Tonight’s Bible study looked at the letters to the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum (Revelation 2) and saw that Christ speaks to churches in ways that are intensely relevant to their particular situations. To Smyrna, a city which had been literally destroyed and brought back to life, He revealed Himself as the ‘First and Last, who died and came back to life again.’ (Rev 2:8) To Pergamum, a city famous for its words and emperor worship, He spoke ‘the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.’ (Rev 2;12) Both churches had things which were praiseworthy, holding true to Jesus despite persecution and suffering.
We often feel that we would do much better if certain things in our lives changed, but the truth is that we live in a world that is hostile to God and yet are called to be faithful and true. These letters remind us that Jesus sees things differently (Smyrna was poor and afflicted yet possessed spiritual wealth, for example). He does not necessarily promise escape from our situations, but does promise His presence through all trials (see Is 43:1-2). The promises He offers are greater than any trials we may face! – even death (martyrdom) does not have the last word, since Jesus has conquered even death.