7719 - Persecution

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Let’s look together at Luke 21:12-19. Listen to the words:

"But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them.

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

Those words “before all this” refer back to the words of Jesus regarding the coming of the end. In those end times in which we are presently living, many of God’s children are called upon to face persecution for our faith. Some will be brought before governing bodies. Such governing bodies in some countries serve as both the spiritual authority and the civil authority. That’s the way the Jewish synagogues were during the ministry of Jesus.

Those Jewish officials had schemed for most of three years during which Jesus ministered. They grew increasingly hostile until the end, and finally arrested Jesus for no good cause.

Now Jesus is telling these disciples that before he returns to earth as the conquering king, many Christians will likewise be apprehended and brought before kings and governors, simply because they hold allegiance to the name of Jesus Christ.

In past decades in the history of the United States this was a strange idea. We could not comprehend that someone would be persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Our citizens have been protected by God’s grace. But the national attitude is changing. There is opposition to spiritual matters.

In the world today, this is a phenomena that is easily understood. The hostile forces of evil under the leadership of the devil, are strongly at work in many counties. They are bringing harassment and persecution against those who love and acknowledge the name of Jesus Christ.

The whole world has heard the report of two young ladies who were placed in prison because, in their compassion, they shared the message of eternal life with people who desperately needed it and who were eager to hear.

But notice the positive words Jesus shares. These situations of persecution are opportunities for witnessing to the grace of God and his loving kindness.

Make up your mind ahead of time not to worry how you will defend yourself in these tests. Such an attitude is found in Psalm 108, verses 6 & 7, which say, “With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me: The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.”

Contemplate for a moment. What can man do to me? Yes, they can beat me and torture me, or even put me to death. But God has promised he would not permit you to be tested beyond what you can bear. He is the one who strengthens us in such situations. He even gives the words of witness according to his knowledge and grace.

The final thing our tormentors can do is take away our earthly life, but that only permits the angels to usher us into our Savior’s presence. That is victory! We win in that situation.

The wretched ones, in such cases, are those who hear the good news witness and give no heed. They close their ears and harden their heart.

Remember, God is a just God. They will be called to give account for their refusal. Then they will pass into eternal suffering.

Notice that in some cases even family members will be the accusers. Friends may turn against you.

As the time gets worse and evil prevails, Jesus says that in many cases, all men will hate you because of me.

By standing firm in your faith, though, you will save yourself.