Today we continue on with our study of the prophetic words of Jesus to the churches in Revelation. This short message of Jesus to the Church in Smyrna goes against everything that American Christians look at as spiritual success. Here in the Western Church, there is a subconscious thought that prosperity and health are signs of spiritual strength and blessing.
While there are plenty of scriptures about the physical blessings and provisions of God for his children, this is often treated as a formula. The formula goes something like this: “If you are wealthy and healthy, God must be smiling on you. He loves you the most and has looked upon you with favor. In fact, you probably have the most faith.” However, this thinking tends to be aligned more with Eastern religions like the Hindu cast system where the poorest people have done something in their past lives that deserve the karma of poverty, sickness and affliction. People in the highest caste are the most powerful and wealthy. They won’t even walk down certain streets, in fear that they will “catch” bad spiritual energy from the people in lower castes- the orphans, the widows and the lepers.
Thank God for the truth that Jesus spoke over the church of Smyrna! First of all, the son of God, who died and rose again knows you personally. He is not an impersonal life force. He is the Creator God who loves you. Let’s stop there for a minute. Jesus knows you. He knows your every affliction. He knows your poverty. He sees what you are suffering in the physical realm. This message of Jesus was spoken to people in a church who didn’t have very much in the realm of the earth. They were slandered and tested. Jesus gives them the biggest compliment- they are spiritually rich! (And he doesn’t have a single criticism against them!)
They are warned of things to come. There would be a coming time of suffering. (Who wants to hear that when they are already suffering?) But, Jesus warns them anyway, because he loves them and doesn’t want them to be surprised or feel abandoned, when the test comes from the devil. The devil himself will test those in Smyrna to see how much they love Jesus.
They were told the suffering would have a limit. Jesus says 10 days, but as in most prophetic words 10 days represents a period of time that is limited. In a prophetic sense, 10 is the number of completion or perfection. The 10 commandments outline the perfect law of the Lord. As children of God, the Israelites would give a 10th of their income to the Lord- it was the part of what God gave them that they were to give back to him.
Perhaps, this 10 days of suffering represents the suffering church giving to the Lord the 10% sacrificial portion of their lives? Our lives are to be a living sacrifice- a fragrant offering to him. In Romans 8 Paul says this of suffering for Christ: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God, and if children then heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him (emphasis mine) that we may be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
We are not to be afraid of suffering, loss or affliction. In Christ Jesus we overcome these tests by walking with God through these difficult things. He will never leave us nor forsake us. The sufferings we will go through for Jesus will not even be worthy to compared with this amazing glory that will be uncovered or revealed in those who love him.
One of my friends had a dream where the Lord showed her the coming hatred of Christians. She saw how demonically motivated the mocking crowds were against Christians. When she woke up, the Lord told her, “You will die for me.” She asked what that meant. He clarified. The body of Christ will suffer for him and die for him.
“But Lord!” She protested. “I thought Jesus came to die so we wouldn’t have to die.”
“That’s the second death,” he immediately interjected. We all die the first death, but believers are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice from the second death!
It was with the kiss of Judas that Jesus was betrayed. Jesus warned his disciples that one of them would betray him. They all anxiously asked, “Is it I, Lord?” Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed by a close friend. He knows the pain of suffering from betrayal. In Mathew 24:9-14, he warned that those who love him will face similar betrayals. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
The Lord impressed on my friend that as the body of Christ, we would face persecution in the same way our Lord faced physical suffering on the cross. She told me she that the Lord impressed on her that we are currently in the Garden of Gesthemane and that most of the church in America is asleep – not awake watching and praying. If you are waking up to what the Lord is saying- congratulations! Now it is time to pray even more. Jesus tells us to be faithful in Revelation 2:10. We are to be faithful, even unto death, and we will receive life as a victor’s crown. Read the passage below and ask the Lord for insight.
To the Church in Smyrna
8“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
Victorious. There is a victory to be had by those who trust in the name of the Lord! Our treasures will be stored up in heaven where moth and rust do not steal and thieves do not break in. The thief cannot take our heavenly treasure. Be faithful.
Let’s pray! This prayer has 10 points. If you take 2 minutes digging into the prayer points, you could pray for up to 20 minutes.
- Father, in Jesus’ name, I thank you for your love. I thank you that even in our every day life, you are faithful. You never leave us nor forsake us- even in our suffering. Your name is holy. I worship your name, Oh God.
- Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, give me ears to hear. Give me a heart to receive and eyes to see. Raise up your people. Wake them up. Wake them up in prayer. Wake them up to the times we are living in. May we not live in sleepiness- but in wakefulness. Build your kingdom during this time.
- Lord, I pray that you will pour out strength and resolve into my heart. I want your steadfast love to bring me through every trial I will face. I entrust myself to you. Jesus, you entrusted yourself to the Father. The Father didn’t abandon you to death. He rescued you by the power of the resurrection. Rescue me, Lord! Raise me up in your strength. Provide for all of my needs, according to your riches and glory. Provide for my physical needs, Lord. Provide for my spiritual needs. Fill me up! At this time, ask the Lord for what you need. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to pray and ask.
- Lord, remove my fears. You did not give me a spirit of bondage against to fear, but a Spirit of adoption by which we cry out, Abba, Father. Fill me with a knowledge of your Will. Give me your Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that I can know you better. I want to walk in your love and your power, Oh Lord. Lord, fill my heart with the delights of you life. Fill me up. I don’t want to live in fear or intrepidation.
- I intercede for others at this time. I ask that you will draw many people to your love. I pray for those who are lost in sin. I ask, Lord, that you will bring more harvest in. Help us not to be afraid to bring the gospel. In the powerful name of Jesus I ask for more souls. Send out workers into your harvest field.
- Bring healing to those who are afflicted with sickness and pain. I pray against spirits of infirmary and torment. I rebuke them and command them to leave, in Jesus’ name. I pray for your healing power, the power of the resurrection, to cleanse my friends from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet. I ask for you to have mercy on those who are in the middle of grief and pain. Bring deliverance, Oh Lord. By your stripes we are healed.
- Lord, build me up with your power in my inner being that Christ will be exalted. I want Jesus to be in the center of all that I do. I want to comprehend your love, oh Lord. Build up my relatives, friends, co-workers and church family with the power that raised Jesus from the dead. Strengthen them in their inner beings, according to Ephesians 3. (Pray for each one individually.)
- Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.
- Speak to me, Lord. Train my heart and my ear to hear from you without fear.
- Spend time worshipping the Lord!