PERSECUTED

 

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“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will suffer persecution.” – 2 Timothy 3:12

How often have you heard the topic of persecution being taught on these days? If you faced persecution for your faith like that which the believers did in the Scriptures, would you remain faithful?

No one wants to think they are going to be persecuted for their faith. In fact, it is because of their faith that some believe they won’t be persecuted. “I am walking in the truth” they say, and therefore they believe nothing will happen to them.

What makes these people so special to think they won’t be persecuted?

Are believers greater than the prophets, disciples, or even the Messiah Yeshua who were all persecuted?

Consider:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you for my name’s sake, because they don’t know him who sent me.                  – John 15:18-21

Persecution should come in our life because of the Word of God. That’s all there is to it. The more your life resembles the Word of God, Yeshua, the more chance you have of being persecuted.

Here’s the issue however, all those in the Bible who were persecuted from the Prophets of YHWH to Messiah Yeshua to the disciples, were persecuted by those of the “religious order”. Those who claimed the faith of Abraham.

Think about that, for a minute.

In fact, let’s focus on this issue.

“The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil.” – John 7:7

Some will say this is because it was the Roman Empire that killed Yeshua.

But the Bible says it was Pontius Pilate who wanted to release Yeshua (Luke 23:20). Let’s not forget this. Besides, Yeshua said this long before His crucifixion…at least 6 months before since He said this during the time of Sukkot.

Consider:

“After these things, Yeshua was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Judeans sought to kill him. Now the festival, the Feast of Sukkot, was at hand.” – John 7:1-2

Who was Yeshua testifying against all the time?

It was the religious leaders who Yeshua likens to “the world”.

“The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil.” – John 7:7

“After these things, Yeshua was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Judeans sought to kill him. Now the festival, the Feast of Sukkot, was at hand.” – John 7:1-2

So, if your persecution comes from those who “claim” the faith of Abraham or from people who claim no faith at all…do not be surprised…they are only rejecting the whole Word of YHWH.

Is persecution a bad thing?

Well, if you are looking to this world for acceptance, then it would appear not to be a good thing.

However, if your goals are life everlasting, then remember it is only a temporary thing…and perhaps a good thing.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all

kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly

glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted

the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

Though our human nature rejects it, it shouldn’t be considered foreign in the life of one who walks in the whole Word of YHWH. It’s to be expected, even. If you are looking to this world for acceptance or even to be esteemed, then please, consider this warning from Messiah Yeshua:

“Woe, when all men speak well of you, for their fathers did the same thing to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:26

The key phrase here is: “all men”.

When you proclaim and live the whole Word of YHWH you are bound to have someone speak evil about you.

Many associate persecutions with the Tribulation and the End-Times, but that is not the only time persecution will happen. Or maybe it’s best to say…it’s not the only time it should happen.

Persecution will indeed take place in the Tribulation, but the Scriptures are clear that persecution should be expected in our everyday walk.

Consider Paul’s words:

For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:4

The Apostle, Paul went through persecution, it was nothing new to his life…as it says here:

“For we don’t desire to have you uninformed, brothers, concerning our affliction which happened to us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, so much that we despaired even of life. Yes, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us out of so great a death, and does deliver; on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us; you also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gift given to us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on your behalf.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Paul elaborates even more in chapter 11:

“Are they servants of Messiah? (I speak as one beside himself.) I am more so: in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, and in deaths often. Five times I received forty stripes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep. I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.” – 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

This brings things into perspective, doesn’t it?

It’s easy to remove ourselves from a situation, when it is not happening directly to us. But when it does happen to us, what do we do? What should we do? What should our attitude be in the face of persecution because of our faith?

Should we grumble and complain? Should we declare to the Father, “We have rights! What’s going on?!”

Consider Paul’s attitude in Corinthians:

“We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure.” – 1 Corinthians 4:12

Even better than this consider what Yeshua did…

“Have this in your mind, which was also in Messiah Yeshua, 6who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, yes, the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8

…and…

“He was oppressed,

yet when he was afflicted he didn’t open his mouth.

As a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he didn’t open his mouth.” – Isaiah 53:7

Some will say, “Yeah, this is Yeshua and Paul…of course they’re going to be persecuted and handle it the right way!”

But as the Apostle, Peter said:

For you were called to this, because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps, who didn’t sin, “neither was deceit found in his mouth.” When he was cursed, he didn’t curse back. When he suffered, he didn’t threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously.” – 1 Peter 2:21-23

Wow! Think about that, “for you were called to this”. It’s a calling for all believers.

How many times have we heard this preached or taught on?

Hardly ever, right?

But this calling is something we shouldn’t be surprised at. There are many others, in the Scriptures, who suffered while following in the way of righteousness.

Consider:

“But remember the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings; partly, being exposed to both reproaches and oppressions; and partly, becoming partakers with those who were treated so. For you both had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens.” – Hebrews 10:32-34

Consider what is written in the next chapter and what is often called the “Hall of Faith”:

“Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others were tried by mocking and scourging, yes, moreover by bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned. They were sawn apart. They were tempted. They were slain with the sword. They went around in sheep skins and in goat skins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering in deserts, mountains, caves, and the holes of the earth. These all, having had testimony given to them through their faith, didn’t receive the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” – Hebrews 11:35

Consider what this is saying. “the world was not worthy” of them.

How awesome would it be to have this said of you and me?

Persecution for our faith shouldn’t be foreign to us…even from those who claim the faith, as well. It should be a reminder that we are truly not of this world. We are supposed to be just “pilgrims” and “strangers” passing through, right?

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” – Hebrews 11:13

and

“If you call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man’s work, pass the time of your living as foreigners here in reverent fear” – 1 Peter 1:17

and

“Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” – 1 Peter 2:11

So, even though we live in the world, let’s not forget that we are not part of the world. We will be called names, excluded from events, considered crazy or in a cult, they will roll their eyes at us, and the list goes on and on. And this list will grow more aggressive as the days we live in become darker and darker.

Our only concern should be, the treatment we receive is only because we are living out the Word of YHWH. If our persecution comes from any other reason it is because we deserve it then.

“For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating? But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering, this is commendable with God.” – 1 Peter 2:20

Our life should exemplify our Saviors walk in every aspect. That should be our goal in life. And we should rejoice in whatever it brings our way.

Consider the words of James when talking about “trials”:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James (Jacob) 1:2-4

Trials and tribulations, temptations and persecutions are a sign that we are not of this world. We are just passing through. We are in the process of being made into His image and not of a product of this world.

As Yeshua said:

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” – Matthew 12:30

As we move forward in time, the line of division will only become more defined as to what side someone is on. Sin (lawlessness) will just get worse and worse in this world. This will cause everyone to stand either on one side (with Yeshua) or the other (the world) and all will have to make that choice eventually.

So, what is this line that will become more defined?

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

This is the line that brings division. This is what causes hatred to flow out of others towards believers, that is those who stand with the whole Word of YHWH.

Compare Yeshua’s words as He continues:

“Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s foes will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36

Think about that, “A man’s foes will be those of his own household”.

When you stand with Yeshua and proclaim the whole Word of YHWH, the Father…your persecution will come from all angles. And as we get closer to the time of Yeshua’s return, that persecution will most likely escalate:

“Then they will deliver you up to oppression and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake.” – Matthew 24:9

Even if the end-times were decades or hundreds of years away, the adversary, Satan is looking to destroy believers just the same.

“Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Withstand him steadfast in your faith, knowing that your brothers who are in the world are undergoing the same sufferings.”        – 1 Peter 5:8-9

“Devour” here does not mean to “persecute” but rather, it means to attempt to “turn” from the faith amidst persecution. Thus, he encourages believers to “withstand him steadfast in your faith” because you are not alone.

Consider:

“Therefore, don’t throw away your boldness, which has a great reward. For you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.

“In a very little while,

he who comes (the anti-Christ) will come and will not wait.

But the righteous will live by faith.

If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.” – Hebrews 10:35-39

We can hear Joshua crying out from the mountaintop:

“If it seems evil to you to serve the LORD (YHWH), choose today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (YHWH). – Joshua 24:15

We must take encouragement to be one of those whom “the world was not worthy” by standing and proclaiming the whole Word of YHWH.

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