Persecution, imprisonment and martyrdom… the sad experience of so many down through the centuries who have followed Christ, borne witness to the gospel, and proclaimed truth! It is the sad experience of many faithful Christians today. And the Bible declares prophetically it will be increasingly so as we approach the “last days” and the time of our Lord’s return (Revelation 9:6-11).
I was reminded of that reality today as I read the account of Herod, Herodias, his wife; their daughter and the murder of John the Baptist… (Here’s the account from Scripture)
“Herod himself had sent men, arrested John, and bound him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had repeatedly told Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ So Herodias nursed a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not because Herod stood in awe of John and protected him, since he knew that John was a righteous and holy man… But an opportune day came, when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday for his court officials, military commanders, and leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.’ … So she went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ And her mother said, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she hurried back to the king and made her request: ‘I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately. Although it grieved the king deeply, he did not want to reject her request because of his oath and his guests. So the king sent an executioner at once to bring John’s head, and he went and beheaded John in prison. He brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard this, they came and took his body and placed it in a tomb.” (from Mark 6:17–29 the NET Bible)
Little has changed over the centuries… Weak leaders, entrenched hatred of the truth, young people who have been raised surrounded by violence minus Godly values, and the result? Some excuse surfaces to persecute or murder innocent people – righteous people, who have done nothing but exemplify God’s love, proclaimed the gospel and stood for truth.
My challenge today? To pray for persecuted Christians around the world who may be facing abuse and martyrdom for their faith. (They must know that they are not alone – we are standing with them in support and prayer!) And forgiveness and prayer for their persecutors. Oh Lord, protect my heart from hatred! (I could not bring myself to post the recent pictures of the recent beheading of Christians – too gruesome!)