Sunday, Feb. 5th - AM - Through the Fire, Be Thou Faithful, Part One (Rev. 2:8-11)

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Illustration - The Reality of Trials
It's been said concerning trials and storms of life that, "Either you just came through one, are now entering one, or one looms on your horizon."
Main Thought: Prepare today for the persecutions of tomorrow looking for the promise of eternity.
Sub-intro: Recall briefly the context for those who are just joining our study.
Smyrna (2:8-11) “bitter” NT- Myrrh
Trade center
Beautiful City
Free City
Center for worship of Caesar- Christians were considered unpatriotic because they did not offer incense to him
Jewish Population
The Lord:
The Guarantor of the resurrection- keep on being faithful, and I will give thee…
Omniscient- they were physically poor but spiritually rich; Knows who is of the synagogue of Satan
Spiritual wealth during poverty and persecution
EG- Polycarp killed
Not mentioned
Be faithful (crown of life awaits) 10 days- many hold to ten Empirical persecutions. But it could be a brief period of intense persecution. Literally could mean ten days.
Do not fear
Promise: (1 Jn 5:4-5)
Resurrection to life
No part in the second death- double negative for emphasis (Rev 20:14)

I. The Praise of Christ (Rev. 2:8-9).

A. The Letter's Greetings (Rev. 2:8).

Revelation 2:8 KJV 1900
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

1. The Pastor (v. 8a).

Make allusion to the singular and plural pronouns throughout the passage.

2. The People (v. 8b).

3. The Place (v. 8c).

B. The Lord's Greatness (Rev. 2:9).

Revelation 2:9 KJV 1900
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

1. His Compassion Toward Them (v. 9a).

a. His Eternality.

b. His Resurrection Power.

2. His Concern Over Them (v. 9b).

a. For Their Works.

b. For Their Tribulation.

c. For Their Poverty.

i. Physically Poor.
The church at Smyrna was not having an easy time of it! The members were persecuted, probably because they refused to compromise and say, “Caesar is Lord.” Smyrna was an important center of the Roman imperial cult, and anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord would certainly be excluded from the guilds. This would mean unemployment and poverty. The word used here for poverty means “abject poverty, possessing absolutely nothing.” [Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 573.]
ii. Spiritually Rich.
2 Corinthians 6:10 KJV 1900
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV 1900
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

d. For Their Persecutions.

i. The Slander Was False.
ii. The Synagogue Was Fake.
See Rom. 2:17-29
iii. Satan Was Fierce.
Note the play on words here with Satan first, then devil next.

II. The Persecution of His Church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:10).

Revelation 2:10 KJV 1900
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

A. The Lord's Foresight (Rev. 2:10a).

1. Tried By the Devil.

Note the irony of the devil casting them into prison, when his fate is ultimately to be the same.
The source behind their tribulation was that supernatural agent of evil known as “the devil” (...[319]). Scripture identified him as “the great dragon,” “that old serpent,” “the Devil, and “Satan” (cf. Rev. 12:9), so that the Lord’s assemblies would not be mistaken about their ultimate foe. He it was who tempted the Savior (Lk. 4:2), against whom believers must stand (Eph. 6:11), who accuses the brethren (Rev. 12:10), and who will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10). The purpose of this diabolical personage was exposed by Christ, Who revealed that the church members at Smyrna would “be tried”...,[320] having been cast into “prison” ....[321] {[319 The noun occurs 38x in the NT (Mt. 4:1-Rev. 20:10).] [320 The root verb peira,zw (to tempt, try) occurs 39x in the TR, but only thrice in Revelation (Rev. 2:2, 10; 3:10).] [321 Contextually, this prison may have been the waiting cell for execution (cf. Acts 12:4). The Lord Jesus Christ will reciprocate the same judgment of imprisonment on Satan that the archenemy brought on these Christians (cf. Rev. 20:7).] [Thomas M. Strouse, To the Seven Churches: A Commentary on the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, Selected Works of Dr. Thomas M. Strouse (Bible Baptist Theological Press, 40 Country Squire Rd., Cromwell, CT 06461, 2013), 105.]}

2. Tribulation Ten Days.

Make some observations about how others have taken "ten days" and reiterate the Bible principle of study to lean toward literal first.

B. The Leader's Faithfulness (Rev. 2:10b).

Observe the point that the pronoun here is singular, speaking to the angel (or pastor) of the church at Smyrna.

1. Fearless Allegiance.

The new and complete book of martyrs An Account of the Fourth Primitive Persecution under the Roman Emperors, which commenced A. D. 162

POLYCARP, hearing that persons were after him to apprehend him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. From this circumstance, and having dreamed that his bed suddenly became on fire, and was consumed in a moment, he concluded that it was God's will that he should seal his faith with martyrdom. He therefore would not attempt to make a second escape when he had an opportunity of so doing. Those who apprehended him, were amazed at his serene countenance, and comely gravity. After feasting them, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency, that his guards repented they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the pro-consul, condemned, and conducted to the market-place. Wood being provided, the holy man earnestly prayed to heaven, after being bound to the stake; and as the flames grew vehement, the tormentors gave way to each side, the heat now becoming intolerable. In the mean time the bishop sung praises to God in the midst of the flames, but remained unconsumed therein, and the burning of the wood spreading a fragrancy around, the guards were much surprized. Determined, however, to put an end to his life, the struck spears into his body, when the quantity of blood that issued from the wounds extinguished the flames. After considerable attempts, however, they put him to death, and burnt his body when dead, not being able to consume it while living. The twelve other christians, who had been intimate with Polycarp, were soon after martyred.

2. Faithfulness Awarded.

This epistle has a new pathos and significance if we connect it with “the blessed Polycarp,” who almost certainly was the angel or chief minister of the church in Smyrna. He was the disciple of John. Irenæus who lived a generation later, tells how, in early boyhood, he had heard from the lips of Polycarp what John had told him of our Lord’s person, converse, and earthly ministry.
How sweet the comfort of this epistle must have been to him in the closing scene of his life, when, at eighty-six, he was sentenced to be burned! Notice how every line of it had a message for him, as for all who are called to follow in his steps. The Saviour reminded him that beyond the suffering of this brief life a crown awaited him, which would abundantly reward his fidelity.
What music there is in those inspiring words! Even Peter’s crown of glory and Paul’s crown of righteousness seem to fade in comparison with this “crown of life.” The thought of it enabled Polycarp to say at the stake, “I give thee hearty thanks that thou hast brought me to this hour, that I may have my part in the cup of thy Christ, unto the resurrection of eternal life, through the operation of thy Holy Spirit.” [F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 7 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 181.]
James 1:12 KJV 1900
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

III. The Parable to His Conquerors (Rev. 2:11).

Revelation 2:11 KJV 1900
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

A. Spiritual Hearers (Rev. 2:11a).

B. Spared from Hurt (Rev. 2:11b).

1. Overcoming Power.

1 John 5:1–5 KJV 1900
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

2. Oxymoronic Promise.

They [the people of Smyrna] had no idea the King of the earth walked through the perfectly paved streets of their fair city checking on those who called themselves by His name. The people of Smyrna took great pride in the beauty of their city. I found the following quote out of Bible Illustrator quite ironic: “The hills and the sea added to the picturesque quality of the city. The city itself nestled under the hill Pagos, which made an ideal acropolis. This beauty was marred, however, by a drainage problem in the lower city which resulted in the silting up of the harbor and an accumulation of unpleasant odors.”4
Try as they might to build the most impressive city in Asia, they just couldn’t do anything about that putrid smell. Don’t think for a moment that their unrelenting persecution of innocent people didn’t rise up to the nostrils of God. Interestingly, the name Smyrna means “myrrh.”5 The ancient extract by the same name was used in Scripture for anointing oil, perfume, purification, and embalming. Myrrh was among the gifts offered by the Magi to Jesus. Nothing but stench ascended to the heavens from the arrogantly pristine, highly educated, and wealthy of Smyrna. From the hidden slums, however, rose a fragrant incense of great expense. No perfume is more costly and more aromatic to God than the faithfulness of believers who are suffering. {[4 E. Glen Hinson, “Smyrna,” Biblical Illustrator, Winter 1980, 72, 86.] [5 Youngblood and Bruce, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1187.] [Beth Moore and Dale McCleskey, The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 239.]}


Words and Music by George A. Young, 19th century
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:24–25, KJV 1900)
The more clearly we see the sovereignty of God and depend on His providential care, the less perplexed we will be by life’s calamities.
He does not lead me year by year, nor even day by day;
But step by step my path unfolds; my Lord directs the way.
The author and composer of “God Leads Us Along” was an obscure preacher and carpenter who spent a lifetime humbly serving God in small rural areas. Often the salary was meager and life was difficult for his family. Through it all, however, George Young and his wife never wavered in their loyalty to God and His service.
The story is told that after much struggle and effort, the George Young family was finally able to move into their own small home, which they had built themselves. Their joy seemed complete. But then, while Young was away holding meetings in another area, hoodlums who disliked the preacher’s gospel message set fire to the house, leaving nothing but a heap of ashes. It is thought that out of that tragic experience, George Young completed this hymn, which reaffirms so well the words of Job 35:10: “But none saith, Where is God my maker, Who giveth songs in the night;” (Job 35:10, KJV 1900) The words of this hymn have since been a source of great comfort and encouragement to countless numbers of God’s people as they experienced the “night” times of their lives:
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along.
Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; sometimes in the valley, in the darkest of night, God leads His dear children along.
Tho sorrows befall us and Satan oppose, God leads His dear children along; thru grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads His dear children along.
Chorus: Some thru the waters, some thru the flood, some thru the fire, but all thru the blood; some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.
[Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 24.]
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