by Tammy Karasek
As I pondered over the following verses this month, a few thoughts came to me. Though the forms of death mentioned in these verses may not be methods of persecution for most Christians today, persecution is still happening. I then read these two verses again and realized, yes, this type of persecution is happening–most recently in the Middle East the Christians who were “killed with the sword” for not renouncing their faith in Christ.
“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted and mistreated…” Hebrews 11:36-37
They were martyrs: “A person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion. A person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle or cause.”
I found a man who would be considered a martyr who was stoned to death for his faith in the Old Testament, Zechariah. In 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, Zechariah was chosen by God to replace his father as priest under King Joash. Zechariah stood firm in his faith and held his position as priest seriously. He performed his duties and followed the commandments. He stood up for his God.
The people didn’t want to hear about his God and conspired against Zechariah to stone him to death. But Zechariah wasn’t worried about whether they liked the strength of his faith in God. He wasn’t ashamed of staying true to the God who always stood by him. He wasn’t concerned over whether they would kill him. He stood for God, risking being stoned, and spoke truth. He did it for his love for his God.
Yes, Christians are still killed today for their faith as we’ve read about recently in the Middle East. Therefore, we must assess our hearts. If we were face to face with someone telling us to denounce Christ to save our lives, what would our answer be?
Have you thought about this? Have you ever been in this situation? If so, what did you do?
What will it be today–will you stand up for Christ and not worry about persecution or death?
I pray I say–YES! And you?
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