Anyways, on to the devotion. The seccond of seven weeks on the letters in Revelation. Last week, we went over Ephesus. We spoke about the praise they got from god, for being faithful, and ther chastisement for falling from their "First Love". I also related this to us, in our current day, and tied in the judgement, should they refuse to follow his command, and rewards if they do follow it.
This brings us to the church in Smyrna. This is the shortest letter, spanning only four veses (8-11), but I believe it is highly applicable in this world, especially considering the theme of this community. The letter begins again, with an introduction of the authority of which these words were spoken, "him who is the First and the Last, who died and rose again." Once again, this introduction reveals that these are more than just words, these are the words of the Lord. He then follows with a number of problems they feel they are facing, and encourages them on each one.
The first, is their poverty. He responds with merely "yet you are ritch!" This can be interpreted many ways. One is that it means that they are ritch comparatively, however, I prefer to opt for a more symbolic route. I believe it is refering to ritches in heaven, for their good deeds and faithfulness. The next subject he adresses is the slander from the Jewish people. However, again, the response brushes the problem away as nothing, calling them "synagogue of Satan". Now we have to be careful with this verse. The first danger we must avoid is the fact that this can be used to encourage racism. The verse is refering to those who are calling themselves Jewish people, and condemning the Christians. The other is we have to rememer that they have no power over us. Although they are declaired the synagogue of Satan, we are under God's power, and God is more powerful than Satan, and so protects us from him when we need it.
This, however, brings us to the next part of the letter. It is a warning from God to remain faithful. But beyond that, he tells about ten days of persecution the church will undergo. However, he promises the crown of life to those who persevere, even unto death. This however, at first sight, contradicts with the above. If God is all powerful, why must they undergo persecution? For this, I will employ another symbol. Not as modern as the girlfriend/boyfriend one of last week, this one only comes up to the middle ages. It is the symbol of a staff. Now when you were making a staff, you had to choose the wood carfully. You would then choose a suitable block of wood, which would, in this case be the church. However, a block of wood is near useless, as it is too large and clumbsy. So first, it must be shaped into a rough, smaller shape. This is done by numerous tools, which I would compare to the various forms of persecution. There is also a step of sanding it down, and waxing it. The sanding would be the grinding of time, loosing the chuch of those who lose their passionate love of God and Jesus, as outlined in the last devotion. You are then left with a quarterstaff useful in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, and as God is the Lord of All, he is certianly a master
The letter, similar to the other, ends on a hopeful note. It tells us that those who overcome, will not be hurt by the seccond death, confirming that Jesus will save us.
One final point of housekeeping. I was considering when I did series like this, to put links back to previous installments. But I don't know how usefull it will be, and it may just take up space that could be better used. So I would ask anyone with a preference to comment telling me what they think on this. Thanks.