2 Chronicles 32:19-20 “And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man. And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.”
Persecution. Intolerance. Violence, murder, genocide, racial and cultural upheaval. In this day and age, we are seeing this and more, all play out before our eyes in high definition. You cannot watch the news today, and come away thinking; “Where is God in all this?”
Without the proper perspective, one might fall into depression or even consider leaving this wold prematurely; unable to face the coming persecution of the church. It is a fact that has been with us since man was created in the garden.
The serpent came and questioned God.
Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Our enemy doesn’t need extreme tactics to get us off course, he just gets us to doubt God and His Word. As long as we operate in the flesh and not by faith, we will be susceptible to the wiles of the devil.
In reading of Sennacherib’s accusations to the king of Judah and the God of Heaven before the people of Israel, I cannot help but think what would happen if that type of persecution came to my doorstep? What if there were active groups who took up personal persecution of Christians here in America?
All around the world, others have suffered persecution to some degree. Many have stood only to lose their life.
How we handle that persecution when it comes is what God spoke to me about.
Hezekiah, the king, could have met Sennacherib army for army; man against man to see who was the strongest. But, the crux of Sennacherib’s argument was not just with Hezekiah, it was against God.
2 Chronicles 32:19 “And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.”
He taunted the king and the people of Israel for following God. He called them weak; unable to think for themselves and cast doubt as to whether or not God would be able to deliver against the war record that he had built for himself.
The king came to Isaiah, the prophet, to seek out what God would have them do and God answered in a mighty way.
2 Chronicles 32:21 “And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.”
Many great military leaders and great men will tell you that the time to prepare for battle is when there is none.
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace” – George Washington
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
So, how do we, the church, prepare?
First – know your enemy.
Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Revelation 12:9-10 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Second – Know your weapons.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)”
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
Thirdly – Death or the rapture are the only way out of this battle.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
If you and I do not prepare for this battle, we will become shipwreck. It has been said that if we become casual in this battle, we will become a casualty. We can face our enemy with what our God has given us to prepare.
Ephesians 6:13-17 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”
We have promises of provision, power and protection; all given to embolden us in the battle to come.
It could happen any day that the open persecution of the church will begin here in America. For many around the world, it has been a way of life. It should not surprise when it comes. We must prepare each morning as if this were to be the day we face our enemy. He is active and unrelenting.
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
Our strength lies in our God; not in our knowledge, our muscle, or our talent. The devil would like nothing better than to sidetrack us from being fully, totally and wholly connected to God and with God. We need to be submitted, obedient and filled with the Holy Spirit – therein lies our daily duty as soldiers of Jesus Christ.
James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”