Issue 814 – Persecuted – Seven Churches Part 3 – August 2, 2022

Seven Churches of Revelation - Ruins of the agora in Smyrna
Ruins of Agora – Smyrna

This morning we return to our journey through the seven churches moving on to the church in Smyrna.

“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 that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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. 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.‘¬†Revelation 2:8-11

Unlike the Ephesian church, the Smyrnans (Smyrnites? Smyrnians?) have not forgotten their first love. The Lord offers absolutely no correction to them at all.

This church is under attack. They were being persecuted, and the Lord said it would get worse.

Persecution isn’t something that the North American church has experience with. We have to deal with some relatively minor attacks and social pressure, but we don’t know what full-fledged persecution is like.

Being attacked from the outside is a common situation for most worldwide churches. According to one source, “In the 20th century AD there were more Christians killed because of their faith in the Jewish Messiah than in all the centuries of Christian persecution combined. 65% of all Christians who have ever been persecuted or martyred lived in the years from 1900-2000. Antonio Socci, an Italian journalist, estimates that 45 million Christians were martyred in the 20th century.”

Forty-five million were killed, and countless others persecuted in one way or another. That persecution could be as simple as not being allowed to have specific jobs or housing. It could be being jailed and tortured, with all you own being seized.

For many people, becoming a Christian is the ticket to a life of abuse and suffering. There is no prosperity gospel being preached there. They know the reality and cost of picking up their cross for Christ.

While the God of all comfort could stop the persecution, He chooses not to. He is far more concerned with our holiness than our comfort.

I often wonder how the church in North America would do if persecution were to break out. How many professing believers would leave and denounce their faith? What would I do? The truth is that none of us know until it happens.

God doesn’t take away the suffering of the church members in Smyrna. Quite the opposite, He tells them there is more to come. Instead, the Lord reminds them of his promises for them. They may be imprisoned or even killed, but eternal rewards await them.

As believers, we are not yet home. This world can take everything we have. Our possessions may be stripped from us, and torture and death might be in store for a believer. The world can smear our name and ruin our reputation. 

The enemy can do His worse, but he can never take our destiny with Christ away from us.

I wonder if the church in Smyrna had read the words of Paul.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

Or if they knew the words of Jesus.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

Will we face the type of persecution the church in Smyrna did? Likely not, but our children and grandchildren might. Let us teach them the truth, write it on our hearts and pray for them.

God is sovereign, and the enemy is defeated, but some battles remain. Hold fast.

Hallelu Yah (Praise God)

Be blessed

Kevin.

Gleanings From The Word.

Experience an extraordinary God in ordinary life. 

Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone.)

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