Sunday Service | Mt. Zion Church | 7 October 2018 | Church in Smyrna | 7 End-Times Churches Series | Revelation 2:8-11
The book of Revelation is about prophecy of the end times, about things which must shortly take place. God said, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Rev.1:1-3. The book of Revelation was opened with the greeting to the 7 churches which are in Asia. The most important concern for believers is not about the geographical location of those 7 churches but more about the message, the warning, and also the promises that given to them. God said that John must write in a book about everything that he saw in that heavenly vision and send it to the 7 churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea Rev.1:11. Simply we can say that those 7 churches represents the various condition of the body of Christ in this world, specially in this last days.
In chapter 1, Christ introduce Himself as someone with full authority and ready to execute the judgment and punishment because the time is already at end. John saw Jesus clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And all that vision made John fell at his feet as dead Rev.1:12-20. John was very surprised since the appearance of Jesus Christ was totally different compared to His first coming born as baby in the manger at Bethlehem. Yet He is the same Jesus, He is who lives and was dead and now alive forevermore. In that vision John can learn that there will be no more delay as Jesus come with full authority to finish everything. And Jesus wanted that His appearance declared to all 7 churches, so they can be more serious and watchful since everything that John saw will shortly take place. The second message was given to church in Smyrna as below.
8 “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.” Revelations 2:8-11 NKJV
1: APPEARANCE OF CHRIST
Jesus introduce Himself to church in Smyrna as the First and the Last. God like to introduce Himself like that, even we can find it 3 times in the book of Isaiah (41:4, 44:6, 48:12) and 3 times in the book of Revelation (1:11, 1:17, 22:13). How amazing that we have the mightiest God, there is no God beside Him, He is always the same yesterday, today, and forever Heb.13:8, He is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning Jam.1:17. He will never ever change! He knows everything from beginning until the end, nothing was hidden from Him! Before anything created there was God Gen.1:1, also He will finish everything and bring reward to give to everyone according to his work Rev.22:12. He hold our history and He know our future. Nothing to be worried for and nothing to be scared for because He will always there for us! Later, Jesus spoke about the upcoming tribulation in Smyrna and Jesus would like to encourage His church beforehand, so they will be able and be strong to pass that difficult moment in knowing that Jesus is the First and the Last!
Jesus also introduces Himself as He who was dead and came to life! Dead could not hold Him; the grave could not keep Him Ac.2:24. Jesus had the power over death. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Mat.10:28. No one will be able to kill our soul. Our soul belongs to God and we will alive forever in eternity. Paul gave an example how he faced his tribulation with strong faith. The Roman emperor tried to kill him, but he is alive 2Tim.4:6-8. We always need to remember Jesus as He who raised from the death. He conquers the death, He is victorious over all things. Death is the last enemy 1Cor.15:26, but Jesus already conquered the grave! Through His death, Jesus destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage Heb.2:14-15.
2: THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Simply we can say that Smyrna was a persecuted church. Jesus knew their works, tribulation, poverty; and also, He knew the blasphemy from the fake Jews. What a good thing is that! Jesus knows everything that we are facing for. All Christians must be getting prepared for persecution. The Bible told us that ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution 2Tim.3:12. Our option is clear, be compromised with this world and being accepted with the system of this world OR stand out for God’s righteousness and it will means rejection, ignorance, being abandoned, even persecuted! For to us it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake Phil.1:29. Jesus taught His disciples so many times, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Luk.9:23-24.
Everyone always desire an easy life, living in comfort zone, being accepted everywhere, and having so much fun as it can be since this world always offers entertainment here and there. But being Christian always means that we are the followers of Christ, we must imitate what Christ do. What will Jesus do is what I will do! He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked 1Jn.2:6. As Jesus take up His cross, so do we must also take up our cross. Tribulation always have a close relation with poverty! Because of Jesus sake, we will have less fun, less entertainment, less acceptance. We must not accept all kind of fun from this world since we must pursue for righteousness and holiness 1Tim.6:11. We can not do anymore the will of the Gentiles in all past lifetime (when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries). And in regard to these, the world will think it strange that we do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, and even they will be speaking evil of us 1Pet.4:3-4. Even though this world may see us as living in poverty, but in God’s eyes we are RICH! When the disciples left everything and follow Jesus, they also felt like being so poor, but truly they were rich indeed! Peter said to Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?” So, Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life Mat.19:27-29.
We have to learn how God will see us and not only how our peers will see us! The acceptance from our peers will only last for about several years in this vanishing world. But the acceptance from Jesus will last forever and ever! We must not be ashamed! Jesus said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Mat.10:32-33.
The blasphemy is another story that always come to the followers of Christ. And Jesus mentions very clear that those who blaspheme over us is under the bad influence from the synagogue of Satan! That’s the reason why we MUST NOT hate the person, but we need to hate their garment defiled by the flesh Jud.1:23. The Bible already warns us that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit Jud.1:19. The scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2Pet.3:3-4.
Practically we could not see any bad side from this church. Somehow devil wanted to bring massive suffering, prison, also tribulation! Jesus said, “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 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev.2:10. Even though there are lot of suffering in front of us, Jesus always speak encouragement. He promised, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1Cor.10:13. Everything is still under God control. The devil only had permission not more than 10 days. When the devil tried to accuse Job and wanted to touch his life, God granted only limited permission and not allowed the devil to touch his life Job.1:12, 2:6. Number 10 in the Bible symbolize the number of 10 Commandments, and also represents perfection Psa.19:8. The church in Smyrna will have tribulation 10 days, the suffering for Christ, and actually that tribulation works out the church, so they could grow into perfection. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul said, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2Cor.12:9-10.
The believers must be faithful until death, be faithful until the end. We must finish our races well! Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For we have need of endurance, so that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise Heb.10:35-36.
3: THE PROMISE
Jesus said, “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.” Once again Jesus told the church to open their ears and hear what the Spirit already revealed unto us. We already heard about the ultimate in Christ’s suffering, we already heard the excellence of the cross, so let’s take up our cross daily, even be proud of it and let’s boast ourselves in the cross of Jesus Christ. Do not be ashamed anymore to confess our identity as the followers of Christ. Do not afraid about the rejection, the ignorance, even the persecution that will come in our journey of faith since everything is always under God’s control. He is the First and the Last, He already conquered the grave! Jesus give a promise that those who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death! Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years Rev.20:6. The second death is defined as the eternal death when Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev.20:14-15. The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral (KJV: whoremongers, Greek: pornos), sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death Rev.21:8. So let’s prepare ourselves so we has part in the first resurrection, so the second death will have no power anymore in us, but we will live forevermore with Christ. AMEN.Tags: rev2, smyrna