Lessons

Textbox Section

Prophetic Panoramas

MOI-26    NR4-13    NR5-28

990530PM

Let me explain by focusing tonight on the final round of Tribulation judgments, the Bowls of Wrath. Remember there are Seals of Death, Trumpets of Doom and Bowls of Wrath. We have covered all of them in detail in this Hoofbeats Series, the End of the World Series and the Armageddon Series.  However, tonight lets back up and look at all of them in a big picture and see what foretastes we can see around us.

Remember the order in Revelation? The 7 seals lead into 7 trumpets which launch 7 bowls? The Seals we have seen, the trumpets may be summarized as 1-4 destroy ecology and 5-7 are a demon attack. In fact the 1st Trumpet may even refer to volcanoes? And the 5th Trumpet empties the abyss of its worst demons. But the Bowls are our focus tonight. Just for one thought, if  Bowl 4 triggers a polar cap melt, there would be a 200 foot rise in sea level! That would be catastrophic at the least.

  • The First Bowl: Incurable Sores on the Beast Worshipers (16:1-2)
  • The Second Bowl: Death to All Sea Life (16:3)
  • The Third bowl: Transforming of All Fresh Water into Blood (16:4-7)
  • The Fourth Bowl: Scorching of All Through the Sun’s Intensity (16:8-9)
  • The Fifth Bowl: Darkening of the Beast’s Kingdom (16:10-11)
  • The Sixth Bowl: Preparation for the Doom of Earth’s Kings (16:12-16)
  • The Seventh Bowl: The Destruction of Babylon (16:17-18:24)

So what will life like apart from Jesus look like on the Earth? Without His power life is reduced to living Hell. In the final days of the history of planet earth 7 events rapidly occur. Do you remember them?

  • First, sores ooze from their bodies as all the evil within starts to come out, a sign of inward corruption. This is a biological holocaust, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Second, the waters of the sea die, what was once filled with life become a stench of dead blood a sign of man”s hopelessness apart from God. This is an ecological holocaust, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Third, all the streams of water on earth are poisoned, a sign of absolute desperation as water is imperative for life as is Jesus.  This is a global catastrophe as the UN declared in late 1998, there are 1 ½ billion without sufficient drinkable water today on the planet. So, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Fourth, the sun flares which keeps life sustained on earth flares up blazing and burning the planet.  As we will see tonight a cosmic catastrophe of unprecedented proportion is heading toward earth in Solar Cycle # 23 late December, 1999. So, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Fifth, blackness of darkness falls from the brightness of a fiercely blazing sun to absolute blackness in the realm of the beast. This is a sign of the spiritual holocaust of darkness Satan brings. And with the eclipsing of Christianity and the dawning of a global resurgence toward paganism, and all the pieces for that are in place as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Sixth, Armageddon strikes as the waters of the great dividing river Euphrates dries up. A demon trio rounds up the army of the antichrist and Armageddon is their destination. As we will see tonight, this week the European Community declared they will have a unified military force under a “Czar” as their news release called him. Remember Czar is Russian for Kaiser which is German for Caesar which is Roman for Antichrist which is Bible for the Future Fuhrer of the Revived Roman Empire. So, and all the pieces for that are in place for a global military holocaust today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Seventh, the greatest quake of all time is unleashed by God and more devastation occurs in that big one than in every other one combined. There are 5, 319 quakes[1] on record at present. And the trend is toward more of them; widely spread all over the earth and of growing magnitude, and all the pieces for a geological holocaust are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?

Well what is the answer God gives to all that? A weathered face, etched with exposure to many years of Sun, the Shekinah Glory and many angry mobs looks Heavenward in II Peter 3. Listen to Peter’s advice for prophetic events in 2 Peter 3:1-14.

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,4 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.”5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;  

What are there any events that make us look even more closely on the horizon for His any moment return? Let me name a few.

Beware, a Solar Storm Is Coming Your Way!

WHAT IT ALL MEANS
The new findings are scientifically significant because they help flesh out theories on how the sun works and how the super storms are created, experts said. “The idea that twisted structures should erupt is not a new idea. … This just brings a lot of specificity to that question,” Canfield said. The findings also could lead the way to better forecasting of “space weather,” the scientists said. As it happens, the sun is headed toward the peak of an 11-year cycle of activity next year. During the last solar maximum, in 1989, a coronal mass ejection knocked out power to a wide area of Quebec for nine hours, noted George Withbroe, science director for NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection research theme. He also referred to last year’s failure of the Galaxy 4 satellite, which led to widespread communications outages.

Such outages couldn’t be ruled out during the coming solar maximum, he said, although he acknowledged that they were more of a nuisance than a catastrophe[2].

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections — solar explosions that can equal a million 100 megaton bombs — send waves of energy toward the Earth.

They can cause power blackouts, block some radio communications and trigger phantom commands capable of sending satellites spinning out of their proper orbits. Cellular telephones, global positioning signals and spacewalking astronauts all are at risk, experts said Monday at a national meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Beware, A Warming Earth Is Coming Your Way!

RATE FASTER THAN EXPECTED
Scientists at both institutes expected the two shelves to fail, but they found it happening at a rate faster than what earlier breakups suggested would happen. “We have evidence that the shelves in this area have been in retreat for 50 years, but those losses amounted to only about 7,000 square kilometers,” said David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey. “To have retreats totaling 3,000 square kilometers in a single year is clearly an escalation. Within a few years, much of the Wilkins ice shelf will likely be gone.” Ice shelves, essentially floating plates of ice attached to continents, form when large glaciers flow toward the ocean in polar areas. Because they are already on the water, their breakup will not add to sea levels[3].

BUT WHY?
Four years ago, Wallace suggested that the current rise in average global temperatures might just be part of a natural climatic cycle. Now he says he isn’t so sure. “We are looking at temperature changes over Siberia in the last 30 years that are almost 10 times greater than the global mean temperature rise in the last 100 years,” he said. The teams led by Shindell and Petit say their findings support the view that human activity — such as automobile driving and industrial emissions of greenhouse gas — plays a significant role in climate change. But evidence for an alternative view also appears in Nature. Researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England report that the strength of the solar magnetic field has more than doubled in the past 100 years, and has increased 40 percent since 1964. The long-term rise mounts with each 11-year cycle of solar activity — and the sun is currently approaching one of those 11-year peaks.

Changes in the sun’s magnetic field have been linked with variations in solar brightness and the Earth’s cloud cover, “which may influence global climate,” the researchers said. Could it be that a brighter sun causes increased sea-surface temperatures, which in turn cause higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide? In a Nature commentary, University of Chicago physicist Eugene Parker says scientists should at least consider the possibility that the greenhouse effect is primarily due to solar activity rather than fossil-fuel consumption[4].

Beware, The Components for Armageddon Are Coming Your Way!

June 4, 1999  NEW ARMY[5] European Union Vows to Become Military Power By CRAIG R. WHITNEY

OLOGNE, Germany — The leaders of 15 European countries decided Thursday to make the European Union a military power for the first time in its 42-year history, with command headquarters, staffs and forces of its own for peacekeeping and peacemaking missions in future crises like those in Kosovo or Bosnia.

Long an economic giant, the European Union Thursday has a common currency, the euro, in 11 countries. But when it comes to foreign and defense policy, Europe does not even have a telephone number, as Henry A. Kissinger sarcastically observed 25 years ago when he was Secretary of State.

All that will change by the end of next year, the 15 leaders vowed Thursday.

By late 2000, according to the plan announced at the European Union summit meeting here, a single foreign and security policy czar will speak for Europe and carry out the military will of European leaders.

The move will enable many of the members of NATO, as well as several European nations that are not in the alliance, to mount their own campaigns without America’s might.

The European leaders declared:

“The union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.

Threats of a new Cold War

Sir Charles Powell, former adviser to Lady Thatcher, believes that if we don’t confront Russia now, we might face a worse danger later.

THE Cold War instincts of the old Soviet Union still live on, at least in some corners of the Russian leadership. They should ring alarm bells in Western governments. By arming Iraq , Russia continues to mount a dangerous challenge to Western strategic interests. The reasons for concern are obvious enough. First, it constitutes a clear-cut breach of UN sanctions and makes a mockery of the claim that, unlike the old Soviet Union , Russia now operates under the constraints of international law.

Second, although the arms agreements relate only to conventional weapons at this stage, there must be a suspicion that Russian help will extend not just to helping Iraq rebuild its conventional forces but also to its programme of developing missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The work done by Unscom’s arms inspectors of slowing down Iraq ‘s re-armament will rapidly be rendered redundant. There is also a heightened risk to the security of the neighboring Gulf States . Third, when taken together with other Russian moves at the UN, in conjunction with France and China , to lift sanctions on Iraq and remove all restraints on Saddam Hussein, it takes on an uglier and more dangerous significance. It shows that, once again, Russia is in the business of supporting brutal regimes as a means of challenging American and Western interests.

Why are the Russians doing it? There is the possibility that the arms sales represent freelancing by the Russian defense industry desperate for markets at any cost. But the type of equipment being supplied leaves little doubt about Russian government involvement and thus a considered policy. Even so, there probably is a financial motive. Russia is owed huge sums by Baghdad which it is anxious to recover. And it is eager to be in the first wave of those re-entering the Iraqi market if sanctions are lifted.

But more significant is Russian Prime Minister Primakov’s long history of involvement in Iraq and friendship for Saddam Hussein. In 1990/1991 he led Soviet efforts to prevent the allies from going to war to eject Saddam from Kuwait . He represents the huge investment which the old Soviet Union’s military and defense establishment put into Iraq , as a showcase for Russian military equipment and tactics. Saddam’s defeat was as much a defeat for them and the bitterness has lingered.

Behind that lurks Russia ‘s historic ambition to dominate the Middle Eastern oil fields and break through to a warm water port. That strategic aim has never been renounced, and is reflected in Russia’s disastrous intervention in Afghanistan, its supply of nuclear power technology to Iran and now, once again, sale of weapons to Baghdad.

All of this we saw is only a foretaste of what is to come. But God has not left us without instructions. In Revelation we see truth to live by for a safe future.

How do we Survive the Future Troubles Headed Our Way as Believers? 

  1. 1. Build with Fireproof Materials: Remember Jesus compares our earthly life to a BUILDING, so we must watch what we build with and where. [Quakes, fires, hurricanes, floods]
  • I Corinthians 3:10-17 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
  1. Invest in Heaven. [Scams, bilked out of millions, folded companies, Depco, stock market crashes]
  • Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
  • Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel , 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
  1. Look for Jesus every day: Remember Jesus says our life is like a RACE, so watch out for the rules, know the boundaries and keep the baggage at a minimum. [Must keep in lines, follow rules, not trip]
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)

TAGS: 990606PM

Let me explain by focusing tonight on the final round of Tribulation judgments, the Bowls of Wrath. Remember there are Seals of Death, Trumpets of Doom and Bowls of Wrath. We have covered all of them in detail in this Hoofbeats Series, the End of the World Series and the Armageddon Series.  However, tonight lets back up and look at all of them in a big picture and see what foretastes we can see around us.

Remember the order in Revelation? The 7 seals lead into 7 trumpets which launch 7 bowls? The Seals we have seen, the trumpets may be summarized as 1-4 destroy ecology and 5-7 are a demon attack. In fact the 1st Trumpet may even refer to volcanoes? And the 5th Trumpet empties the abyss of its worst demons. But the Bowls are our focus tonight. Just for one thought, if  Bowl 4 triggers a polar cap melt, there would be a 200 foot rise in sea level! That would be catastrophic at the least.

  • The First Bowl: Incurable Sores on the Beast Worshipers (16:1-2)
  • The Second Bowl: Death to All Sea Life (16:3)
  • The Third bowl: Transforming of All Fresh Water into Blood (16:4-7)
  • The Fourth Bowl: Scorching of All Through the Sun’s Intensity (16:8-9)
  • The Fifth Bowl: Darkening of the Beast’s Kingdom (16:10-11)
  • The Sixth Bowl: Preparation for the Doom of Earth’s Kings (16:12-16)
  • The Seventh Bowl: The Destruction of Babylon (16:17-18:24)

So what will life like apart from Jesus look like on the Earth? Without His power life is reduced to living Hell. In the final days of the history of planet earth 7 events rapidly occur. Do you remember them?

  • First, sores ooze from their bodies as all the evil within starts to come out, a sign of inward corruption. This is a biological holocaust, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Second, the waters of the sea die, what was once filled with life become a stench of dead blood a sign of man”s hopelessness apart from God. This is an ecological holocaust, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Third, all the streams of water on earth are poisoned, a sign of absolute desperation as water is imperative for life as is Jesus.  This is a global catastrophe as the UN declared in late 1998, there are 1 ½ billion without sufficient drinkable water today on the planet. So, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Fourth, the sun flares which keeps life sustained on earth flares up blazing and burning the planet.  As we will see tonight a cosmic catastrophe of unprecedented proportion is heading toward earth in Solar Cycle # 23 late December, 1999. So, and all the pieces for that are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Fifth, blackness of darkness falls from the brightness of a fiercely blazing sun to absolute blackness in the realm of the beast. This is a sign of the spiritual holocaust of darkness Satan brings. And with the eclipsing of Christianity and the dawning of a global resurgence toward paganism, and all the pieces for that are in place as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Sixth, Armageddon strikes as the waters of the great dividing river Euphrates dries up. A demon trio rounds up the army of the antichrist and Armageddon is their destination. As we will see tonight, this week the European Community declared they will have a unified military force under a “Czar” as their news release called him. Remember Czar is Russian for Kaiser which is German for Caesar which is Roman for Antichrist which is Bible for the Future Fuhrer of the Revived Roman Empire. So, and all the pieces for that are in place for a global military holocaust today as we have seen, aren’t they?
  • Seventh, the greatest quake of all time is unleashed by God and more devastation occurs in that big one than in every other one combined. There are 5, 319 quakes[1] on record at present. And the trend is toward more of them; widely spread all over the earth and of growing magnitude, and all the pieces for a geological holocaust are in place today as we have seen, aren’t they?

Well what is the answer God gives to all that? A weathered face, etched with exposure to many years of Sun, the Shekinah Glory and many angry mobs looks Heavenward in II Peter 3. Listen to Peter’s advice for prophetic events in 2 Peter 3:1-14.

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,4 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.”5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;  

What are there any events that make us look even more closely on the horizon for His any moment return? Let me name a few.

Beware, a Solar Storm Is Coming Your Way!

WHAT IT ALL MEANS
The new findings are scientifically significant because they help flesh out theories on how the sun works and how the super storms are created, experts said. “The idea that twisted structures should erupt is not a new idea. … This just brings a lot of specificity to that question,” Canfield said. The findings also could lead the way to better forecasting of “space weather,” the scientists said. As it happens, the sun is headed toward the peak of an 11-year cycle of activity next year. During the last solar maximum, in 1989, a coronal mass ejection knocked out power to a wide area of Quebec for nine hours, noted George Withbroe, science director for NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection research theme. He also referred to last year’s failure of the Galaxy 4 satellite, which led to widespread communications outages.

Such outages couldn’t be ruled out during the coming solar maximum, he said, although he acknowledged that they were more of a nuisance than a catastrophe[2].

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections — solar explosions that can equal a million 100 megaton bombs — send waves of energy toward the Earth.

They can cause power blackouts, block some radio communications and trigger phantom commands capable of sending satellites spinning out of their proper orbits. Cellular telephones, global positioning signals and spacewalking astronauts all are at risk, experts said Monday at a national meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Beware, A Warming Earth Is Coming Your Way!

RATE FASTER THAN EXPECTED
Scientists at both institutes expected the two shelves to fail, but they found it happening at a rate faster than what earlier breakups suggested would happen. “We have evidence that the shelves in this area have been in retreat for 50 years, but those losses amounted to only about 7,000 square kilometers,” said David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey. “To have retreats totaling 3,000 square kilometers in a single year is clearly an escalation. Within a few years, much of the Wilkins ice shelf will likely be gone.” Ice shelves, essentially floating plates of ice attached to continents, form when large glaciers flow toward the ocean in polar areas. Because they are already on the water, their breakup will not add to sea levels[3].

BUT WHY?
Four years ago, Wallace suggested that the current rise in average global temperatures might just be part of a natural climatic cycle. Now he says he isn’t so sure. “We are looking at temperature changes over Siberia in the last 30 years that are almost 10 times greater than the global mean temperature rise in the last 100 years,” he said. The teams led by Shindell and Petit say their findings support the view that human activity — such as automobile driving and industrial emissions of greenhouse gas — plays a significant role in climate change. But evidence for an alternative view also appears in Nature. Researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England report that the strength of the solar magnetic field has more than doubled in the past 100 years, and has increased 40 percent since 1964. The long-term rise mounts with each 11-year cycle of solar activity — and the sun is currently approaching one of those 11-year peaks.

Changes in the sun’s magnetic field have been linked with variations in solar brightness and the Earth’s cloud cover, “which may influence global climate,” the researchers said. Could it be that a brighter sun causes increased sea-surface temperatures, which in turn cause higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide? In a Nature commentary, University of Chicago physicist Eugene Parker says scientists should at least consider the possibility that the greenhouse effect is primarily due to solar activity rather than fossil-fuel consumption[4].

Beware, The Components for Armageddon Are Coming Your Way!

June 4, 1999  NEW ARMY[5] European Union Vows to Become Military Power By CRAIG R. WHITNEY

OLOGNE, Germany — The leaders of 15 European countries decided Thursday to make the European Union a military power for the first time in its 42-year history, with command headquarters, staffs and forces of its own for peacekeeping and peacemaking missions in future crises like those in Kosovo or Bosnia.

Long an economic giant, the European Union Thursday has a common currency, the euro, in 11 countries. But when it comes to foreign and defense policy, Europe does not even have a telephone number, as Henry A. Kissinger sarcastically observed 25 years ago when he was Secretary of State.

All that will change by the end of next year, the 15 leaders vowed Thursday.

By late 2000, according to the plan announced at the European Union summit meeting here, a single foreign and security policy czar will speak for Europe and carry out the military will of European leaders.

The move will enable many of the members of NATO, as well as several European nations that are not in the alliance, to mount their own campaigns without America’s might.

The European leaders declared:

“The union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.

Threats of a new Cold War

Sir Charles Powell, former adviser to Lady Thatcher, believes that if we don’t confront Russia now, we might face a worse danger later.

THE Cold War instincts of the old Soviet Union still live on, at least in some corners of the Russian leadership. They should ring alarm bells in Western governments. By arming Iraq , Russia continues to mount a dangerous challenge to Western strategic interests. The reasons for concern are obvious enough. First, it constitutes a clear-cut breach of UN sanctions and makes a mockery of the claim that, unlike the old Soviet Union , Russia now operates under the constraints of international law.

Second, although the arms agreements relate only to conventional weapons at this stage, there must be a suspicion that Russian help will extend not just to helping Iraq rebuild its conventional forces but also to its programme of developing missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The work done by Unscom’s arms inspectors of slowing down Iraq ‘s re-armament will rapidly be rendered redundant. There is also a heightened risk to the security of the neighboring Gulf States . Third, when taken together with other Russian moves at the UN, in conjunction with France and China , to lift sanctions on Iraq and remove all restraints on Saddam Hussein, it takes on an uglier and more dangerous significance. It shows that, once again, Russia is in the business of supporting brutal regimes as a means of challenging American and Western interests.

Why are the Russians doing it? There is the possibility that the arms sales represent freelancing by the Russian defense industry desperate for markets at any cost. But the type of equipment being supplied leaves little doubt about Russian government involvement and thus a considered policy. Even so, there probably is a financial motive. Russia is owed huge sums by Baghdad which it is anxious to recover. And it is eager to be in the first wave of those re-entering the Iraqi market if sanctions are lifted.

But more significant is Russian Prime Minister Primakov’s long history of involvement in Iraq and friendship for Saddam Hussein. In 1990/1991 he led Soviet efforts to prevent the allies from going to war to eject Saddam from Kuwait . He represents the huge investment which the old Soviet Union’s military and defense establishment put into Iraq , as a showcase for Russian military equipment and tactics. Saddam’s defeat was as much a defeat for them and the bitterness has lingered.

Behind that lurks Russia ‘s historic ambition to dominate the Middle Eastern oil fields and break through to a warm water port. That strategic aim has never been renounced, and is reflected in Russia’s disastrous intervention in Afghanistan, its supply of nuclear power technology to Iran and now, once again, sale of weapons to Baghdad.

All of this we saw is only a foretaste of what is to come. But God has not left us without instructions. In Revelation we see truth to live by for a safe future.

How do we Survive the Future Troubles Headed Our Way as Believers? 

  1. 1. Build with Fireproof Materials: Remember Jesus compares our earthly life to a BUILDING, so we must watch what we build with and where. [Quakes, fires, hurricanes, floods]
  • I Corinthians 3:10-17 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
  1. Invest in Heaven. [Scams, bilked out of millions, folded companies, Depco, stock market crashes]
  • Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
  • Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel , 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
  1. Look for Jesus every day: Remember Jesus says our life is like a RACE, so watch out for the rules, know the boundaries and keep the baggage at a minimum. [Must keep in lines, follow rules, not trip]
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)

TAGS: 990606PM

The Beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14)

The events described in this section are “the beginning of birth-pangs” (Matt. 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (Isa. 13:6–11; 1 Thes. 5:5). Let’s consider some of the significant events that will occur at the beginning of this period.

  • GLOBAL FALSE TEACHING  (vv. 4–5). The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1–2 is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray. He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43).
  • GLOBAL WARFARE  (v. 6). Note that wars are not a sign of the end. There have always been wars in the world, and will be until the very end. Wars of themselves do not announce the end of the age or the coming of the Lord.
  • GLOBAL FAMINES (v. 7a). War and famine usually go together. Revelation 6:6 suggests terribly high prices for staple foods, for a “penny” was a day”s wages.
  • GLOBAL EPIDEMICS (vv. 7b-8). Earthquakes help to create famines, and both help to cause epidemics that take many lives.
  • GLOBAL PERSECUTIONS (v. 9). Christians have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.
  • GLOBAL CHAOS (vv. 10–13). Those who once were true to each other will betray each other. This suggests that marriages, homes, and nations will be torn asunder because of lack of loyalty. Lawlessness will abound (Matt. 24:12), for even the law enforcement agencies will not be able to keep the peace. (Matthew 24:13 has nothing to do with personal salvation in this present age of grace. “The end” does not mean the end of this life; it refers to the end of the age
  • GLOBAL EVANGELISM (v. 14). Revelation 7:1–8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth. This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God’s grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord’s return at the end of the age that is in view here. Matt. 24:14). Those believers on earth during this terrible period, who endure in their faith, will be saved when the Lord comes at the end and delivers them.

Even though most of the time we in America are unaware of it, there is a growing hostility for Christians around the world. Here is an overview of the situation:

Middle East

A decade ago, Islamic fundamentalists had an uneasy religious “truce” with Western expatriates who came to work for them, particularly in the oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia. They tried to keep the Westerners, mostly Christians of one degree of commitment or another, restricted from the rest of the populace. Still, the impact of a handful of expatriates and a small yet organized church has been tremendous. The presence of US troops during the Gulf War increased the effect dramatically, and the ongoing presence of troops has exacerbated it. But it’s the evangelization of the Middle East that really causes problems. Islamic extremists are responsible for a new wave of attacks on Westerners. An increased level of persecution has been noted, with the murder of Mehdi Dibaj (Iran) and the harassment of Robert Hussein in Kuwait. just the tip of the iceberg.

North Africa

The country of Sudan in northern Africa has perhaps the worst record of persecution in the world. The government’s professed goal of total Islamicization of the country has led to a state of civil war between the mostly Christian and animistic southern regions and the Muslim north. Government atrocities are numerous, and include aerial bombardment, massacres, slavery, and even reports of crucifixions. Many of those killed fall under the definition of martyrdom. Others in northern Africa have also attacked Christians, particularly where radicals are agitating for civil governments to implement Islamic law. In a well-known case earlier this year, several monks were kidnapped and murdered as part of the ongoing hostilities between the Algerian government and the Armed Islamic Group, the leading opposition.

Eastern Asia

The continuing persecution of Chinese believers is well documented. Churches have been bulldozed with believers inside. Pastors have been arrested, humiliated and executed. Christians have been threatened and imprisoned. In fact, the new waves of persecution are so rampant that the United Nations has recently set up a special fax line for incoming reports of atrocities, so it’s Human Rights Commission can react more quickly to them. Representatives of several organizations, including Amnesty International and Voice of the Martyrs, have testified before the US Congress, calling for economic and political measures against nations that persecute Christians.

Latin America

Missionaries have been attacked as “soft targets” by the various structures of sin-drug lords and terrorists in particular. It was with much relief that the Christian world was able to report the release of Ray Rising, a Wycliffe missionary kidnapped in Colombia. Unfortunately, the mission station from which he was taken had to be closed and moved due to ongoing security threats. Other Christian workers have been kidnapped, and mission agencies have had to adopt a very difficult policy-refusing to pay ransom. Agency executives agree that giving in to these demands would only cause a rash of kidnappings. Missionaries going into insecure situations know they must rely on God’s help and grace.

Africa

Because of their stand for Christian principles of freedom and democracy, and because of their untiring work in the name of Christ on behalf of the poor, oppressed and persecuted, many Christians have been martyred in political and ethnic conflicts. There are many incidents in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa where missionaries, pastors, priests, churches, monasteries, and seminaries have been specifically targeted. In Rwanda’s genocide alone, half a million Christians were martyred.

Now As we look at Revelation 6 we are looking at the Tribulation, the first step in Christ’s taking back the earth, which is rightfully His. One by one Christ unrolls the seals. As each seal is broken, He takes further possession and control of His inheritance. Finally, “the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’” (11:15). When He unrolls the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet blows, the earth is His.[1]

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION of the Tribulation in  (Matt. 24:3-34) exactly parallels the seals of Rev. 6!

Listen to this account of the trail of blood God’s saints have trod, stand with me as we read Hebrews 11:32-40

Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. 33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions 34 and in a fiery furnace. Some, through their faith, escaped death by the sword. Some were made strong again after they had been weak or sick. Others were given great power in battle; they made whole armies turn and run away. 35 And some women, through faith, received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.36 Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated—too good for this world. 39 And these men of faith, though they trusted God and won his approval, none of them received all that God had promised them; 40 for God wanted them to wait and share the even better rewards that were prepared for us.

So that is what happened up to the time of Christ. What happened after?  Hebrews 10:30-39  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

So what is the record since the Cross? How has the church fared? Let’s pick up with the 12 Apostles.

How Each Apostle and some well known leaders of the New Testament church Died

During the first persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero, Christians begged Peter not to expose his life which was considered necessary to the well-being of the church. Finally, Peter consented to depart from Rome, but as he fled along the Appian Way, about two miles from the gates, he was met by a vision of the Saviour traveling towards the city.

Struck with amazement, he exclaimed, “Lord, whither goest thou?” The Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, “I go to Rome to be crucified a second time,” and vanished. Peter immediately turned back and reentered the city.

All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.

  • Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
  • Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
  • Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
  • John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
  • Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
  • James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem,
  • James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive.
  • Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
  • Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
  • Jude was shot to death with arrows.
  • Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
  • Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
  • Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

Columbine Cassie Bernall martyred as Christian.

Rachel Scott shot in leg by Eric Harris and asked if she was a christian. When she boldly answered yes Dylan Kliebold shot her dead saying, “Then go be with Him now!”

Missionary, Two Sons, Burned to Death in India

News Date: January 25, 1999
Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines, 58, was burned to death in his car Saturday along with sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, after a crowd doused their car in gas and lit it outside a church in the town of Manoharpur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Information sent from Voice of the Martyrs sources in India say that Staines had been working with leprosy patients in India for 34 years. His sons were visiting on vacation from school.

The attack comes amidst rising persecution of Christians in India. Yesterday, five more missionaries were beaten in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The missionaries were handing out tracts and pamphlets when they were attacked.

It is unknown why the attack on Staines and his sons took place, though reportedly five members of Bajrang Dal, a militant group affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been arrested. Staines was in the area to attend a “jungle camp” organized by a local church there.

Reportedly, the militants attacked the vehicle armed with bows and arrows after warning village residents not to interfere. People from the village who tried to help the missionary and his sons were beaten by the mob.

India’s Prime Minister, was quick to condemn the attack. Staines’ wife, Gladys, told reporters she was upset by the attack on her husband, but not angry with the men who committed the crime.

Monday at a memorial service for her husband and sons, Gladys and her daughter led the congregation in singing:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth a living just because He lives.

Seal #5 martyrs  (vv.9-11)

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

  • When the fifth seal is broken, martyrs who died because of their faith during the Tribulation are seen under the altar in heaven, praying for Christ to take back the earth and avenge their blood. These are the souls of those who are slain during the Tribulation period on account of their testimony to the Word of God. The terrible martyrdom of Rev. 6 are much clearer to us who have lived through or pondered the horrors of World War II.

The atrocities of Nazi war criminals’ discrimination  —  ghettos concentration camps  —  mass extermination;  In 10 years, 60% of Jews in Europe, 6 million, were butchered. G. M. Gilbert wrote in his history of the criminal trials of those criminals called the Nuremburg Diary:  “…the torture, the starvation, the mass murder, the diabolical experiments on live human guinea pigs.  ‘History,’ he said, ‘does not record a crime perpetuated against so many victims or ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.’ ‘Mass murder,’ he said, ‘was becoming a State industry, with byproducts.’  That is only one page from the sordid story of modern persecution.  There are many pages more.  The world is getting ready for the breaking of this seal.

What is shown here, under the breaking of the fifth seal, is elaborated further in chapter seven, where the great tribulation is introduced.  Here only a preview is given of the terrible persecutions which will engulf the globe in a coming day.”  What leads to such faithfulness even to death?  One thing: Faithfulness to Christ in life.

  • What is the lesson? Jesus is the LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He illumines us, apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness.

A Biblical Perspective On Persecution Of Believers

First, Persecution is inevitable for Christians:

  • Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Mark 10:29-30 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,30 “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.1 Peter 4:12,
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
  • 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

Second, we are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ:

  • Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
  • Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
  • Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • 1 Peter 2:20-23 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter

Third, God’s Word promises wonderful treasures for those who face persecution:

  • Death will bring peace and rest. – Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers  That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
  • God will bring justice when Jesus returns. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)
  • Leads to spiritual maturity. – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
  • Persecution earns us Heavenly rewards – James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)

Fourth, God uses persecution for His purposes:

  • Persecution often Spreads the gospel to other places. – Acts 8:1,4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (NIV)
  • Persecution is to Reveal Jesus in us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (NIV)
  • Persecution Encourages others to be more courageous in their testimony. – Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (NIV)
  • Persecution of saints always Glorifies Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

  Fifth, what are proper responses in the face of persecution?

  • Love and pray for the ones who are persecuting believers. – Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV) 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)
  • Call your church to pray for the persecuted. – Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
  • Show as much concern for the persecuted as for those in your own local church. – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (NIV)
  • As you pray, remember who the true enemy is. Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV)
  • Rejoice over their steadfast love of God. – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? (NIV)
  • Exhort other Christians by the faith and example of the persecuted believers. – 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
  • Stand side by side with the persecuted believers. Accept personal loss in order to sympathize with them. – Hebrews 10:32-34 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
  • Remember the persecuted as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)

 

TAGS: 990530PM

The Beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14)

The events described in this section are “the beginning of birth-pangs” (Matt. 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (Isa. 13:6–11; 1 Thes. 5:5). Let’s consider some of the significant events that will occur at the beginning of this period.

  • GLOBAL FALSE TEACHING  (vv. 4–5). The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1–2 is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray. He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43).
  • GLOBAL WARFARE  (v. 6). Note that wars are not a sign of the end. There have always been wars in the world, and will be until the very end. Wars of themselves do not announce the end of the age or the coming of the Lord.
  • GLOBAL FAMINES (v. 7a). War and famine usually go together. Revelation 6:6 suggests terribly high prices for staple foods, for a “penny” was a day”s wages.
  • GLOBAL EPIDEMICS (vv. 7b-8). Earthquakes help to create famines, and both help to cause epidemics that take many lives.
  • GLOBAL PERSECUTIONS (v. 9). Christians have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.
  • GLOBAL CHAOS (vv. 10–13). Those who once were true to each other will betray each other. This suggests that marriages, homes, and nations will be torn asunder because of lack of loyalty. Lawlessness will abound (Matt. 24:12), for even the law enforcement agencies will not be able to keep the peace. (Matthew 24:13 has nothing to do with personal salvation in this present age of grace. “The end” does not mean the end of this life; it refers to the end of the age
  • GLOBAL EVANGELISM (v. 14). Revelation 7:1–8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth. This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God’s grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord’s return at the end of the age that is in view here. Matt. 24:14). Those believers on earth during this terrible period, who endure in their faith, will be saved when the Lord comes at the end and delivers them.

Even though most of the time we in America are unaware of it, there is a growing hostility for Christians around the world. Here is an overview of the situation:

Middle East

A decade ago, Islamic fundamentalists had an uneasy religious “truce” with Western expatriates who came to work for them, particularly in the oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia. They tried to keep the Westerners, mostly Christians of one degree of commitment or another, restricted from the rest of the populace. Still, the impact of a handful of expatriates and a small yet organized church has been tremendous. The presence of US troops during the Gulf War increased the effect dramatically, and the ongoing presence of troops has exacerbated it. But it’s the evangelization of the Middle East that really causes problems. Islamic extremists are responsible for a new wave of attacks on Westerners. An increased level of persecution has been noted, with the murder of Mehdi Dibaj (Iran) and the harassment of Robert Hussein in Kuwait. just the tip of the iceberg.

North Africa

The country of Sudan in northern Africa has perhaps the worst record of persecution in the world. The government’s professed goal of total Islamicization of the country has led to a state of civil war between the mostly Christian and animistic southern regions and the Muslim north. Government atrocities are numerous, and include aerial bombardment, massacres, slavery, and even reports of crucifixions. Many of those killed fall under the definition of martyrdom. Others in northern Africa have also attacked Christians, particularly where radicals are agitating for civil governments to implement Islamic law. In a well-known case earlier this year, several monks were kidnapped and murdered as part of the ongoing hostilities between the Algerian government and the Armed Islamic Group, the leading opposition.

Eastern Asia

The continuing persecution of Chinese believers is well documented. Churches have been bulldozed with believers inside. Pastors have been arrested, humiliated and executed. Christians have been threatened and imprisoned. In fact, the new waves of persecution are so rampant that the United Nations has recently set up a special fax line for incoming reports of atrocities, so it’s Human Rights Commission can react more quickly to them. Representatives of several organizations, including Amnesty International and Voice of the Martyrs, have testified before the US Congress, calling for economic and political measures against nations that persecute Christians.

Latin America

Missionaries have been attacked as “soft targets” by the various structures of sin-drug lords and terrorists in particular. It was with much relief that the Christian world was able to report the release of Ray Rising, a Wycliffe missionary kidnapped in Colombia. Unfortunately, the mission station from which he was taken had to be closed and moved due to ongoing security threats. Other Christian workers have been kidnapped, and mission agencies have had to adopt a very difficult policy-refusing to pay ransom. Agency executives agree that giving in to these demands would only cause a rash of kidnappings. Missionaries going into insecure situations know they must rely on God’s help and grace.

Africa

Because of their stand for Christian principles of freedom and democracy, and because of their untiring work in the name of Christ on behalf of the poor, oppressed and persecuted, many Christians have been martyred in political and ethnic conflicts. There are many incidents in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa where missionaries, pastors, priests, churches, monasteries, and seminaries have been specifically targeted. In Rwanda’s genocide alone, half a million Christians were martyred.

Now As we look at Revelation 6 we are looking at the Tribulation, the first step in Christ’s taking back the earth, which is rightfully His. One by one Christ unrolls the seals. As each seal is broken, He takes further possession and control of His inheritance. Finally, “the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’” (11:15). When He unrolls the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet blows, the earth is His.[1]

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION of the Tribulation in  (Matt. 24:3-34) exactly parallels the seals of Rev. 6!

Listen to this account of the trail of blood God’s saints have trod, stand with me as we read Hebrews 11:32-40

Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. 33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions 34 and in a fiery furnace. Some, through their faith, escaped death by the sword. Some were made strong again after they had been weak or sick. Others were given great power in battle; they made whole armies turn and run away. 35 And some women, through faith, received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.36 Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated—too good for this world. 39 And these men of faith, though they trusted God and won his approval, none of them received all that God had promised them; 40 for God wanted them to wait and share the even better rewards that were prepared for us.

So that is what happened up to the time of Christ. What happened after?  Hebrews 10:30-39  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

So what is the record since the Cross? How has the church fared? Let’s pick up with the 12 Apostles.

How Each Apostle and some well known leaders of the New Testament church Died

During the first persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero, Christians begged Peter not to expose his life which was considered necessary to the well-being of the church. Finally, Peter consented to depart from Rome, but as he fled along the Appian Way, about two miles from the gates, he was met by a vision of the Saviour traveling towards the city.

Struck with amazement, he exclaimed, “Lord, whither goest thou?” The Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, “I go to Rome to be crucified a second time,” and vanished. Peter immediately turned back and reentered the city.

All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.

  • Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
  • Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
  • Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
  • John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
  • Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
  • James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem,
  • James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive.
  • Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
  • Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
  • Jude was shot to death with arrows.
  • Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
  • Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
  • Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

Columbine Cassie Bernall martyred as Christian.

Rachel Scott shot in leg by Eric Harris and asked if she was a christian. When she boldly answered yes Dylan Kliebold shot her dead saying, “Then go be with Him now!”

Missionary, Two Sons, Burned to Death in India

News Date: January 25, 1999
Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines, 58, was burned to death in his car Saturday along with sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, after a crowd doused their car in gas and lit it outside a church in the town of Manoharpur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Information sent from Voice of the Martyrs sources in India say that Staines had been working with leprosy patients in India for 34 years. His sons were visiting on vacation from school.

The attack comes amidst rising persecution of Christians in India. Yesterday, five more missionaries were beaten in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The missionaries were handing out tracts and pamphlets when they were attacked.

It is unknown why the attack on Staines and his sons took place, though reportedly five members of Bajrang Dal, a militant group affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been arrested. Staines was in the area to attend a “jungle camp” organized by a local church there.

Reportedly, the militants attacked the vehicle armed with bows and arrows after warning village residents not to interfere. People from the village who tried to help the missionary and his sons were beaten by the mob.

India’s Prime Minister, was quick to condemn the attack. Staines’ wife, Gladys, told reporters she was upset by the attack on her husband, but not angry with the men who committed the crime.

Monday at a memorial service for her husband and sons, Gladys and her daughter led the congregation in singing:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth a living just because He lives.

Seal #5 martyrs  (vv.9-11)

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

  • When the fifth seal is broken, martyrs who died because of their faith during the Tribulation are seen under the altar in heaven, praying for Christ to take back the earth and avenge their blood. These are the souls of those who are slain during the Tribulation period on account of their testimony to the Word of God. The terrible martyrdom of Rev. 6 are much clearer to us who have lived through or pondered the horrors of World War II.

The atrocities of Nazi war criminals’ discrimination  —  ghettos concentration camps  —  mass extermination;  In 10 years, 60% of Jews in Europe, 6 million, were butchered. G. M. Gilbert wrote in his history of the criminal trials of those criminals called the Nuremburg Diary:  “…the torture, the starvation, the mass murder, the diabolical experiments on live human guinea pigs.  ‘History,’ he said, ‘does not record a crime perpetuated against so many victims or ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.’ ‘Mass murder,’ he said, ‘was becoming a State industry, with byproducts.’  That is only one page from the sordid story of modern persecution.  There are many pages more.  The world is getting ready for the breaking of this seal.

What is shown here, under the breaking of the fifth seal, is elaborated further in chapter seven, where the great tribulation is introduced.  Here only a preview is given of the terrible persecutions which will engulf the globe in a coming day.”  What leads to such faithfulness even to death?  One thing: Faithfulness to Christ in life.

  • What is the lesson? Jesus is the LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He illumines us, apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness.

A Biblical Perspective On Persecution Of Believers

First, Persecution is inevitable for Christians:

  • Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Mark 10:29-30 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,30 “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.1 Peter 4:12,
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
  • 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

Second, we are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ:

  • Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
  • Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
  • Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • 1 Peter 2:20-23 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter

Third, God’s Word promises wonderful treasures for those who face persecution:

  • Death will bring peace and rest. – Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers  That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
  • God will bring justice when Jesus returns. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)
  • Leads to spiritual maturity. – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
  • Persecution earns us Heavenly rewards – James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)

Fourth, God uses persecution for His purposes:

  • Persecution often Spreads the gospel to other places. – Acts 8:1,4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (NIV)
  • Persecution is to Reveal Jesus in us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (NIV)
  • Persecution Encourages others to be more courageous in their testimony. – Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (NIV)
  • Persecution of saints always Glorifies Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

  Fifth, what are proper responses in the face of persecution?

  • Love and pray for the ones who are persecuting believers. – Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV) 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)
  • Call your church to pray for the persecuted. – Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
  • Show as much concern for the persecuted as for those in your own local church. – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (NIV)
  • As you pray, remember who the true enemy is. Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV)
  • Rejoice over their steadfast love of God. – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? (NIV)
  • Exhort other Christians by the faith and example of the persecuted believers. – 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
  • Stand side by side with the persecuted believers. Accept personal loss in order to sympathize with them. – Hebrews 10:32-34 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
  • Remember the persecuted as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)

 

TAGS: 990530PM

The Beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14)

The events described in this section are “the beginning of birth-pangs” (Matt. 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (Isa. 13:6–11; 1 Thes. 5:5). Let’s consider some of the significant events that will occur at the beginning of this period.

  • GLOBAL FALSE TEACHING  (vv. 4–5). The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1–2 is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray. He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43).
  • GLOBAL WARFARE  (v. 6). Note that wars are not a sign of the end. There have always been wars in the world, and will be until the very end. Wars of themselves do not announce the end of the age or the coming of the Lord.
  • GLOBAL FAMINES (v. 7a). War and famine usually go together. Revelation 6:6 suggests terribly high prices for staple foods, for a “penny” was a day”s wages.
  • GLOBAL EPIDEMICS (vv. 7b-8). Earthquakes help to create famines, and both help to cause epidemics that take many lives.
  • GLOBAL PERSECUTIONS (v. 9). Christians have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.
  • GLOBAL CHAOS (vv. 10–13). Those who once were true to each other will betray each other. This suggests that marriages, homes, and nations will be torn asunder because of lack of loyalty. Lawlessness will abound (Matt. 24:12), for even the law enforcement agencies will not be able to keep the peace. (Matthew 24:13 has nothing to do with personal salvation in this present age of grace. “The end” does not mean the end of this life; it refers to the end of the age
  • GLOBAL EVANGELISM (v. 14). Revelation 7:1–8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth. This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God’s grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord’s return at the end of the age that is in view here. Matt. 24:14). Those believers on earth during this terrible period, who endure in their faith, will be saved when the Lord comes at the end and delivers them.

Even though most of the time we in America are unaware of it, there is a growing hostility for Christians around the world. Here is an overview of the situation:

Middle East

A decade ago, Islamic fundamentalists had an uneasy religious “truce” with Western expatriates who came to work for them, particularly in the oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia. They tried to keep the Westerners, mostly Christians of one degree of commitment or another, restricted from the rest of the populace. Still, the impact of a handful of expatriates and a small yet organized church has been tremendous. The presence of US troops during the Gulf War increased the effect dramatically, and the ongoing presence of troops has exacerbated it. But it’s the evangelization of the Middle East that really causes problems. Islamic extremists are responsible for a new wave of attacks on Westerners. An increased level of persecution has been noted, with the murder of Mehdi Dibaj (Iran) and the harassment of Robert Hussein in Kuwait. just the tip of the iceberg.

North Africa

The country of Sudan in northern Africa has perhaps the worst record of persecution in the world. The government’s professed goal of total Islamicization of the country has led to a state of civil war between the mostly Christian and animistic southern regions and the Muslim north. Government atrocities are numerous, and include aerial bombardment, massacres, slavery, and even reports of crucifixions. Many of those killed fall under the definition of martyrdom. Others in northern Africa have also attacked Christians, particularly where radicals are agitating for civil governments to implement Islamic law. In a well-known case earlier this year, several monks were kidnapped and murdered as part of the ongoing hostilities between the Algerian government and the Armed Islamic Group, the leading opposition.

Eastern Asia

The continuing persecution of Chinese believers is well documented. Churches have been bulldozed with believers inside. Pastors have been arrested, humiliated and executed. Christians have been threatened and imprisoned. In fact, the new waves of persecution are so rampant that the United Nations has recently set up a special fax line for incoming reports of atrocities, so it’s Human Rights Commission can react more quickly to them. Representatives of several organizations, including Amnesty International and Voice of the Martyrs, have testified before the US Congress, calling for economic and political measures against nations that persecute Christians.

Latin America

Missionaries have been attacked as “soft targets” by the various structures of sin-drug lords and terrorists in particular. It was with much relief that the Christian world was able to report the release of Ray Rising, a Wycliffe missionary kidnapped in Colombia. Unfortunately, the mission station from which he was taken had to be closed and moved due to ongoing security threats. Other Christian workers have been kidnapped, and mission agencies have had to adopt a very difficult policy-refusing to pay ransom. Agency executives agree that giving in to these demands would only cause a rash of kidnappings. Missionaries going into insecure situations know they must rely on God’s help and grace.

Africa

Because of their stand for Christian principles of freedom and democracy, and because of their untiring work in the name of Christ on behalf of the poor, oppressed and persecuted, many Christians have been martyred in political and ethnic conflicts. There are many incidents in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa where missionaries, pastors, priests, churches, monasteries, and seminaries have been specifically targeted. In Rwanda’s genocide alone, half a million Christians were martyred.

Now As we look at Revelation 6 we are looking at the Tribulation, the first step in Christ’s taking back the earth, which is rightfully His. One by one Christ unrolls the seals. As each seal is broken, He takes further possession and control of His inheritance. Finally, “the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’” (11:15). When He unrolls the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet blows, the earth is His.[1]

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION of the Tribulation in  (Matt. 24:3-34) exactly parallels the seals of Rev. 6!

Listen to this account of the trail of blood God’s saints have trod, stand with me as we read Hebrews 11:32-40

Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. 33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions 34 and in a fiery furnace. Some, through their faith, escaped death by the sword. Some were made strong again after they had been weak or sick. Others were given great power in battle; they made whole armies turn and run away. 35 And some women, through faith, received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.36 Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated—too good for this world. 39 And these men of faith, though they trusted God and won his approval, none of them received all that God had promised them; 40 for God wanted them to wait and share the even better rewards that were prepared for us.

So that is what happened up to the time of Christ. What happened after?  Hebrews 10:30-39  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

So what is the record since the Cross? How has the church fared? Let’s pick up with the 12 Apostles.

How Each Apostle and some well known leaders of the New Testament church Died

During the first persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero, Christians begged Peter not to expose his life which was considered necessary to the well-being of the church. Finally, Peter consented to depart from Rome, but as he fled along the Appian Way, about two miles from the gates, he was met by a vision of the Saviour traveling towards the city.

Struck with amazement, he exclaimed, “Lord, whither goest thou?” The Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, “I go to Rome to be crucified a second time,” and vanished. Peter immediately turned back and reentered the city.

All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.

  • Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
  • Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
  • Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
  • John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
  • Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
  • James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem,
  • James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive.
  • Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
  • Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
  • Jude was shot to death with arrows.
  • Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
  • Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
  • Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

Columbine Cassie Bernall martyred as Christian.

Rachel Scott shot in leg by Eric Harris and asked if she was a christian. When she boldly answered yes Dylan Kliebold shot her dead saying, “Then go be with Him now!”

Missionary, Two Sons, Burned to Death in India

News Date: January 25, 1999
Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines, 58, was burned to death in his car Saturday along with sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, after a crowd doused their car in gas and lit it outside a church in the town of Manoharpur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Information sent from Voice of the Martyrs sources in India say that Staines had been working with leprosy patients in India for 34 years. His sons were visiting on vacation from school.

The attack comes amidst rising persecution of Christians in India. Yesterday, five more missionaries were beaten in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The missionaries were handing out tracts and pamphlets when they were attacked.

It is unknown why the attack on Staines and his sons took place, though reportedly five members of Bajrang Dal, a militant group affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been arrested. Staines was in the area to attend a “jungle camp” organized by a local church there.

Reportedly, the militants attacked the vehicle armed with bows and arrows after warning village residents not to interfere. People from the village who tried to help the missionary and his sons were beaten by the mob.

India’s Prime Minister, was quick to condemn the attack. Staines’ wife, Gladys, told reporters she was upset by the attack on her husband, but not angry with the men who committed the crime.

Monday at a memorial service for her husband and sons, Gladys and her daughter led the congregation in singing:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth a living just because He lives.

Seal #5 martyrs  (vv.9-11)

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

  • When the fifth seal is broken, martyrs who died because of their faith during the Tribulation are seen under the altar in heaven, praying for Christ to take back the earth and avenge their blood. These are the souls of those who are slain during the Tribulation period on account of their testimony to the Word of God. The terrible martyrdom of Rev. 6 are much clearer to us who have lived through or pondered the horrors of World War II.

The atrocities of Nazi war criminals’ discrimination  —  ghettos concentration camps  —  mass extermination;  In 10 years, 60% of Jews in Europe, 6 million, were butchered. G. M. Gilbert wrote in his history of the criminal trials of those criminals called the Nuremburg Diary:  “…the torture, the starvation, the mass murder, the diabolical experiments on live human guinea pigs.  ‘History,’ he said, ‘does not record a crime perpetuated against so many victims or ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.’ ‘Mass murder,’ he said, ‘was becoming a State industry, with byproducts.’  That is only one page from the sordid story of modern persecution.  There are many pages more.  The world is getting ready for the breaking of this seal.

What is shown here, under the breaking of the fifth seal, is elaborated further in chapter seven, where the great tribulation is introduced.  Here only a preview is given of the terrible persecutions which will engulf the globe in a coming day.”  What leads to such faithfulness even to death?  One thing: Faithfulness to Christ in life.

  • What is the lesson? Jesus is the LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He illumines us, apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness.

A Biblical Perspective On Persecution Of Believers

First, Persecution is inevitable for Christians:

  • Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Mark 10:29-30 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,30 “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.1 Peter 4:12,
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
  • 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

Second, we are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ:

  • Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
  • Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
  • Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • 1 Peter 2:20-23 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter

Third, God’s Word promises wonderful treasures for those who face persecution:

  • Death will bring peace and rest. – Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers  That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
  • God will bring justice when Jesus returns. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)
  • Leads to spiritual maturity. – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
  • Persecution earns us Heavenly rewards – James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)

Fourth, God uses persecution for His purposes:

  • Persecution often Spreads the gospel to other places. – Acts 8:1,4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (NIV)
  • Persecution is to Reveal Jesus in us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (NIV)
  • Persecution Encourages others to be more courageous in their testimony. – Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (NIV)
  • Persecution of saints always Glorifies Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

  Fifth, what are proper responses in the face of persecution?

  • Love and pray for the ones who are persecuting believers. – Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV) 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)
  • Call your church to pray for the persecuted. – Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
  • Show as much concern for the persecuted as for those in your own local church. – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (NIV)
  • As you pray, remember who the true enemy is. Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV)
  • Rejoice over their steadfast love of God. – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? (NIV)
  • Exhort other Christians by the faith and example of the persecuted believers. – 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
  • Stand side by side with the persecuted believers. Accept personal loss in order to sympathize with them. – Hebrews 10:32-34 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
  • Remember the persecuted as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)

 

TAGS: 990530PM

The Beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14)

The events described in this section are “the beginning of birth-pangs” (Matt. 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (Isa. 13:6–11; 1 Thes. 5:5). Let’s consider some of the significant events that will occur at the beginning of this period.

  • GLOBAL FALSE TEACHING  (vv. 4–5). The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs. The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:1–2 is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray. He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43).
  • GLOBAL WARFARE  (v. 6). Note that wars are not a sign of the end. There have always been wars in the world, and will be until the very end. Wars of themselves do not announce the end of the age or the coming of the Lord.
  • GLOBAL FAMINES (v. 7a). War and famine usually go together. Revelation 6:6 suggests terribly high prices for staple foods, for a “penny” was a day”s wages.
  • GLOBAL EPIDEMICS (vv. 7b-8). Earthquakes help to create famines, and both help to cause epidemics that take many lives.
  • GLOBAL PERSECUTIONS (v. 9). Christians have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.
  • GLOBAL CHAOS (vv. 10–13). Those who once were true to each other will betray each other. This suggests that marriages, homes, and nations will be torn asunder because of lack of loyalty. Lawlessness will abound (Matt. 24:12), for even the law enforcement agencies will not be able to keep the peace. (Matthew 24:13 has nothing to do with personal salvation in this present age of grace. “The end” does not mean the end of this life; it refers to the end of the age
  • GLOBAL EVANGELISM (v. 14). Revelation 7:1–8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth. This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God’s grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord’s return at the end of the age that is in view here. Matt. 24:14). Those believers on earth during this terrible period, who endure in their faith, will be saved when the Lord comes at the end and delivers them.

Even though most of the time we in America are unaware of it, there is a growing hostility for Christians around the world. Here is an overview of the situation:

Middle East

A decade ago, Islamic fundamentalists had an uneasy religious “truce” with Western expatriates who came to work for them, particularly in the oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia. They tried to keep the Westerners, mostly Christians of one degree of commitment or another, restricted from the rest of the populace. Still, the impact of a handful of expatriates and a small yet organized church has been tremendous. The presence of US troops during the Gulf War increased the effect dramatically, and the ongoing presence of troops has exacerbated it. But it’s the evangelization of the Middle East that really causes problems. Islamic extremists are responsible for a new wave of attacks on Westerners. An increased level of persecution has been noted, with the murder of Mehdi Dibaj (Iran) and the harassment of Robert Hussein in Kuwait. just the tip of the iceberg.

North Africa

The country of Sudan in northern Africa has perhaps the worst record of persecution in the world. The government’s professed goal of total Islamicization of the country has led to a state of civil war between the mostly Christian and animistic southern regions and the Muslim north. Government atrocities are numerous, and include aerial bombardment, massacres, slavery, and even reports of crucifixions. Many of those killed fall under the definition of martyrdom. Others in northern Africa have also attacked Christians, particularly where radicals are agitating for civil governments to implement Islamic law. In a well-known case earlier this year, several monks were kidnapped and murdered as part of the ongoing hostilities between the Algerian government and the Armed Islamic Group, the leading opposition.

Eastern Asia

The continuing persecution of Chinese believers is well documented. Churches have been bulldozed with believers inside. Pastors have been arrested, humiliated and executed. Christians have been threatened and imprisoned. In fact, the new waves of persecution are so rampant that the United Nations has recently set up a special fax line for incoming reports of atrocities, so it’s Human Rights Commission can react more quickly to them. Representatives of several organizations, including Amnesty International and Voice of the Martyrs, have testified before the US Congress, calling for economic and political measures against nations that persecute Christians.

Latin America

Missionaries have been attacked as “soft targets” by the various structures of sin-drug lords and terrorists in particular. It was with much relief that the Christian world was able to report the release of Ray Rising, a Wycliffe missionary kidnapped in Colombia. Unfortunately, the mission station from which he was taken had to be closed and moved due to ongoing security threats. Other Christian workers have been kidnapped, and mission agencies have had to adopt a very difficult policy-refusing to pay ransom. Agency executives agree that giving in to these demands would only cause a rash of kidnappings. Missionaries going into insecure situations know they must rely on God’s help and grace.

Africa

Because of their stand for Christian principles of freedom and democracy, and because of their untiring work in the name of Christ on behalf of the poor, oppressed and persecuted, many Christians have been martyred in political and ethnic conflicts. There are many incidents in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa where missionaries, pastors, priests, churches, monasteries, and seminaries have been specifically targeted. In Rwanda’s genocide alone, half a million Christians were martyred.

Now As we look at Revelation 6 we are looking at the Tribulation, the first step in Christ’s taking back the earth, which is rightfully His. One by one Christ unrolls the seals. As each seal is broken, He takes further possession and control of His inheritance. Finally, “the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’” (11:15). When He unrolls the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet blows, the earth is His.[1]

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION of the Tribulation in  (Matt. 24:3-34) exactly parallels the seals of Rev. 6!

Listen to this account of the trail of blood God’s saints have trod, stand with me as we read Hebrews 11:32-40

Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and all the other prophets. 33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions 34 and in a fiery furnace. Some, through their faith, escaped death by the sword. Some were made strong again after they had been weak or sick. Others were given great power in battle; they made whole armies turn and run away. 35 And some women, through faith, received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were beaten to death, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free—trusting that they would rise to a better life afterwards.36 Some were laughed at and their backs cut open with whips, and others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated—too good for this world. 39 And these men of faith, though they trusted God and won his approval, none of them received all that God had promised them; 40 for God wanted them to wait and share the even better rewards that were prepared for us.

So that is what happened up to the time of Christ. What happened after?  Hebrews 10:30-39  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back,

I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

So what is the record since the Cross? How has the church fared? Let’s pick up with the 12 Apostles.

How Each Apostle and some well known leaders of the New Testament church Died

During the first persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero, Christians begged Peter not to expose his life which was considered necessary to the well-being of the church. Finally, Peter consented to depart from Rome, but as he fled along the Appian Way, about two miles from the gates, he was met by a vision of the Saviour traveling towards the city.

Struck with amazement, he exclaimed, “Lord, whither goest thou?” The Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, “I go to Rome to be crucified a second time,” and vanished. Peter immediately turned back and reentered the city.

All of the apostles were insulted by the enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly did they bear the trial.

  • Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia.
  • Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
  • Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
  • John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
  • Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
  • James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem,
  • James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
  • Bartholomew was flayed alive.
  • Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
  • Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
  • Jude was shot to death with arrows.
  • Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
  • Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
  • Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.

Columbine Cassie Bernall martyred as Christian.

Rachel Scott shot in leg by Eric Harris and asked if she was a christian. When she boldly answered yes Dylan Kliebold shot her dead saying, “Then go be with Him now!”

Missionary, Two Sons, Burned to Death in India

News Date: January 25, 1999
Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines, 58, was burned to death in his car Saturday along with sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6, after a crowd doused their car in gas and lit it outside a church in the town of Manoharpur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Information sent from Voice of the Martyrs sources in India say that Staines had been working with leprosy patients in India for 34 years. His sons were visiting on vacation from school.

The attack comes amidst rising persecution of Christians in India. Yesterday, five more missionaries were beaten in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The missionaries were handing out tracts and pamphlets when they were attacked.

It is unknown why the attack on Staines and his sons took place, though reportedly five members of Bajrang Dal, a militant group affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been arrested. Staines was in the area to attend a “jungle camp” organized by a local church there.

Reportedly, the militants attacked the vehicle armed with bows and arrows after warning village residents not to interfere. People from the village who tried to help the missionary and his sons were beaten by the mob.

India’s Prime Minister, was quick to condemn the attack. Staines’ wife, Gladys, told reporters she was upset by the attack on her husband, but not angry with the men who committed the crime.

Monday at a memorial service for her husband and sons, Gladys and her daughter led the congregation in singing:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth a living just because He lives.

Seal #5 martyrs  (vv.9-11)

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

  • When the fifth seal is broken, martyrs who died because of their faith during the Tribulation are seen under the altar in heaven, praying for Christ to take back the earth and avenge their blood. These are the souls of those who are slain during the Tribulation period on account of their testimony to the Word of God. The terrible martyrdom of Rev. 6 are much clearer to us who have lived through or pondered the horrors of World War II.

The atrocities of Nazi war criminals’ discrimination  —  ghettos concentration camps  —  mass extermination;  In 10 years, 60% of Jews in Europe, 6 million, were butchered. G. M. Gilbert wrote in his history of the criminal trials of those criminals called the Nuremburg Diary:  “…the torture, the starvation, the mass murder, the diabolical experiments on live human guinea pigs.  ‘History,’ he said, ‘does not record a crime perpetuated against so many victims or ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.’ ‘Mass murder,’ he said, ‘was becoming a State industry, with byproducts.’  That is only one page from the sordid story of modern persecution.  There are many pages more.  The world is getting ready for the breaking of this seal.

What is shown here, under the breaking of the fifth seal, is elaborated further in chapter seven, where the great tribulation is introduced.  Here only a preview is given of the terrible persecutions which will engulf the globe in a coming day.”  What leads to such faithfulness even to death?  One thing: Faithfulness to Christ in life.

  • What is the lesson? Jesus is the LIGHT OF WORLD (8:12) – He illumines us, apart from Him is only impenetrable darkness.

A Biblical Perspective On Persecution Of Believers

First, Persecution is inevitable for Christians:

  • Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Mark 10:29-30 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,30 “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.1 Peter 4:12,
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
  • 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

Second, we are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ:

  • Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
  • Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
  • Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • 1 Peter 2:20-23 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter

Third, God’s Word promises wonderful treasures for those who face persecution:

  • Death will bring peace and rest. – Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers  That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
  • God will bring justice when Jesus returns. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)
  • Leads to spiritual maturity. – James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
  • Persecution earns us Heavenly rewards – James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV)

Fourth, God uses persecution for His purposes:

  • Persecution often Spreads the gospel to other places. – Acts 8:1,4 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (NIV)
  • Persecution is to Reveal Jesus in us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (NIV)
  • Persecution Encourages others to be more courageous in their testimony. – Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (NIV)
  • Persecution of saints always Glorifies Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7 These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

  Fifth, what are proper responses in the face of persecution?

  • Love and pray for the ones who are persecuting believers. – Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV) 1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)
  • Call your church to pray for the persecuted. – Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
  • Show as much concern for the persecuted as for those in your own local church. – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (NIV)
  • As you pray, remember who the true enemy is. Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV)
  • Rejoice over their steadfast love of God. – 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? (NIV)
  • Exhort other Christians by the faith and example of the persecuted believers. – 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
  • Stand side by side with the persecuted believers. Accept personal loss in order to sympathize with them. – Hebrews 10:32-34 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
  • Remember the persecuted as if you yourselves were suffering. – Hebrews 13:3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV)
 
  • Should I Celebrate Halloween?https://media.blubrry.com/discoverthebook/p/discoverthebook.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MOI-26-Prophetic-Panoramas.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSSAPO-21 [...]
  • How to Spot a False Teacherhttps://media.blubrry.com/discoverthebook/p/discoverthebook.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MOI-26-Prophetic-Panoramas.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS050612am [...]
  • Christ - Our City of Refugehttps://media.blubrry.com/discoverthebook/p/discoverthebook.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MOI-26-Prophetic-Panoramas.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSSCOR-02 [...]
  • The Safest Spot in the Universehttps://media.blubrry.com/discoverthebook/p/discoverthebook.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/MOI-26-Prophetic-Panoramas.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS050626AM [...]
 
Scroll Up