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.
G.V. Wigram said, “What wealth have you, if you have not got Christ? If Christ is the object before you, all the things that afflict you will not take Christ from you.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Pale, pathetic, palliating preaching must go. The pulpit never needed voices more that it does at this hour.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “There is debate among historians over when the Second Great Awakening began. Some indicate it began with Charles Finney in 1830. However, there was a tremendous movement of the Spirit beginning in 1800 that can’t be overlooked. The Second Great Awakening provided the catalyst for a number of developments in the church apart from political government, and this revival influenced the wider society. One significant outcome was the birth of many great evangelistic organizations. These included in England the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Religious Tract Society, the Baptist Missionary Society, the London Missionary Society, and the Church Missionary Society. In America, Bible, Sunday school, tract, and missionary societies were formed to spread the gospel.”
As we wrap up Jesus’ letter to the suffering church at Smyrna, we are going to focus on the parenthetical statement in verse 9: “but thou art rich.” The position of this positive statement within parentheses in the middle of a passage about the suffering that this church is going through and is about to go through reminds us of how we often fail to focus on the positive in the midst of negative situations. Psychologists call it “negativity bias,” and it is something that afflicts all human beings. We have a tendency to highlight, to remember, to focus on, and to act out of that which is negative in our lives. But, in the midst of their negative situation, which is only about to get worse, Jesus points out something positive for the church at Smyrna to focus on: “but thou art rich.”
Now, Jesus has just said that He knew the poverty of the church at Smyrna, so what does He mean when He says that they are rich? Well, Jesus was not talking about physical, temporary riches. The church at Smyrna was in abject poverty. Rather, Jesus is talking about the spiritual, eternal riches that this church gained as a result of their faithfulness. Tony Garland said, “The church at Smyrna could not be accurately judged by external measures. As Trench observes, ‘there are both poor rich-men and rich poor-men in Jesus’ sight.’ The riches of the church at Smyrna were laid up in heaven. Material goods have no ultimate value, but will all be destroyed. Knowledge of this reality should bring a shift in priorities towards spiritual things which are truly lasting. In contrast, the church at Laodicea had great material prosperity, but Christ said they were ‘wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.'”
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “What a comfort it was to the Christians in Smyrna to know that Christ knew all about their sufferings: I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! Besides suffering persecution, they were also enduring extreme poverty. Though extremely poor, they were rich in the wonderful promises Christ had given them.” Those promises are found in 2 Corinthians 6:10 and James 2:5.
2 Corinthians 6:10 says, “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
James 2:5 says, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”
Some of the riches of the church at Smyrna were already being felt. Even in the midst of their suffering, they had peace and joy. Why? Because they were in the will of God. The world measures a person’s potential for peace and joy based on their physical possessions or their success in life. But, God’s peace and joy is measured by obedience, even if that obedience means suffering for Christ. Like Paul and Silas in prison, the church at Smyrna could rejoice because they knew that they were doing what God wanted them to do. On top of that, they knew that their obedience in the present moment was the source of even greater blessings being stored up for them on the other side. It may not have looked like it at the time, but the church at Smyrna was very rich.
Witness Lee wrote:
O the riches of my Savior,
So unsearchable, immense;
All the fulness of the Godhead
I may now experience.
O the riches of my Savior,
All-embracing: life and light,
Wisdom, power, healing, comfort,
Treasures rich of God’s delight;
God’s redemption, full salvation,
And His resurrection power,
All transcending every hour!
O the riches of my Savior–
Nothing less than God as all!
All His person and possessions,
Now my spirit doth enthrall.
O the riches of my Savior!
Who can know their breadth and length,
Or their depth and height unmeasured,
Yet they are my joy and strength.
May I know these boundless riches,
Christ experience in full;
And with others may I share them
In their content bountiful.
Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, please keep in mind that the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” First, understand, that you are a sinner and that the wages of sin is death and Hell. But God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead by the power of God so that you can be saved from death and Hell. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.