8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The name Smyrna means myrrh and Smyrna was an ancient city of Ionia, on the western coast of Asia Minor, about 40 miles to the north of Ephesus. The church in Smyrna was one that was persecuted. They did not receive a rebuke by the Lord but simply were encouraged by the Lord.
The Lord spoke of the trials they were facing, but no matter what we face upon this earth it does not compare to the glory that is found in Him. The Lord told them not to fear because it is natural to be afraid when you feel you are surrounded on all sides. But no matter how many surround us the Lord surrounds every one of our enemies and will lead us to victory.
Even on this earth if we are called to lay down our lives for Jesus we have nothing to fear because in that moment the Lord will strengthen us. We must pray daily for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and laying down their lives daily. They face a level of persecution that we ourselves may never come to know, but the faithful prayers we pray will encourage them and will release the provision of the Lord in their lives.
The Lord spoke of the tribulation lasting ten days because it would be a short period of time compared to their entire lives on earth and their lives in eternity. Many of the believers in Smyrna were laying down their lives for the name of Jesus. In A.D. 155 the famed Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna.
For many who live in America today we live in comfort and it is very easy to become very lax in our relationship with the Lord. It is easy to forget those who are suffering for the name of Jesus. But let us faithfully intercede without ceasing. We will not know all our prayers accomplished until we stand before the Lord someday in eternity. Let us pray without ceasing and be obedient as the Holy Spirit leads us to the place of prayer.