Revelation 2:8–11 (ESV)
Second Letter: To the Church in Smyrna
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9 “ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are
rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will
have tribulation. Be faithful unto 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. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
This letter is addressed to the “angel” or pastor of the church in Smyrna. The one giving this message to John is the same person giving the message to in all seven letters. It comes from “the first and the
last, who died and came to life,” that is... Jesus Christ.
Jesus says “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say they are Jews and are
not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” I know there are times when we question whether God is aware of what is going on in our life. It’s times that we are beat down and God’s omnipotence (all-knowing) gets pushed back in our
minds. I find it comforting that Jesus says “I know your tribulation.” We are not in it alone, Jesus is there. When you find yourself asking “where’s God,” He is around. I know that King David
would cried out in Psalm 10 “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Tribulation, or times of trouble and suffering, weigh heavy on us.
also mentions “your poverty (but you are rich).” The world measures success by material possessions and wealth. We need to be content with what we have and not forget the rich blessings we already have. He has given us
the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a place in His Kingdom. What more do we need? Would you trade these possesions for a $100 million dollars? I’ll pass and keep driving my minivan. I KNOW I’M BLESSED!
Jesus also mentions the Church in Smyrna has been slandered. It is one thing to slander me, but it is another thing to slander Christ. When someone slanders your core belief, it is unsettling. They are not
messing with the house, but the very foundation the house is built on. Those who were slandering the Christians in Symrna say they are Jews, but they are not. There were Jews who acknowledged that Jesus IS the Messiah. These are not.
Again, I find it comforting that Jesus knows what the Christians in Smyrna are going through and he certainly knows what you are going through today.
He has not forgotten you. In fact, for those
in Smyrna... things are about to get worse. Jesus says: “10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.”
He is telling you to get ready for more. I think He is kind of telling you to “Man Up” and put on the full armor of God! It is interesting that God is allowing the Devil to “test” them. God could stop this nonsense,
but He doesn’t. God does not tempt us away from our faith, but tests us to build up our faith. I know that this seems to be a fine line, but God will never tempt you into sin, but uses temptation to build up faith and endurance.
Jesus says: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” In other words, no matter how much you are under attack, do not take your eyes off Jesus
Christ. Stay focused on Jesus. This is the theme of Revelation, to endure and be faithful unto death, no matter what... don’t give up!
This letter closes with “11 He who has an
ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” Our first death came when we were Baptized (or believed) and the second death is when our physical body dies. Although
our body dies, our soul lives on! Through our faith, we need to “fear not”. I pray, Lord help me to endure hard times and sufferings and not take it out on you, but to use the times of trouble to build up my faith in you.
Help me to be faithful unto death, and to receive the crown of life. Amen!