Let’s pick it up today in Revelation 2:9 where it says, “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.” I want to take a look at a few things in this verse. First, notice that the Lord says that He knows their works, tribulation, and poverty. Many people believe that they live in poverty today. But the word Jesus uses here means to be completely destitute and having nothing at all. Can you imagine being a Christian in a time and place that you couldn't get a job because of your faith in Christ? A place where your property and belongings were confiscated because you had decided to follow Jesus? This was an everyday reality to the Christians in Smyrna. Thank God we live in a nation where we are free to worship God without fear of persecution.
Notice that Jesus doesn't tell them the lie that we so often here in the church today. "Oh, if only you had a little more faith brother, or repented of that sin, then you'd be healthy, wealthy, and wise!" On the contrary, Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Those who propagate this false message would do well to read 1 Tim 6:3-5 where Paul said, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” Did you see that? We need to withdraw from anyone who teaches that godliness is a means of gain or getting rich.
Instead, it goes on to say in 1 Timothy 6:6-11, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” Godliness with contentment is great gain.
On another note, it’s interesting that they felt they were poor and Jesus had to remind them that they were rich. Later we will see in the last days Church of Laodicea (that’s the one we’re living in right now) that they felt they were rich and Jesus will remind them that they are poor when He says in Revelation 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
Notice also that the Lord says that he knows the “blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” The Apostle Paul said in Romans 2:28-29, “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.” Jesus also had a confrontation with the Jews over this subject in John 8:37-44. The Jews spoke of here were those who had religion on the outside, but no heart for God on the inside. There are many of those running around the church today as well.
Now let’s look at Revelation 2:10 where it says, “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.” Jesus is telling this church that they are about to suffer persecution. We will talk about it more next time.