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The Martyrs of the Faith – Week 9 / February 22nd
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them and judgment was
committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had
been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word
of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and
had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their
hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand
We have recently heard about the thousands of Christians, including little girls and boys, who have been beheaded and thus murdered by ISIS. These wicked and evil deeds have now been compounded by attacks on freedom of speech in Europe and on Jews. More shocking still was the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS in Libya. This medieval form of Islam is determined to exterminate the Church and indeed said as much in their preamble to the video showing these horrific deeds. They, not the the Church, have declared a holy war against Jews and Christians. This cannot be denied. It is also true that they have declared a similar holy war against all Muslims who do not practice their brand of Islam. Nevertheless, radical Islam is murdering Christians all over the Middle East and in Africa and the international community has been slow to challenge and confront these new fascists. The sad truth is that there is more to come and liberal politicians in Europe, driven by the crazy notion that Muslims will integrate into the fabric of European life, have provided a doorway for radical Muslim extremists to penetrate the region with murder and mayhem in mind.
Nevertheless, the images of Christians quietly lining up to be beheaded have traumatized us all, not only because we abhor such wicked deeds, but because we wonder what we would do? The manner in which they have died has been inspiring because they rejected the ” mark of the beast” in the Nineveh plains and chose death rather than life. In fact they chose life because they had put their faith in Jesus and what He did for them on the cross and they knew with a certainty in their hearts that they would live eternally and rule ad reign with Him. I fear that many more Christians in the Middle East and beyond will be called to lay down their lives for their Lord. This is the testimony of the book of Revelation. It is interesting to note that the quote from it above refers to beheading. It’s as if the prophet John saw our day and the wickedness of these radical Islamic groups.
Indeed, as I have written before, scripture refers to two end-time beasts and not one. The “second beast” of Revelation thirteen is the one that ruthlessly applies the genocidal agenda of the first beast against those who know and love Jesus. According to Daniel 8 this second beast arises out of the area we now call Iraq! And then, according to Daniel 11, he will forsake all gods except a god of fortresses. That is, a god of war or jihad! We have been forewarned but in reality the Lord God of heaven, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is purifying His church and getting her ready for the return of His glorious Son. Just beholding these terrible atrocities that God Himself will avenge makes us examine ourselves to see whether we are truly walking with Jesus as we should. Our brethren, by their suffering are preaching to us and a glorious crown awaits them because, as Paul put it, they are filling up in their flesh “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” That is, their sacrifice inspires the Church in the world to live fully for Christ.
For sure the suffering Church needs our help and prayers but the Church at ease in the west needs to wake up because the same wickedness is slowly approaching it. Let us not be found wanting! Revelation 6, gives us a picture of the living souls in the presence of God who have been martyred for their faith. They cry out to God to avenge the spilling of their blood but the answer God gives them is to be patient until “both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
The way of the cross is before us and we must follow it in order to be purified from sin so that, whether in life or by death, we may glorify Jesus and bear powerful witness to Him. It is by this process that He calls more “Sauls” to His purpose (Acts 8:1) and these will “turn the world upside down!” ( Acts 17:6) So then, let us be strong, filled with the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord with joy.
©Malcolm Hedding Ministries