“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Lord’s Victory – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 8-11)
If you exclude the unseen and leave out the eternal dimension then none of this makes any sense at all. But if you base your life on eternal matters which cannot be denied, then what you value and your life is transformed. These people were poor yet so very, very rich. And there are so many in this world who are so, so rich but their poverty is immeasurable. “And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21); “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). This is a word to the church, not the world. Are we listening? Have you ever noticed sometimes in obituary columns along with notice of the person’s demise, you are told that they left a million pounds/dollars, or however much? Note the operative word they left it, they did not take it with them. Did you ever see a removal truck following a hearse! As we came into the world, naked, so in the same way we go out. The currency of eternity differs from that of this world. Evil is rampant in Symrna they are counting the corpses of the saints. But the sovereign Christ tells his dearly beloved people, death does not have the final word, he does.
So there is a word of victory here for the saints (v11). Stand, be faithful even unto death, overcome, and the crown of life will be yours. Not a bunch of flowers at the graveside or some nice eulogy written on a tombstone, but a crown of life. But there is a death, the second death for the rejectors and opposers of the gospel, the followers of the Anti-Christ. There is a death beyond death. But the children of God are safe because they have an enduring, an undefeated Christ. Because of him and his finished work, his victory over death, evil is a spent force. The second death is eternal damnation but the crown of life is the very opposite. The promise here to God’s people is expanded, “then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6). Do remember please the beheaded is symbolic it is not literal. There are no unbeheaded saints in glory. It symbolises those who have suffered, have stood faithful to Jesus, who have borne the cross. If you bear the cross you will wear the crown. The devil will kill and imprison but he is a dog on a chain (Revelation 20:1). He too has been overcome (Colossians 2:15). The entire sphere of death is in Christ’s control (Revelation 1:18b). Apostasy lies before us, on every front, Smyrna’s is presented to us as an example of a faithful church. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” (v10).
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)