THREATENED WITH DEATH –
HOW WOULD YOU REACT?
As depicted in movies and TV shows, the bad guys frequently use the threat of death as a means to gain control and compliance over their victims. This has been a common practice of tyrants, dictators and despots throughout history and more of the same can be expected up to the time Jesus returns.
Revelation 6:9-11 – And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Could you or your family be confronted with such a situation? What a shocking question! We just don’t want to think or talk about such things; but, perhaps we should. Failure to address this topic means we remain unprepared to deal with such if or when it arises. We would rather deny that such would even be possible. However, we should at least consider what the scriptures tell us about the threat of death in these last days so we can make any necessary attitude adjustments.
Matthew 10: 28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Revelation 12:11 – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 13:7 – And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
The Bible tells us that in the last days MANY SAINTS may be killed! We will be the object of war – JIHAD, both physical as well as spiritual. Many saints have already been killed throughout history because of their faith. However, even more Christians are being killed in modern times because of their faith. These killings have occurred in other countries, particularly in Muslim nations, but the media is not reporting them.
In America, we have enjoyed the right of religious freedom; that is, up to recent years. Have you noticed the assault on Christians and their Biblical values lately? It is now obvious that changes are occurring in our nation’s Constitutional freedoms and rights, particularly from a Christian perspective. Our freedoms are systematically being removed from us as tolerance is being afforded to non-Christian entities and religions, particularly Islam and Humanism, while tolerance is being eliminated from Christian ideals and efforts.
If there were to be drastic changes in our society where Christians are labeled as enemies of society because of their beliefs, then what scriptures prophesy could come true for us in these last days as it has happened elsewhere in the world. If you haven’t noticed, our society has been gradually changing since the early 1960’s to such a state that this could be what we will experience in the near future. Could you imagine a Muslim majority in America as it appears to be developing in parts of Europe? Our government and society currently has less tolerance or acceptance of Christian values and virtues than those demanded by Muslims. The tenants of Islam are now even taught in many public schools along with the religion of Humanism; this is well established in California and other liberal states.
Consider what has happened to Christians who protest abortions and promotion of the homosexual agenda; or those pastors who had established Christian schools who refuse to accommodate decadent state educational programs, agendas and controls. Many such have been jailed for their stand; but the news media won’t publicize it. We need to be prepared for persecution by having the right motive for our actions and the proper attitude in the face of opposition. Scripture gives us Steven as an example to this end:
Acts 7:55, 58-60 – But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
If you were facing a situation in which you and your family were required to deny your Christian faith or be executed but would be allowed to live and be re-programmed if you would deny Christ, what would you do? Would you deny your faith to save your life, ….I trust not!
Matthew 12:32-33 – Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
But how would you deal with such a circumstance? Again, scripture gives us a good example of those faced with such a challenge. It is the story of the three Hebrew young fellows and the fiery furnace when they refused to bow down and worship the image (idol) that King Nebuchadnezzar made; (Daniel Chapter 3).
Daniel 3:14-15 – Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?…but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
These three young men were dedicated and committed to God, and they were bold in their testimony thereof:
Daniel 3:17-18 – If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Note their devotion and commitment to God. They know He is able to deliver them out of that dilemma; however, they are not sure if it is truly His will to do so. Nevertheless, they declare their trust and allegiance to almighty God regardless of the outcome. Their testimony and faith before a large audience gave God an opportunity to reveal Himself for who He is. A great miracle happened as a result of their declaration and their stand. After that miracle even the King recognized and declared God’s sovereignty:
Daniel 3:28-29 – Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
If these Hebrews could take a stand based on their belief in the terms of their Old Testament covenant, should we Christians not more so stand since we have a far better covenant in Jesus Christ, (Hebrews 9 & 10).
Consider just exactly what it is that the opposition could threaten you with; ….they say they will kill you! Sounds terrible; but, they actually are threatening you with seeing and meeting Jesus! That is not really a threat; that is the ultimate blessing!
How can they intimidate you with going to heaven? It’s all in how you look at it; its your attitude and perception; it’s your view of eternity; it’s knowing that they really can’t kill you because from the time you accepted Jesus as savior, you were made alive eternally and will never “feel” the pain of death:
1 Corinthians 15:54-56 – So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
They threaten you with death; but you perceive it as going to heaven and being with Jesus. Then their plan to terrorize you into compliance fails. They and others wonder at your peace and composure; why? …. How can a Christian be like that? You then give God another opportunity to reveal Himself as He did for the three Hebrews. Then watch the revival begin as the power of God is seen through you.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 – And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
However, suppose it is not God’s will to deliver you as HE did the three Hebrews? Will you still stand as did Steven and be a mighty witness and testimony at the end? There is a special eternal reward, or crown, for those who do.
Knowing the degradation of mankind, when the enemy sees that he can’t get to you with the threat of death, he may then threaten to kill your children in front of you. Did you prepare them for such a time? As horrible as the thought seems to be initially, it too, can be seen as a blessing. “My kids get to see Jesus before I do; isn’t that wonderful!”
Suppose your enemy decides that torture instead of death will be how they will get to you; will you stand strong in faith; in your testimony; and in His Word? Consider the historical record of saints in the past who endured torture and death in the name of religion as written in Foxes Book of Martyrs.
As you can see, it is your perspective, your view and your attitude of this life that would be challenged. If you view life as just this physical and material existence, then that is what is precious to you and makes death a real and terrifying threat. However, if you have the eternal view of life, as all Christians should have, then death is of no consequence and holds no real threat over you.
To the saints, there is no death, but just a putting off of this flesh body with all of its problems, weaknesses and vulnerability. Death does end your physical and personal relationships; however, if your family and friends are true saints of God, those relationships are only briefly interrupted and will resume later in far greater glory.
I’m writing all this to accomplish two things: 1) To prepare you for what Jesus foretold was coming upon the earth before His return; and, 2) To encourage you to build your faith and to stand strong in your Christian testimony and NEVER let it diminish or be hid; even in the face of great hostility where you may even be threatened with torture or death. It depends on where you focus your attention and where your treasure and your heart is – in heaven and eternal life, or in this earth and its material life.
One final thing to consider:
Hebrews 9:27 –: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
Everyone dies; it’s a fact of life! What is most important to remember is that everyone is accountable for how they lived, because all will be judged. Selah – think on that!