Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The letter to the church of Smyrna is a letter about suffering. The city’s name comes from the Hebrew root translated myrrh, which means death. Does myrrh sound familiar? It should if you’ve ever heard the Christmas story. The three gifts presented to the Christ child by the magi were gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gold was a symbol of Jesus’ kingship. The frankincense symbolized His priesthood. The myrrh symbolized His suffering and death. It’s intriguing that gold and frankincense will be offered at Jesus’ second coming according to Isaiah 60:6. No myrrh, because the death is behind Him.
Dr. Missler presented a history of the city, including its political risings and fallings and destruction by earthquakes. The proclivity of the population toward pagan worship was evident on Smyrna’s coins. Caesar worship was widely accepted. Annually, each Roman citizen had to burn a pinch of incense on the altar acknowledging Caesar as supreme lord. What a test for a Christian! If you didn’t participate, you were either burned at the stake or put in the arena with wild beasts. A 100ish year old Polycarp was burned at the stake for refusing. What would be your fate if you were faced with such a choice today? I don’t know what sort of example I would set. I think I’ve got some soul-searching to do.
The tribulation that Jesus talks about in this letter doesn’t relate to the Great Tribulation. It refers to persecution. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs refers to The Ten Primitive Persecutions which Dr. Missler identifies as the “10 Days” referred to in Smyrna’s letter. He goes through these very quickly, but I took the time to check out Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The “10 Days” were horrifying persecutions!
Presented in the video teaching and also the supplemental notes packet, there is a list of 10 reasons why Christians experience trials with Biblical support for each reason. This would be a valuable list to refer back to whenever tough times come. If you’re looking for something to write on the blank “Notes” pages in the back of your Bible, this might just be the list to record!
The comparison and contrast of the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 was brief, but lengthier than the taste we were given in last week’s video teaching. I do believe that you could study these passages for a lifetime and still not pick up all of the treasure contained within.
I learned recently from another study that some scholars believe there is a correlation between the seven kingdom parables of Matthew 13 and the letters to the churches of Revelation. The church of Smyrna corresponds to the parable of the tares and the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30.
Homework for next time: Read chapters 2 & 3. Outline the letter to Pergamos. Who was Balaam? Who was Balak? Read Numbers 22-25.
Posted by Stacey at 12:00 AM