08 – “Smyrna – Salvation in Symbols & Signs”


Well, we are continuing our
study on the Book of Revelation, we’ve actually
entered into the churches, we’ve moved past chapter
one, we’ve laid the foundation and we’re in the Seven Churches, Revelation chapter
2 is where it begins, we began though by looking
at Christ among the churches, the fact that Christ is
among all seven churches even though five of
them have major problems, two of them are… you
know… doing pretty good, but five of them
have major problems, reminded us of the grace
of God, of the love of God… the unconditional love of God, we looked at some illustrations
of that in the Bible, with the woman at the
well and with the disciples who forsook Christ even
though He would not forsake them and we recognize that one of the
preeminent foundational truths of the gospel is
that God is with us even though we’ve forsaken Him, that when we ate of the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil, we were hiding from
God in the Garden… He came looking for us, we had changed
but He hadn’t changed, “I’m your Lord your
God, I change not… and therefore, ye sons
of Jacob are not consumed” and this is the picture that
Revelation’s presenting to us, we look at the church in Ephesus and we understood to
be the early Apostolic age and we see in that church a group of people
who are on fire for Jesus and they’ve got
faith, they’ve got love, they’ve got works,
they’ve got patience, they tried those and say they’re
apostles… they’re not… we found them
liars and got more faith and more love but
they’ve lost what…? All: Their first
love… James: Their first love, they’ve lost their
first love and without that, all the other
stuff is meaningless and so, we identified
this as the apostolic church in the Historicist’s
understanding of prophecy but we also recognize
as a message for us today and so we want to
go from there now, we want to move
into the next church which is the church of Smyrna, and we want to identify
some of the characteristics here historically and then look
at how it applies to us today. Remembering where we
are… time and location… keeping those
two things in mind, what time period are we in? Are we looking at one of
the three time prophecies? 70 weeks…
1,260… or the 2,300… and… where in the
Sanctuary are we located and we’ve already determined that we are
located in the Holy Place at this time which
means pre-1844, right. Definitely, and we’re
going to be moving now from the 70-week prophecy, we’re going to be moving
into that 1,260-day period and we’ll identify this, okay, so we should start with a
word of prayer… always… and Jason, would
you like to pray for us? All right…
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for blessing
us with another day of life and another
opportunity to study your Word, now as we study your Word,
please lead, guide and direct us in Jesus’ name we pray, amen. ” All: Amen… So let’s start in verse… let me just get
my glasses on here… verse 8, Yvonne, would
you like to read for us, verses 8, all the way… just let’s read all the verses
all the way through to verse 11? Sure, “And unto the angel
of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith
the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and
tribulation and poverty but thou art rich, and I
know the blasphemy of them which say they
are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those
things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall
cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have
tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give
thee a crown of life. He that hath an
ear, let him hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not
be hurt of the second death. ” All right, it’s short and sweet,
one, two, three, four verses… and basically this
church is the first church that we’re going to read about
of two churches in the seven that have nothing said
against it, nothing negative, it’s all affirmative
and the reason for that is because we’re going to
find that in the Bible, Old and New Testament… that when God’s people
undergo heavy persecution, it purifies the church, so the two
characteristics of the churches that have
nothing against them is, persecution and love, when God’s church
is filled with love, now, Ephesus has
lost it’s first love, it’s losing it’s first love and
yet the church in Philadelphia has that… that love…
and the church in Smyrna… this church right here is
undergoing heavy persecution, that purifies the church so what we have here… is we
have four verses that describe the condition of the
church, the Christian church during a period of time
that we’re going to label from about a 100
A.D. to about 313 A.D. 313 A.D. ends the heavy persecution of the
pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian and makes a
transition to Constantine and a drastic change takes place
in the church under Constantine, you can read a little bit
about that in the prophetic book of Daniel chapter 11, where this
transition takes place and the church gets back all of the things
that were taken from it under the Diocletian
rule but going back here, I just want to look at this…
this first… this first section “I know thy works and thy
poverty and yet thou art rich” how can you be in
poverty and yet be rich? What is that
“wealth” that they have? Yvonne: It has to be the
knowledge of Jesus… right? James: Yeah. Yvonne: They
might… they have… might be broke finally… they might be broke
but they’re not poor. James: And I love
that… that’s basically what… doesn’t James say
something about that… let me just look
here, he talks about how we are rich in faith,
I’m looking for the verse I have it marked here,
James chapter 2 verse 5… Yvonne: Hmmm… hmmm… James: “Hearken,
my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this
world rich in faith… ” “the poor of this
world… rich in faith… ” okay, I just want
to make this point, the Book of Revelation…
we’ve said this before it’s worth repeating, the Book of Revelation is boring from the
rest of the Bible, it’s not off on
an island by itself, it’s not a book that should be separate from the
rest of the cannon, it is a summation of
the rest of the Bible and so when we
see this phrase here, “I know that your… your
poverty but you’re rich… I know your poverty… it’s borne from
the Book of James, it’s borne from the
picture that God has given us which is… and
that connection is vital because that helps us
to interpret the book, what does it mean? “You’re
poor and yet you’re rich” well, James tells what it means. Jesus says, “Blessed
are the poor in spirit for theirs is
the kingdom of God” so, this… this…
poverty and yet richness, there’s
persecution and yet faith is being presented
here in this period and that’s what
they’re going through… this time period where Rome began to heavily
persecute the Christian church beginning about 195 A.D.
John is sent out of Patmos where he, of course,
receives the Revelation but then you have
this persecution of Rome trying to destroy
and wipe out Israel, what is significant about that is that there was
another persecution in the Old Testament where someone tried
to wipe out Israel… tried to basically destroy and just really keep
down the children of Israel and that was Pharaoh
during the time of… the Children of
Israel being in Egypt, what’s happening is,
you have the first church which was perfect and then fell
from its first love and we already said,
“Wow! that kind of reminds us of the beginning of
creation of mankind… perfect but then
fell in Creation” and then that’s Genesis,
the next book is Exodus, where we now have
this spirit of persecution and we’re looking at
church one and two, we’re going, “Wow, this is like
history repeating itself… ” now will that pattern hold out
for the rest of the churches? We’ll find out…
but what we see so far is look, “This history is almost
like it’s being repeated… the things that
happened to Old Testament… the Old Testament people of God
looks like it’s being repeated in the history
of Spiritual Israel, so they’re being persecuted
but God is telling them, “Listen, be faithful
even in this persecution and going back to the
theme of the Book of Revelation as a love story,
what I see happening here, is that… it’s
almost like Satan’s saying, “Yeah, you love Jesus? All right, well let’s
see how much you love Jesus, let’s see how
much you love Jesus when they put you in the
Coliseums with the lions, let’s see how much you love… ”
and… I mean… think about it, Jesus is here
looking at His church during this period of
time stand faithful… rathering to suffer
with lions and fire and… now, what that
must do to His heart? How can He have something
to say against this church? It’s a demonstration of the love
of the church during this period for their… for that husband… Two things here… Ivor, just
building on what you said, one of them is in Ecclesiastes, and I just
wanted to bring this out so that we can all see it, because it is a
Biblical principle, “The thing that has been,
is that which shall be… ” verse 9 of Ecclesiastes 1, “and that which is done
is that which shall be done: and there is no new
thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it
may be said, See, this is new? it hath been
already of old time, which was before us. ” In other words,
“Yes, we’re seeing these… this repeat
principle over and over again, why? because human
nature is the same, human beings are the same, the history of the Bible is
the history of human nature, it’s the history of us, yes, there’s some
variations here and there and sometimes people say, “Well, how come God selected that history and that
history… and that history, there’s a lot more
history in the world… ” well, because,
He just pulled out some history that was
basically illustrative… illustrating the
history of all of us, here it is and He
stepped into that history to show us how He can
change the course of our history and make us… bring us back to the image in
which we were created. And one thing we
can also see is that Satan doesn’t change
either, so we can look and say, “Okay, well, if we can figure
out what it is that Satan did in the Old Testament, and how he attacked the people
of God in the Old Testament, then ah… we’re
going to have a better idea of what he’s trying to
do in the Book of Revelation and in the New Testament. ” So God is showing us,
that’s why He says that… that the things that
were written for Israel, are written for our admonition upon whom the ends
of the world are come. So, let us take heed
lest our promise being left us we should fail to enter into it because of the same mistakes
that they made in the past. And then the other thing
here I think that’s significant in… along the lines of
what we’re talking about is in verse 9 it says,
“Okay, I know thy works, thy tribulation, thy
poverty, but thou art rich, I know the blasphemy of
them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are
the synagogue of Satan. ” So, part of the reason why this
persecution is taking place is because it is
actually separating those who are and
those who aren’t… those who are named
and those who aren’t. This phrase, “those
that say they’re Jews,” we need to understand
that in the spiritual sense, at this point in time,
the church has settled in, and the new Christian
church has settled in with… to the fact that
they are spiritual Jews… that they are spiritual Israel, and we know that
from a couple of verses, one of them is found in Romans
chapter 2 verses 28 and 29 and maybe Jason, would you like
to read those verses for us? Romans 2:28 and 29… Jason: I’m not there yet. James: That’s okay…
we’ll wait… with all patience. Waiting for Jason
to find the verse. Jason: Let’s see
here… all right… “For he is not a Jew,
which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision,
which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew,
which is one inwardly: and circumcision
is that of the heart, in the spirit,
and not in the letter; whose praise is not
of men, but of God. ” Okay, so here Paul is
identifying who Jews really are, it’s no longer the literal Jews
and the literal circumcision, Jews are those who are
circumcised in the heart and so when it says in
Revelation and this is now… we’re in the second
century, third century, it says in Revelation
chapter 2 and verse 9, “I know those who
say they are Jews… ” it’s not talking
about literal Jews, it’s talking about those
who say they’re spiritual Jews, who say they’re
circumcised in the heart, who say that
they’re Abraham’s seed, who say they’re part
of the Christian church, but they are of
the synagogue of Satan, “don’t worry… I
know who they are… this persecution
you’re going through right now is going to show
who those people are because those who are not
truly a 100 percent in the heart converted to Christ and dedicated to Him aren’t
going to survive through this, they’re going to compromise”
and that’s what takes place as we follow in the next church that’s what’s
going to take place. And when you think about it…
when the Children of Israel, the Jews, left out of Egypt, out of persecution,
there was a separating… there were those who
weren’t “Jews” in name but you see a lot of
separation happening… James: Mixed multitude… Ivor: Mixed multitude, those who are
claiming to be of God but stirring up rebellion
and doing these kinds of things so again we see that
history being laid out and God is
saying, “Look, look… and what happened
in the Old Testament because those
things are going to be important for you to understand in reference to what
will happen at the end of time or throughout history or of the history of
the New Testament Church. ” Now, I love this next
verse and I have to say… I really like the way,
Yvonne, that you read it, “Fear none of those
things which you shall suffer:” I love that…
“behold, the devil will cast some of you in the prison, you will be tried; and you will have
tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give
thee a crown of life. ” We read that that way
because we have experienced some of this verse
ourselves, we understand, this verse is personal, we’re not just reading this
verse as we read other verses, we recognize that the
devil is coming against us and the devil
sought to persecute us and the devil sought to
destroy our faith, our grasp, our dependence on Christ and he’s done it
through various means and through tribulation and the
tribulation that we face today may not be
thrown into a colosseum filled with lions
who are ready to eat us, sometimes it’s just words and
words can be harder to endure than martyrdom at
times, they can, you know, “Sticks and
stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” that’s not true, words hurt and they go deep,
especially as God restores in us his image and we
become more sensitive because His love renews in
us the feelings and emotions that he created us to have
and or that we’re afraid to have and we try to numb them
with drugs and with the world because this world is painful, it’s a painful place to
be when you have feelings. Yvonne: Yeah. Jason: Are those ten
days symbolic of anything? The ten… all these numbers… James: hmmm…
hmmm… hmmm… hmm… that’s a good question, it’s interesting that in the controversy over the idea of these
churches being literal churches in John’s day which is Preterism versus them being symbolic
of the church in the ages from the Apostolic Age all
the way down to Second Coming which is Historicism,
there is… there are little evidences, if you will, that Historicism is the
one that bears sway here and this is one
of those evidences, I mean, if John is writing
a letter to these churches and he says to Smyrna, “You’re going to
suffer for ten literal days under persecution, be faithful,
I’ll give you a crown of life,” and it’s like, “Ten days? well, why are they the only
church that’s suffering ten… what about Ephesus, what about all
the other churches?” So, yes, this period of time is one of the places where we see the
principle of “day for a year,” so when we study
this prophecy we think, “Okay, this… if this
isn’t ten literal days, then it must be
ten literal years… each day must
represent a year… ” now in order for
us to affirm that, in order for that to be
confirmed in our interpretation in our understanding…
to be confirmed… our
interpretation being confirmed, we would need to
find a place in history where that actually
happened where for ten years God’s church… some
time after the Apostolic Age underwent heavy
persecution and we find it… we find it from the year
303 A.D. to the year 313 A.D. and it happened
under Diocletian, heavy persecution took place and the church was
not only persecuted but if you remained a Christian, your land was
taken away from you, your houses were
taken away from you, churches were
taken away from you, everything was
torn away from you, everything earthly
was taken away from you, it was heavy-duty persecution and it was in this
time… that the period of time that the church in Smyrna
was described as, I think, going under… undergoing… well the word Smyrna itself
means, “bitter sweet myrrh” and it’s the kind of stuff that
was used from embalming people there was a lot of death,
there was a lot of persecution they had a
bitter-sweet experience, the bitterness, of course,
going through the persecution, sweet experience…
being rich in faith and having the church purified and having
nothing said against it and I think that we
as people, Christians… that we are
afraid of persecution but at the same time, “Fear none of those things
which shall come upon you” because I want to
make a distinction between those who
say they’re this… “they are Jews”
and those who aren’t, and you’re going
to be rich in faith, your faith is going to
grow through this time, I remember the story years
ago and this is going way back before your time,
Jason, perhaps… to the 1980s when the USSR was a
prominent power in the world, Communism in
Eastern Europe and Russia had its iron grip
on many, many people and there were people
that would get our of Russia… they considered
themselves fortunate, there was an Adventist
family that got out of Russia and came to the United
States during that time and they considered
themselves fortunate, a few years later they
decided to go back to Russia and their conclusion was that… “It was easier for us to be
faithful to Christ in Russia than it is for us to
be faithful to Christ here in the United States because it was easier
for us to be Christians under that
persecution than it was for us to live a Christian
life in this wealthy, compromising environment
that is the U.S… USA” so they… they
went back to Russia and that’s what
we’re talking about here, sometimes we’re
afraid of persecution, persecution can
actually be a good thing. Yvonne: When you
think… oh sorry… Ivor: No, no, no, you go… When you think about… when is it that you find
yourself drawing closer to God? Not necessarily
in the good times… but in the bad times when you really
need to reach out to Him that’s when… when you…
everything is honky dory… we tend to… we can put God on
the back burner which is wrong, but… but when
you’re going through it and that’s when you
reach out, “God help me… ” and you’re on your knees, you’re on your
knees for your children or you’re on your knees
for your spouse or your… whatever it is… your
job… whatever it is… you’re on your knees
so that persecution… that suffering…
though we don’t want it, I found for me
that the closest times that I have with the Lord
are when I’m going through… and you don’t want that,
it’s not like you pick that and say, “Okay, I
want to suffer now,” no, you don’t want that
but when you are suffering the only place to go is God. You’re going to
find that principle to be revealed to be true
when we get to the next church, because when things
ease up and things get good, it’s human nature
to begin the compromise but looking at this
reward for the church of Smyrna, the reward is a crown of life and it’s interesting
that God uses that reward because He
realizes and recognizes what they’re going through here, He acknowledges what
they’re going through and says, “Listen, even though you’re
suffering death right now” in fact it’s the
last verse, verse 11, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not
be hurt of the second death. ” So, Jesus is
telling the church here, “Even though you’re
suffering the first death, don’t worry about it… you’re
going to have a crown of life, you’re not going to
experience the second death. ” The second death
is… death forever, right, there’s not
return from that second death so… so, He’s saying, “Listen, what you’re going
through now is just a sleep, I’m going to wake
you up in the morning I’m going to put a crown on
your head… and be faithful. ” so that’s the reward, that’s the encouragement
He’s giving to His church in this stage,
He’s telling them, “Be faithful…
and don’t worry about what the devil is
throwing in your face because I’m going to
give you something better. ” James: Let’s build
on that a little bit, Ivor… really the only place
that the phrase, “Second death” is used in the Bible is
in the Book of Revelation, the only place, it’s used in
Revelation chapter 2 and it’s also in
Revelation chapter 20, so, the reason why God did that and it’s clear
in the Book of John when you read about
the story of Lazarus, it’s very clear
that God identifies death in relation to
what we experience as mortals, He
identifies it as a sleep… He identifies it as a sleep, so, over and over
again, He tells the disciples, “Lazarus is
sleeping… Lazarus is sleeping, Lazarus is sleeping” and
the disciples don’t get it, they don’t get it, “Well, if he’s
sleeping, he’s doing good because when you’re sick…
when you got a sore throat… and you need to
sleep… you need a rest… ” so, finally, Jesus says to
them, “Plainly… ” verse 11, John 11 verse 11,
Jesus says to them, “Plainly…
our… ” excuse me… that’s not the
verse I’m looking for, it’s verse 14… “Jesus said unto them
plainly, Lazarus is dead. ” He didn’t say, “second death,” they didn’t get… that
sleep and death are synonymous, they didn’t get that, okay, so then Jesus tries to
clarify a little bit more, a little bit later here, He’s talking to Martha…
to the sister of Lazarus, and He says in verse
23, “Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. And Martha said to him, I
know that he shall rise again in the
resurrection at the last day,” which is what we
were talking about and then He goes on… “Jesus said unto her,
I am the resurrection, and the life: he
that believes in me though he were dead,
yet shall he live… ” now get this, verse 26, “And whosoever liveth and
believeth in me shall… ” what? Jason: Never die… Then He asks a question,
what’s the question He asks? All: “Believest thou this?” James: “Do you believe
that… do you believe that? Do you believe that
you will never die?” So really, in this
church statement here, okay, when you read Revelation
chapter 2 and verse 10, “Fear none of those
things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall
cast some of you into prison, and ye may be tried; and you shall have
tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto… ” Ivor: Sleep… James: Sleep…
right? Yvonne: Hmmm… hmmm.. James: because you
won’t be hurt of… death… Yvonne: Right… James: That’s the way a
Christian reads these verses, “be faithful unto sleep… because you won’t
be hurt of death… ” Yvonne: Yes… James: The only reason why
it’s death and second death is because we never
got to sleep that part and so this is
clarification for us. The first death is a sleep. So that’s even more powerful because that’s basically
what Jesus is saying to us, He’s saying, “Hey
you’re just going to sleep, just be faithful,
you’re just going to sleep you won’t be hurt of
death, you won’t die, if you believe in
me, you’ll never die. ” Yvonne: So we’re not
saying… we need to clarify… we’re not saying that you
don’t go to sleep in death but that death is “a sleep..
” it’s a temporary sleep… just like you
go… you go to bed… you go to sleep and you
wake up the next morning you’ve been asleep but
you’re not permanently gone. James: But the second death…
or death itself is permanent. Yvonne: Right. Ivor: Let’s just recap
something very quickly, first church… 31 A.D.
roughly to about a 100 A.D. that brings the 70-Week Prophecy
into view… the first church… the second church…
we’re in an interim… between the 70
Weeks and the 1,260… we’ve left the 70-Week…
we’re not yet at 1,260… so we’re in an interim… and so we just want to
keep that in mind as we move on. James: Timeless…
Yvonne: Time and location… James: And again
we want to emphasize, questions, questions, questions,
send in your video questions. Jason: There you go… to… [email protected] org “s” as in Salvation
in Symbols and Signs. James: Salvation
in Symbols and Signs. Yvonne: Yeah! James: So we are excited…
this is just a great journey… I think… it’s… I’m
learning as I’m going… and I think we all are
and we’re taking our time… we’re not… we
don’t have an agenda we’re just moving
through it and God is blessing so Yvonne, close us out with
a word of prayer, would you? Yvonne: Sure…
“Father, thank you so much for the richness of your Word and for allowing us to
just break bread together, thank you, Lord… we just
praise you and bless your name and help us to be ready
when you come back, Lord Jesus, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.” All: “Amen…”

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7 thoughts on “08 – “Smyrna – Salvation in Symbols & Signs”

  1. Revelation has always been like missing pieces to a puzzle ? ! … This panel is a blessing that fills in those missing parts ! … Thank GOD he has given the wisdom to distribute to his servants ! … All PRAISE TO OUR CREATOR ! …

  2. I know you all are blessed by these studies, and I pray that you meditate and keep at heart these prophecies for the time of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is near.

  3. Anyone who reads my comment, Listen! Let him who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says!

    Let God be the potter of your life.
    Let Him shape you and your character.
    Let Him guide you in His Hand and let Him pour thy Holy Spirit on you to mold you into His Character.
    Allow Him to shape you and to form you into a masterpiece of which you are.
    Show others who created that masterpiece in you and tell them where they can find the Master Designer.
    Don't let the things of this world shape who you are.
    For they will not form you as perfect as of how He can.
    The mind of the Potter is in His creation.
    For the Creation is the outcome of the plan from the mind of the Creator.
    And His plan is to mold you perfectly into a masterpiece.
    The Creator, God of the Universe wants to shape and mold you.
    May the peace of the Father and the Grace of Jesus Christ be with you!!
    Amen!!!!!!!

  4. Thank you-love this study. Smyrna church, how is it between 70 weeks and 1260 period of time? 70 weeks=490 years? Ephesus is about 34 AD to 100 AD, so how does Ephesus cover 490 years or 70 week period?

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