February 17 2022
Today, Thursday February 17
Smyrna, The Crowned Church Revelation 2:8-11 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, 'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." '
No one wants to suffer yet is appears to me that even in America, people are suffering more than ever. We have more conveniences in our homes, better cars and highways, better health care and yet there is still so much suffering mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. We are a broken people! But today we want to see how the Lord has a divine purpose in our suffering.
The name Smyrna means "bitter" and is related to the word myrrh. The assembly at Smyrna was persecuted for the faith, which explains why the Lord emphasized His death and resurrection as He opened His message. No matter what experiences God's people may have, their Lord identifies with them. The church at Smyrna was not having an easy time of it! The members were persecuted, probably because they refused to compromise and say, "Caesar is Lord." Because of their Christian faith they were experiencing unemployment and poverty. The word used here for poverty means "abject poverty, possessing absolutely nothing."
The Lord said He knew their poverty but declared, “You are rich”! They lived for eternal values that would never change, riches that could never be taken away. "As poor, yet making many rich" (2 Cor. 6:10; 8:9). In fact, their suffering for Christ only increased their riches. Rich in faith, in grace, in mercy and rich in love!
Our struggles are not with flesh and blood, but with the enemy, Satan, who uses people to accomplish his purposes. The synagogue there was actually a synagogue of Satan. Any religious group, Jewish or Gentile, that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as God's Son is certainly acting contrary to God's will. To be disobedience to God’s will is the same as being obedient to the devil’s will.
There were no words of accusation that are given to the congregation in Smyrna! They may not have enjoyed the approval of men, but they certainly received the praise of God. However, the Lord did give them solemn words of admonition as they faced increased suffering: "Don't be afraid!"
He assured them that He knew the devil's plans and was in complete control of the situation. Some of the believers would be imprisoned and tried as traitors to Rome. Yet their tribulation would not be long; in the Bible, ten days signifies "a brief time" (Gen. 24:55; Acts 25:6). The important thing was faithfulness, standing true to Christ no matter what the government might threaten to do.
The "crown of life" is the winner's crown awarded at the annual athletic games. Smyrna was a key participant in the games, so this promise would be especially meaningful to believers living there. The Lord reinforced the promise given by James (Read James 1:2-12) and assured His people that there was nothing to fear. Because they had trusted Him, they were overcomers—victors in the race of faith (Heb. 12:1-3)—and, as overcomers, they had nothing to fear. Even if they were martyred, they would be ushered into glory, wearing crowns! They would never face the awful judgment of the second death, which is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).
It costs to be a dedicated Christian, in some places more than others. As end-time pressures increase, persecution will also increase; and God's people need to be ready (1 Peter 4:12). The world may call us "poor Christians," but in God's sight we are rich! May the Lord help us to be faithful in our time of suffering today!