According to global statistics, over 200 million followers of Yeshua are undergoing high levels of persecution today – primarily in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Furthermore, I believe the Scriptures teach that the time is coming when such persecution will be the norm in every country of the earth.
As a new believer in my early twenties, a leader in my life once spoke prophetically over me: “Cody, go deep into God’s word NOW because there will be a time in the future when it will be taken away from you, probably because you will be put in prison for your faith.” What an encouraging word for a new believer right?! Actually, I took that word seriously and have continued to devote much time to meditating on God’s word almost daily for the past decade.
As I study the end times, one of the themes that continues to catch my attention is that of persecution. Sometimes in my quiet times I conceive of the possibility of my being arrested, beaten, put in prison and even martyred for my faith. That probably sounds strange, but I am training my heart now to walk in love for Yeshua and stand up for my faith when those times of extreme pressure come.
My sense is that this heart posture is rare in large portions of the Church today. Even If you and I don’t end up facing high levels of persecution, I believe it is wise to prepare ourselves and the next generation for what is coming.
What is Coming?
So, for what should we be preparing? Here are some scriptures I have been meditating on:
- “But before all these things they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons…” (Luke 21:12, please read the verses before – about false Messiahs, wars, great earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful sights). If you think you will get raptured out before persecution and trouble come, you will be in for a BIG shock;
- Luke 21:16 warns us that biological and spiritual family and friends will betray us and put some to death;
- “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:17). Consider this word – ALL. Atheists, people of other religions and humanistic, secular society may tolerate us at some level today, but this tolerance won’t last forever. Are you ready to be hated by all?
- “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think he offers God service” (John 16:2). The deception will be so deep that people will think they are doing God’s will by killing us;
- Before Yeshua returns, new laws will be passed against believers, making us to be criminals in the eyes of the world. Calling the nations to turn from their sins and not budging on Yeshua being the only way to God, will be seen as major obstacles to global peace. Because lawlessness will abound and the love of many will grow cold, we should not expect human help or mercy when attacked, but instead the plundering of our possessions, major lies and attacks through media, lawsuits, fines, imprisonments … (Isaiah 24:5-6; Matthew 24:12; Hebrews 10:34);
- The antichrist will be allowed to make war with the saints and overcome them (Daniel 8:23-25; Revelation 13:7). I believe patterns in Scripture, such as Esther 3 and Daniel 3 where laws were legislated forcing people into false worship and the destruction of the Jewish people, will emerge again before Yeshua returns;
- “As it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so it will also be in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26-30). The wickedness, violence and sexual perversion seen in the days of Noah and Lot are rampant again today, and will continue to be directed against believers in an ever-increasing way (Genesis 6; 19).
In conclusion, Jews and Christians will be the most hated people on the earth. But do not despair about the future, there is good news! The greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit and harvest of souls will be happening simultaneously with this global persecution (Acts 2:17). There will be a remnant of faithful believers in every nation who will obey God over man (Acts 5:29), and not love their lives unto death (Revelation 12:11).
Lord, help us to apply Yeshua’s exhortation to watch and pray always that we would be strengthened to resist compromise, sin and fear (Luke 21:36).