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Blessed Are They Which Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Dear Brethren,

This is the eighth and the last Beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount contained in Matthew 5. The eighth Beatitude is different than the seven previous Beatitudes as it involves something that happens to us from the outside, it is what others do to us; whereas the others involve conditions of the heart (our attitudes) something that we have control over. And yet if we look more closely at this Beatitude we realize that it too involves something that Christians are to control from within; and that is in how we respond to unjust persecution and the attitude we maintain (and the restraint we exercise) as we go through it.

To be the target of unjust persecution is something very hard for anyone to accept and yet God has predetermined that His children would be persecuted from time to time and at varying degrees for His own divine purposes.

When persecution falls upon His children it in no way invalidates His love for them or His concern. The Old and the New Testament record many examples of the persecution and cruel mocking of God’s servants.  As those called out by God the Father to become like Christ we must be willing to accept and understand that persecution serves as an essential role in the implementation of His purpose and the making of a perfect [complete] man or woman, even as Christ admonishes us to be perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. You could say this is the test, the grand finale of all of the other Beatitudes, and adds the finishing touches of instilling valuable character attributes to the person whom God is working with.

As far as responding positively to the negative actions of others, none of us gets it right at first; and just like the other Beatitudes and the fruit of Spirit we must grow in these things over time and by trial and error repenting when we get it wrong and then purposing in our heart to grow in all areas that need refining. This is what it means to be overcomers, just as Jesus tells us in His messages to the seven churches in Revelation: That we will be blessed if we overcome and that we will receive the rewards as outlined in chapters 2 and 3 (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21).

Just as each of the Beatitudes promise certain blessings and rewards if we are doing them, Christ assures us that if we are persecuted for living and doing righteously (which includes responding in a righteous way) then great is our reward in heaven.

God allows all kinds of temptations and trials including the trial of persecution to fashion and mold His children to be the kind of sons and daughters that He wants to be in His Kingdom. Trials and temptations have a tendency to keep us humble and they motivate us to look to God as our source of strength. They test whether we will be loyal to God in good times and in bad times, and whether we will keep all of His Word even when we are being tempted. Trials (which often comes in way of persecution) can also be used as effective tools in increasing our faith as we see God working behind the scenes giving us the help and the grace in our time of need. In this way we learn to depend on God and trust Him no matter what is happening in our lives, knowing that all things work for good to those who are faithful to Him and who love Him.

The Example of Christ

When Christ came to earth to live as a human in the flesh He looked like any other ordinary Jewish man to the society around Him. But unlike any ordinary man He denounced the traditions of the religious leaders of His day (the scribes and the Pharisees) and He taught the people extraordinary and profound teachings that they had never heard before.

Matthew 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 7:29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

John 7:46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

Jesus’ teachings, and the fact that many were coming to Him to hear the marvelous things which He spoke and to see the many signs and wonders He performed, enraged the leaders of the religious establishment. When an opportunity presented itself, one of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus to the authorities who wanted to silence Jesus of Nazareth once and for all. The Christ was arrested, falsely accused, and unjustifiably sentenced to be put to death by crucifixion on a stake.

Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 26:16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

That Passover in 31 A.D. was a day like no other, for it was the day that Jesus, who was also the Messiah, was arrested, falsely accused, and then sentenced to die at the hand of Roman soldiers. Jesus Christ was hated by many of the Jews and the Jewish leaders persecuted Him to the death.

After being unjustly tried the religious authorities handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to crucify Him. The soldiers were just doing their jobs that day as a part of their daily routine of being Roman executioners. A part of their job description was executing those who were condemned by their superiors as common criminals. Jesus was just another “criminal” (or so they thought) whom they nailed to the stake along with two other men on either side of Him that day.

The man that the religious leaders and the Roman magistrates had executed was none other than the prophesied Messiah who had emptied Himself of His Almighty Deity and had come down to live as a man in the flesh according to the Father’s will. Little did they realize that they were crucifying their own Creator, the Being of Genesis 1 who had said “Let there be light: and there was light” and so forth.

The religious leaders had not connected the prophetical signs showing that Jesus was the Christ, therefore they had no clue that the person they had sentenced to be tortured and murdered was actually the prophesied Messiah that was to come to save all people.

If Christ was persecuted, who was the most righteous person who has ever lived, so will all who follow Him and seek to be righteous as He is righteous.

Jesus told His disciples the night of His arrest (which was recorded for all those who would become disciples of Jesus in the future) that the whole world would hate them for wanting to follow Him.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

If we belong to Christ, then we have been, are now, and will be Satan’s target right up until the end of our physical lives. Those who are the faithful called of God and who have set themselves on a path that is different from the world’s will suffer persecution. Paul, who was also severely persecuted wherever he went, told Timothy:

2nd Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

The apostle Peter comforted the brethren in his congregations when they faced these kinds of trials and told them not to be surprised when these kinds of things happen.

1st Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

Most believers expect to be persecuted and mocked by outsiders and strangers , but they are often taken aback and bewildered when those who are the closest to them, those who know them and should be understanding of them and their desire to please God, attack and say mean things because they are true followers of Christ and His Word.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar [close] friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, [who shared meals with me and was a huge part of my life] hath lifted up his heel against me.

What is Persecution?

Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words has four Greek words for  “persecution”:

1. Radaph: Strong’s #7291; to run after with hostility

2. Diogmos: Strong”s #1375; persecution

3. Dioko: Strong’s #1377; to put to flight, pursue, by impl. to persecute

4. Thlipsis Strong’s 2347; pressure, trouble, means “to pursue, follow after or press toward.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary for “to persecute” means “to put to flight or drive away.”

Persecution then is the aggressive and hurtful behavior carried out in a hostile, antagonistic spirit by others, sometimes by one person or sometimes by a whole group of people; and often by the governments and religious establishments of this world.

The persecution is often perpetrated with ardent zeal and with heart-felt justification for what the persecutors do, as when Paul persecuted the church [Ekklesia], or when certain men of the synagogue of the Libertines and others disputed with Stephen and had him hauled in to face the council and then proceeded to persecute him to the point of stoning him to death.

True Christians must always remember that persecution is not according to godly knowledge; most of these people who persecute do so out of ignorance, and their attacks against us are based on the persecutors’ false perceptions and biases toward the ones they are persecuting; and as Jesus asked His Father to forgive His persecutors, “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) so Stephen was able to forgive and to ask the Lord “to lay not this sin to their charge”.

Romans 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Stephen, who was ordained to be a deacon, also serves as a perfect example for other Christians who have had to (or for those who may have to in the future) give their lives because of wicked men who persecuted them to the death.

Stephen did nothing to these men except to try to tell them the truth about Christ, and yet they hated him for bearing and exemplifying the truth of God. The truth enraged them so much that they picked up stones and stoned him until he died right in front of them.

Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Bible gives accounts of many instances of His servants being persecuted in the Old and the New Testament. In the last book of the Bible, we are told that even John, the aged apostle, was banished [exiled] to the Isle of Patmos [which served as a type of prison] for the sake of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Many Christians have been persecuted and killed over the centuries.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Jesus, the epitome of holy righteous living, was highly targeted for persecution; in fact He was persecuted more than anyone on earth. And in John 8, He distinctly revealed where persecution comes from and who the real source is in these verses as the Pharisees disputed with Him as to who did He think He was, (John 8:13) for they did not believe that He had been sent by God the Father. The Pharisees claimed to be descendants of Abraham but they were not behaving like their father Abraham nor did they exemplify Abraham’s acceptance and hospitality in showing great respect and honor to Christ when He came to him in the person of Melchizedek, and later visited his home to give him messages and promises.

When disputing with the Pharisees, Jesus told them that if they were really Abraham’s children, then their behavior would model the character of their father Abraham and they would not be persecuting Him; but that they were in fact the children of Satan because they were emulating Satan.

John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 

These verses clearly portray Satan the Devil, as the real source of persecution and the real perpetrator of all those who persecuted Jesus; and it is Satan who persecutes those who seek to follow and obey Jesus and God the Father. It may appear that the persecution is coming from men, but the men are being manipulated by Satan and are allowing themselves to be used as his instruments. The source behind men’s threats and destructive behavior toward God’s people is revealed to us to be from Satan and the rulers that he sets up, for the Bible tells us:

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Satan’s persecution of God’s people has been ongoing throughout history but it will culminate in persecution of the Ekklesia on a massive scale in the near future.

Revelation 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Many places in the Bible show us that Satan hates Jesus Christ most of all. Satan tried to destroy Him when He was here on earth as a man but Jesus defeated Satan at every turn, responded properly to every bait and was successful in thwarting all of Satan’s temptations even while going through the worse kind of persecution imaginable and emerged victorious at His resurrection.

Satan no longer can reach or tempt Jesus but he can still go after the Ekklesia, which is the body of Jesus, the group of people on earth in whom are being made in the image of Christ and His Father in heaven.

Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church [Ekklesia], 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Why Do the Ungodly Persecute the Godly

Why do the ungodly persecute the Godly? Persecution has been going on since Cain killed Abel, and it was because Abel was righteous and his righteousness made Cain envious. Cain’s envy caused him to hate his own brother, and it is this kind of envy in the hearts of evil men, that causes them to persecute those who are righteous. 

1st John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

Why did the religious people and the crowds persecute Jesus Christ even to the point of putting Him to death on a stake? It was because He was righteous and also because He was a bearer of the truth and men do not like to hear the truth! All of humanity at this time is under the sway of the evil one and they are naturally at enmity with God and His Laws and hate it when others want to live and teach the ways of God. It has been this way ever since Adam and Eve turned from obeying God and instead chose to come under the rule of the Adversary and to obey him instead of God.

Isaiah was told by Christ about the carnal nature of man and told him to write an indictment of the people for their rebelliousness and for their refusal to teach and to keep God’s laws.

Isaiah 30:8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever:  30:9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;  

So what do men want their prophets and religious leaders to preach? What kind of messages do they want to hear?

Isaiah 30:10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.  30:11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us.”

Mankind would rather have lies told to them, the kind of things that make them feel good rather than to be told the truth, and it has been this way every since Adam and Eve. Jesus warned that there would be many false teachers and false prophets throughout time right up until His return. 

We also have the apostle Paul’s warning regarding how it is a tendency of many to desire to be told only what they want to be told so therefore they seek out false teachings and false teachers who turn men from believing the truth of God and who teach false doctrines contrary to the Word of God.

2nd Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

When all men everywhere, including those we love, only want to be taught and shown “smooth things” (that they do not have to obey God, that there are no repercussions for living any way they please; or the kinds of things that titillate rather than convict them of their sins) they will persecute those in their midst who are trying to obey all of God’s laws and who tell them that there ARE repercussions.

When the Godly refuse to go along with those who are sinning, the ungodly persons feel that they are being judged. The Godly do not even have to speak out against their ungodliness, just their example of living for God can infuriate them. Carnal men do not like to be told or even to have it implied that they are wrong or that their conduct is wrong and it makes them angry when they are told or shown that their ways are evil. They are extremely offended when told or shown the truth because it hurts their pride and ego; therefore they want to retaliate against those whom they feel are hurting them. This causes them to persecute those who are righteous. Their persecution and bullying is a form of retaliation for their wounded pride.

Backing up to include the context surrounding 2nd Timothy 4:3, Paul told Timothy to teach God’s truth no matter what; to realize that there will always be people who do not want to be taught sound doctrine but instead want ministers who will preach sermons that will tickle their ears even if what those ministers teach is far from what the Bible clearly teaches.

In these verses Paul is admonishing Timothy and warning that even though there will be people (even brethren) who refuse the truth, Timothy must endure afflictions (which sometimes entails persecution) and be faithful to fulfill his calling to teach sound doctrine in spite of what the erring brethren or other men may want.

2nd Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:  4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Spiritual Warfare

There is a spiritual war going on in this present evil world which began when Satan rebelled against God. This warfare is really between Jesus Christ the Son of God and the arch enemy of God: Satan. Now that Satan can no longer attack Jesus, the war continues to rage between the seed of Satan [Satan’s followers who can be used as his instruments] and those called to be the children of God. Satan and his minions despise God’s people, the body of Christ, more than any other people on earth.

Jesus’ parting words on the last night that He would be with His disciple as their Teacher while still in the flesh warned the disciples that they would suffer persecution and then explained why they would be persecuted.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

He foretold that the disciples would encounter the hatred of the world for the only reason that they were His disciples and were doing and teaching what He had commanded them; basically what the apostle Paul warned in his letter to Timothy: That those who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

When people, religious leaders, or government officials persecute God’s children they are really persecuting Christ. When Paul was persecuting the Ekklesia, the first thing Christ said to him was: “Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting Me?”

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,  Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks [To kick thorns with bare feet, in other words to engage in vain foolish self destructive acts].

Jesus Christ regards any attack against His people, His faithful Ekklesia; as an attack against Himself personally.

Zechariah 2:8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

Hebrews 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

How Is A Disciple of Christ To Respond to Persecution?

Scripture tells us that how a disciple responds to persecution can be a verifiable litmus test to ascertain the authenticity of his or her calling and faith. For one thing we are to endure it and remain faithful to our calling even when others hate us or are trying to destroy us. This in itself shows that we are truly Christ’s disciples and that we are willing to endure persecution for His sake and not turn from the Faith to avoid trials.

Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

God tells us that true Christians will suffer persecution in various forms, whether it be name calling, mocking, false accusation, intimidation, threatening, abandonment, divorce; to be ostracized, thrown out of the synagogue [disfellowshipped], being thrown into prison, banished (as John was to the Isle of Patmos), beaten, or even killed.

The Scriptures record the stories of many and of how they were persecuted, from righteous Abel in Genesis, David being persecuted by Saul, of Daniel and his three friends Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-Nego, and many others all through the Prophets, the Writings, the Gospels, Acts and even to the future events outlined in Revelation.

Satan harasses and pursues the people of God sometimes even to death in his frantic, mad attempt to destroy God’s purpose and plan for humanity. In this present age Satan’s goal is to defeat Jesus Christ by destroying His Work which is to preach the Gospel, to bring many men and women to salvation, and in the making of sons and daughters for the Family of God.

But as this last Beatitude implies and as Christ expounded upon throughout the Sermon on the Mount, we are to respond in a positive way to persecution and if we do, God will reward us and the persecution we endure will ultimately turn into a blessing. In the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in Scripture, God informs us of persecution in order that we might be prepared for it ahead of time and to know how to respond rather than have a knee-jerk response to those who seek to harm us in some way.

God has called us not only to serve Him but also to be spiritual warriors in the fight against evil in this world. He wants us to know that at the very beginning of our conversion that persecution will come if we belong to Him; but then admonishes us not be afraid and to remain steadfast always.

1st Peter 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

We are instructed not to compromise with those who are trying to compel us to give up our faith or to sin against God.

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

3rd John 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

We are to bless those who persecute us and not to curse them. Paul instructs us in the beginning of Romans 12 that we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, to be holy and to have all our thoughts and behavior acceptable unto God.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is from this premise that Paul then gives instructions as to how we are to do this and then he addresses the subject of how to respond to enemies, i.e. those who persecute us and wish us harm. We are never to retaliate, but to overcome evil with good. This too is our “reasonable service” in the sight of God.

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

True Christians do not fight as the world fights when they are faced with the hurtful actions of others, but rather we are to leave things in God’s hands and let Him fight our battles for us. This is how we do spiritual warfare:

2nd Corinthians 10:2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Peter also gives us a lesson as to how to handle persecution pointing to Christ’s example.

1st Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Even to the point of dying on the stake, Jesus did not retaliate or harbor unforgiveness.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ gave detailed teaching on this very subject of loving and forgiving those who curse us. One thing we are to do is to pray for enemies rather than seek to retaliate against them in the same way they have treated us.

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

What can we be praying for them? That God would someday call them just as He has called us and to bring them to the knowledge of Christ and His sacrifice and how to be saved to eternal life as a member of God’s family.

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The following verse in Isaiah signifies that those who err in mind will someday know the truth, when it is their turn to be called by the Father. And those who criticized God’s people and the truth of God in this dispensation will finally accept instruction in a future time; whether it be in this age, the Millennium, or the Main Fall Harvest of Humanity. As those who are called of God now, we must exercise patience and not let our persecutors cause us to despair or to give up because of what they do or say against us. .

Isaiah 29:24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured [criticized and persecuted] shall learn doctrine [the knowledge of God and His truth].

Jesus goes on to tell us to do good to all, even our enemies, and in this way we are being examples for them as lights in the world; and we also show them what it means to be the children of God the Father; and by doing good to those who persecute us we will become more and more perfect as God is perfect. 

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

To become “perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect” is the greatest blessing we could aspire to!

And then we must never respond to persecution by drawing back into perdition [apostasy] because of criticism or attacks of us for obeying God even if it comes from our most cherished loved ones! We will do them no favor if we acquiesce to sin because of their demands to do so or because we fear that they may withdraw their love and acceptance of us.

Hebrews 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;  10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

If we draw back in any way, it discredits our witness for God and if not repented of will ultimately destroy our character and derail our faithfulness to Christ and to our Father in heaven.  

Whatever we do, when we are persecuted, we must not seek revenge, that is exactly what Satan is baiting us to do to give evidence to the world that we really do not emulate Christ and therefore we will discredit ourselves from being witnesses for Christ.

This is why there is so much importance placed on this vital subject in the Bible including the eighth Beatitude as persecution plays a vital role in God’s plan for the development of His beloved children. This may be hard to hear for no one wants to suffer or to be rejected by their peers or family; nevertheless, Jesus is our role model for even He had to suffer to become perfect.

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

As we said earlier, true Christians, those who are seeking God’s righteousness, are to expect persecution; but we still may ask why? Why is it necessary that God’s people suffer at the hands of the wicked? Why would God’s children be rewarded with this kind of treatment if they are obeying God and seeking to live a life pleasing to Him? Many of the prophets, and even King David in his writings/psalms, sometimes asked this question. One such prophet was Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 1:2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 1:3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 1:4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Then God revealed to Habakkuk why this was happening and the prophet wrote God’s answer for our instruction as well:

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (corrected/instructed/admonished).  2:2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up [those who persecute are full of pride] is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

We are to live by faith, that God in His great wisdom knows what He is doing and what is best for each one of His children and what is the most effective way in which to mold and configure them into the persons He wants them to be. What He appoints for each of us is always so much wiser than what we would humanly appoint for ourselves as we go through certain situations; situations that can seem very painful indeed.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Persecution can also be the catalyst that points out our weak areas, reveals our personal blind spots, and shows us how prideful we still are, especially if we react in the way prideful carnal men do. In this way persecution makes us stronger if we respond in the way Christ responded when He was persecuted. And when we are being persecuted it motivates us to run to our Father for protection and for His deliverance; we draw even closer to Him in prayer for the strength to endure what we are going through.  When we are suffering, it tends to make us more diligent in seeking insight as to how we need to grow or to see our faults more clearly and repent of them; and we must ask God’s continually for His help to give us more of His agape love for those who seek to do us harm.

Trials and persecution can defeat us or they can make us spiritually stronger so that we will be more like our Father and a more effective king/priest in the millennial kingdom when we are teaching and caring for others placed in our care.

Just like the master potter, our Father molds and fashions us to be the kind of vessel He wants to design us to be, and sometimes it can hurt when we are spinning around on that wheel. If we yield to His plan for us we will some day be a beautiful instrument fit for His use in His Kingdom.

Persecution is often a Tool to Further the Gospel

Another purpose for persecution is that it is often used in the furtherance of the preaching of the Gospel. After Pentecost 31 A.D. the early Ekklesia was mostly consecrated in Jerusalem; but what happened? Severe persecution came upon the new Christians who lived there and they were forced to flee in order to save their lives. This shows that it is not wrong to remove ourselves from persecutors and the harm they do if it is at all possible to do so. As they fled to other regions they were not afraid to spread the Gospel message and in this way the Gospel of the way of salvation was taken to the far corners of the earth! (Acts 1:8)

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

As Paul and Silas were exhibiting the precepts taught in the Beatitudes regarding being persecuted, [instead of bemoaning their fate] they were singing and praising God in the very throes of persecution after being thrown in prison! This got the attention of the other prisoners providing these men with a witness of the joy that Paul and Silas had from their faith in God even in the face of imprisonment and being shackled.

Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

God took action and caused a great earthquake that set a string of events to happen until even the jailer and his family became believers and were baptized. And they all rejoiced together (Acts 16: 34) as a result of what happened; and the testimony and positive behavior of Paul and Silas.

At a later time when Paul was writing to the Philippians from prison, he comforted them regarding his imprisonment and told them that is was for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to those whom he would come to know and have influence with while in chains. The persecution he received as a result of his preaching and witnessing would also serve to inspire others to not hold back in preaching the Gospel; and his example would instill in others the desire to steadfastly spread the Word with courage and boldness.

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God comforts and reassures us in regard to persecution in many, many Scriptures.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.  8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus gives us more instruction in chapter 10 of Matthew in regard to persecution and how to keep a positive attitude knowing that even the Christ would be persecuted as they were.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 10:27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

There are many other Scriptures which provide us with comfort and encourage us not to be afraid and what we have to look forward to if we endure suffering:

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk not so as ye have us for an ensample. 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

1st Peter 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

1st Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

The Life of Joseph: A Lesson for All Christians

When we are in the throes of trials including persecution from others for no other reason other than we are trying to follow God, as we mentioned earlier it is hard to come to grips with “why”, especially when it is coming from a loved one. It is often hard to understand why someone who is “supposed” to love us, and may even say that they love us, is treating us the way they do for there seems to be no rhyme or reason for it. Life can seem very disconcerting at times for we don’t always discern how intricately God is working in our lives… until His great PLAN is zoomed in and then we see it for what it is.

We may spend many hours in prayer asking God for proper insight, often anxiously, puzzled about why certain things are being allowed to happen. It is in these times of trials that we have to trust that God is working out something much bigger than what we can currently see in the present circumstance in which we find ourselves. We have to trust that God’s will is being carried out and that He wants to bring something very good out of challenging circumstances, not only for ourselves, but for all of the others that are involved; and that even includes those who have made themselves our enemies.

One biblical example is the life of Joseph. Joseph was born into a very complex family situation. He had the same father, but a different mother than his other half brothers (except for his younger brother Benjamin). He was Rachel’s much longed-for firstborn son and he was the favorite son of his father, (born to Jacob in his old age); in addition, his father Jacob loved Rachel more than his other wife and his two concubines which caused a lot of envy and conflict throughout the family. Because of these family dynamics Joseph’s elder brothers were envious of him and hated him; they constantly showed their contempt for him in their words and by their actions (Genesis 37:4).

His story is recorded in Scripture for us to teach us certain lessons from his life in how we too must look to God and trust His plan for our lives when others work against us and want to bring us down; and even when others desire in their hearts to cause us great harm. And if we respond to persecution as Joseph did, we will be blessed and at some point even our persecutors will be blessed once they are called and then repent of their rebellion against God and their former persecution of God’s people.

We can only surmise that Joseph knew of his family’s history, of how God had appeared to his great grandfather Abraham and then his grandfather Isaac and had given them certain promises regarding the children that would come from their family line; and perhaps Joseph was told about the dream that his father Jacob had when he was fleeing from Esau. Then as a young man Joseph was given prophetic dreams of his own.

Besides hating him for being their father’s favorite son, Joseph’s brothers hated him even more for his dreams which Joseph enthusiastically shared with them (Genesis 37:8).  Their disdain for him led them to betray Joseph by first throwing him into a pit to die, (but then, after second thought) heartlessly selling him to slave traders who happened to be traveling in the area on their way to Egypt.

Genesis 37:23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. 37:25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 37:26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 37:27  Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.

37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

We can only imagine how this made Joseph feel. In his heart he must have thought “how could they do this to their own brother, to their own family?” He probably could not believe at first this was really happening.

But this was only the beginning of Joseph’s trials. We all know the rest of the story: Of one bad thing after another happening to him until finally God intervened and dramatically caused his life to completely turn around; from a life of misery and being enslaved in prison, to the blessing of becoming the ruler in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 41).

Joseph’s story is one of betrayal by his brothers; then he became a victim of false accusation (more persecution for refusing to do evil); when there appeared to be some kind of hope from one that he had helped while in prison, that person forgot to plead Joseph’s case before Pharaoh. Then after many years God provided him with deliverance through a series of events and with the help of his ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, he was at last freed from prison and then blessed with untold riches, fame, privilege, and a family of his own.

In the midst of all of the unfortunate events of his life, Joseph had no clue as to the outcome of what was going to happen and it appeared that he was never going to be freed from prison; but throughout his whole ordeal he looked to God’s hand and trusted God’s sovereign purpose for his life. Joseph also trusted God in the incidence of being betrayed by his brothers realizing that God had a plan for them as well, and that is why he responded to them as he did when the time came for them to be reunited.

From Joseph’s life and how he handled adversity and persecution we can learn to trust God’s plan for our lives, as well, when we are going through painful trials and even when we do not yet have a clear picture of what God is doing.

It may have seemed for a while that God had abandoned Joseph in allowing him to be mistreated by his brothers, and then Potaphar and his wicked wife; and their crimes against him appeared to have ruined his life for good. But as we read the whole story of Joseph’s life we can see that God was with Joseph the whole time.

As God was with Joseph, so He is with all of His faithful children even when things look very bleak indeed for them. What can we learn from Joseph and how he looked to God’s hand in the midst of persecution and trials?

Joseph was taught of God as a child, he believed in God and feared to disobey Him; he was hardworking, trustworthy, and refused to sin against God’s laws even when tempted (Genesis 39:9). In addition, perhaps the promises made to his forefathers and the visions given to him in dreams sustained him through the trials of being a slave, being falsely accused by his master’s wife, and then imprisoned for many years.

Those years which Joseph spent in slavery and prison could have made him bitter toward his brothers and bitter toward God for allowing the things to happen as a result of what they did to him. Perhaps after years and years had gone by, the memory of his brothers had faded somewhat and he had resolved that his family was a thing of the past and that he would never see them again or have to deal with them. But then one day unexpectedly there they were standing right in front of him.

The memory of their meanness, having no mercy toward him when he begged them not to do what they were doing, then selling him into slavery could have made him boil over with anger. Seeing them again must have reminded Joseph of how they had taken him from his father and had robbed him of his heritage, and how his life was made miserable for many years because of what they had done out of hatred for him.

And here they were wanting him to help them and to give them food. Joseph was the most powerful man in Egypt under Pharaoh and he could have sought revenge by refusing to help them, or worse yet, harming them in some way just as they had harmed him. Instead his heart welled up with emotion and tenderness at the sight of his brothers and he instantly perceived that God had sent him ahead to save his family from the famine and to bring them to Egypt where their posterity could survive and continue.

Joseph, in his wisdom, recognized that God was somehow orchestrating events and that the reason for his brothers coming back into his life after all these years was of God’s doing; that God must be working out His purpose for him and his family after all. In spite of the pain they had caused him, here was an opportunity to do them good rather than evil.

Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 45:6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers feared that perhaps Joseph was only being good to them for his father’s sake and they again begged him to forgive them of their sins against him. When they came to him with their petition, Joseph wept. He said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God”? He then assured them that he would take care of them and their families.

Joseph, one of the most powerful men in Egypt, refused to retaliate against his brothers. In all truth, they had done to Joseph the unimaginable and yet Joseph could see beyond the pain they had caused him and realized that a greater plan was at work which led him to forgive them and even take care of them in the land of Egypt.

Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 50:17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 50:21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Vengeance Belongs to God

One of the most difficult thing for humans to do is to forgive and one of the greatest evidences that we really trust God is when we REFUSE to harbor bitterness and anger toward those who wish us harm and make life miserable for us. We must learn to trust that God has a plan for all men (including our own family members) even when they are persecuting us for refusing to worship them or the things that they worship and because we are different; because we march to the beat of a different Drummer than they.

When others make fun of us or reject us; impute twisted motives, malign and ostracize us and/or even do violence against us, it is only natural to want to strike back. This is the way of the world and we see it even in little children when they are playing and one hits the other, usually that child will hit back.

We somehow think that if we make the one who hurt us feel the same way he made us feel, we will be vindicated and that being vindicated will even the score, and having the score “even” will somehow make us feel better. But it just does not work that way. We must follow our Lord’s example; who when He was reviled, did not revile in return:

1st Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile [deceit or insult] found in his mouth: 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled [insulted] not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

When we are reviled, insulted, lied about, maligned, disfellowshipped by friends and family, will we retaliate in some way? Or will we instead trust that Christ’s way is best and then ask for the grace and help to overcome the temptation to seek revenge?

If we are looking for God’s will to be done in every situation, this will make it easier to keep our emotions in check and to place our persecutors in His capable hands. For He says “ Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Part of overcoming is to resist the ways of Satan and retaliation is of Satan. The Eighth Beatitude and the Sermon on the Mount teach us a much better way. Jesus teaches God’s way and He implies that we will be blessed if we respond to persecution righteously and that our reward will be a place in His Kingdom. We must look at persecution from a spiritual perspective believing in God and of what He expects, and then trust that His bigger plan is at work. In essence, this is what Joseph said to his brothers when he said to them, “Fear not: for am I in the place of God?” [Vengeance is for God to take care of, not for me.] (Genesis 50:19)

Joseph was able to perceive God working through the sin of his brothers and their evil intentions. God’s ways sometimes seem mysterious to us for He is able to work through wicked men to bring about a triumphal outcome even when at first all looks lost.

In Joseph’s case, God brought about the saving of Joseph’s whole family from the scourge of famine through sending Joseph on ahead to Egypt, and by the turn of events, orchestrated for Joseph to become the second most powerful man in Egypt thus giving him the power to save his brothers, their families, and his father Jacob.

Just as Joseph we must see God at work in all aspects of our lives. God’s unseen hand was moving and guiding Joseph’s life, and Joseph trusted Him in the darkest periods of his life and then made the best of his situation and God caused him to prosper (Genesis 39:1-6; Genesis 21:23).

He came to see what Solomon had come to see: that God is sovereign over the details that are going on in the lives of His called out children. He upholds, sustains, and governs everything including in good times and also in times of persecution and the troubles which it brings. The whole Bibles shows us that God is not the author of evil, rather, He is good and is always going about for the good, first for His children, and eventually for all of mankind.

Proverbs 19:21 There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Psalm 119:68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

And if we believe this and all of God’s promises contained in His Word, we can trust that all the details of our lives are in His very capable hands and that He WILL turn things to good (Romans 8:28).

The evil that Joseph experienced at the hand of his brothers was unconscionable but the evil done to our Lord Jesus was far worse. Jesus Christ who never sinned, who was the most righteous man who walked on earth, suffered and died because He was righteous and because He was a bearer of the truth to mankind. But God had predetermine beforehand that this would happen in order to save the world: Christ willingly submitted to His Father’s plan to bring about the salvation of many people (this is another analogy in the life of Joseph).

Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,  4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

And if God did not spare His own Son, how will He fail to give us all things. This is OUR HOPE and OUR TRUST when we face persecution in whatever form it comes. Jesus tells us in the Eighth Beatitude that we will be blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness sake; plus the Bible shows us in many places that our response done according to the righteousness of God will [eventually] bring God’s blessings to many others.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

The willingness to forgive others even in the midst of persecution is a vital part of having a right relationship with God. For God to forgive us, we must let go of all grudges toward others.

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 16:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And because God has forgiven us we must be willing to forgive all men, which is also an essential part of our responsibility toward others, both friends and enemies; only those who forgive their offenders will be granted to be in God’s Kingdom.

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Brethren, can we like Joseph trusting in God’s sovereign plan for our life? Let us always be reminded and encouraged that God always works for good no matter how hard this life might be and no matter how much the world hates us for doing good! If we learn the lesson that Joseph learned; ours is the Kingdom of Heaven!

A Future Family Reunion

Joseph’s life illustrates beautifully the Eighth Beatitude: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. Not only was he blessed personally in his character because he was able to overcome the human tendency to grow bitter and strike out; he was also blessed by the reconciliation that came about with his brothers and to see them deeply sorrow over what they had done. He was then abundantly blessed to be able to enjoy truly loving relationships with them from that day forward.

And because Joseph forgave his brothers and then provided for them and their children, Jacob’s sons and their descendants were blessed. Instead of destroying his brothers for what they had done, Joseph forgave them. They were given a second chance and were able to live out the rest of their lives as the founding fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. These eleven men along with Joseph were the continuation of the fulfillment of the prophecy that the seed of Abraham would become a future great and mighty nation, more numerous than the grains of sand.

Joseph moved his brothers and their families to Egypt where the twelve sons of Jacob were fruitful and increased abundantly and the land began to fill up with their descendants (Exodus 1:7). The twelve tribes of Israel were the beginnings of what became a numerous people chosen of God to be His people.

Fast forward to the time of the resurrection of all those who have died and who have lived on earth but were never called and converted in their lifetime. Just like Joseph’s brothers, many of these people will have to face the ones (now the resurrected saints) whom they persecuted in former times, but now those same ones are the rulers (kings and priests) of the land under Christ in His Kingdom.

I believe the story of Joseph and his brothers (aside from teaching us valuable lessons about forgiveness) is also a powerful analogy of the reunion and the reconciliation that will take place in the Main Fall Harvest. It will be a time of great rejoicing for all humanity when they are resurrected and then, realizing that death was not the end, have been given another chance at life!

At first there will be much remorse, weeping, and repentance for what they have done in their prior lives including for the times that they persecuted, abandoned, made fun of etc. God’s people including those who were their very own family members who wanted to obey God and keep His commandments.

And of course, the resurrected Saints, just like Joseph, will be full of joy to see their friends and family members again but in a much better environment, with Satan gone and no more antagonism against them and the things of God in any of them anymore. The Saints will forgive instantly all the people, including their family members, just as Joseph did his brothers. It will be a new beginning just as it was for Joseph and his brothers when they came to Egypt many years after they last seen him being taken away by the slave traders.

Families that had become divided and broken because of misunderstandings which caused persecution and abandonment in this present evil age will be restored to loving and healthy relationships that will be everlasting in God’s Kingdom. This is something that many of us look forward to and what joy to be reconciled to those who formally opposed us!

Persecution in the End Time Ekklesia

Many of us reading this have been (or may even still be) involved in abusive religious/church situations with leaders that have misled us, taught us to believe false church traditions, told us we must obey their leaders even when they are teaching contrary to Scriptures, or those who are not leading by righteous example. Some of these ministers continue to teach us that if we don’t obey them or the group leader and their church government, that we face being cut off from God and will not be in His kingdom. (See the Book of Jude)

Many of God’s people are being encouraged to study their Bibles (to prove the things they believe and the things they have been taught to believe) and are now coming to see that we have been taught wrong about what calendar to go by; told we must keep the dates they say for us to keep for the Holy Days instead of what God clearly determines in His Word. We have been told that we are causing division if we insist on exalting God by being zealous to keep all of His Word, and by not going to restaurants on the Sabbath or for non-participation in catered meals on the Sabbaths and Holy Days.

It hurts to be rejected and told by church authorities, and most of all, by our friends and family members that we are just causing trouble in the Ekklesia, that we have gone off track and are embracing heresy; and it is easy to become very disillusioned and bitter about what is happening to us or remain bitter over things that happened in the past; and even to become depressed and despondent over it.

It is true that most of the COG people were misled and told to obey leaders rather than God; we were victims of what happened in the WCG in the past, and most of the COG corporate organizations are still propagating this error and many false doctrines which we carried over from WCG and its leaders.

There is a growing movement of God’s people who are waking up and becoming aware of the false traditions that were taught to us and coming to the realization that we have been wrong about many things for many years. As this movement grows and blossoms it will garner more attention and indignation from the religious leaders who want to squelch this new awareness of false teachings to protect their long held false church traditions and to protect their control over the brethren.

As many more are being led to see these things, the persecution amongst the Ekklesia will grow and it appears that it will only get worse. Those becoming aware of the past and present mistakes are being ostracized for asking sincere questions and for the proof from the Bible of what they have been taught all these years.  Some brethren are being thrown out of the COG groups, their only crime being of wanting to do what is right in God’s eyes and to pursue true righteousness. 

When we are persecuted for this, we must not become bitter or angry over these things; we should do what we must do to obey God, and then place the people and what they are ignorantly and misguidedly doing and saying in God’s capable hands. Be patient with them knowing that God can and will bring them to repentance at some point in the future.

James 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

Conclusion

Those who are called of God and who are faithful, and have been taught of God; know what His promises are and that we have a great future if we endure to the end of our lives. This knowledge will help to sustain us and gives us great comfort when confronted with persecution and trials knowing that these people are blind to the truth and are under Satan’s sway; but there is a future time coming when they too will be given the chance to reconcile with God and with those they have harmed in the past.

The persecution we have to endure sometimes in this life is meant to condition us to overcome our human nature of wanting to exact punishment on those who hurt us and also to instill the kind of mercy that God wants in all of His children, now, and for all of eternity. Again, Jesus’ words ring in our ears:

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This is a time for us to shine bright for God, for His Word, and to be examples for each other; and to embrace with all our hearts all of the Beatitudes, to instill them and apply them into our lives including loving our enemies when they attack us. If we are willing to follow in the steps of our Lord and Savior who was persecuted to death but rose up in the resurrection to life; we can take comfort that we too will soon be triumphant at our resurrection to spirit if we remain faithful; and will never to be victims again. (Revelation 21:4)

These leaders, friends and opposing family members really “know not what they do” and someday they will thank you for hanging in there and not letting them convince you to turn to the right or to the left from God’s truth.  You are actually blazing a path for them to eventually someday come to see and follow, just as Joseph did for his family so many years ago. 

We must be strong, Brethren and not let our friends, brethren, or family members intimidate or bully us into sinning, or giving up our faith, or from obeying God when He has shown us that we have been wrong about something.

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Matthew 5:10  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Eighth Beatitude brings us full circle….because in order to submit to God the Father and not retaliate when we are persecuted, we must start with the very first Beatitude; we must be poor in spirit which makes us humble and not to let our flesh rise up to fight our own battles in a carnal way.

God says that He will take vengeance, that vengeance is His and He will not overlook what is done to us. But we must just release all to Him and let him handle injustices in His own way and in His own timing: Vengeance belongs to God.

The other Beatitudes come into play as well: first to be poor in spirit means we do not think too highly of ourselves; then to grieve over our own sins and the sins of the world helps us to see things in the proper perspective; to be meek; to hunger and thirst after righteousness; to be pure of heart; to have the attitude of making peace [reconciliation] first with God and then with our fellowman when possible; all of the Beatitudes work together.

All of these attitudes [beatitudes] are put into play when we are unjustly persecuted and if we have en-grafted them in our character that will enable us to respond in a Godly way. What is the reward for being persecuted for righteousness and for handling it as Jesus would have us ? Our reward is the Kingdom of Heaven, the same reward which is promised for the first Beatitude which is to be poor in spirit.

In chapter 4 of Matthew is the account of Jesus spotting and then calling His disciples and the first thing He said to them was “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. It was just after this that Jesus taught the Sermon of the Mount which lays the framework for Christian living by introducing the Beatitudes in chapter 5. So we see that at the very beginning of the disciples’ training to be apostles, Jesus went into great detail to teach them these spiritual principles. Was it just coincidence or was there a purpose involved in beginning their training with the Beatitudes and then expounding on the spiritual applications of them in the next two chapters?

As we read through the Gospels and then the Epistles of the apostles, we can see that the Beatitude principles form the bedrock of all of their teachings about how we are to “BE” as Christians and how to truly follow Jesus Christ in all of His ways.

The twelve original apostles were verbally taught by Christ for 3 ½ years in addition to seeing Christ first hand apply the principles of what He taught in His own life. Christ was a perfect model for His disciples of everything He taught and by watching Him live His life, they were able to more clearly emulate the spiritual principles once they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul who wrote most of the Epistles was also taught in person by Christ (as one out of season) and he too teaches the principles of the Beatitudes in all of his letters.

1st Corinthians 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If we study, learn, and really apply the Beatitudes [all eight of them] to our character and overcome our carnal nature, we will be greatly rewarded at the resurrection to eternal life and with all the blessings that God has in store for those who wait for Him and seek Him with the whole heart. 

Blessed are we if we instill the Beatitudes into our hearts and then apply them in all of our circumstances and situations, for God will richly reward us if we do.

 

Constance   

 

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Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  

God allows temptations, trials and persecutions to prune us so that we may bear much fruit (John 15).  He uses these tools to mold us into the people he wants us to become, to make and keep us humble before him, to teach us faith in God and his power to deliver,  to test our loyalty to him and to purify us of all sin.

We are the sum of our experiences in life, and God guides the experiences of his called out according to the need of each one, to bring us all into the UNITY with the Father, as Jesus is fully united with the Father in heaven.

As Jesus learned and was perfected by suffering, so we also learn and are perfected by what we experience in our lives.

Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

One important thing that we learn is empathy and understanding for the sufferings of others, so that we can become priests who understand and are able to wisely counsel and console others who have suffered.

Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Faithful enduring and overcoming of affliction brings the called out into their glory.

2nd Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

We learn to rely on the promises of God by faithfully keeping his word; which brings tribulations, and through experience in God’s deliverance of his faithful; we learn hope, which is faith.

Romans 5:3 and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Consider Christ; who endured the persecution of sinners, remaining faithful to the Father as an example for us, that we should also accept the correction and the afflictions of our heavenly Father; which are for our own good!

Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint [turn away] when thou art rebuked of him:

When we fall into trials it is often because of our own mistakes and often because we are far from God;  God allows trials to turn us to him and to help us learn from our mistakes to continually grow and grow in knowledge and understanding of the right way to live.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Brethren, everyone makes mistakes and has trials. Having trials or making mistakes is common to all people.  The true measure of a person is not their trials, but how they handle those trials.

When we have trials or make mistakes: do we try to justify ourselves?  and do we continue is our error insisting on our own way?  Or do we correct our ways and thereby grow in our understanding and become more filled with the truth of God?

God is truth; his word is truth; and if we insist on clinging to past error when it is proved contrary to the whole word of God; we are departing from the truth of God into the sin of rebellion and rejecting the correction of our heavenly Father.

Steps in Dealing with Trials

When we have trials and affliction, our first step should be to run to our Father and ask him: WHY?  Ask him to reveal to us what we have done wrong; and ask for help to understand and correct our error.

Remember that this could be a sin or it could be as simple as a matter of our mishandling a situation and maybe we need to be more careful in how we handle others.

Second even if the persecution is undeserved we should not bear animosity for our persecutors; but rather have the attitude of Christ and Stephen who said “forgive them Father.”

Third, and this is really a combination of the first two, is to forgive and to ask our Father to be merciful to all concerned, and to teach all concerned those things that are needful to make all concerned persons better people.

Finally remember that our Father loves us dearly, and all things will work together for good if we are only zealously faithful to learn and to keep the whole word of God!

James Malm

 

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Psalm 10 Commentary

 

A Song of Confidence in God’s Triumph over Evil, God Hears and Acts 

The writer of this psalm is heartbroken over what he sees taking place in the society surrounding him and he questions God about why and asks:

*Psalm 10:1 Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

To “stand afar off” are classic words of lament or mourning in the psalms, as the various writers pray to God about difficult situations. The psalmist in this psalm feels like God is off somewhere else and does not see the troubles that are being caused by the wicked and seemingly is not doing anything about it. But even though the psalmist  is expressing his feelings of God’s seemingly negligence in helping, he continues to beseech God in his prayer. 

*Psalm 10:2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 

The psalmist complains about what the wicked are doing to those who have no power; the unfortunate and the downtrodden in his midst, possibly including himself, and that these wicked men are so full of pride towards others, they do not care if they are inflicting pain and hardship on those they feel are beneath them. 

The wicked set plots that take advantage and exploit those who are weak and small and cannot defend themselves. The psalmist prays that God would turn the tables on them and that they would be caught in their own devices. And this often does happen to those who are devious and try to trick or deceive others and they eventually get in trouble themselves by the same kind of cons that they try to pull on others as they reap the consequences of their evil deeds. 

Psalm 7:15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief         shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate [scalp].

 He is basically praying for God to implement the the reaping and sowing principle that would put a stop to the evil. (Galatians 6:7-8) 

*Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. 

The wicked are so full of pride that they even boast about how they are so smart/intelligent and can take advantage of others; they are full of covetousness and they see it as a blessing to be able to take from others what they want from them. The psalmist discerns that the wicked have no thoughts of God nor any fear of consequences for what they do. With no thought of God, they actually set themselves up as gods in their hearts and boast in themselves. 

 *Psalm 10:5 His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth [sniffs and sneers] at them. 

They have no regard for the real God, the Almighty One that is the Creator of all the earth, they are a law unto themselves; calling good evil, and evil good and mocking the laws and things of God. 

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and put sweet for bitter! 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!  

*Psalm 10:6 He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. 10:7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 

The wicked think that they can be happy and blessed by using oppression and persecution to obtain the things that they want, but their ways only bring misery and heartache (grievousness) to those they see as beneath them.

In their pride they think that they will always be lifted up above others because they think they are so great and high and mighty. This brings to mind a very well known Scripture in Revelation in describing Babylon; this is the attitude of many who are part of the Babylonian system, those who are against God and His ways and hate those who are for God who live righteously and keep all of His commandments. 

Revelation 18:7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.  

*Psalm 10:8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 10:9 He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10:10 He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

The psalmist compares the ways of the wicked to those of lurking beasts ready to pounce on their victims, the ones they prey upon. They are devious, cunning, con-men, deceivers; their ways are harmful and murderous and they have no heart, in fact their hearts are stone hard and they have no feelings for their victims. 

 *Psalm 10:11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. 

Because they have no thoughts of God as far as acknowledging Him or fearing Him, they doubt that their actions will bring any repercussions and even if they do think that there is a God, they reason that He doesn’t care or see the evil things they do; they think they will never be caught and punished and that there will never be a day of judgment for the way they live their lives. 

*Psalm 10:12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble. 

The psalmist cries for out for God to act on behalf of those who are humble. Do we sorrow and weep when we see how the wicked are taking advantage of the poor and those who cannot defend themselves with their stealing, murdering, bringing wicked devices and schemes to pass and how the innocent are suffering? 

Do we cry when we hear about how the innocent among us are murdered every day and then thrown away as if a child is a piece of trash in the sterile (sometimes not so sterile) confines of a clinic or doctor’s office? 

The people and their leaders who demand for this to be the law of the land and those who make their living from performing these horrendous acts; seem to have no conscience about hurting these little ones that are participants of God’s creation; [as they are] infants who can feel pain and then to have their lives snuffed out, stealing from them the opportunity to live their lives as God intended for them. 

The palmist may not have had this specific evil in mind when writing this; but this is an example for those who would be reading these words down through the ages, to apply this heart-cry to all wickedness when we know about it happening in our midst and in our nation and to pray for God to intervene and to put a stop to it….”to lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.” 

Ezekiel 9:3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 9:4 And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.  

*Psalm 10:13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn [spurn and renounce] God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it. [He will not call to account]. 

It is hard for the psalmist to reconcile this in his mind; why do even COG men condemn God’s word in their hearts and spurn Him, and God’s conclusion is that the wicked people in the world are deceived into thinking that they can get away with it. 

The wicked think only of the advantages to be gained by their wicked works, and have no thought of what is going to take place in the future. They have no clue as to the Plan of God and have no qualms about what God is going to do to them when He judges them, either in this life or at the end of this present evil world if they refuse to repent!

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 

The people of the world, for the most part, have no fear or awe of the true Almighty God as their Lord and Master. The world’s leaders and politicians and even many church of God leaders and elders;  feel as if they are above any law and that whatever they do, they are entitled to do as they do, and that they can get away with it.  

*Psalm 10:14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. 

At this point, the palmist acknowledges that God does see the evil and oppression that is taking place on earth and He is going to send His Son to earth to put down all wickedness. He will help those who are weak and helpless. This verse encourages those who are poor and oppressed to commit themselves to God and His judgment and put their trust in Him.  

*Psalm 10:15 Break thou the arm [power]of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none. 

The psalmist prays for God to break the power of the wicked and to expose their wickedness for what it is and the misery it causes. He prays that God would be diligent to eradicate all wickedness from the earth and that includes the wickedness in the church of God. 

*Psalm 10:16 The Lord is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. 

The psalmist concludes with renewed faith that God has a plan and it includes a bright and glorious future, when sin will be no more.  Soon, there is coming a righteous and just King who will rule over all the earth. This verse looks forward to that time!  

*Psalm 10:17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: 

When Jesus was here on earth He taught His disciples to pray that thy kingdom come and that the Father’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Those who have humbled themselves and are seeking to obey and follow Him can have faith that He will hear their prayers and will deliver them at the time of His wise choosing and in a way that best fits His purposes, whether they are delivered as Daniel’s three friends were delivered, or as Daniel was protected from the lions; or even if they are not delivered and have to die as many of the prophets and apostles did, they will finally be raised up in victory at the resurrection of the just to live forever more free from all oppressors.  

 *Psalm 10:18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

 Christ is going to care for the fatherless and oppressed and no man will ever be able to terrify them and rule them with cruelty ever again. 

Despite what any of the wicked believes or says, God IS going to return to the earth and eliminate the works of the oppressors and wicked men; and there will be no longer any persecution of His children or the poor innocents. He will set up His Righteous and Just kingdom and He will be a swift judge in removing evil forces out of the land. 

We do pray for that day to come soon! 

Constance

 

Feature Scripture

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee [the faithfully zealous who live by every Word of God] shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

 

Those faithful to the righteousness of the whole Word of God shall be delivered to the Promised Land of eternal life in the day of their change. 

James

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