A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                           *** PORTIONS ***

Re: Persecuted, Flee, Return

"But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For truly I
say to you, In no way will you have finished the cities of Israel until
the Son of Man comes." (Mt10:23)

This verse, along with its contextual passage, could apply to the past.
It also certainly seems to include the future during the 70th week,
Tribulation period. Whatever the case, we can gain some learning from
it.

A Believer into Jesus Christ should never -worry- about 'what to say'
when confronted due to his Faith. Jesus says, "for it is given to you
in that hour what you should say" (vs19) The Holy Spirit who indwells
(Rom8:9) gives the words.

However, in being "wise as serpents" (Mt10:16) we need to understand 
where some of the persecution will come from. Often from those we 
thought we could trust the most. Family. (vs21) Like my sister-in-law 
said to me after having said she would "always be there" for me after 
my wife had left; eventually came to the point "blood is closer than 
friendship". I was no longer "family" to her. But "blood" was.

But according to Jesus' words, there is something even -stronger- than
family blood ties. Allegiance to God or satan. If you are a Christian
Christian (Rom9:6), your family blood ties will not protect you from
persecution when choices must be made. Many an offspring has had to 
choose to "deny Christ or leave [the family]". And in the coming years 
when worldwide persecution erupts again from the world leader who will 
arise, those who "call upon the name of the Lord" (Joel2:32) should not 
trust family. Because of Christ, the Believer will be "hated by all". 
(vs22)  Even family will turn you over to the authorities.

As long as you have not been captured, Jesus says, "flee". (vs23)  And
this is what the early Church did. When persecution arose, they were
"scattered". (Acts8:4) But notice that they did not flee and "hide".
Jesus did not say, 'flee this city and go hide in caves'. No. Flee from
one city, and go into another city. Cities are where -people- live. 
Flee one place, and go to the next...CONTINUING to preach. The apostles 
had been bound in prison, and the angel set them free and told them, 
"Go! And standing in the temple, speak to the people all the words of 
this Life." (Acts5:20) Don't go slinking around in fear. Go right into 
the temple, right in the middle of the enemy's territory. And they 
obeyed, "And hearing, they went into the temple about dawn and taught." 
(vs21) Now, of course, they were re-captured and beaten.

Paul did this, too. They hear of plots to stone them, so they flee
Iconium. (Acts14:6) The Jews from Iconium follow them to Lystra, and
even though they've performed a miraculous healing and the people 
thought them to be gods, the Jews persuade the people, and Paul is 
stoned, left for dead. (vs19) When Paul revives, the next day they go 
to Derbe. Notice this! Paul has been stoned to death, and the next day 
he's up and travelling again! Not lying around moaning and 
"recouperating". And then notice..."they returned to Lystra and Iconium 
and Antioch" (vs21) The -very- cities from which their persecution was 
coming.

Notice the "ideology" of these early -true- "church fathers". Their 
mission: "confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting to continue 
in the faith, and that through many afflictions we must enter into the 
kingdom of God." (vs22)  They didn't simply get people to repeat the 
"sinners prayer" and sign "decision cards" and get their name on a 
"list" someplace... and then -leave- 'rejoicing' at how many thousands 
had "made decisions for Christ"...OVER THERE, where we escaped from.  
Phew!!  No. They went back to "confirm" their faith. Make sure they
truly are Believers, exhort them to grow. Building them up in the 
Faith. And far from today's "prosperity theology" that says that "God 
wants you to be rich and be at ease" ...they were given truth. The 
Christian life involves hardship. The enemy is angry every time a new 
soul comes to God. He is angry every time a message is prepared. He is
fearful when Believers faithfully proclaim God's Word. And so, any
chance he is given liberty by God, he pokes jabs at the Believer.

If you see a preacher who is living a life of ease, with all comforts,
he is quite likely a wolf in sheep's clothing. (Many of them 'excuse'
their lifestyle by saying that they often entertain world leaders.
That's why they 'need' their fleet of Cadillac limousines, and Rolls
Royces.) Elijah was fed by ravens. John the baptist wore rough clothes
and ate wild grasshoppers and honey. (That did not hinder him from
being in Herod's presence.-Mk6:20)  Even Jesus had "nowhere to lay His
head".  (Mt8:20) The legends of faith "went about in sheepskins and in
goatskins, being in need, being afflicted, being ill-treated;
..wandering in deserts, mountains and caves." (Heb11:37-38)

Paul proclaimed that the life of a Believer is one of "afflictions".
And he practiced what he preached!

Amen!