It has been established that persecution of Christians is inevitable and will persist until Christ returns to put an end to it. The Bible teaches how to deal with persecution and the persecutor.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
The Greek for ‘Blessed’ in the above passage means ‘possessing the favor of God.’
To be reviled and persecuted for Jesus’ sake is evidence that one is in the hands of God. The Christian is to rejoice while being persecuted with great confidence that such persecution will result in heavenly rewards. The Christian is then told that others of God’s chosen suffered persecution prior to the church. God’s chosen includes the ‘Apple of His eye,’ i.e. national Israel.
Jesus then instructed Christians how to respond to their persecutors.
“…But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” Matthew 5:44
The Christian is not to retaliate for the wrongs done to him; rather the response should be to invoke God’s best on them.
The Greek for ‘bless’ in the above passage does in fact mean to ‘invoke God’s blessings’ on one’s persecutors.
Later Paul expounded on Jesus’ teachings when dealing with persecutors.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
“…Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.” 1 Corinthians 4:12-13
Paul confirmed Jesus’ teachings, i.e. Christians are admonished to love their enemies and persevere in the presence of persecution.
In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul revealed the source of persecution for God’s chosen.
While the two divisions of mankind are generally defined as either belonging to the ‘world,’ or being members of the ‘kingdom,’ Paul defines the two classifications as either being ‘born according to the flesh,’ or being ‘born according to the Spirit.’
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.” Galatians 4:22-23, 28-29
Therefore, according to Paul, those born according to the flesh depend on salvation by works. Those born according to the Spirit, i.e. children of promise, believe salvation is a gift based on the vicarious sacrifice of Christ.
Note particularly that Ishmael represents the offspring of the bondwoman while Isaac represents the offspring of the freewoman. Then Paul notes that Ishmael persecuted Isaac approximately 2000 years before the church, and such persecution existed during Paul’s day.
And then Paul confirmed that the church consisted of children of the freewoman, but the offspring of the bondwoman was to be ‘cast out.’ The two divisions had nothing in common.
“Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.” Galatians 4:30-31
Now remember Ishmael and his bondwoman mother was sent to the East as was his offspring.
In these days, where is the greatest persecution of God’s chosen, the church and national Israel, being perpetrated in the world today? Is it not in the Middle East?
Such gross persecution will be present as long as the brothers continue to battle.
“He (Ishmael) shall be a wild man, his hand shall be against every man…and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Genesis 16:12
Do America’s leaders really have a grasp of the significance of the conflict in the Middle East, or do they naively think those nations can be reconciled via diplomacy?
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