“Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. BUT BEFORE ALL THESE (capitals mine), they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers FOR MY NAME’S SAKE (capitals mine).”
One of the very first posts on my website Comfort One Another, which I released on January 7, 2017, was all about Christian Persecution. I am absolutely amazed in just the two years since that post how prevalent Christian (as well as Jewish) persecution has increased globally. Even more, here in the United States, the former bastion of freedom of religion and speech, persecution of Christians has risen dramatically during that same time! In trying to determine why, I came across the Scripture above which highlighted something I had never seen or noticed before!
Most of us are aware of Matthew 24 & 25, commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. This is where Jesus was on the Mount of Olives and mentioned some coming events to His disciples regarding the Last Days. They wanted to know more and they famously asked Him in Matthew 24:3 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the signs of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” What did Jesus tell them? Note what he said in Matthew 24:7-9:
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. ALL THESE ARE THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS. THEN (capitals mine) shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
Do you see the major difference between Matthew and Luke describing basically the same event? In Matthew, Jesus said wars, rumors of war, famines, pestilence and earthquakes would be the BEGINNINGS of the sorrows leading up to the Last Days. However in Luke 21 above He says BEFORE these things happen, they (the disciples) would be persecuted for His name sake, i.e. for being Christian! In other words if the two are combined, from the time Jesus walked on this earth until His Second Coming, He prophesied those who followed Him WOULD BE PERSECUTED because of their belief in Him. Those who were His disciples would be persecuted BEFORE the convergence of all the signs and all the rest of us throughout the last 2,000 years will also be persecuted as the events unfold. For a very detailed look at Christian persecution during these past 2,000 years I strongly would urge you to read John Foxe’s Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World written in the mid 1500’s which details the horrific punishments inflicted on those professing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The events foretold will continue and gain in frequency and intensity BUT the persecution will continue.
I have often heard people try to debunk Biblical End Times prophecy with the statement “We have always had wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. What makes today different?” Peter said it succinctly in 2 Peter 3:3-4; “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the LAST DAYS (capitals mine) scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” And yes, we have always had persecution, especially of the Jews. But we were also told the “sorrows” will greatly increase in frequency AND intensity leading up to Christ’s return at Armageddon. To put this all in context, Jesus was talking to His disciples who had asked Him what the signs would be before He returned. He responded sating they would be persecuted for His name. However, He also said every believing Christian for the past 2,000 years willing to tell others about their belief in Jesus would also risk persecution. Remember, it is the “…scoffers, walking after their own lusts” who will be doing the persecutions, purposefully ignoring what the Bible says exactly as Satan would want them to do!
The major difference, the one that is rampant today, is the governmental increasing disdain for Christianity, not just by those individuals who have already rejected His Word. Think about what has transpired recently in the U.S.:
- Vice President Pence’s wife Karen was publicly rebuked for wanting to return to teaching art at a Christian school in Virginia. Chris Stoop, the creator of #ExposeChristianSchools, asked graduates of Christian schools to tell others about “how traumatizing those bastions of bigotry are”.
- During the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it was inferred his Jesuit high school was nothing more than a place where young men were trained to be sexual perverts. Was it? Not a bit of evidence was ever shown to validate that claim but it still made headlines throughout the media and almost derailed his nomination.
- Recently, a bunch of Catholic high school boys were in Washington DC participating in the March for Life rally, an anti-abortion, pro-life event. They were confronted by a Native American activist who claimed he was bullied by the boys (who were wearing MAGA hats). It wasn’t until the full tape was released did it show he actually was the one doing the harassing and yet one of the anchors on the Today Show later asked the young man if he felt he needed to apologize for his inappropriate actions (?) while asking the Native American how he was doing, how he felt about being harassed (?).
- Less than a week ago a bill was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives which would change the swearing in of those testifying before them from “So help me God” to “Under penalty of law”. Candidly, we must fully understand whose law they want enforced. Their law or God’s LAW? I believe we all know the answer to that one! “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax WORSE AND WORSE (capitals mine), deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13.
- How many recall the infamous statement Barack Obama made when running for President in April 2008 to describe people in primarily “red” states? “They cling to their guns or their religion.” I truly believe he was not speaking of Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. He was referring to Christians! That statement was a precursor to his presidency’s legacy of anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, pro-Muslim actions and set the stage for “approved” governmental escalation of the persecution of Christians right here in the U.S.
- Speaking of President Obama’s anti-Christian policies, are you aware in 2013 his Department of Defense issued an official policy that stated “Religious Proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense which automatically included ALL Chaplains in the U.S. military? This overruled 200+ years of an official U.S. policy that encouraged Chaplains and military personnel to practice their faith. Under Obama’s reign Chaplains were not able to tell soldiers about Jesus and were forced to perform same sex marriages!
- The 1963 United States Supreme Court (aka the Warren court) declared no prayer or Bible reading would be allowed in public schools. Amazingly, today we hear the Quran IS being taught in some schools to help our children better understand the “diversity” of Muslims.
- Arizona recently requested two Christian artists serve 6 months in jail for refusing to paint for a same sex wedding. This seems very similar to case of the baker in Colorado who took his case to the Supreme Court and upon winning was later charged with a similar crime. All this to intimidate Christians!
- It makes sense one of the most Democratic Party despised Presidents in U.S. history, Donald J. Trump, recently tweeted his support for pending state laws bringing the Bible back into public schools to be taught. Currently six states – Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia are attempting to pass laws which would allow the teaching of the Bible in public schools. Of course, his comments were lambasted by the media aligned with the far left. Why is this important? Since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the U.S. has since been mightily and economically Blessed (remember Genesis 12:3? “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee…”); he selected a VP who is an avowed Christian; he has appointed judges to various courts who subscribe to the continuing rights of Freedom of Religion AND Freedom of Speech as incorporated in the U.S. Constitution; he has prayers said before his cabinet meetings; and, let’s not forget he won the White House against all odds in order to accomplish all these things. He even has said the Bible is the BEST book ever written, even better than The Art of the Deal. Not to get political but does anyone really believe all these things would have happened under a different president? Like him or not, you have to believe he was put into this position for a reason, perhaps as part of God’s Plan FINAL for America.
- Finally, this is happening all around the world. Recently a Canadian Christian was charged with “hate crime” for distributing Jesus Saves pamphlets at a gay pride march and now faces up to 2 years in prison. He also was fired from his job before going to trial. His point was Jesus will save people if they only repent of their sins. It will only get worse!!!
Why do so many people hate Christians so much? What harm are we doing to them by trying to try to live up to God’s standards? Maybe because the lies of Satan are believed by so many who see Jesus and His followers as an impediment to the future rule of Satan. Let me be clear. There is NO salvation for anyone who does not choose Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Tough rhetoric? Yes, but true!
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, AGAINST (capitals mine) the Lord, and AGAINST (capitals mine) his anointed (Christians), saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
As prophesied, we are in the Last Days and our persecution will increase because of our faith and belief in Jesus Christ which is an anathema to all who have rejected Him. Their only response is to ultimately minimize or eliminate us because we stand in the way of their “savior” Satan gaining global control. It is Satan who ultimately is persecuting us in order to achieve his vain (and impossible) attempt to exalt himself ABOVE God. If they don’t know Jesus, they will persecute us!
“Remember the word that I said unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord, If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they KNOW NOT HIM THAT SENT ME (capitals mine).”
While many Christians may be fearful or dread the possibility of being persecuted or killed for their belief in Jesus, He also told us in Revelation 3:10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee (via the Rapture) from the hour of temptation (the Tribulation), which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Our Blessed hope is for Jesus’s soon Return at the Rapture to “snatch” away His Believers in the “twinkling of an eye”. Yes, we will endure persecution until then but because of our faith and belief in Him we should look forward to spending eternity with Him in Heaven! Believe in Him and be comforted His Ultimate Plan will be completed exactly as He promised. If this is comforting to you as it is to me, please pass the Word along and do what He told us to do and that is to “…therefore comfort one another with these words.”
May God Bless you!