When man chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as the governing factor of the human soul, he caused the earth to be bound to certain futilities. God defined the consequence of man’s decision, but the ultimate goal of the consequence was that one day there would be an increasing glory in the human race that would deliver creation from the bondage of corruption it was bound to. That deliverance would come when humanity would become expressions of mature sons and daughters of God in the family of God upon the earth. I believe that this is a growing and increasing process in the generational community of God.
Romans 8:19-21 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Father’s inspire children to grow in the grace of God to become children of God. They not only empower the family to know that God loves them, they inspire them to love God with the actions of their lives. Father’s inspire children to find the overcoming power of God’s grace that enables them to demonstrate their love for God more than they fear death. They desire the things that God is bringing into their lives more than they fear the things they are leaving behind.
God wants us all to grow in the power of His grace in all things. When we find the empowerment of God’s grace in our lives we find the power to overcome every temptation to fear the power of death. Our faith towards God includes a promise that the testimony of our lives will always lead to the greater glory of life that is found in Christ. In Christ we do not need to fear the power of death. Part of the futility included what was revealed in the words of God that caused there to be a temptation to worry and fear the pain of death and this was even put as a mark upon a woman’s pregnancy and child delivery. At the gift of birth, a sign of worry and pain was placed upon the womb of mankind. I believe that there is a great testimony of our victory within the words of the second letter of Revelation, the letter to the angel of the church of Smyrna.
Revelation 2:8-11 “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: 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. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
The second letter was written to the church of Smyrna. The name Smyrna means “myrrh”. Myrrh was used as a burial oil. Myrrh is a witness signifying death. The testimony of this letter is like that which is demonstrated in the act of water baptism. The act of submersion in water is a witness to our old lives being submerged in the life of Christ in order for us to live our lives new as a testimony of our faith towards God in Christ. The mystery of our faith is that we must die to live. Faith toward God is a death to the natural wisdom of men and a rising up to receiving the wisdom of God in Christ. That wisdom will cause us to do works that testify of our faith as is testified in the book of James.
I believe the angel of the Church of Smyrna is the Spirit of Wisdom (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:10). The language of the letter of Smyrna is the language of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. In this letter Jesus is seen as “the one who was dead and came to life”. This was the prophetic testimony of Abram as he was transformed to become Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4; 17:5-11), Isaac in his life beyond the sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2-14; Heb.11:17-19), and of Joseph in his testimony in Egypt for the sake of his brothers (Gen. 37:18-36; 39:20). The actions of their lives demonstrated their willingness to seek God, hear Him, and respond to what He said. They trusted the voice of God more than they feared the power of any death. They believed in the birthing of things new more than they feared the losing of things that were old. The second curse of the fall was a temptation to fear death, for in pregnancy there is worry and great pain in child delivery (read my book, The Redeemed Earth – Healing the Curses of the Fall). Exegetically, the Church of Smyrna was seen as suffering persecution by “false Jews”, just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac in the days of the patriarchs (Gen. 21:9; Gal. 4:22-31). Paul clearly wrote to the Church of Rome and testified that not all who said they were Jews were the Israel of God (Rom. 2:28, 29; Gen. 41:37-45; 45:4-8; 50:20). The church of the first century was depicted in this church of Smyrna, in that they believed the days ahead were greater than any day that would be lost in their time. They had faith towards God and that faith came by hearing God’s voice within their hearts. To discover the grace of overcoming the power of death we must find the wisdom of God that is stronger than the things we can naturally see in life. Not even the second death can harm the children of God, for life always prevails even into eternity.
In this letter to Smyrna we see that some were about to be thrown into prison, as was Joseph at the hand of his brothers. They were told to remain faithful in the midst of suffering. Those who remained faithful would receive the crown of life, just as Joseph was rewarded for his faithfulness. It is through death in Christ that we receive the crown of life (Jam. 1:12). Faith towards God will empower us to even endure suffering with a testimony of works that speak of our faith. This was part of the overcoming foundation of the firstfruits first century Church! Their overcoming faith set precedence for every successive generation in the Church!
I will continue with this in my blog next week.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson