A message to Smyrna
The church of Smyrna is a very interesting study and is certainly applicable to our lives today. What was happening to this body of believers is taking place all over the world today and the Bible says it will get even worse. It would be wise if we understand what the Smyrnan Christians went through because history is destined to repeat itself.
( 8) "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, which are dead, and is alive; (9) I know thy works, and tribulations, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (10) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. ( 11 ) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." Revelation 2:8-11.
Smyrna was about 40 miles north of Ephesus and of course they had their own church. Alexander the great was the designer of this city with a thriving economy but society was overwhelmingly pagan. They had a temple of Zeus, the temple of Cybele and a temple to Tiberius Caesar. This was a city filled with pagan worship.
The world we live in is following the same footsteps because New York (Time Square to be exact) has a monument to Baal 48 feet high and 28 feet wide to the best of my knowledge. London has the same idol worship but plans are being made to put these archways in approximately one thousand cities across the globe.
Very little legal resistance was given to the erecting of the statue of Baal yet if somebody tries to put something up that is Christian he or she gets taken right to court in America. What most people don't understand is the historical and theological significance to excessive pagan worship in a society. This leads to persecution and martyrdom of Christians.
Before I started writing about the church in Smyrna I turned to the Lord for help and He had His head bowed in sadness. I realized He remembered all the suffering and death in this time frame. I felt in my heart the implication was this type of society is very close to coming back to the entire planet. It became apparent that I was to do a good job in breaking this passage of Scripture down so the internet readers understand the history, theology and future.
There are only two churches out of seven that Jesus Christ did not have one bad thing to say and they would be Smyrna (the church I am writing about now) and Philadelphia (The sixth church out of seven).
Sometimes I will hear somebody say, "The only acceptable church in the eyes of Jesus Christ out of the seven is the church of Philadelphia." I understand they are speaking in a dispensational context. They are urging their audience to be truly born again and be the missionary church as opposed to the Laodicean church which is a false ecumenical group of people that seek to have a superficial unity in Jesus Christ. The Laodiceans could only bear the bad fruit of being lukewarm to Jesus Christ and as a result this church was rejected by God.
This is only a partial truth because the church of Smyrna suffered unbelievable tortures and remained faithful to death. This is something that God never forgets and the Bible seems to suggest these types of Christians will have the highest honor in heaven because of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ. This is happening across the world today and the word of God says it will get much worse.
What we do not know is how much time God will give the world before He has His Son Jesus Christ remove His bride in an event called the rapture of the church. When this happens the world will enter into the seven year tribulation period and believers in Jesus Christ will be treated much like the Christians in Smyrna but only worse on a worldwide scale. This persecution is being set up now as you are reading this very article but nothing can happen unless it is the timing of God. The Bible says this will transpire in the future but when is a whole different issue.
The world is not to far from Revelation chapters 4 to Revelation 19 being fulfilled (Judgment) but in the meantime we have to do everything possible to win souls for Jesus Christ and urge those already saved to be living for Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ introduces Himself as ... "The First and the Last, who was dead and is alive." Why didn't our Lord introduce Himself as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? The Son of God wanted to identify with Smyrna the persecuted church because He suffered and died on a cross but rose again on the third day. Jesus Christ conquered death because in this context He referred to Himself as ... "The first and the last." He wanted to give confidence to each believer that the sting of death has no power over them.
The Smyrnan believers were very faithful to Jesus Christ even in the midst of suffering and death. They were financially poor for a specific reason but I will give you more details as this article progresses. This church was rich in the sight of God even though they at the very least lost most of their money if not everything.
These believers in this time frame of history were the recipients of an evil game I call persecute the Christians. Greed does something to people but this whole scenario went far deeper than the love for money is the root of all evil.
These believers were the victims of a group called the ten per centers. All they had to do was turn these Christians in to the Roman government and their reward was ten percent of what they owned financially. So much for working for your money. Why do that when you can receive a handout by turning in heretics (This is what they called the Christians)? This was welfare through betrayal and it was not only legal but encouraged. There is no doubt that the Roman government received a large portion of their money. As a result they were poor, put in prison or martyred.
Caesar thought he was God so all the Christians had to do was bow down to him as lord. The Smyrna church did not do this and as a result Jesus Christ saw them as being very faithful to Him because He alone is Lord.
I find it interesting that not once does Jesus Christ ever acknowledge Caesar in His letter to Smyrna. He was narcissist with overwhelming pride and God was not even going to waste His time addressing something so obvious. As far as the people were concerned our Lord was far more interested in a particular set of Jewish people that He referred to as ... " And I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
The Jews that Jesus was referring to also denied Caesar was lord because their devotion was to Jehovah. At this point in history there was enough evidence that Jesus Christ was the Son of God but they did not listen.
They did suffer because of their stance not to bow down to Caesar as lord. In the midst of this persecution the Roman government put them through unfortunately the Jews in Smyrna decided to betray the Christians and turn them in thus alleviating some of their suffering. In the letter to Smyrna the dissertation said they were not true Jews because they were supposed to believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ as their true Messiah.
On the one hand they did the right thing by not bowing down to Caesar but they did it for the wrong reason. To make matters worse they turned in Christians to the government thus confessing they were not truly of God through His Son Jesus Christ. No authentic servant of God would turn in the true children of God (the Smyrnan Christians) over to Satan for suffering and death. Jesus Christ was very offended by this and said they ... " Are the synagogue of Satan." This is strong language but to betray a group of people that are living in obedience to God through persecution breaks the very heart of Jesus Christ Himself.
I have some questions. Are persecuted believers usually more faithful to Jesus Christ than untested believers in Jesus Christ? The answer is yes. If Christians are going through suffering do they tend to rely on God in a deeper and more devoted way? The answer is yes. Why are secular people that work for the government so willing to listen to a person like Caesar? Because they are fearful and they have no devotion or obedience to Jesus Christ. Does the Bible say there is a man coming on the world scene that will be worse than Caesar and will demand worldwide worship from everybody on this planet? The answer is yes.
Jesus was very honest with the church of Smyrna and told them the devil was going to throw them in prison for ten days. He did not want them to fear and it was for the purpose of them being tried in their faith. Jesus says ... "Be faithful unto death and I will give you a Crown of Life." Crowns are seen in Revelation chapter four but everybody is laying their rewards at the feet of Jesus Christ because in the presence of the Son of God we don't need anything.
Prophetically the ten days of persecution probably corresponded to the ten eras of suffering under ten horrible leaders. The only reason I am mentioning this is to show the readers how perfect and exact God is not only in a practical way but prophetically. They were Nero, Domitian, Tragan, Aurelius, Sevarus, Maximus, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian and Diocletian. They all ruled in progressively different time periods one right after the other but with some space breaks in between each ruler.
The church of Smyrna is prophetically applicable to the time frame 100 A.D to 312 A.D. Millions of Christians suffered and died under leaders who hated Jesus Christ.
People say the great coliseum residing in Rome today still has blood stains on the foundations which were obviously from the Christian martyrs of the past but more specifically in this time frame. They were not harmed in the second death ( Revelation 20:14-15 ) but were granted eternal life through Jesus Christ. They are in heaven now with the Son of God.
This took years but the evil Roman empire was brought down by the strong faith and obedience of these Christians. I hope their testimony has not been forgotten but I fear in this Laodicean time frame that we are living in now people will continue to be lukewarm for Jesus Christ.
If you are not a Christian understand the Bible says this world is headed into a future seven year time period where almost sixty percent of the population on this earth will die. This will fulfill Revelation chapters four through nineteen. We would like to see you accept Jesus Christ into your heart today/tonight. Repent of all your sins and come to the Son of God so you can be part of the rapture. This takes place before the horrible judgments of God are poured on this earth.
This is a special promise to true believers in Jesus Christ because of the grace of God for His bride. Christians in the age of grace are not appointed to the wrath of God but may suffer persecution and death even in this dispensation of grace if that is the will of God for our life.
If for some reason you do not accept this invitation then if somebody or a group of people present to you the mark of the beast (A chip in your right hand or forehead) do not accept this for buying and selling purposes. According to Revelation chapters 13,14 and 20 you will not go to heaven if you allow this chip in your body.
It will be better for you to follow the example of the Smyrna church and not engage in false worship. This mark will be given in allegiance to worshipping the antichrist. Listen to what the Bible says even in the face of death and you will be given eternal life through Jesus Christ.
I would rather you come to know Jesus Christ now but some people will not listen. You may be reading this writing on the other side of the rapture of the church. Follow the guidelines of the word of God and be obedient to Jesus Christ because the alternative response is giving allegiance to the antichrist who could care less about you. God loves you and desires your faith and obedience to be in His Son Jesus Christ so you can spend eternity with Him.