To the messenger of the assembly of Zmurna (Smyrna) the following was written by John, “Be afraid in none of those things that you will suffer; behold The Devil will throw some of you into prison to be tested and you will have suffering for ten days; be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.”
Be Faithful unto death… Such powerful words. Some of my greatest battles dealing with sin and temptation had to deal with my shear lack of me being faithful unto death. My strength in the Lord was attacked because of a very simple mindset, which is a willingness to be faithful even unto death.
One thing I mentioned to myself was that I can lose this world but I can’t lose God, I can be separated and die to this world and still be alive and with God. This is so crucial to our walk in faith. I was talking to today about Peter and how his character and personality which was used against him in the hands of satan was used for him with God, what was his short coming, became his asset and set him apart and made him different from the other disciples. All the disciples had to undergo test, trials and tribulation even unto death. That’s so relevant to the story of Smyrna who had to undergo the same things and Christ encourages them as he has encourage his disciples who died in faith and martyrs and prisoners.
In this post I wanted to go over the Church of Smyrna and the significance in what Christ was saying to the church and how it applies to today society from the Aramaic in Plain English version.
8“And to The Messenger of the assembly of Zmurna, write: “Thus says The First and The Last- he who was dead and lives:”
9“I know your suffering and your poverty (but you are rich) and the blasphemy of those who call themselves Jews of the Judeans, when they are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
This is important Christ acknowledges that they are poor and they don’t possess much in a worldly sense but and they are not poor spiritually for they possess many of the qualities and traits that makes up a good servant for the Lord. Also he acknowledge that are those who represent themselves as Jews who are not. These who don’t share in their poverty, but posses many things in the world but are spiritually poor. This is a stark contrast that Jesus makes addressing Smyrna that God acknowledges them separately and has already condemn them to being of the synagogue of Satan. This is connects to the story of how God will separate the wheat from the tares. Also it is a reminder that God knows his own sheep, those who truly follow him. I believe Christ address their poverty because he understood how much of a role it plays in their struggle and how he, Christ identifies with those who are poor and disassociates himself with those who have world wealth and yet are spiritually poor.
10“Be afraid in none of those things that you will suffer; behold The Devil will throw some of you into prison to be tested and you will have suffering for ten days; be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” God always encourages us to not be afraid, one the ways I can identify God in the word and in my life is the simple statement, “Do not be afraid” When God is with us, we should not be afraid. Whenever we are afraid the core of it stems from an absents of God, but God says “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” Those are some the most comforting words I could hear. An important portion of being able to walk with God is to not be afraid. God points out in this verse that some will be throw in to prison which is bondage and in that bondage they will be tested. This reminds me of how I feel at times in my current position, stuck, like a prisoner to sin and in these constrains I find myself being tested in a very real way, where it feels that I’m dying in this (mental) prison. I recognize that it is in my blindness that I seek darkness, I ask God to remove the veil from my eyes so that I can see him; I can seek to please him and not myself, for I am nothing. The interesting note is when it says 10 days, a quick google search tells me that: 10 signifies testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order. One of the most commonly know ten referenced is the ten commandments. So the connect I can identify is that after suffering for 10 days there is a fullness/completeness of endure the test. To analyze a little deeper we can see ten a number to discover what something is or isn’t, after ten days of suffering and staying faithful that is a testament to your faithfulness to God. 10 is a very much complete number, lacking nothing. The crown of life is a reward for those who remain faithful even unto death, it’s such beauty in the irony in that statement, one who is willing to be faithful to death can find life. Apart of the rebirth process is to endure death which is separation. Another way of looking at it is saying “Those who are made divided for my sake be eternally one.” Death is to become split or broken, you can see the bible speaking against double mindedness because it leads to sin, which leads to death. It’s important to understand when you are sold out on God, your willing to lose everything even your own life. Which the same as being willing to be divided from everything to be conjoined unto God. One must be willing to lose family, friends, money, status, and at times their own safety and security. The previous things I mention (family, friends, etc.) provided a layer of security for us, but can you put your full trust and faith in God that he can be your own blanket of security?
11“He who has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit says to the assemblies. ‘Whoever overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.'” This is so important that we who are followers of Christ must understand is that we MUST overcome. One of the sayings I say to myself as a reminder is that “You undergo to overcome” All things I undergo in this life I can overcome through Christ Jesus. One of my favorite songs I wrote about grace says “Wherever sin abounds, God’s Grace abounds more abundantly.” You can’t out sin God’s Grace. Christ die to forgive and cover a multitude of wrongs that ALL who seeks him can find life. The beauty of the story is that we don’t have to do anything to be recipients of it, but just receive it as a gift.
12“And to The Messenger who is in the assembly of Pergamum, write: Thus says he who has the sharp sword of two edges.”
13“‘I know where you dwell: the place of Satan’s throne, and you keep my name and have not denied my faith, and in the days when you and my faithful witness* contended for the sake of all my faithful witnesses, he was murdered among you.'”
14“But I have a few things against you, for you have there those who hold the doctrine of the Balaam, him who taught Balaq to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat sacrifices of idols and to commit fornication.”
17“And he who has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit speaks to the assemblies: ‘To the one who is victorious I shall give of the manna which is hidden, and I shall give him a white pebble, and upon the pebble, a new name in writing that no man knows except he who receives.'”
18“And to The Messenger who is in the assembly in Thawatyra write: Thus says The Son of God, he who has eyes like flames of fire and his feet like the brass of Lebanon.”
19“I know your works, your love, your faith, your service and your patience, and your latter works are more than the first.”
20“I have much against you, because you are tolerating your wife* Jezebel who says about herself that she is a Prophetess, and teaches and seduces my Servants to commit fornication and to eat the sacrifices of idols.”
21“And I gave her time for repentance, and she did not choose to turn from her fornication.”
22“Behold, I shall cast her into a coffin*, and those who commit adultery with her into great suffering, unless they repent of their deeds.”
23“And I shall kill her children by Death, and all the assemblies will know that I search the kidneys and the hearts, and I shall give to everyone of you according to your works.”