“Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”
Genesis 31:3-7 NKJV
There are days coming when it will seem like those who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation are being set apart for particular persecution. In those moments, we will cry out to the authorities in this present age for a redress of our grievances. Because we are not of the world, the world’s authroites will not offer assistance, and our cries will be ignored. In that time, many of us will begin to think that God is not for us, that He has abandoned us to the whims of those who are of the houshold of Satan.
In my reading, I was reminded that our God is a One of true justice for those who are His, as I read of Jacob living under the heavy burden of Laban. Jacob had worked for Laban for twenty years, despite Laban’s many efforts to cheat him. Through it all, God blessed Jacob and looked after him. In the end, God prospered Jacob in supernatural ways, and circumvented the sinful intent of Laban.
We of the household of faith in Jesus Christ, find ourselves in similar circumstances as there are those who desire to take away our rights to practice our faith with autonomy. I can promise you that there will be assaults on religious liberty in the coming days, but I will also promise you that God will intervene in ways that bring victory and glory to Himself. I must caution though, those ways may not be our ways.
There are many stories of oppressors, convicted in their persecution of believers and eventually saved from their sins. The greatest story of all is that of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus. He was one bent of destruction with malice on those of the Way, but He was confronted by the risen Jesus.
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.””
Acts 9:1-5 NKJV
In the case of Jacob, he received great material blessing as he returned to his homeland. For the New Testament believer, the greatest blessing I can imagine is that of leading enemies to Jesus.
Our treasure is not power in this world, but the spreading of the Gospel, of sharing that great salvation, the forgiveness of sins. There have been many times in my life when the Lord has saved my enemies from the burden of hell. I have seen those opposed to me made brothers and sisters in Christ.
Often I have seen God begin that work in me first, as He has moved me to pray for those who have hurt me. That amazing transformation of my heart, gave way to prayer, and God moved according to His plan. Many times I have found myself feeling like Jonah, a bit peeved at what God had done, only to realize that it is what God does.
There are days when I think, in my minds eye, of what I may see in heaven, as we gather around the throne. There will be scenes that will boggle the mind, as persecutors in this life, who were brought to Christ by the witness of those they killed, standing with victims, now victors. God is no respecter of persons, and desires all to be saved.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
I Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us be about the business of sharing the Gospel, even with those who seek to take away our liberty. When Paul was imprisoned near the end of his life, he did not stop sharing the message that Jesus had given him. He made the most of effort to share. In the letters late in his life, we get a sense of the work that God had done through his ministry as many even in the household of Caesar came to know the Lord.
in his imprisonment, he shared the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit demonstrated His power, even in chains to save people from hell. Paul continued to preach until the end. It would not surprise me if the very person who took Paul’s head was standing next to him when we all meet in heaven. Paul used every moment to share.
“Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”
Acts 28:30-31 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, know that God is bringing justice, that He is doing His work in His way, and that He will complete it in His time. What Jesus does will exceed anything we can ever imagine. All things will be made new, all accounts settled, and nothing of this present time will exist, all will have passed away.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.””
Revelation 21:1-4 NKJV
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