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Some thoughts on persecution

Many years ago I was attending a football game between my university’s team and another university from a nearby city. I don’t remember if we won or lost that game but I do remember there was a guy there handing out pamphlets from an organization called “Athletes in Action” which I looked at briefly. Listed among the group’s objectives was “fighting anti-Christian bigotry in the culture.”

It was the first time I ever came across the term “anti-Christian bigotry” and it prompted me to snort in disgust and declare to my buddy who was sitting next to me that it had to be the stupidest thing I’d ever heard.

This was over twenty years ago, and I was sitting at the time in the great American middle-west, not QUITE the so-called “Buckle of the Bible Belt” but not far from it. So, maybe in the context of that specific time and place my attitude can be understood, if not justified.

But in 2019, in much of what we once called the “Free World” the existence of anti-Christian bigotry is no longer something which can be denied. It is not just an occasionally encountered phenomenon, it is rapidly becoming the norm in polite society and it’s not difficult to imagine that it could very easily become codified in law. It is already the de facto law on many university campuses all over the world and even in some aspects of government policy in countries that, again, are core members of what we once called the “Free World” because they had democratic forms of government.

At the same time, Anti-Semitism, that most ancient of evils, has also made a startling comeback to the mainstream of politics, society and culture in many countries just 70 years after the Nazi Holocaust shocked the world into banishing it to the margins.

What is going on?

I think it’s an entirely predictable outgrowth of the fact that the Enemy knows his time is short and he’s stirring up this hatred in the hearts and minds of those who, whether they’re aware of it or not, are serving his kingdom and its agenda for the human race in this season of history.

The Church, the Jewish People and Israel all remind non-Believers of the Bible and the God who wrote it, which they’d rather not be reminded of. So, they get angry at these things and they lash out at them.

As scary and unpleasant as this phenomenon is, we are told many times in the New Testament that we should expect it and, with all due respect, compared to the persecution suffered by the Church in previous epochs or, for that matter, compared to what is currently being suffered by many of our brethren in the non-Western world, it’s it is, so far, not so bad.

But it’s likely to get worse. A lot worse.

Good thing we’ve got so much encouragement from Scripture, including James 1:2-3 which says “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance”

The Church in much of the Western world is pretty flabby and ineffective because, for most of the last few centuries, it hasn’t really cost anything to be a Believer. Sadly, human nature is such that most people don’t place much value on something that doesn’t cost anything, even if it’s priceless.

That no doubt explains why, historically, the Church has seen the most growth in times of torment and persecution. The “Great End Times Revival” alluded to in the Eschatological prophecies will thus almost certainly be fuelled in large part by the terrible persecution that the Church is also prophesied to suffer during that season.

Are we in that season? It sure is starting to look that way.

But it’s not a time to despair and it’s not a time to be afraid. It’s a time to take courage, be strong and reinvigorate our efforts to serve our King and bring as many people as we can into His Kingdom.

As Luke 21:28 says, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

And, obviously, pray for the Jews and Israelis as God works out His plans and purposes for them by bringing them through these difficult times as well.

Aaron Hecht

Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.

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