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Our Lord's second letter in the Revelation is
written to the pastor of the church at Smyrna. We have
already learned that Ephesus exists no more. The harbor
is filled with sand, the once proud city is only ruins. Not
so with Smyrna. Smyrna is a lively, thriving city. It is
called Izmir, Turkey.
Like Ephesus and the other Asiatic cities of that day,
Smyrna was bealtIifml. Like Salt Lake City, Utah, and Bra-
zilia, Brazil, Smyrna was a planned city. It didn't just
happen as building was added to building. It was carefully
planned to become the most beautiful city of Asia.
It was a "paradise of municipal vanity." A visitor
to Smyrna would be shown the giant stadium, where the games
were played. The giant public library would be next on the
agenda, then perhaps a visit to the Odeium, the home of
the music arts. Of course you must take in a performance
at the theatre, one of the largest and finest in Asia Minor.
Smyrna was most famous for he treetof go It
began at the Temple of Zeus and ended at the Temple of
Cybele. In between were a Heinz 57 varieties of pagan gods
to worship, including a temple in which to worship the
emperor of Rome.
How did the Christian church at Smyrna fit into all
this? That is precisely the problem. They didn't. The
people of Smyrna would have been happy for the Christians
to put their Savior alongside all the other pagan dieties.
But that is one thing a Christian would not do. Jesus
Christ is not one of the ways but He is the only way to
God. Such truth the people of Smyrna would not accept.
Nor would they accept the people who held to such truth.
In verse 8 when our Lord says: "I know your affliction
anIf yvur poverty." He was acknowledging that for His
sake those Christians were held aloof by the rest of
the people and that the trade unions would not let them
work to provide for their families.
Those pagan temples and their celebrations were
not unli ...
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