“Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the reign of the heavens. Blessed are you when they reproach and persecute you, and falsely say every wicked word against you, for My sake. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward in the heavens is great. For in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mat 5:10-12 ISR)
When I looked up the word “persecute” in Noah Webster’s Dictionary, I was somewhat astonished at the cruelty, ugliness, and spitefulness this word portrays. It means: “to pursue in a manner to injure, vex or afflict; to harass with unjust punishment or penalties for supposed offenses; to inflict pain from hatred or malignity; to afflict, harass or destroy for adherence to a particular creed or system of religious principles, or to a mode of worship”.
Our history books teach us that the United States of America was founded on the principles of religious freedom, and according to the First Amendment to the Constitution, we are guaranteed “the free exercise thereof” – a freedom that many believe we are already in danger of losing. More and more, especially on any social media, we bear witness to the mudslinging and “hate speech”, all in the name of religious intolerance.
I studied the Rev Sha’ul’s (Apostle Paul) list of credentials in 2Cor 11:22-28; yet in all of the many hardships and persecutions that he suffered, even at the hands of his own countrymen, Sha’ul’s first concern was always for the congregations he had founded, and for his flock. Sha’ul knew that he could safely leave the judgment of those who troubled and persecuted him in the hands of his Elohim (see Rom 12:19; 2The 1:6); his focus would always be on what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had called him to do.
We are told to seek first the Kingdom of YHWH and His righteousness (Mat 6:33). The person who, having accepted all that Messiah Yeshua has done through His birth, death, and resurrection, then, in faith, submits him/herself completely and totally to the seeking and doing of God’s will and WORD – this is the person who is in right standing before Elohim.
Yes, persecutions will come; Yeshua Himself warned us of this. We are instructed to pray blessings over those that “spitefully use us” (Mat 5:44). And we also are warned about serving two masters (Mat 6:24), denying our knowledge of Yeshua before others (Mat 10:33) and the dangers that lie in wait for us there. But when we stand for what we know is right, and righteous, great is our reward, and He has promised that He will never leave us or abandon us as we make our stand (Jos 1:5; Heb 13:5). We never stand alone, and he is always the fourth Man in the fire (Dan 3:25).
“The wicked become a ransom for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and the treacherous for the upright [because the wicked themselves fall into the traps and pits they have dug for the good].” (Pro 21:18 Amp)
“The Name of יהוה is a strong tower; The righteous run into it and are safe.” (Pro 18:10 ISR)