“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 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. 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. 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.’” – Revelation 2:8-11
The call to faithfulness is high and demanding. The danger is faithlessness. Christ encourages the church at Smyrna and the church today to be faithful even if it means death. Those who can kill the body with the sword, can not kill the soul.
The message for the persecuted church is: do not fear! The LORD, speaking to His people, tells them that they are not alone. He is with them. Believers are united to Christ by grace and through faith. Nothing can break that union. It has been sealed by the Holy Spirit in the blood of Christ, held fast by the love of our heavenly Father.
As we wait to enter the glory land, we must constantly fix our eyes on Jesus (cf. Hebrews 12:1-3). By means of suffering, He endured the cross for our sake. As the church suffers (and in some places terribly so) we must remember the great comfort of Christ’s intercession. We may feel perplexed by evils of this present age, but Jesus is fully aware of the suffering of His church. As Scottish Presbyterian Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-43) once famously said,
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me.”
For further study
Look up the story of Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, who was martyred for his faith at the age of 86. His story is soul strengthening!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray with conviction that even if it seems that the church is experiencing hell; she shall not be hurt in the second death. Pray for a listening ear: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.