To the Smyrna believers:
(Revelation 2:8-11) “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until 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. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
1. The Lord knows the unrelenting pressure that you are experiencing. Your thlipsis could be the squeeze you feel by family members, neighbors, and coworkers. Spiritual thlipsis is real. It is something akin to the current Boston mayor putting the pressure on the owner of Chick-Fil-A because of a spoken stance against homosexuality. Perhaps you are mocked because you are a Christian boy scout. Some don’t like your emphasis on gospel grace over moralism. And yet, on the other side of the fence, others don’t like the fact that you say homosexuality is a sin. You feel caught between the grind and the crush of two heavy stones.
2. The Lord knows your poverty – your ptoxeian. It is not that you are simply struggling to make ends meet, but the fact that you have lost everything because you are a Christian. You were passed over in being selected as a key player in the business deal. You were denied the bonus. You were fired from the job because you simply refused to hide your light under a basket. Or when it was discovered that you were an evangelical Christian in Sugar City, or Rexburg, or Rigby, or Blackfoot, etc., the company discontinued the hiring process. Brothers and sisters, the Lord knows. And He tells you that you are rich. “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation.”
3. The Lord knows what people who claim to be the people of God are saying behind your back. Jesus knows how the gospel message is belittled, how free grace is made a joke, and how his own name is manipulated in hundreds of different ways in your town. Realize that your religious enemies are of the synagogue of Satan. But remember that they are not your real enemy. Your wrestling is not with flesh and blood. Your source enemy is a fiend. A viper. A serpent. It’s the devil. His purpose is to torment you. To destroy you. And yes. Some of you will be killed.
4. Your Savior comes to you today with no rebuke. Only comfort. Don’t be afraid. Be faithful. The crown of life is yours. The sulphuric torment of the second death won’t touch you. Face today with courage. Your faithfulness is solidified by God’s faithfulness. You will overcome because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.