Persecution Throughout the Ages

(2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV) Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

The story of God’s people has always involved persecution at the hands of their enemies. Yet even in the face of great tribulation, and severe persecution God has sustained His people, and stood by them. Persecution is a common theme of both the Old and New Testament saints. The persecution of the Saints under the former covenant could best be summed up in the following passage.

(Hebrews 11:32-38 NKJV)  And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: {33} who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, {34} quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. {35} Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. {36} Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {38} of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Jesus spoke often concerning the persecution that was to come upon His disciples after His resurrection.

(John 15:18-21 NKJV) “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. {19} “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. {20} “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. {21} “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

Persecution of God’s People Under Old Covenant

The children of Israel in Egypt. (Exodus 1:8-11 NLT) Then a new king came to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. {9} He told his people, “These Israelites are becoming a threat to us because there are so many of them. {10} We must find a way to put an end to this. If we don’t and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” {11} So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and put brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down under heavy burdens…

Jezebel slaughters the prophets of God in Israel because they oppose Baal worship. (1 Kings 18:4 NKJV) For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)

Manasseh, the evil king of Judah, destroyed the innocent because of Baal. (2 Kings 21:16 NKJV)  Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.

The Prophets: Both the northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah persecuted God’s Prophets, when God had sent them to call for repentance. (Matthew 23:37 NKJV) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet.

He was whipped. (Jeremiah 20:1-2)

He was mobbed and nearly killed (Jeremiah 26:8-9)

He was imprisoned (Jeremiah 32:2)

He was flogged (Jeremiah 37:15)

He was again imprisoned (Jeremiah 37:15)

He was placed in a muddied cistern (pit) with mud up to his waist. (Jeremiah 38:6)

He was placed in the courtyard prison until the capture of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 38:28)

Three Hebrew Teenagers stand up to the king of Babylon. Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego. (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. {17} “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. {18} “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

New Testament Persecution

Jesus spoke often of the persecution that would come to His Disciples.   (Matthew 5:10-16 NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. {13} “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. {14} “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. {16} “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

The world will hate you because it hates Me. (John 15:18-20 NKJV)  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. {19} “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. {20} “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

Stephen, the first martyred disciple of Jesus: (Acts 7:55-60 NKJV)  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, {56} and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” {57} Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; {58} and they cast him out of the city and stonedhim. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. {59} And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” {60} Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Paul the apostle: (2 Corinthians 11:24-33 KJV)  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. {25} Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; {26} In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; {27} In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. {28} Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. {29} Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? {30} If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. {31} The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. {32} In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: {33} And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

Paul wrote the letters to the Phillipians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Phileman, during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul was eventually imprisoned a second time in Rome, and beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero.

Seven of the 12 original apostles of the Christ were martyred, and one was exiled.

Peter  Crucified upside down.

James the son of Zebedee:  He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I  shortly before the day of the Passover

John: Exiled to the Isle of Patmos

Andrew:  He is reported to have been crucified at Patrae in Achaia.

Matthew: There is a legend that he died a martyr in Ethiopia

Thomas: His martyrdom whether in Persia or India, is said to have been by a lance.

James Alpheus: According to tradition, James son of Alpheus was thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.

Jude (Thaddeus) according to tradition Jude taught in Armenia, Syria and Persia where he was martyred.  Tradition tells us he was buried in Kara Kalisa in what is now Iran.

Modern Day Persecution – From ICC (International Christian Concern) You’ve heard about the apostles of the early church, like Paul, Peter, and James who were martyred for their faith. And you know about the Roman coliseums where many Christians were eaten alive. But did you know that Christians are being persecuted today.

There have been more attacks on Christians in the last century than in all previous centuries combined.

Today, 200 million of Christians are regularly beaten, imprisoned, raped, starved, and murdered for their faith.

This is taking place in over 40 countries around the world in areas like the Middle East, North

Africa, Asia, and some parts of Latin America.

They sacrifice all for the sake of following Jesus.

They need your prayers.

They need your help.

They need you to stand with them as One Body in Christ.

No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. John 15:20

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