Letters to the Seven Churches (Part Three): Smyrna
Sheep to the Slaughter
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Sermon; #1470; 69 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh reminds us that God reveals the secrets of His Kingdom to His called-out ones, including the reciprocal communication process of hearing and responding, which takes place throughout our sanctification. In Revelation 2 and 3, Christ writes seven letters of praise, commendation, and correction in order to prepare us for the roles we must assume in overcoming. A well-established Jewish population in Smyrna ardently persecuted those loyal to Christ. A fitting moniker for the Smyrnans might be "sheep to the slaughter," as the synagogue of Satan, the physical seed estranged from Abraham's lineage for their disobedience and rejection of God's Son, ardently persecuted them. Because of persecution, the Smyrna congregation was incredibly poverty-stricken, yet spiritually rich by Christ's Own assessment. The Smyrna Church received no correction from Christ. Christ thoroughly prepared these people for martyrdom, promising them eternal glory if they could endure for a relatively short time, looking at things from a hopeful and eternal perspective, after which they would receive everlasting glory. When we contrast the works of the Ephesians with the Smyrnans, it is evident that Christ was more pleased with the Smyrnans' uncompromising submission to God's will. Satan seeks to destroy us just as much as he sought to destroy the Smyrnan congregation. We also must be willing to totally submit to God and yield to His plan for us.
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