Persecution

toucan-356655_640Daniel 6:16: Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.”

Daniel’s heart was set on God. He was committed to him even though he was in a foreign land having passed through the traumatic experience of being captured as a slave from Judah.

Daniel did not say to God: “why did you allow me to be captured as a slave by heathens. That means you are nor powerful or you do not care about me, therefore I will not serve you?”

Though in captivity, he stood as a shining light, blazing a trial for God, being faithful to Him, year after year, under different kings. Daniel recognized that God was real in Babylon as he is in Jerusalem, where he came from.

David wrote: where would I run from your (God) Spirit, you are everywhere (Psalm 139:1-10). That was why Jonah was in error, when God sent to Nineveh and he moved in the direction of Tarshish. He presumed to run from the presence of Good, as if God was limited to a place.

Daniel’s attitude was complete obedience all the time everywhere. For him, it was no-holds-barred commitment to obeying God even at the risk of his own life, just as the story in Daniel 6 leading up to the focus verse showed.

A law was enacted that anyone who prays to any god apart from the king for a period of thirty days will be thrown into the den of lion. But he was true to God and continued to pray the same way he used to, at the same time. He did not given an inch to the fear of his life. He did not draw back.

The whole thing was a set up. It was based on jealousy his colleagues had against him. They hated the fact that he was shining more than they were. So a plot was hatched for his death.

In a similar way a plot was made to kill Jesus, by the Pharisees because he was drawing the crowds after himself. They were envious (Mark 15:20), but Jesus kept on in the path of doing miracles (doing what he sees the father do [John 5:1-19]) which continued to anger his detractors.

Daniel will not trade the presence of God for anything. He was not going to be railroad into hiding his faith in God, as he prayed opening his window and facing Jerusalem, three time a day even when it was against the law of the land. He was a devotee and would not be shaken. His heart his fixed. He would rather die than give an inch to the devil. What about you?

The writer of the book of Hebrews charged his audience that they should look to Jesus who endured the hatred of sinners against himself, so that they do not become weary in their souls as they faced persecution (Galatians 6:9-10). He said they have not resisted sin to the point of the shedding of their blood as Jesus did.

He wanted them to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of their faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame. He wanted them to set their heart on the glory of God they will enjoy if they did not turn back because of persecution (Hebrews 12:1-4). Daniel despised the death sentence that was declared on him for praying to God, and pressed on.

Jesus pressed on to the cross. He could choose to stop the journey to his crucifixion on Golgotha, but for the joy of seeing you and I saved, he bore the excruciating pain.

Jesus said it is those who endure to the end that will be saved (Mark 13:13). He said if we do not take our cross and follow him, we cannot be his disciples. He himself carried his cross and went to the Golgotha, following the will of God.

While Daniel stuck to his life of commitment to God, though it led him to the den of lions, the people who ended their lives there were those who plotted his downfall. It was their bones that were munched by the lions, in a massive twist to the story. That was awesome.

Something similar happened to Jesus. The cross that was supposed to be his end (the haters thought so), put a full stop to his threat to the devil, but it marked the end of the devil itself (Hebrews 2:14). In death Jesus went to hades and took the authority (legitimacy of rule) from him, destroying him.

Jesus warned that anyone who wants to be his disciple must hate his life (Luke 14:26-33). Those who cannot go all the way were not encouraged to start at all. He said that a king going to war would have to decide if he could defeat an army with twice his numbers of soldiers or if it is better to make peace. And before you build a tower you should find out if you have enough resources so that you will not stop along the way and be mocked. In other words: count the cost. And one of the cost for Christians is persecution (2Timothy 3:12).

Jesus said we should not be afraid of those who can only kill the body, and can do no more (Matthew 10:16-39). For standing up for the cause of Christ, Stephen was stoned to death as the first martyr and a grievous persecution arose against the church with Saul who will later be called Paul as one of the arrowheads (Acts 7).

He later experienced conversion. Falling hard in love with Christ, he later said he does not count his life precious to him so that he might finished his race as a servant of God (Acts 20:22-24).

He suffered untold persecution, so much that he declared: I will boast in tribulation (2Corinthians 11:13-33), and reeled out his credential as an apostle to include the grievousness of his persecution experiences.

He did not allow that to deter him, taking the gospel from region to region becoming a threat to the entrenched religions in those places, as he sought to preach Christ where the gospel has not been heard, so he will not build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:15-23).

He kept on breaking new grounds proclaiming the name of Jesus to different people, in different places. And he had scars to show for his zeal, from the beatings he took. He wrote: let no one trouble me because I carry on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He was constant in the service of God, and he was assured that big reward await him because of his sacrificial service (2Timothy 4:7-8). God Paul said is not unrighteous to forget our labour of love.

Your service is a blessing to others; it is an expression of the love of God in you, the agape kind of love the self-sacrificing love, the unbending love.

Serving God is supposed to be motivated by love not task orientation. Jesus said he will say to some people, depart from me, you workers of iniquity even though they say they have done mighty things in his name. He said he did not know them, i.e. they did not derive the motivation for their service from him and his motivation is love. And it is that same love in us that enables us to stand firm against all persecution (1Peter 1:6-9), like Daniel.

 

Advertisements

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s