The Church at Smyrna: No Rebuke, but Trouble Will Come, Part 4 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #305)
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
In our series of homilies from the book of Ephesians, we focused on reviving Christian families. Now, I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages from the book of Revelation, specifically targeted at reviving the church. If our country is to be awakened, the family and the church must be revived first.
TEXT: Revelation 2:8-11:
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.W. Pink said, “Troubled soul, the ‘much tribulation’ will soon be over, and as you enter the ‘kingdom of God’ you shall then see, no longer ‘through a glass darkly’ but in the unshadowed sunlight of the Divine presence, that ‘all things’ did ‘work together’ for your personal and eternal good.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The commitment to the Scriptures of Swiss reformers such as Zwingli and Calvin was almost nonexistent in Robert Haldane’s day. It was not uncommon for ministerial students to complete their course of training and never actually read the Bible through even once. One student testified, ‘During the four years I attended the theological teachers of Geneva, I did not, as part of my studies, read one single chapter of the Word of God, except a few Psalms and chapters I needed to read to learn Hebrew, and I did not receive one single lesson of exegesis of the Old or New Testament.’”
After Jesus comforts the Church at Smyrna, letting them know that He has experienced all that they are going through, He gives them two commands.
The first command is “fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.” Jesus has told His church that suffering is coming. It will come in the form of some being cast into prison and some being put on trial because of their faith. These can be scary propositions under a brutal, anti-Christian government. But Jesus says the Church should not be afraid. Fearlessness in the life of a Christian is an indicator that his focus is in the right place; his focus is on God, not on the persecution, the opposition, or the circumstances. If we look around us, we will find plenty of reasons to be afraid. But if we keep our focus on God, we will be reminded that He is greater than any suffering, persecution, or tribulation that we face.
Vance Havner said, “The ‘tribulation’ here spoken of by Christ does not mean the common trials to which all flesh is heir. Some dear souls think they are bearing their cross every time they have a headache. The tribulation mentioned here is trouble they would not have had if they had not been Christians.”
Not only ought we to fear not in the midst of tribulation, but we ought to “be faithful even unto death.” This command comes immediately after Jesus’ statement that the church at Smyrna would “have tribulation ten days.” Whether this is a literal ten days of twenty-four hours or a symbol of some other length of time we do not know. The point for us today is that “trouble don’t last always.” God has an appointed time to bring us out of our persecution and tribulation. A common expression is, “All good things must come to an end.” Well, all bad things must come to an end as well. We can be faithful in tribulation because we know that God will certainly see us through the tribulation and bring us out of the tribulation. We may not see the end, but God always sees the end from the beginning.
When we are tempted to give in to discouragement during persecution and tribulation, we must remember to keep our focus on God because then we will not be afraid. We must also strive to be faithful to the end of our trouble — even if that end is death. Remembering that God will bring us through no matter the outcome will help us stay focused, fearless, and faithful during tribulation and persecution.