The First and the Last
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;” Rev 2:8
As noted earlier, Smyrna is derived from the Greek SMURNA, which is the herb myrrh.
Just as the voice of Christ identified himself as the first and the last, myrrh made its appearance in the first and last part of the life of Jesus.
The Magi, at the first, brought it to the baby Jesus as one of their gifts, and at the last, at his burial, he was given it again. It is written:
“And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” John 19:39-40
Myrrh is an antiseptic and was used for embalming, and an oil for anointing. It is also a spice to enhance the taste of wine and other foods. Overall, it was quite costly in that day and often reserved for use by royalty and people of importance. The use of a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe in his burial was an acknowledgement of the kingly nature of Jesus.
The voice says he “was dead, and is alive.” Smyrna also corresponds to this. The city was destroyed (died) around 700 BC and for 400 years it seemed to be gone forever. Then Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great’s generals, rebuilt Smyrna as a new Hellenistic city. It then it grew in population to around 100,000 people in the days of John.
It was rebuilt as one of the few planned cities in the ancient world as well as one of the most beautiful. Indeed, it died and was resurrected with much more beauty than it had before.
So how does this apply to the life of the aspiring disciple?
Through Ephesus he discovered the path and the freedom it gives, and for a time misused that freedom. He moved back to his Christ center, focused and moved to the second stage represented by Smyrna. Here, for a time, he is focused solidly in the light, for the voice of the Master gives no rebuke or correction, but only advice and encouragement to move forward.
The reason the seeker does not go off the path in this state is because he has one of the names of God “written in his forehead” (See Rev 14:1). That name is “the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.”
He felt the Presence at first, but drifted away in the middle of the Ephesus stage. Then, at the last, when he came back, he discovered that the Presence was always there. It was he who moved away, not the Christ within. The Christ is with us at the first and then, after we finish playing the prodigal son, is there at the last. If the seeker ever thinks that God has deserted him, he is deceived. To stay upon the path he must acquire the faith that God is always available the first time he is sought and the last.
There is a difference between the first and last contact. Even though the first is real it also seems temporary, for the seeker cannot focus consistently enough to establish a permanent link. The last contact is different because when it is made, the seeker solidly commits to the path of discipleship and promises himself to never again drift away from the voice. He tells himself that this is the last time he will reestablish contact for this time the link is not to be severed.
The seeker by no means obtains perfection in the Smyrna stage, but he does come to the realization that he must never again leave the voice. Correctly applying the inner voice and becoming one with it are still in the future, but a giant step is taken when the importance of inner listening sinks deep within his heart and mind.
The True Jews
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art 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
When the seeker attempts to follow more diligently the inner voice many problems occur. He seeks to do numerous good works, but they often seem to come to naught or backfire on him. His efforts are often not seen or recognized by others and he feels unappreciated. Nothing is overlooked by the inner Christ, however. He sees all, and if the seeker will listen again to the voice he will hear “I know your works.”
When he hears this he realizes that all his efforts are seen for what they truly are and eventually will yield fruit.
The second thing the seeker must face is “tribulation.” The inner voice guides him toward “the path less traveled” and he makes decisions that go against the grain of friends, family and authority figures. He finds many people coming out of the woodwork to get in his way, slow him down and even cause him serious trouble and danger.
The third thing he faces is poverty. Often, the inner voice will lead him in directions that will cost him everything he owns and more. It may also cost him his friends, loved ones and his reputation. He may start feeling sorry for himself, but when he listens to the voice he hears encouragement: “I know thy poverty, but thou art rich.”
Then when he reflects on this he will say to himself. “Would I trade the riches of the Spirit and communion with the inner Christ for all the riches in the world?”
After a short reflection he comes to the only possible answer, which is that he would not make such a trade, or even consider it. If he then has something of more value than all the riches of the world he is not poor, but rich beyond measure.
Perhaps he will reflect on the parable of Jesus:
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
“And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
The verse in Revelation continues: “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
This illustrates a theme that keeps repeating in these instructions. First, the aspirant has to see through false apostles; then he encounters false followers of Nicolas, the Nicolaitans. Finally, he encounters false Jews.
So what is the difference here between a real Jew and a false Jew? The answer can be found in the fact that we are told what a false Jew is. Once we know what a false Jew is, then identifying what is meant by a true Jew will be fairly easy.
The false Jew is one who worships at “the synagogue of Satan.” It would follow then a true Jew is one who worships at the synagogue of the one true God.
It is a given that the true Jew will worship, but notice that the false Jew at the synagogue of Satan also worships. Satan in the Greek means “adversary” and is, of course, an adversary to God. Few will knowingly worship an adversary to God but many will do it in ignorance. It is written that, “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him” (the Beast), except those with the name of God in their foreheads.” Rev 13:8; 14:1-2
It is safe then to assume that it is the many, not the few, who worship at the synagogue of Satan. We can also assume that such people are deceived into thinking that their worship is toward God, when in reality it is toward the adversary of God or antichrist.
The difference between the two synagogues must be understood. In the synagogue of Satan, the people worship not the true God, which speaks through the soul within, but follow and worship according to outer voices that tell them what the mind of God is they are to follow.
The true Jew worships at the alter within and gives reverence to the inner voice above all the noise of the outer ones.
We shall discuss this concept in detail when we examine the Beast and his power over the hearts of men.
Notice that the inner Christ tells us that the false Jews are guilty of blasphemy. This was the same offense that brought Jesus himself to anger. The false Jews are blasphemous because all they teach about God does not harmonize with their works, even as was the case with the authorities who persecuted the Master.
The true Jews are they who practice what they preach. If they teach about a God of love, for instance, they will not be speaking in the next breath of hellfire, damnation and death to those who displease them. If they speak of helping the poor they will be willing to do so out of their own substance instead of other people’s money. If they speak of worshipping God they will look where He can be found (which is within) rather than where He is not (outer voices).
After the greatest clouds, the sun. Alan of Lille
Jan 5, 2007
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