Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, October 2, 2022
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,

Uncertain Times Ahead – Is Persecution in Your Future?
“To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” (Old Proverb)
by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: “Happy talk” flourishes in many communities of Believers. “I love God – God loves me. I love my neighbors and others – they love me.” And so forth. Such sentiments are ultimately appropriate, reassuring, and true for the Believer. We call this future bliss “Heaven.” But, we now live on Earth, which is anything but Heaven. It is like heading to a beautiful beach destination (“Heaven”), but needing to drive for days through desert to get there (“Hell”).

A downside to being a Believer is seldom discussed. This  downside is that Believers may be persecuted and martyred some day (even in America) because of their faith, as is happening today in many countries and as is prophesied in the Holy Bible for all nations in the last days.

Scriptures warn about the perils and consequences of being a Believer, such as:

● Believers will be persecuted for Yeshua’s name (Matthew 10:22).

● If they persecuted Yeshua, they will also persecute Believers (John 15:20).

● To live a Godly life in the Messiah will provoke persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

● Believers will be delivered to tribulation, killed, and be hated by all nations because of Yeshua’s name (Matthew 24:9).

● A Believer who suffers for righteousness is blessed, and should not fear or be troubled (1 Peter 3:14).

● Paul welcomed persecution for Yeshua’s sake, because he gained strength from weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).

● Not even tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword can separate a Believer from the love of the Messiah (Romans 8:35).

● God’s prophets and apostles will be persecuted and killed (Luke 11:49).
● A person reviled for the name of the Messiah is blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on him/ her (1 Peter 4:14).

● And other verses.

How many hymns do we sing about looking forward to being martyred? How many sermons are preached about the dangers and hardships– persecution and martyrdom– of being a Believer? If infant dedication is observed, how often does the pastor say, “I dedicate this precious baby to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to the blessed day (he/ she) will be beheaded by the Antichrist as a witness for God?”

Such messaging has been absent in nearly all services I have attended. Communities of Believers are commonly shielded from frightening messages by thoughtful pastors, who usually preach happy talk sermons.

I spoke to a revivalist once, who told me: “I was invited to hold a revival at **** Church. The pastor instructed me, ‘Now, don’t give any slaughterhouse sermons in my church.’ I had never mentioned a slaughterhouse in any sermon I ever preached, so I asked him what he meant. He answered, ‘Oh, you know. Don’t preach about things like the blood of Jesus. It makes some of my flock squeamish to talk about blood. Keep your sermons light and joyful.’ He stripped  from me the most important part of the New Testament message. We had a terrible revival. I obeyed the pastor who invited me to preach, but I felt dirty– I  failed God. The congregants’ lives were unchanged. They were no better; they were no closer to revival; but they were not offended or made uncomfortable.”

Even now, much of the nation and world applaud and support persecution of Believers to some degree. America is obsessed with political correctness, except for one target. Christians/ Believers can be singled out for mockery. Mockery can quickly turn to persecution. I am at the very bottom of the ladder in being disrespected by the American elite. I am white, male, elderly, and a Christian/ Believer; I live in Southern Appalachia; I believe strongly in traditional American values; and so forth. I must be a “deplorable,” “red neck,” or whatever.

If the Pre-tribulation Rapture/ Resurrection Theory is not correct and Believers must suffer through all or part of the Tribulation, it is appropriate that we Believers be forewarned about persecution and martyrdom. We need to think how we might handle hard times, when confronted by such times. Having been blessed in life, I have not had to survive hard times. Could I do so? Could you?

Today, I will briefly discuss this unpopular, unpleasant, seldom discussed topic, which is: Could you (will you) be persecuted– or even martyred (murdered) – merely for being a Believer? The short answer is: you may be forced to face two choices: 1) remain faithful to God in the name of Yeshua and suffer persecution and possible extermination; or 2) recant your faith, avoiding persecution and martyrdom, but lose your salvation and be assigned eternally to Hell. The good news, though, is that if you overcome the Unholy Trinity, you will receive eternal rewards in Heaven for any hatred directed toward you while on Earth.


Believers were hated: Yeshua warned His disciples of the certain dangers they would face, as they prepared to spread the Gospel into the world (read Matthew 10:16-18, 21-22a, 28). He specifically promised one danger (Matthew 10:22a): [Yeshua said] “And you will be hated by all for My name….” He explained why the world hates Believers (John 15:18-19): [Yeshua said] “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hates you.”

Early Christian martyrs: A martyr is a person killed for his or her faith. “Martyr” comes from the Greek martus, translated as “witness.” This name was probably chosen because the early Church father Tertullian and others viewed the ultimate sacrifice of a person’s life served as a witness, a witness which could lead to conversion of others. Martyrdom– being killed because of one’s faith– is the greatest sign of devotion to the Messiah that can be shown. Examples of early martyrdom for our faith include:

… The Massacre of the Innocents: Although occurring before the establishment of organized belief in Yeshua, some include the Massacre of the Innocents as the first example of martyrdom because of the Messiah. This massacre of newborn male infants was ordered by Herod the Great to kill any newborn infant male in Bethlehem who could possibly replace him some day as King of the Jews (read Matthew 2:16-18).

… Martyrdom of Stephen: The first recorded martyr for our faith was Stephen, an uncommonly righteous Believer (read Acts, chapters 6 and 7). Stephen was martyred in ca AD 34 because of his faith in Yeshua (read Acts 7:54-60). Note one remarkable statement in this passage. Yeshua was usually described as seated at the right hand of God, but Stephen saw Yeshua standing (read Acts 7:56). No reason is given, but is it possible that Yeshua stood because of appreciation and respect for Stephen and all martyrs who would follow him? (Yeshua’s standing might be called a “standing ovation” today.)

… Martyrs who followed Stephen: Many Believers followed Stephen as martyrs. Used as scapegoats by Roman emperors, many were put to death in horrific , painful ways. Sixteenth century English historian John Foxe recorded some of the deaths in his Book of Martyrs. You may read this inspiring book online: Fox’s Book of Martyrs – Read Online (biblestudytools.com) .One inspiring impression emphasized by Foxe is that martyrs for Yeshua went to their deaths joyfully, serenely, and expectantly. Roman guards could not understand such unusual people– people who faced certain death with joy, hopeful anticipation, and forgiveness for their captors. The Believers knew what the Roman guards did not know– they were going home to be with Yeshua forever! They were only moments away from eternal life in Heaven!

… An “army” of martyrs who have died for Yeshua: Precise statistics are unavailable, but more than 70-million Believers (estimate) have been martyred for their faith in Yeshua since He walked the Earth almost two millennia ago.

HOSTILITIES TOWARD CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT: As stated in the preceding section, probably more than 70-million Believers have been martyred since Stephen’s death in ca AD 34. One-half to two-thirds of these deaths have occurred during the twentieth century. Estimates of present martyred deaths on an annual basis vary widely. Many Believer martyrs come from atrocities committed by Muslims. Believers are also martyred in North Korea, but information is so tightly controlled in that diabolical country that no statistics can be obtained. Current estimates of Believer martyr deaths range from 9,000 to 100,000 per year. Why such widely fluctuating statistics? Groups who murder Believers do not compile and publish accurate statistics.

HOSTILITIES TOWARD BELIEVERS IN THE FUTURE: The Bible prophesies future Christian persecution/ martyrdom, some examples of which are discussed below. TIMING CODES: [BR] = before the Rapture. [T] = during the Tribulation.

● The first Bible prophecy, part of the Adamic Covenant, prophesied the battle between Satan and Yeshua (and His followers), with Yeshua’s ultimate victory (read Genesis 3:15). [BR]

● Paul warned of the perilous (dangerous) times and treachery due to evil men that will mark the last days (read 2 Timothy 3:15). [BR]

● Yeshua prophesied unimaginable distress– the worst ever experienced– during the Tribulation (read Matthew 24:21). [T]

● John saw the Fifth Seal Judgment, when persons saved during the Tribulation will be slain by the Antichrist’s government and will ask that their deaths be avenged. Most of  Yeshua’s followers will likely be murdered during this time by the evil, God-hating Antichrist (read Revelation 6:9-11). [T]                                                                                                                                            ● Satan, knowing his time is short, will attack mankind with great fury (read Revelation 12:12). [T]
● The False Prophet will command all persons to receive the mark of the Beast and worship the Antichrist as god. To receive the mark will permit the person to engage in commerce, but will result in God’s judgment of eternal death in Hell. To refuse the mark will mean certain execution by the Antichrist, but will be rewarded by God with eternal life in Heaven (read Revelation 13:15-17). [T]                       ● Other Scriptures present the dilemma of whether to follow God or man, when the Believer will need to weigh death on Earth versus eternal life in Heaven. Historian Foxe showed that early Believers– Believers who personally knew and observed Yeshua– would have been spared death, if only they had recanted (denied) their belief in Yeshua as their Lord and King. No person is recorded as having denied Yeshua to save his/ her life. During the Tribulation, the Antichrist will require either allegiance to him as god or execution. Two scenarios are possible relative to acceptance of the mark of the Beast:

● To refuse the mark, a person will be martyred (or, at least, persecuted and ostracized from society), but may spend eternity in Heaven (Revelation 20:4); or

● To accept the mark, a person will live (will not be martyred), but will face eternity in Hell (Revelation 14:9-11).
WHAT IF YOU ARE MARTYRED? We are witnessing widespread, growing persecution and martyrdom of Jews and Believers/ Christians in many countries. Understand that martyrdom progresses through several stages, including:

Mockery (bigotry) ► Harassment ► Discrimination ► Persecution ► Martyrdom.

We are now seeing the early stages of persecution against Believers/ Christians in the United States. Only God knows how fast anti-Believer sentiments in America will progress to severe persecution and martyrdom, but history warns us it is coming.

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a Lutheran pastor in Germany, witnessed firsthand the Third Reich’s atrocities against the Jews during the Holocaust. He wrote: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out– because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me– and there was no one left to speak for me.”

During the Tribulation, if we must endure all or part of his horrible time, all of humankind will be under the same wicked duress. “Tribulation” translates the Greek thlipsis, which may properly be rendered “pressure.” We will experience extreme pressure just to survive during this wicked time.

SIDELIGHT: I find it interesting that at a time when Yeshua felt the most pressure– the last hours before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion– He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. His prayers were agonizing, as He asked the Father if “this cup” could be removed from Him. The “cup,” of course, was the cup of wine (the fourth cup) He declined to drink at the Passover Communion meal with His disciples just hours earlier. Since the Communion wine symbolically represented His blood, He prayed to the Father to see if there was any way to establish His Kingdom, without shedding His blood on the cross.

“Gethsemane” translates the Greek Γεθσημανί (Gethsēmani), which is properly rendered “Oil Press.” In Yeshua’s darkest hour of pressure, He poured out His soul to the Father in a place long used by the Jews to press olives to extract olive oil. Olive oil is a Biblical symbol of anointing kings in the name of God (Yeshua will return as King of kings) and also is a symbol of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. END sidelight.

During the Tribulation, there will be no “Pastor Niemöller” available to speak out for you and me. There will be no protection of the United States’ Constitution (including the First Amendment) to protect us from the Unholy Trinity’s regime. There will be no courts of law to hear our pleas for justice. There will be no protection from snowflake Americans.

Satan is having his way in America. During my lifetime, I have personally witnessed significant changes (for the worse) both within and outside the Body of the Messiah. We are headed in the wrong direction. In a future RR, I may discuss Yeshua’s pondering about the state of affairs when He returns.

Satan will convince many Americans that the Jews and Christians/ Believers are destroying America, just as Adolf Hitler convinced Germans– ostensibly good Lutherans– that their nation was being destroyed by Jews. Between 1933 and 1945, this evil, demon of Satan convinced the German people to murder more than six-million Jews in his quest to create a master Aryan race. Some day, the Unholy Trinity will convince the world that the followers of Yeshua are the ones destroying the world. I am uncertain what conclusions to draw, but the most hated faiths today are the three who trace origins to Father Abraham– Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Unholy Trinity will slaughter many of God’s children because of their faith (Revelation 6:9-11): When the Lamb [Yeshua] opened the fifth seal, I [John] saw under the altar the souls of those slaughtered for the sake of the word of God and for the witness they had. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “O Sovereign Master, holy and true, how long before You judge those who dwell on the earth and avenge our blood?” Then a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants was complete– their brothers and sisters who were to be killed as they had been.

I cannot accurately compute from The Revelation the number of  deaths of the saints during the Tribulation, but the total is staggering. The Earth will run red with the blood of saints. Again, the First Amendment of the US. Constitution will be meaningless, even for persons living in the former United States. Does it alarm you to read “former” as a modifier of the United States? Do you join me in fearing the United States will fall, to be replaced by the United Nations, or some other global organization, and, then, co-opted by the Unholy Trinity? I cannot understand how our beloved nation will be able to survive. I repeat, though: The United States is only our temporary home; our eternal home is New Jerusalem (Philippians 3:20-21): For our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. He will transform this humble body of ours into the likeness of His glorious body, through the power that enables Him even to put all things in subjection to Himself.

God will richly reward a Believer/ Christian in Heaven for anything he/ she loses on Earth. We are promised special rewards for any losses/ denials in our present earthly life. These rewards, commonly called “crowns” in the Bible, will probably be awarded at the Bema Judgment (Judgment Seat of the Messiah). In a recent RR, I listed these crowns. I will not repeat the list.

Yeshua surely was thinking of these eternal rewards, when He taught (Matthew 6:19-21): [Yeshua said] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Take courage! Whatever you may sacrifice or lose on Earth– even life itself– you will be rewarded far more in Heaven. A crown awarded to you by Yeshua at the Bema Judgment will mean much more to you throughout eternity than anything you might enjoy for a few months or years in this earthly life.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR PERSECUTION/ MARTYRDOM? There is no “one size fits all” answer for this question. The answer probably lies with the danger being faced and the circumstances. Clearly, though, the Believer must rely heavily on the counsel of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Luke 12:11-12): [Yeshua said] “And when they bring you to the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, because the Ruach ha-Kodesh will teach you at that time what is necessary to say.” Multiple Bible verses portray the Ruach ha-Kodesh as Counselor, Advocate, and Helper. If faced with possible torture and execution (by beheading?) at the hands of the Unholy Trinity, it may be a good time to remember and call upon God’s Spirit.

FINALLY. I have only grazed the highlights of this subject, but certain truths should be apparent:
● We live in an apostate age, and Believers are targets for anti-Messiah hostility.

● Rejoice that we are singled out for hatred. The world hates Jews and Believers/ Christians. The world does not hate others of the Judeo-Christian faith. Why is this good news? It means that Adonai is the true God and those who worship this true God are singled out by Satan to be hated. I would be nervous if, say, the world hated Muslims but embraced those of the Judeo-Christian faith. If this were the case, I would wonder: Is Allah the true god? So, feel sorry for those who hate us, but rejoice that we are hated, as foretold by Yeshua (Luke 6:22-23): [Yeshua said] “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and jump for joy! For behold, your reward is great in heaven! For their fathers used to treat the prophets the same way.”

● If we permit anti-Messiah mockery in our culture, we soon may see harassment, discrimination, persecution, and martyrdom. Even inappropriate “jokes” by television “comedians” or workplace colleagues should be challenged. (Is it just me, but are most “comedians” today notably not funny?)

● Since God has called us to defend His Holy Name, do not sit idly by, when our God is defamed.

● Defend the holy name and character of God in all three Persons, and defend  principles of our faith. As I have noted in previous RRs, enemies of the cross are particularly adept at hurling “conversation stoppers” to stop anyone speaking a viewpoint– especially, a political or religious viewpoint– with which they disagree. If you cannot hold your own against dumb liberal “snowflakes” now, will you be able to speak against lies of the Antichrist or False Prophet, if such time comes?
● Always be mindful of our brothers and sisters in the Messiah, persons whom you will never meet in this life– persons who are now being persecuted and martyred. Hold them in a special place in your heart and help them, whenever and however possible. You and I have little risk in following the Messiah in America’s Bible Belt. Some of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands experience extreme dangers and possibly execution for professing Yeshua as their Lord and Savior. For your information, the ten most dangerous nations to be a professing Believer include: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India.

● Yeshua is coming soon. Pray that you will not need to apologize to Yeshua for not standing up for Him, when others around you mocked and cursed Him. It matters to Yeshua how you defend Him before others (Matthew 10:32-33): [Yeshua said] “Therefore whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Acknowledging Yeshua before the Antichrist’s thugs may some day cost a Believer his/ her life (may cost you your life), but the eternal reward will be worth the loss of life (Mark 8:36-38): [Yeshua said] “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? For what could a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels!”

HALLELUJAH! LOOK FORWARD TO PERSECUTION AND MARTYRDOM. The title of this section seems strange. Who would look forward to persecution and martyrdom? Historians tell us that early Believers (Roman Empire days) joyfully went to their deaths singing, laughing, and forgiving their Roman soldier guards. Anyone of them would have been spared death, if he/ she recanted his/ her faith. Why were they so happy, as they marched to their deaths? They agreed with the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:8): We are confident, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.

These Believers, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, were fully confident they were only minutes away from seeing their precious Yeshua face to face. Their faith is inspiring. We can only pray that we will be equally joyful, when it is our time to “be absent from the body.” Will a coalition of China, Russia, and others  conquer the United States? Will these godless conquerors round up Believers? Will you be rounded up? This scenario may not be as far-fetched as you think. You and I have no guarantee of life after the next breath. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 02-Oct-2022 7th of Tishrei, 5783
De 32:1-6 Zec 3-4  2 Ch 26-27 (Ac 20) Rev 13