The Persecuted Church
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘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 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.” Revelation 2:8-11
From the very beginning of this discourse about the Smyrna Church, the authority of the LORD Jesus Christ established over the church. Revelation 2:8 – the First and the Last (alpha and omega, beginning and the end). Referenced it these prophetic scriptures as well: Isa. 41:4, 44:6, 48:12; Rev. 1:11, 17-18, 2:8, 22:13
- (Greek) Smurnaios
- (Hebrew) Mur
- Hebrew root translates to – “Myrrh”
MYRRH means the same thing in Hebrew, Greek, Latin & Arabic: bitter, suffering, death
Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which exudes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia, or is obtained by incisions made in the bark: as an antiseptic it was used for embalming. It was also an ingredient in perfume (Psalm 45:8), prominent in Song of Solomon, etc. It was also an ingredient in holy anointing oil for priests (Exodus 30:23) and the purification of women (Esther 2:12). It was used in embalming (John 19:39) and was a gift of the Magi at Christ’s birth (Matthew 2:11):
- Gold = royalty
- Frankincense = deity, priesthood
- Myrrh = suffering, death
Today Myrrh is widely used as an essential oil for topical beauty application, inhalation purposes for relaxation. Other uses of this sacred oil include; spiritual awareness, anointing one’s self for sanctification and prayer. Technically speaking “Myrrh Essential Oil” contains a high content of sesquiterpenes, a class of compounds that have a direct effect on our emotions as well as the lymphatic system. It is purifying, restorative, revitalizing, and uplifting. There are many species of myrrh but, purest form is known to grow in the regions of Africa and Arabia.
For more information I wrote an article: The Many Benefits of Myrrh which shows the spiritual, healing and beauty properties of this Biblical oil.
In the Past, speaking of Biblical times, Smyrna was known for its pagan worship. A large temple of Zeus dominated the landscape along with very large shrines of;
- Apollo = sun god
- Aphrodite = goddess of love
- Asclepius = god or medicine
- Phrygian = goddess of nature
- Cybele (known as the Sipylene Mother) = goddess of fortresses or forces. She was the mother of Zeus, Poseidon & Hades.
Statutes of Poseidon (sea god) and Demeter (corn god) could also be found in Smyrna. The Roman population each year had to bring an offering (a pinch of incense) to Caesar publicly, to show their complete devotion to Caesar being the supreme lord. Christians living during those times were certain to face death if the Romans found out they did not pay homage to Caesar. Their fate was; being burned at the stake or for Roman entertainment they were thrown into the area with fierce wild animals. The spectators would cheer on these beasts to do their bidding. A famous name that you would recognize is Polycarp. Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna and was burned at the stake on Shabbat, he was martyred at 86 years of age for stand of faith that Jesus Christ as LORD.
Anti-Semitism was part of Roman culture and Christianity was a crime. The book of Revelation says that we are destined to experience this very same thing in the last days, so Beloved Bride do not be unaware. We read in verse 10 of our text; Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life and not be hurt by the 2nd death. There is a reward for our faith, stand strong as the Day of the Lord approaches.
In verse 9 we see the word “tribulation”, that is not to confuse it with the “Great Tribulation” that is coming. In this instance tribulation means a pressing together or pressure. Using it as a metaphor: oppression, trouble, persecution, distress or affliction). Here are a few bullet points of what was spiritually running rampant during that time in the city of Smyrna. Interesting…we see this today in our cultures and the churches worldwide.
- Caesar worship = to deny Christs’ Lordship
- Gnosticism = to deny Christs’ humanity
- Legalism = to deny Christs’ finished work
My husband and I will continue to press in the the things of God and study the book of Revelation as the months pass. This article was a specific teaching at our Friday Nite Bible Study Group. Let me encourage you to take the time and open your Bible to the book of Revelation which is the “Prophecy of Jesus Christ,” of things to come. Something happens as you study and the LORD begins to open and reveal things to you that were once hidden. It’s exciting! ~Lora
Maranatha = LORD Come Quickly!
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:3