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ATN 3 - "Of Poverty and True Wealth"

Review: “All Things New”

  • John is in exile on the island of Patmos, a Roman mining colony (He will be later released under Emperor Nerva, and was “in the Spirit” on the “Lord’s Day” and had a vision

  • The Book of Revelation is the conclusion of the epic story of God’s redemption of humanity, where we are fully reunited with our Creator and are present with Him as we were in the Garden

  • The “New Jerusalem” is not a place, but a metaphor for the Church, God’s people, in whom, and with whom, He dwells

  • The Kingdom of God is fully realized: all sickness, pain, sorrow and death – and all those who cause it – are removed from the universe

  • There is universal restoration – all things are made new

  • God Himself is the Beginning and the End, the who created the universe, and the one who recreates it

  • This book is an apokalypsis (a figurative narrative which reveals) and prophecy (the speaking of God’s will) and a letter (to real people for life-application)

  • It’s a manifesto for the Kingdom of God – a public declaration of God’s intentions; things which “are” and “are to come”

  • A blessing awaits those who minister this word to the flock - “read aloud” means in public worship gatherings

  • A blessing on those who “hear” and “keep” what is revealed here – think, the “Shema”

  • The tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance. Yet, it is all “in Jesus” – making it possible and hope-filled

  • “Seven lampstands” are the seven churches/the all churches and Jesus identifies Himself as present with them and engaged

  • “Seven stars” – the leaders of the churches, firmly in His grip

  • “Sharp two-edged sword”

  • Things that are and are to come later: present and future application of the revelation

The Message to the Second Church: Smyrna

  • Smyrna was about 35 miles north of Ephesus, a port town, very prominent and wealthy, a site of emperor worship

  • V.8a – we know who this “angel” is: Polycarp

    • A disciple of John himself, probably in his 20’s

    • Was martyred in 155 AD by burning at the stake, fostered by both pagans and Jews

  • V.9 – “Tribulation and poverty” – being persecuted and slandered by Jews and pagan Romans for being Christians, having their goods plundered as part of that, having limited employment opportunity due to their faith

    • Their true riches are their spirituality, their faith in the face of persecution

    • Again, tribulation is seen part of the Kingdom life and is meant to be patiently endured in Jesus

    • “say they are Jews, but are not” – not of God’s household

    • “synagogue of Satan” – not God’s community/people, and in league with pagans, with the persecution motivated by the devil

  • V.10 – the persecution is about to heat up, including imprisonment

    • This is allowed to test their faith

    • “10 days” means a short period of time – not forever

    • However, some may be martyred, and they are remind that if so, eternity awaits them – the call is to remain faithful

  • V.11 – Again, the command to “Shema” the Spirit – listen so as to obey

    • And again, there is a promise of life for those who “conquer,” remaining faithful unto death – no “second death”

Why This Matters

  • Understanding that difficulty and opposition due to our faith is Christ is part of the package of being His disciple: Matthew 5:10-12; 38-42

  • There is encouragement for us in Christ, and a reason for our endurance – eternity with Him

  • “True riches” are spiritual in nature: Matthew 6:19-24

    • Jesus is not impressed by your “lifestyle”

    • What is your treasure? Where is your treasure?

    • Our “first-world” problems are really petty

  • Polycarp himself had to endure persecution and poverty for 85 years, until his martyrdom by being burned at the stake

  • Seeing what this church went through gives us perspective for our life today

  • The call is to faithful endurance. Are we being truly faithful – or just selectively so? Are we picking and choosing what we obey?

  • You may feel “poor” or weak, but know that true riches, along with strength and hope are found in Jesus Christ! Hear what the Spirit is saying to you today!

  • Remember, He is “walking in the midst of the lampstands” the church, and knows your situation and your needs – as well as your heart’s obedience

Your Next Steps

  • What did the Holy Spirit point out to you today?

  • What does He need to conquer in you so that you can conquer in life?

  • How is He calling you to deeper obedience to His way of life?

  • Read next week’s passage: Revelation 2:12-17

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