Tested . . . and Tried

Countdown to the end . . . #16

Vol. 4, No. 30 – July 28, 2019

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna Write: “The words of the first and the last, “who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  –Revelation 2:8-12

Do not forget who is speaking; it is Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Smyrna is north of Ephesus in the Gulf of Smyrna. A city of great wealth, she thrives in a great economic climate. Smyrna was destroyed in 627 B.C., in ruins for 400 years. In the time of The Revelation it is rebuilt.

Alexander the Great refused to destroy the city on his way to conquer the world. The city became a famed site for Emperor Worship. In 195 B.C., the temple to the goddess of Rome rose; in 26 A.D. a temple rose to Tiberius, Libya, and the Senate. Temples came to exist for every Roman Emperor and for every Roman god. Polycarp pastored in Smyrna (martyred in 166A.D.).

There is not great accusation raised against the church at Smyrna.

The church at Smyrna existed from a church plant through Paul’s ministry at Ephesus. In the midst of utter evil, ungodliness, heathenism of gods, and false gods, the Church remained true and faithful to God’s Word. (However, as is true today in many churches, there are individuals not remaining true and faithful.)

Smyrna means myrrh, a fragrant spice of perfume obtained when the tender bark of the flowering myrrh tree is pierced and crushed (myrrh was a gift brought to the babe of Bethlehem, the One who was pierced and crushed for our salvation).

There is great attempt in Smyrna to pierce and crush the church. It is not an uncommon experience of churches today in our ungodly world.

Historically, the church modeled Christ’s love: (1) the rich nurtured and loved the church family, and (2) they did so in the midst of a cruel and hostile environment.

Jesus addresses the church in the extremes:

  • He is the First and the Last
  • He is the One who died and came to life again
  • He was present at the beginning of Creation
  • He will be present at the end of history
  • He encompasses all the forces and events of the world, including life and death
  • He is the Lord of all heavenly and earthly forces; all extremes; everything in between
  • He is the strong encourager in the midst of the evil onslaught

Picture the Jews in Nazi Germany:

  • Restricted travel and housing restrictions
  • Shops closed, vandalized, and looted
  • Property seized illegally
  • Humiliated and stigmatized for their beliefs
  • Slandered, harassed, and falsely charged
  • Physically assaulted – both children and adults (many murdered)

The church at Smyrna experienced the same kinds of unrelenting pressure and affliction that Christianity receives today.

Paul taught that Christians can experience sorrow, yet, always be rejoicing. They can be poor, yet rich; have nothing, yet possess everything through Christ (2 Corinthians 6:10).

Christ makes three announcements to the church at Smyrna:

  • He announces Himself as God
  • He announces Himself as all-knowing (nothing escapes Him)
  • He announces Himself as coming in judgment

Do not forget that the churches in the Revelation are real; they existed. They are churches that are typical down through the ages; churches today may be just like them or they may have some characteristics of several. Churches have impacts; every church models what it wants to be in their era.

He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches! (Revelation 2:7)

Behold, Jesus is coming soon to take you home to Heaven; His words are faithful and true

 (Revelation 22:6).

Life Application

Should not every church minister and serve in such a way that no accusation should come against it? If your church strives to model itself in their era – what do people see and hear? What does Christ see and hear?

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Written by Dr. Larry Lightner

July 28, 2019

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