January 20, 2017
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Continuing with Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, let’s look at reasons to praise God gleaned from the letter to the church of Smurna – Revelation 2:8 through 11:
These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich): and I
know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are
a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are a-
bout to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison,
that you may be tested , and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful
until death, and I will give you the crown of life….He who overcomes shall
not be hurt by the second death.”
There is so much here about which we can praise God! But, in some cases, the reason to praise has been covered in other blogs, I will not go over it again.
• Revelation 2:8 – Jesus is “…the First and the Last….” We examined praising Him for His eternality in our first blog on this series, published on January 11. But there is more to consider:
✞ The First – This speaks of Christ in eternity past! As He told “…those Jews who believed Him…” (John 8:31), “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58). The way He carefully worded this, Jesus is saying He not only existed before Abraham (over two thousand years before), but He always existed as I AM, the eternal God! (See Exodus 3:14, 15).
✞ The Last – I counted nine times in the Bible the phrase “forever and ever” applies to Jesus Christ! He always has been – with the Father and the Holy Spirit – and He always will be! No wonder He proclaims in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, [the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet] the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
✞ One thing Jesus does not tell us here is that He is ‘the Present’ – the “I AM ” of Exodus 13 and 14! (See John 8:24, 28). But this is why He told the Sadducees in Matthew 22:31 and 32:
…have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, “I am
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? God
is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Praise Him because Jesus is “…the First and the Last…”!
• Revelation 2:9 – “…I know your…poverty (but you are rich)….” God’s standard for poverty or riches is a lot different from the world’s! In this case, these Christians of Smyrna were materially poor, but spiritually rich. Apparently, they were laying up “…treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:20). As far as what constitutes treasures in heaven, study Revelation 18:11 through 13, and the blog that explains it: Convoluted Concern – June 24, 2013.
Paul puts forth in I Timothy 6:5 through 10, and 17 through 19, the folly and danger of pursuing earthly riches! Study it if you care to escape such folly and danger! And Jesus warns us in Mark 8:36 and 37, “…what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Praise the Lord for teaching us what constitutes true riches!
• Revelation 2:10 – “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.” Can we praise God for the suffering which we experience? Yes! For we learn in Romans 8:28 “…that all things work together for good to those who love God…who are the called according to His purpose.” And we are told His purpose in the next verse: “…whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son….” To be made into the image of Jesus Christ is the highest honor of all! It is a great part of the redemption for which He came! (See I Corinthians 15:48, 49; II Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:20, 21; I John 3:2).
Fifteen times – including here in Revelation 2:10 – Jesus comes with the message, “Fear not…” or “Be not afraid….” There is nothing too great that the Lord will not get us through it – even suffering “…unto death…” as He here told the Christians of Smyrna. God knows what is in store for us! And He tells us in Deuteronomy 33:25, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” He will give us whatever we need to overcome what we face! (See Matthew 6:32, 33; Philippians 4:19). Praise Jesus that we don’t have to fear suffering!
• Revelation 2:10 – “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Being redeemed is blessing enough! Yet so many rewards for godly living are promised! (See Matthew 19:29; Mark 10:30; I Corinthians 3:11-15). Jesus even told His disciples, “…whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Praise Him for His promised rewards!
• Revelation 2:11 – “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Yes, in Christ we overcome even hell! (See John 5:24). Even in the worst of times (the tribulation) when so many believers are put to death by the antichrist, it is recorded in Revelation 12:11: “…they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they did not love their lives to the death.” No wonder Paul sings out in I Corinthians 15:57: “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Praise God that in Christ we are overcomers!