Friday, March 14, 2008

Revelation 2:8-11 (4)

This is the conclusion to my talk at Reading Family Church on Sunday. You can listen to it here.

One commentator has said that you can sum up the situation in Smyrna by saying ‘things are much worse than they seem, things are much better than they seem. Things were much worse than they seemed in Smyrna because it looked like they were only being slandered by Jewish opponents, whereas in fact it was the devil himself who was attacking them. Things were much worse then they seemed because some of them were about to be killed for their faith.

But things were much, much better than they seemed. Verse eight tells us that Christ will have the last word. In the end only His truth will remain. Things are much better than they seem.

Verse eight also tells us that Christ has been though death. Death is not the worst thing that can happen. He overcame and so will His people.

Look at verse nine: Christ knows their affliction. He knew there’s then and He knows ours now. It’s easy to feel alone in suffering. It’s easy when we’re going though a hard time to feel like no one knows, no one understands. Well, Jesus knows, Jesus understands, Jesus is with us. Things are better than they seem.

We may be materially poor but we are spiritually, eternally rich according to verse 9. Things are better than they seem.

Verse 10 tells us we will receive the crown of life. There is something worth all our pain and suffering at the end of it. Our struggles are not in vain. Things are much better than they seem.

Verse 11 tells us that when we overcome, we will not be hurt by the second death. We will not be cast into the lake of fire. We will enter Heaven with Jesus and enjoy Him there forever. Things are much better than they seem.

There is of course a big so what factor from this letter. Few of us are being persecuted for our faith at the moment, the tide is turning very quickly against Christians in this country, but we’re not there yet. This should inspire us to pray for those who are. The majority of Christians in the world are living in places where persecution is a daily reality. So why not commit to praying for a different nation each day?

And for those of us who are going through difficulty at the moment, they will end. They are finite. They are limited. But what does this passage say isn’t limited? Jesus. He is the first and last. And not being hurt at all by the second by the second death means that eventually we will enjoy Him forever. Jesus is the first and last, he died and came to life again, and these great truths give us hope. Hope that what we suffer no will pass, but that what we will enjoy in the future will never end.

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