THE MYSTERY OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS, PART 2
by Leland Earls
The second church to which I wrote was Smyrna. Since this letter followed the one to Ephesus, it portrays, by symbolic representation, the period in the history of the church following the apostolic. It was the period of the great persecutions under the Roman emperors. This is why my salutation at the beginning has to do with life forevermore; for many saints were martyred during this period of history. Even so did I write: ‘These things says the first and the last, which, was dead, and is alive.’ (Rev. 2:8). It was my assurance that as I was the first to die by the hands of the persecutors, so would I be with all who had to lay down their lives for my name’s sake, even to the last one. And even as I was made alive after death, so would I quicken to life all who laid down their lives in death: first in the eternal realms of the soul, and finally in the resurrection of the physical body.
During the time of these intense persecutions by the Roman beast, it was a common practice to confiscate the property and belongings of the Christians who would not deny their faith. Therefore did I speak to them: ‘I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.’ (Rev. 2:9). Thus many found themselves in great poverty as far as material things were concerned, but they were rich in faith and in spiritual verities. Although the persecutions were carried out by the Roman powers, in many instances, behind the scenes, the instigators were the Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire. These Jews, though claiming to be descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, were not ‘true Jews’ or Israelites indeed according to the spirit of faith. (Rom. 2:28-29). Having rejected the Messiah, and having sinned against great light, they became blinded captives of the enemy, even Satan, and thus the very manifest enemies of all Christians. Their ‘blasphemy’ consisted of their laying claim to the name of the Almighty as His chosen, but not in truth and righteousness. Yet they have been preserved according to the flesh, for a purpose yet to be fulfilled at the close of the age.
So great was the persecution of my saints that untold thousands were imprisoned. Therefore I spoke, ‘Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days; be [ ] faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.’ (Rev. 2:10). For many, the imprisonment was to death; oft times by means of savage torture at the hands of men or by the mouths of lions. The ten days mentioned is symbolic of the ten great persecutions which rose and receded during a period of over two centuries. The ten also portrays the completion of a soul cycle, whereby that life which had been received into the souls of those persecuted was tested and proven through the ‘fires’ of opposition, engendering completion to ‘life crowned.’ This ‘crown of life’ promised to those who would be faithful to death is life on a higher plane of being. It will be received when I return to gather my full overcoming saints to myself. This life will be manifested in a glorified physical body, like to my own glorious body. (Philip. 3:21). It goes beyond eternal life in the soul realm, or resurrected physical life on the earth plane. It is the ultimate of that which I have planned for those who love me and keep my commandments.
A promise of assurance is given in this letter to those who overcome, even in a measure. Even thus did I speak: ‘He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.’ (Rev. 2:11). There are degrees of overcoming, as seen in the fact that in all there are seven special promises to the overcomers in the seven letters. The assurance given here is for those who go beyond the initial believing in my vicarious atonement for their sins. The escaping of the second death is possible only through being “born anew’ of the incorruptible seed. (John 3:3-5, I Pet. 1:23). When my very own LIFE is imparted to the soul, it is forever free from death, and the eventual restoration of the physical body is also assured, if that body has been laid aside in death. The second death has to do with a future judgment day, and those who have ‘passed from death to life’ (John 5:24) need have no fear, for they remain secure, and when the ‘lake of fire’ is activated, netting the second death for both body and soul (Matt. 10:28), they shall have no part therein. (See Rev. 20:9-15). He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church .