Prophetable Persecution

Do you believe Christians should read the Old Testament?

Some people think that they only need to study the words of Jesus in order to be a well-rounded Christian. The New Testament disagrees. In fact, Jesus, himself, expected listeners (and now readers) to have a working knowledge of the Old Testament. For example, in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5, he says these words,

“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Jesus

Matthew 5:11-12

Jesus here taught his followers that persecution would one day arise against them. Helpfully, he gave them three lessons on how to prepare for, process, and persevere through persecution. (They are: look back at the prophets, rejoice in it, and look forward to the reward.) These lessons cannot be fully appreciated unless they are taken together. And, unfortunately, they cannot be taken together without some understanding of what happened to the prophets to Israel in the Old Testament.

As we consider the shifts in our culture today, may I suggest we take some time to read through the writings God has preserved for us in the Old Testament so we are better able to face persecution, should it come?

If you are interested in reading a bit more about these brave prophets who went before us, here is a primer (from the New Testament),

“And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life again. Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.” -Unknown

Hebrews 11:32-40

You might also find encouragement in the writing of James, Jesus’ brother, who echoes the words of the “Sermon on the Mount.”

“Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience.” -James

James 5:11

The Word of God, in it’s entirety, is worth our consideration and is useful for,

“teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -Paul

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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