Smyrna: Be Faithful
Part 11 Date: Jun 7, 1998
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:9 “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.10 “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.11 “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.” '
Are you listening to the message of Jesus?
Seeing Jesus and Discovering the Message of Jesus challenges me to have Him as all I possess.
If you will listen carefully, you can hear the voice of Jesus. He is speaking to all of us here who have ears, spiritual ears, to receive His still small voice. He speaks through His Word, He speaks to us. Will you listen?
In our journey through this Book of Books we have seen Jesus in so many wondrous ways. Have you heard Him as He has spoken from the pages of His Book to you and to me?
Smyrna was under a wave of persecution
Let's set the stage to see what is going on...what is the wave they must duck or get crushed by? - Emperor Worship.
In 26 AD (During the Life of Christ) an altar to Tiberius (who was on the throne as Emperor) was built there in Smyrna (just 40 miles north of Ephesus)
To stay a happy part of the Empire one had only to stop by the temple and scoop a pinch of incense and put it on the fire--a certificate was given---like our auto inspection stickers, that certified you passed. That was the one act that unified the masses of people in the Roman Empire.
Meet the villain. He was just three years old when his father died. It was little loss to the boy, for his father had been a killer, a bully and a cheat. His mother took over the family trade and continued the boy’s education. She murdered his stepfather with a dish of poisoned mushrooms. He was reared in squalor and proved a notable son to his parents. While still young, he committed his first murder, killing a teenage boy who stood in his way, and watching him die with callous indifference. He married at fifteen but soon had his wife killed. He married again, and slew his second wife too. In order to marry a third time, he murdered the husband of the woman he wanted. His mother annoyed him; so he arranged her murder, first by guile, but when that was unsuccessful, without pretense. He was an ugly man with a bull neck, beetle brows, a flat nose, and a tough mouth. He had a potbelly, spindly legs, bad skin and offensive odor. At the age of thirty-one, he was sentenced to death by flogging. He fled to a dingy basement and, in the house of a slave, cut his own throat. He gave the infant church it first taste of things to come. His name was Nero. He was the first of the persecuting Caesars of Rome.
His successor 30 years later is on the throne - it’s 94 AD and Domitian says, get the Christians to go with the flow or pay the price.
The message of Jesus Part one meet the Assembly v. 8
In the first place, the seven Churches represent seven phases or periods in the Church’s history, stretching from the time of the apostles to the coming again of Christ, the characteristics of which are set forth partly in the names of these churches, but more fully in the epistles addressed to them.
There was the Ephesian period--30-60 AD, a period of warmth and love and labor for Christ, dating directly from the apostles, in which defection began by the gradual cooling of the love of some, the false professions of others, and the incoming of undue exaltations of the clergy and church offices.
Then came the Smyrna period--60 -300 AD, the era of martyrdom, and of the sweet savor unto God of faithfulness unto death, but marked with further developments of defection in the establishment of castes and orders, the license of Judaizing propensities, and consequent departures from the true simplicities of the Gospel.
Now to the text we looked at a moment ago - “Smyrna”
Jesus was crushed for our sins
Smyrna is a very interesting word because the Greek word smuma is translated “myrrh”. It is a substance taken from a thorny tree and was the chief product of this city, the seaport of Myrrh.
At Christ’s Birth HE SUFFERED POVERTY FOR US = HIS SERVANTHOOD. In Matt. 2:11, wise men came from the East and brought Christ gold, frankincense and myrrh.
At Christ’s Crucifixion HE SUFFERED PAIN FOR US = HIS SUFFERING. According to Mark 15:23, while Christ hung on the cross, He was offered wine mixed with myrrh. It served as an anesthetic. His crucifiers were trying to dull His senses so the pain wouldn’t be so bad.
At Christ’s Burial HE SUFFERED PLAN FOR US = SALVATION. According to John 19:39...a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight, was used to prepare the body of Jesus Christ for burial after He had died.
At Christ’s Return in Glory. Myrrh is associated with the suffering present at Christ’s birth, death and burial. But, when Christ comes again, He shall be presented with gold, frankincense, but not myrrh (Isaiah 60:6). Then He will appear as the might sovereign, not the Suffer.
Isaiah 60:6 The multitude of camels shall cover your land.
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba shall come; They shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.
Smyrna Learning How to Die
The most important decision you will ever make in life is how you want to die! The saints at Smyrna wanted to die in Jesus.
Let me give the last moments of one of the pastors as Smyrna - the last one living that knew the apostle John. Death of Polycarp-The Jews in Smyrna were blaspheming and persecuting the Christians. That is not mere speculation because history has left us with an account of the death of one of the Smyrnaean Christians: Polycarp, the pastor of the church in Smyrna.
The account follows: “It was the time of the public games; the city was crowded; and the crowds were excited. Suddenly the shout went up: Away with the atheist; let Polycarp be searched for. They came to arrest him...not even the police captain wished to see Polycarp die. On the brief journey to the city he pled with the old man: What harm is it to say, “Caesar is Lord” and to offer sacrifice to be saved? But Polycarp was adamant that for him only Jesus Christ was Lord. When he entered the arena...[the] proconsul gave him the choice of cursing the name of Christ and making sacrifice to Caesar or death. Eighty and six years have I served Him said Polycarp, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? So the crowds came flocking with faggots from the workshops and from the baths, and the Jews, even though they were breaking the Sabbath law by carrying such burdens, were foremost in bringing wood for the fire. They were going to bind him to the stake. Leave me as I am, he said, for He who gives me power to endure the fire, will grant me to remain in the flames unmoved even without the security you will give by the nails. So they left him loosely bound in the flames.”
Polycarp dies for Christ. That was just one incident in the life of the Smyrnean church.
To continue this sermon including ‘Hope in Jesus When Life is Painful’ please . . .