And Saul was consenting to his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. – Acts 8:1
In the starting I would have the same understanding as others that the world hates us for we are unlike them so they will persecute us and about this Yahushua did warn us. But then there were scriptures which state the Lord would set a banquet for us before our enemies and others wherein state our Lord is Almighty and nothing is impossible for Him, so is the Hand of our God short to protect His people from persecution?
It was only when I was preaching on this topic I realized that all the scriptures are perfectly right it is our understanding that was wrong.
In summer because the Sun shines and we feel hot, but in winter also the Sun shines but we do not feel that hot that is because there are other factors that cause the heat of the Sun to not affect us.
We read in today’s message there was great persecution after the death of Stephen in Jerusalem and all the followers of Yahushua were running away from Jerusalem and they scattered to other places in Judea and into regions of Samaria. This persecution was not an ordinary persecution for the scripture quotes it as a ‘great persecution’ on the Church, so Christians were arrested and put in prisons and all their belongs were taken away from them, they may have done other things like stoning them to death or killing them also which was common to Jewish rage at that time, but this factor is not recorded.
When I was preaching on this what caught my attention were the last 3 words ‘except the apostles’. Now think, when a group of people are persecuted it is natural that the rage first falls on the heads of that group that is the leaders of that group. For example when people revolt against a kingdom or government they first try to get their hands on the king or head of that government, for by killing or putting away the king or leader the kingdom or government falls.
Here we see there was a great persecution against the Church (people) yet the leaders of the Church that is the apostles, were still in Jerusalem, a place where all the persecution was concentrated. We read they were not hiding in houses all the time but were still actively doing God’s work even during that period. The very next verses that when Phillip started doing wonders in Samaria (a group of Israelites whom the Jews hated) he sent for Peter and John to come, so the Apostles were moving around.
We need to understand when we accept Christ and walk in His ways the world will hate us, but that hate affecting us depends on how dedicatedly we walk in His ways. As we grow more in spirit, we start to become men of authority and like Yahushua said not a hair of head will be harmed unless God has a plan. That does not mean I am suggesting we stand our ground and face persecution from tomorrow, NO. We do at times need to avoid confrontation since we give more importance to God’s plans in our lives being fulfilled than other things. An alive soldier is more valuable than a dead solider but that does not mean a solider should run away from the battle field. A soldier should give importance to winning the battle therefore keep himself alive and fighting as long as he can.
We see Yahushua also at times slipped away from within a crowd when they came to stone Him. He was man of authority and had the power to do many things but the time and purpose was not right. All things He did were according to what the Holy Spirit led Him and all things He did were only those which glorified His Father. The Bible records only one incident in which under the persistence of His mother He did the miracle of converting water to wine (this was at the marriage of His step-sister / daughter of Mary and Joseph). We read this miracle glorified Him and not His Father knowing thus in advance, He showed His displeasure before doing the miracle.
There are times we are called to stand ground for the Word of God even in the face of death but those times are very, very rare. Let us not think persecution glorifies the purpose of God for scriptures say God does good in and through all things for those who love Him. Let our purpose and mission be of greater importance. Let us strengthen ourselves and walk steadfast in His ways such that persecuting will not affect us, the enemy will see us but will be blinded. Their minds will be confused and they will harm themselves more than harming us. In fact as scriptures say they will in fact help us in mission even thought their intentions will be to hurt us.
Lord, You are Almighty and All Knowing God. There is nothing hidden from You nor anything that is impossible for You. The enemy is smaller than an ant for You but in your wisdom You do not destroy them for You know how to use them to bless your people. You show them their wisdom and foolishness and their might as fragility. Lord, bless your people with wisdom and courage to do your mission and do it your way…
This prayer we make in Yahushua’ Name, Amen.