Responding to Persecutions (2 of 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

How will they make the charges stick? With lies (Ps 119:86)! Sometimes it is even without cause (Ps 119:161), as society has descended to lawlessness:
Ps 119:86 All Your commandments are faithful; They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!
• Ps 119:161 Princes persecute me without cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your words.

What should the Christians’ attitude be?
First, remember ultimately God will deliver us and punish those who persecute us:
Deut 30:7 The LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
• Ps 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
• Rom 12:9 “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY”, says the Lord. (Also Heb 10:30)

Secondly, our response to the oppressors should be to bless:
Mt 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
• Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

What should Christians do? That depends on how far the persecution has gone. If it is possible, flee (Mt 10:23). It is no heroism to wait around and be caught. If we can’t escape, endure and persevere (1 Co 4:12; 2 Thes 1:4; 2 Tim 3:11):
Mt 10:23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
• Mt 24:15-16 Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
• 1 Co 4:12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;
• 2 Thes 1:4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.
• 2 Tim 3:11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!

If we have the opportunity, witness for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit:
Mk 13:9-11 But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. (Also Mt 10:18-20; Lk 12:11-12)

One final warning. If you are a shallow Christian, like the seed sown on rocky places, you will fall away when persecution arises:
Mt 13:21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. (Also Mk 4:17)
So develop firm roots before it’s too late. Otherwise the consequences are fatal.

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The Shemitah

Shemitah 7

Q. There are lots of doomsayers about Sept. 2015 because it is a new sabbatical year. Many important events have happened during these sabbatical years. I wonder if there is any credence to it. There are people who claim that they have visions shown by God for the things that will happen in the future in the U.S. when the son of perdition takes power. I know this is close to the end time. Am I right to disregard them because of:
• Mt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
• Rev 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.

A. You are referring to the Sabbath year in Leviticus 25. I think the current buzz of doom sayings was popularized by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Harbinger” and followed it up with “The Mystery of the Shemitah“. Others fuel the speculation by pointing to the blood moon tetrad prophecy, a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses in 2014-15 falling on Jewish holidays, as a sign to the beginning of the end times.

Shemitah 5

On the surface the evidence seems convincing, with the last two Sabbath years (2001 and 2008) coinciding with 9/11 and the deepest stock market crashes in recent history. Alarms were sounded that unless America repents, disaster could strike with dire consequences. Such warnings are well-intentioned as the US does need to repent and Christians should always be prepared for emergencies, but is the theory true? I do not have the gift of prophecy, so won’t be offering any insights beyond the following comments on the fundamentals:

1. The Sabbath year was meant for good, not evil.

Lev 25:3-5 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.
• Ex 24:10-11 “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
• Deut 15:1-2 At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed.

God designed the Sabbath year to give the land rest, so that the poor may eat. It was also a year for the remission of debts, literally a release. It was not intended to be a year for the punishment of sins, despite present writers making it out to be a year of reckoning.

2. The Sabbath year was for Israel, not Gentile nations.

Deut 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
• Ps 147:19-20 He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!

Deut 5:15 refers to the Sabbath day, but the principle is that God wanted Israel to remember He delivered them. His laws were for Israel, not other nations. Current authors applying the Sabbath year to other nations is not warranted.

I am not saying that there is no merit in what the financial pundits are saying about the pending collapse of the US$ and the stock market. Anyone analyzing the data realistically would realize that the Federal Reserve is like a house of cards ready to collapse and we are living in perilous times. However, you could draw that conclusion by examining economic data alone, without bringing the Sabbath year in as the cause. By doing so one is essentially saying that God works in 7-year cycles, so He will act in Sep. 2015 as prophesied by the proponents. But God is God and not bound to a timetable as predicted by our theorists.

In fact, a lecturer in empirical research methods at the European School of Culture and Theology, Germany, after reading “The Mystery of the Shemitah” did a statistical analysis to determine whether Cahn’s theory is correct. He ran tests of US GDP and stock market data versus Shemitah years and quarters, but found that there is no significant correlation between the Shemitah periods and GDP. As to stock market movements, the Shemitah periods explained only 1% of the stock market variations, meaning you have to look to other factors to explain 99% of the ups and down! His paper is attached in case you are interested.

Cahn shemitah research report

So how should we respond? The end will not come until the gospel of the kingdom has been preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Mt 24:14). Let me quote from the Lord Himself in Mt 24:

Mt 24:4-6 See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
• Mt 24:13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
• Mt 24:23-24 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
• Mt 24:42, 44 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. … For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Notice the repetition of “mislead”. Deception will be the order of the day. Do not be frightened, be on the alert, be ready. Have emergency supplies of food, water and survival necessities on hand. Have cash ready when credit fails. Don’t panic. Spread the gospel. Work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; night is coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4). Do not fear; endure to the end. We are in the Lord’s hands. He will guide and protect His children.