Revelation 2:8–11 (ESV) — 8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 “ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
Jesus had words for the church in Smyrna. It was a church that was facing slander and persecution. As a result, they were also facing poverty. Their problems were caused by those who “say they are Jews and are not.” The persecutors were those who claimed to be the people of God, but they were not. Jesus told the believers in Smyrna that what they were facing was only going to get worse. They were about to be thrown into prison and face testing and tribulation. Some of them were even going to face death.
So, how are Jesus’ words going to encourage this church? It is because they are coming from the One who is first and last, that is God, the Alpha and the Omega. And it is because these words were coming from the one who died and came to life. Jesus had conquered death and promised his followers that they too would have eternal life. No matter what kind of hardship or persecution Christians may face in this life, there is the promise of a beautiful and sinless life in the age to come. Therefore, we always have hope.
Thank you, Lord, for all you have done for us. Thank you for defeating sin and death on our behalf so that we can have hope even in the midst of great difficulties. Amen.
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