“I know about your suffering and your poverty— but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:9-10
The second church given a message from Jesus In Revelation Is Smyrna, a port city in what is Turkey, today. Their message is not like that for Ephesus. Jesus does not state that he has something against them. He warns them of the persecution they are about to face. The synagogue of Smyrna, he says, is the synagogue of Satan. One can only imagine the life styles prevalent in Smyrna, or if you are living in a major city of today, perhaps you don’t have to imagine. The Christians In Smyrna are opposed by those who say they are Jews, but are not. Have you met those who say they are Christian, but do not know what it means to be born again or have never read any of the Bible? We are not given many details of these people who proclaim to be Jews, but we are told their synagogue belongs to Satan, and we know Satan is the father of lies. If people are trying to shake your faith, test them. Do they profess that Jesus is the Son of God and came in the flesh and was resurrected. If not, they are false prophets.
Jesus said that these fake Jews, these representatives of Satan, would persecute the Christians of Smyrna and imprison them, and threaten them with death. What should they do? What should Christians who are persecuted today do? Jesus said remain faithful even in the face of death. It is a large order.
If an ISIS soldier said convert to Islam or I will chop off your head, wouldn’t you be tempted to say “Lord, I am just going to pretend to go along with him so I can live, ok?” If I wrote this ten years ago, many would say, “Ha, that’s not going to happen to me!” But, now, it has been a reality for many, and many others have seen the beheadings on video. It’s a scary thought.
Jesus said remain “faithful even when facing death.” The reward for this faithfulness is the crown of life. It is a heavenly reward. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:25 men strive for crowns by running a race and keeping themselves fit, but we are running a race and should strive for a crown, or a reward, also. “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” I Corinthians 9:25 Imagine what that crown will mean in heaven. Can you? I know, I can’t, but I do know it would be wonderful to have that crown. And, I know if the Bible says I should strive for it, then it will be all worth it.
Smyrna was a wealthy port city, but the Christians faced poverty and suffering, yet, their message directly from Jesus via the apostle John, was to remain faithful. If you feel suffering or poverty in your life, remain faithful. If you are being persecuted stay faithful. Nothing is more important than the love of God. Embrace Him and never let go.
I pray that God will let you feel Him, and He will hold you up in safety from all the evils of this world even if Satan throws you into a prison, even unto death. In Jesus’ name. Amen.