It was a most powerful moment in the narrative of the Son of God’s mortal journey to that day; a moment of fight, flight or forfeit the first two options for Him and His eleven disciples. Hours earlier He had already forewarned His disciples they would all “be made to stumble (fall away) because of” Him as with Him, they were all about to experience the fulfillment of just over a 500 year-old Bible prophecy He quoted to them (Matthew 26:31-32, NKJV). They heard His words and the prophecy loud and clear. As a result, Peter in the full splendor of his natural manhood and earnest devotion immediately locked in on the possibility he would desert Christ and denied it (Matthew 26:33).
In the face of Peter’s heartfelt, testosterone driven confidence, the Lord gave him his own personal prophecy about what his actions would be. Again, Peter denied any such thing would happen with him (never mind, it was God in the flesh telling him so) and the other disciples asserted the same for themselves also; all missing the Lord’s prophecy of His resurrection in the process (Matthew 26:34-35). It was after His time in prayer alone that the moment of the Lord’s betrayal and arrest came (Luke 22:47-48; John 18:1-9). True to their loyalty, the eleven all seeing what was happening and coming next queried the Lord for His command to draw swords to fight (Luke 22:49).
Perhaps anxious to prove just how deadly serious he had been hours before, Peter sprung into action ahead of any word from the Lord and struck a blow to the head of the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear (Luke 22:50; John 18:10). All four Gospels record this part of the event; three, the response of the Lord Jesus to Peter directly and all of the disciples indirectly which are telling. He commands Peter to put his sword back in its place admonishing “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” (Matthew 26:52; John 18:11, NKJV). Having already proven He alone could have fought weaponless, the Lord further instructs Peter His Father had His back too (Matthew 26:53).
While healing the severed ear of the high priest’s servant, the Lord Jesus also commanded Peter and all of His disciples to “Permit even this” (His arrest and all that would follow) because it was fulfilling God’s foreordained plan written in Scripture (Matthew 26:54; Luke 22:51, NKJV). This truth according to Matthew, He also asserted to those that were arresting Him, Luke adding very importantly for us in this post: “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” “Then,” as He had prophesied to them, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled,” (Matthew 26:55-56; Luke 22:52-53, NKJV); there being no fight and surrender to certain harm completely out of the question.
As the Lord leads, I write this post to the glory of God and for our encouragement in follow up to last week’s sober word from Bible prophecy and current events concerning the intensifying persecution of Christians abroad and at home.1 In that post, I also quoted Luke 22:53 to answer why persecution is intensifying and here to stay until the Lord returns. Truly, as the permitted hour for the world of fallen humanity that included those who were religious, but without God and the kingdom of darkness that governs it came upon our Lord Jesus Christ, so, as He repeatedly warned, it has come and comes upon those of us who faithfully follow Him (Matthew 10:24-25; John 13:16, 15:20).
Indeed, the persecution of Christians is not new. What is different about now, though, is that the widening scope and intensity in the earth is a prophetic sign we have come into the latter weeks of the final spiritual trimester of pregnancy before the manifest birth of God’s Kingdom on earth. This is Satan and the world’s last hooray and they will make the most of it; suffering the birth pains God brings on them in judgment and inflicting the same to the extent they can on Jews and Christians as His elect (Matthew 10:16-23; Revelation 12:7-17). Not what you signed up for when you decided to become a Christian? Then, you did not take the terms Christ plainly lays out for all that will follow Him as a disciple seriously or fear has gripped you (Luke 9:18-26, 57-62, 12:49-53, 14:25-35).
You would not be alone dealing with fear in the face of harm since it is a part of our natural design as human beings. In the natural, Peter and the other disciples fled the scene when they saw that the Lord’s plan was not to fight. In fairness to them, though He had been telling them He was about to suffer at the hands of Israel’s religious leaders and Roman authorities representing the Gentiles, His disciples had not understood why this hour of darkness had to come. His cause at that moment was not yet one for them to die for. But even as they watched His suffering from afar, He was still teaching and modeling for them His way as God’s Son, the Messiah; still shining as the “light of the world” and hope in darkness to those of us who believe on Him (John 8:12, 9:1-5, NKJV).
1 See the November 29, 2020 post, Persecution Of American Christians Intensifying, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
Having just spent time giving serious thanks to God for all of His blessings this Thanksgiving, the Lord again directs my attention to the persecution being suffered by my Christian brethren among many nations. Though I do not write a lot about the ongoing persecution of Christians, I stay regularly informed and prayerful for all. The aforementioned “all” includes not just the suffering faces of those in faraway lands such as North Korea and Nigeria, but increasingly, those enduring persecution in this Western hemisphere and our own nation. Truly, growing hostility toward and persecution of Bible believing Christians in America is a reality that can no longer be dismissed as only isolated.
As a supporter of similarly named, but organizationally unrelated Open Doors USA, our Ministry regularly receives their reports on what is happening among our persecuted Christian brethren around the world.1 Not only are our brethren suffering from family and community exclusion within the nations they live, but government harassment, arrests, unfair trials, incarceration, legally sanctioned mob violence and martyrdom. When the Christian men are targeted for incarceration or murder, it leaves their families to suffer. While Communist and Islamic run nations fill the list of persecutors, nations such as Christian Eritrea, Hindu India and Buddhist Bhutan are also prominent.2
It is about to get really real for those of us that profess to be Christians in America too. Intensifying opposition to the biblical faith once on the fringe of American society is going mainstream. Moral tenets of the faith once taken for granted as absolute and bedrock to American society are not only being challenged, but cast down as no longer acceptable. These are not just tenets governing marriage and family for example, but definitions of objective truth, right and wrong, good and evil as well as justice and injustice. In the wake of this swiftly moving river of moral upheaval, Christians that would dare stand firm for the moral tenets of our faith are suffering varying degrees of persecution.
Besides the “in-your-face” government policies and litigations to remove crosses and nativity scenes as public displays of Christianity to implement falsely believed constitutionally mandated church and state separation, some Christians have suffered being demoted or fired from employment because they had Bibles at their work stations or read them on breaks. And because many secular entities have a “corporate culture” now, that does not tolerate religious expression (though, they publicly trumpet “inclusion” and “diversity” as values), being hired a Christian with a social media presence may be very difficult and once hired, witnessing Christ to co-workers is out.3
American secular colleges and universities that have historically celebrated tolerating various viewpoints as a means in the process of vigorous, but polite debate to sharpen the thinking of young minds have in too many instances today, hung out the “not welcome” sign to a biblical worldview. Biblically conservative Christian students are routinely singled out and held up to ridicule for their faith. Christian professors do not escape either.4 The secular media regularly ignores and mocks Christians that hold to a biblical worldview being quick only to report on high profile “Televangelists” and “Megachurch Pastors” whose sins come to light, while social media giants resist them.5
As I have also commented in other posts, a number of American Christians have been purposely targeted and martyred in mass shootings such as the one at Columbine High School in 1999 along with churches as occurred in Charleston, SC in 2015 and Sutherland Springs, TX in 2017.6 In agreement with all other observers here, none of what American Christians have suffered to date compares with the daily egregious and violent persecution our overseas brethren endure--yet! Praying for “the persecuted church” like it is some disconnected entity that exists only in non-exceptional, often impoverished nations of the world is about to change as persecutors intensify their efforts in America.7 And why? It is their “hour and the power of darkness,” (Luke 22:52-53, NKJV).
For this reason, beyond seeking to sensitize us to the ongoing suffering of our brethren wherever they are as a primary reason for this post, exhorting faithful American Christians to spiritually, mentally and emotionally prepare for the kind of hatred fed persecution our overseas brethren experience is an important secondary reason since our Lord has warned it is to occur in “all nations,” (Matthew 10:16-39, 24:9, NKJV).8 Now, is the time to awake from arrogance and apathy to get ready for what our Lord foretells and assures will take place. Among the equipping resources available is my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics and related group studies.9 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 The organizational parent of Strong Man Ministries is Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. I was led by the Lord to found August 12, 1985. Read some of the
stories of persecuted Christians among the many countries on the 2020 World Watch List of Open Doors USA.
2 What many of our brethren overseas “normally” suffer from their persecutors has been intensified during the Lord’s Coronavirus judgment. As we are banding together
with other Christians to help and encourage one another here at home, the Lord would have us remember our suffering persecuted brethren in those faraway lands
with tangible support as well (1 John 3:16-18).
3 Sadly, our military as a work place is no exception. Read about the case of Chaplain Curt Cizek.
4 To learn more about the experience of Christians on American campuses read the following ACLJ, Beliefnet and IsChristianityTrue articles.
5 I can attest to the heavy-handed resistance of Facebook to biblically conservative ministries such as this one among the social media giants. “Likes” to our pages by
Christians mysteriously dwindle after I write blogs or make posts on their platform that are not politically correct, tolerant etc. which the Lord has had me call them on.
They want me to believe that just making better posts and spending more money to “boost” them will remedy the situation though, such has not been the case since
they also limit the reach of the same. For the record, I do understand a to be expected number of professed Christians that formerly liked our Facebook pages are sub-
ject to “unlike” them at any time as a show of disagreement with me. I get that, but not what Facebook is doing which lately has even taken away page likes whenever
someone has liked a post! I urge Christians that have liked our pages and those of other ministries to check back periodically especially if you have not received a post
in your newsfeeds for a time and re-like the pages if necessary. Also, enlist other Christians on Facebook to like our pages after you have done so.
6 Read for example, the June 8, 2014 post, And Then There Is The War, under the category, instruction. Revisit the cited respective church shootings at the following
links Charleston, SC and Sutherland Springs, TX.
7 See the November 12, 2017 post, God’s Throwaways?, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
8 Read the two-part post beginning May 17, 2020, Persecution, Hatred And Betrayal, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
9 A print copy or digital download of the book published by the Publishing Division of Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. with fresh editing in 2019 for greater clari-
ty and updated web addresses in the footnotes is available at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only).
You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store. Too, leaders can teach, disciple and equip through The Strong Man Of God Men’s Group Study and The
Great Woman Of God Women’s Group Study also in the Strong Man Store.
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