wild animals.

What a contradiction, that in our day, some Christians are so indifferent that they only meet with God's people once a week, or even less, something is obviously wrong!

"And thy poverty, " they were a poor church. In the midst of a prosperous city, these christians were fired from their jobs. Christian Business Men were boycotted. But notice, "but thou art rich," in their poverty they were poor in this world's things, but rich spiritually. (see Rev.3:17)

I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the Synagogue of Satan." In church history it was the Jews who initiated persecution of christians. Some of those persecuted christians were converted Jews. How it must have grieved those christians to realize that some Jews would go to the Synagogue and read God's Word and pray to Jehovah and then go out and arrange for the death of Christians.

Those jews who refused to come to Christ, became the instruments of Satan to attack and seek to destroy the church.

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer," Rev. 2:10. You have suffered and there is more to come, there was no promise of relief from suffering, we are never promised that. (Phil.1:29)

"Behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;" It is a principle in God's Word that faith always has to be tried and tested. All of the saints of the ages have had their faith tried!! You and I are no exception.

Our faith in this Laodicean age is being tried and tested in a different way than the Smyrnian christians were tried. Each church has a different set of trials and testings all down through the Church Age.

As we look at the testings of the Laodicean Age, we can know what kind of testing we can ezpect. The test of the Laodicean Age is basically compromise. To let the world and its wealth and pleasures and its acclaim and appoval compromise our love and commitmnt to Christ until we become lukewarm and indifferent to Christ.

To compromise with the world to win its approval. To compromise the Word of God, watering it down and stripping it of its authority in our lives.

I believe this is the test that the purpose-driven church has utterly failed. They have compromised with the world to the point that they are like the world to such a degree that the world floods into the church and feels at home. The church becomes the world, all the while professing to be the church of Christ. The amazing thing is that they think they have done a good thing, not realizing they have destroyed the church. It seems like our trials and test of faith is more likely to defeat us than the sufferings of Smyrna were to defeat them. I believe we live in the most dangerous hour of trial that a believer can ever be exposed to.

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