"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the Children of God! Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:9-12).
"The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. ... But all these things will they do unto you for My Name's sake, because they know not him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth Me hateth My Father also." (John 15:20-23)
"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions. ... What persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and has been assured of." (2Tim.3:10-41)
"There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come Eternal Life." (Mark 10:29,30)
"Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One." (Acts 7:52) "Wherefore," Jesus says of our enemies, "behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify: and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city." (Matthew 23:34)
"Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute. That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation." (Luke 11:49,50). "... 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. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. ... And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls. ... When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh. ... This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." (Luke 21).
But Jesus said of some weaker brethren that "when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended." ... "And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the Word's sake, immediately they are offended." (Matthew 13:21 ; Mark 4:16,17).
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." ... "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." (2Cor.4:8,9 ; Matthew 10:21-23)
"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44). "Our God shall fight for us!" ... "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord!" (Nehemiah 4 ; Rom.12:19).
"Stand back and see Me fight, saith the LORD. ... For the battle is not yours, but God's!" (2Chron.20:15).
"So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2Thes.1:4-12).
So you see, persecution is not bad, but good, and good for you! It is persecution with a purpose! First of all, it is good for you! It purges, purifies, and makes white, as the Lord brings out in Daniel 11:35 and 12:10. It tests your devotion and loyalty to Him and His, and keeps you closely dependent on Him, crying out for help! It purifies you and makes you mean business! It sees whether you've got what it takes, if you really love Him and His all the way!
Second, it purges the ranks of those that don't mean business and who are not devoted, loyal and true, and who will not be faithful unto the end, but who, like Judas, will cop out under pressure and turn on you and betray you rather than suffer and die for you! It really shows you who's who in your own ranks, and who is going to be dependable when even greater pressure comes! It may even sweep away over thirty thousand who are afraid, and leave you with only a Gideon's Band of three hundred who have real faith and real courage, and will fight to the death!
Third, it will really show you who your enemies are and what to expect from them! It separates the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the tares! They are exposed, and they expose themselves by stepping out to fight against you! It brings them to a decision and action against you so God can expose your enemies, so even the world will know who they are and remember when God judges them, thus vindicating you and your Message and condemning them for their wickedness!
Fourth, it also shows who you are, the true Prophets of God, and that your Message is the truth, by the very fact that they persecute you. It also shows you are worthy of the calling God has given you, because you have not looked back in time of tribulation, much less deserted your plough and gone back! It shows that you deserve the rewards, Salvations, and blessings God is about to give you! It shows who the good guys really are! Praise the Lord!
Fifth, it also shows you've done a good job, delivered your soul, warned the wicked, and finished the job! By the time the Enemy starts persecuting, it shows you have really gotten the Message out! You've gotten a few disciples amongst those who received it, and stirred up a hornet's nest amongst those who rejected it! You've brought division, and the issues and side are both made clear--who's right and who's wrong, who's received and who's rejected! You've reaped the harvest of believers, made clear the righteousness of God in judging the rest, and it's time for you to get out of the way so he can clobber them! When they make it too hard to carry on, it's time to move!--When they make it too difficult to witness and win souls!
Sixth, now that you're out of the way, god can bring his judgments on those who first rejected your Message and finally rejected you, and He can show His righteousness in so doing, because their wickedness has been made clear! This is the last stage for your enemies! When they start persecuting you, their own end is at hand, and God is about to persecute them!
Seventh, you continue on God's way, giving some other city or land their chance! Hallelujah!
As we were asking the Lord the other day why we were receiving so much persecution at this particular time, He immediately gave us this rather unusual Scripture in 2Thes.1 , particularly the sixth verse, and the word's "to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you." In other words, God wants to judge those who are judging us! And as you can see by the above, it's a good sign that we've done a good job and are almost finished, and certainly finished in some of the areas where they are giving us the most trouble.
Note that in verse four the Lord commends you for your patience and faith in all these persecutions and tribulations. Then He explains in verse five that these persecutions and tribulations are a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God in judging our enemies the way He's going to judge them, because of the way they have treated us, their persecution of us personally being the most manifest evidence that they have rejected His Message and therefore deserve and are ready for, His judgments upon them!
Their very persecution also shows that you are counted worthy of His Kingdom because you have shown your willingness to suffer for it. Verse six shows that God is now going to be justified in tribulating those who tribulate you, as they have clearly shown their true nasty colours and that they are on the Devil's side, having rejecting both the Message and you!
He then comforts you with verse seven, telling you who are troubled not to worry, but to rest assured that their time is coming when He will take vengeance on them (verse eight), on both those who know not God and those that obey not the Gospel, two classes of persecutors: the world, who doesn't even know the Lord, and the disobedient church who is furious at you for exposing them!
Both will be punished (verse nine)--the world with destruction, and the disobedient with exile from His presence, both now and when He comes (verse ten). So we pray for you (verse eleven) that God will count you worthy of this calling by your fulfilling His good pleasure in enduring such affliction by completing your work of faith with power, so that even your persecution may be a final testimony, your final witness, your martyrdom, and the completion of your job, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you! (verse twelve). Praise the Lord!
THe very fact that they are persecuting us and troubling us shows that God is righteous in judging them. And they'll remember how they persecuted the righteous. They'll remember as they burn in Hell. They'll be ashamed. The persecutions and tribulations are a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God. The very fact that they are persecuting you shows that God is righteous in judging them.
God is going to show HIs righteousness even in you, that you are worthy. He shows His righteousness in two things: in the horrible judgments He is about to pour out on your enemies, and also His righteousness in exalting you!
That last thing that Israel did was to throw Jeremiah in jail and try to kill him--And that was the end. And the enemies conquered the city and nation and pulled Jeremiah out themselves! God will turn around and give your enemies such tribulation as they never dreamed before! I dare say if any town going to fall in the drink, it will be San Diego because of the trouble they have caused us! (See Mountainslide - A warning of God's judgements to fall on California)
The proclamation of the MEssage comes first, then the saving of those who receive it, then persecution of the saviours, and their departure, and finally, the rod of judgment falls on the enemies! A few prophets are martyred and suffer, for God always leaves a few to have a witness, even to behold the destruction of the wicked so the prophets can say, "I told you so," and even in God's mercy to reap a few more souls turned to the Lord by His judgments, and also to preserve this remnant like Jeremiah did! Jesus had to die but the Disciples lived through it! In fact, the majority of God's children have usually lived to help carry on. The martyrs are actually the exceptions, just examples of the dedication of His witnesses! Suffering and persecution are universal, but martyrs are usually exceptions, like Wurmbrandt! God delivers us one way or another, either physically or by death! Whether we live or die, praise the Lord! We're saved either way!
So this is a very encouraging sign when they begin to attack you and persecute you! Your job is just about done, and when they get finished with their job on you, God will start on them! Why worry about a city that's rejected the Message? There are always those who are eagerly awaiting to receive it and you! Keep moving. Stay as long as you can in order to do a good job, gather a few believers and teach them, and warn the wicked, but then when the wicked definitely show that they have rejected it and you by making the persecution so rough that you're too hindered in carrying on the Lord's Work, your job is done there. Get out so God can judge them and take vengeance on them for you. Their cup of iniquity is full and there's nothing left for them but the judgments of God! Don't waste your time on them any further--the dry tree that's ready to burn--the dry dead branches that are about to be cast into the fire! Move on to greener fields and greener trees who will receive you!
This all follows the pattern of: first, reception by those who believe, put into action by forsaking all to follow as disciples. And then, open rejection by the unbelievers crystalising into active antagonism and opposition by those who are determined not to follow, but fight and persecute us! And so the job is done: the truth is preached, lived, believed, received and followed by some until the harvest is reaped, which then leaves the tare standing alone--the vicious goats from which the sheep have been separated and who now begin to butt at us with their horns and to try to trample on us, their wicked hearts hardened against us!
That their decision against the truth may be manifest, they take an open stand as the enemies of the truth, that their judgment may be sure and God's justice vindicated in destroying them, while His true servants move on to other harvest fields which have not yet been reaped. This is the same pattern repeated over and over throughout all history in all ages: the preaching of the truth followed by the reaping of the harvest of true disciples, followed by judgment upon their enemies after God's people have left or been removed from the scene, driven out by persecution or fleeing according to God's warning to escape from the wrath to come!
This is also the same pattern used by the Lord Himself at the end: The faithful witnesses who have warned the world and won disciples are removed completely out of the world in the Rapture, followed by the wrath of God on their wicked opponents who are left behind, as in Rev.14: First, an angel gets the Gospel to everyone, verse six; the true followers, the Bride of Christ, are warned to separate themselves from the False Church, the wicked Whore, Babylon, verse eight (and 18:4), and not to accept the mark of the bestial Antichrist System!
When this separation is completed through purging by persecution from both Babylon and the Beast, verses 12 and 13, the Lord Himself returns to remove His true followers from the earth, verses 14 through 16, the Lord's own harvest of saved souls, and then His angels of judgment wreak His wrath on the enemies left behind, reaping the wicked grapes of wrath and casting them into the winepress of His judgments, for having rejected the truth and for persecuting His prophets!
God's pattern for His people is therefore almost identical throughout all Scripture and history, even to the very end: Witnessing, reaping, persecution, flight, wrath!
The tactics of God's tiny minority of prophets have usually been the hit-and-run guerrilla warfare with commando raids: invade suddenly without warning; strike hard with the truth; release the prisoners; and then run when the enemy begins to awaken and strike back! The carnal revolutionary forces of this world are imitating these very same tactics in their revolution against the massively, numerically, and powerfully superior colossal war machines of the gigantic systems of this world.
As a result, these tiny rebel bands have been able to survive, withstand the attacks of the huge, organised armies, and prevent their winning or achieving their goals for years on end, while the rebel bands grow in strength and numbers, but keep on the move to avoid annihilation!
"You can't fight City Hall!" When the Lord has used you to release enough of the Devil's prisoners to get the parents and the System stirred up against you, and City Hall starts fighting you, it's time to go to greener, more peaceful fields and start the process all over again!
This even resembles the course of nature, or God's creation: In the peaceful sunny beauty of the bright Spring sunshine, the farmer goes forth to plow and to plant, to fertilise and to nurture; and throughout the warm Summer months, he tends the tiny new plants and protects them as they grow, defending them from the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, and the bugs and weeds of the earth, reaping a ripe harvest in the Fall, which he hides away in barns and garners, or ships to other places, until he himself retreats to the protection of his own hideaway as Winter's cold stormy blasts begin their damaging death-dealing blows, which also sends the birds, the beasts, and the bugs, the crops' former foes, running for cover, destroying many of them, thus keeping God's proper balance in His Creation. Otherwise, if the harvest were not gathered and put in a place of safety, and if the farmer did not run for cover, they too, would be destroyed. So you see, it's God's plan for both the harvest and the farmer, both physically and spiritually!
This is why the sad lament for Israel of Jeremiah 8:20 was so tragic: "The harvest is passed; the Summer is ended, and we are not saved!" The time of the harvest was gone for Israel. The good days of Summer were over and the Lord's warning work was finished through Jeremiah! But Israel had not repented, had not obeyed, neither had they fled from the wrath to come as they were warned, so they were destroyed by the attacks of a stronger enemy, and many were taken captive! They refused to flee the city as they were admonished to do, neither would they submit to the rule of the system of the enemy, but chose to fight back, and were destroyed.
Don't let it happen to you! There's a time to take a stand and there's a time to flee! May God help you to know the difference! ...
Israel had a mass exodus once when her task was done in Egypt! She split, so that God could destroy the Egyptians--and Israel was saved, although she had to wander in the wilderness for a long time. But later, when she had settled down to houses and lands and cities and didn't want to move, she refused to exodus and was destroyed by an overpowering enemy, in spite of the warnings of God through Jeremiah and many other prophets!
Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation! Be prepared! Be ready! How many times God has told us to be ready! Are you ready? Therefore, be ye also ready! (Matthew 24:44).
Don't leave unless you have to!--Unless God definitely reveals it to you by direct revelation with a confirmation of your leaders; Or, because the persecution is making it virtually impossible for you to continue to operated, such as, forbidding you to witness, cutting off your police protection, cutting off your source of supplies, suffering constant legal harassment, continual physical violence, or actually losing your housing, etc.--not just the threat of these things!--The Devil is always threatening and breathing out slaughter and trying to bluff you out or merely persuade you to surrender because he cannot actually lick you. We mean the actual suffering, not of just criticism and bad publicity which we'll always suffer, or just little minor harassment attacks, but a truly major attack which could totally destroy the work, as listed above, including specific action against your leadership ..., not just wild rumours, but factual information ... as you'll note several instances of, in the Book of Acts. As we said before, when you've delivered your souls, reaped the harvest, and then the persecution makes it nearly impossible for you to operate any longer in that area: little or no witnessing, no supplies, no protection, no fruit, no home, no leadership and too much persecution! Amen?
I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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