Tidings for Tuesday

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Revelation 20:4

Every Christian should be required to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs at least once in their lifetime. This book provides shocking reality that contrasts so sharply with our little world of safety and security and comfort. Its pages describe how godly men, women, and children laid down their lives for their Lord through the centuries. And yet, this little book provides only a tiny snapshot of the martyrs in the years that it covers. Many millions more have died because of their faith, and thousands continue to die today in communist and Hindu lands, and at the hands of the brutal and vile Mohammed’s disciples. Our text today tells us that the killing doesn’t stop, and neither does the faithfulness, when it comes to the end times and the great tribulation.

The martyrs of the tribulation are separate from the martyrs of the age of Christendom. Those who have died for their faith since Pentecost will be raised at the rapture. But the tribulation follows the rapture, so the faithful of that horrific period will be raised at the end of that time of judgment. It appears there will be many, possibly millions. Their time as Christians will be brief, because most will die within days – or even hours – of their conversion. They will be willing to die physically to avoid the second death that is assured to all who wear the mark of the beast. Their faithfulness provides a great example and inspiration for the Lord’s people today.

How terrifying it must be to face an executioner and realize that, for being faithful to your Lord, you must die, and possibly be tortured along the way! It’s hard for us to imagine. We won’t likely experience anything like that. But what will we experience? Very little, especially if nobody knows we are Christians. Even if we are out-and-out Christians who boldly let everyone know we belong to Lord Jesus, we will face little more than a bit of ridicule or a few insults. But if the tribulation saints were willing to face the executioner’s sword for their faith, why should we not be willing to face the scoffer’s jest or the atheist’s hateful smirk? While others pay so much, why can we not pay a little? While others bravely win their martyr’s crown, can we not meekly serve and speak for our Lord?

We will probably never know what we would do when faced with dire persecution or death for our faith. But what will we do when faced with a little shame for His Name? We have great examples behind us and before us. – Jim MacIntosh

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