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Matthew 24:9-10

Facing Hatred

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

The "beginning of sorrows" was signified, Jesus said, by wars, earthquakes, pestilence and famines. Times of turmoil, natural disasters, and sickness are bad enough, but, when there is no bond of friendship between the people, no love, and no mutual help to get through the bad times, the effects will be much worse.

That is the picture that Jesus is drawing for His disciples in this passage. We could agree that these times began with His own crucifixion. The religious leaders hated Him and delivered Him up "to be afflicted" and killed. However, the hatred did not stop there. Each of the men who would come in His name, preaching the gospel of salvation, would also be hated.

This passage is very much like Matthew 10:17-22, a fact that indicates Jesus was not speaking of an end times occurrence. In fact all of the disciples, including Paul but with the exception of John, would be martyred before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And the hatred was not limited to the Jewish religious leaders, but would spread to the Gentiles (all nations).

This hatred would be a tribulation or "affliction" (Greek: "thlipsis," meaning; "pressure.") and would cause many of the Christian people to break with their faith. "Many shall be offended." They would stumble in their faith, betray one another, and hate one another. Such pressure weeds out the hypocrites. They leave the church, but turn against those who stay and thus increase the pressure. Even this began with the crucifixion of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him and Peter denied Him three times, while most of the others deserted Him and went into hiding.

And so it has continued until this day. As I write this devotion there is a group of people in Afghanistan who have been arrested for "spreading Christianity". Each has the living Christ dwelling in him, each is hated for His name's sake and all that it stands for, and each must face the suffering that comes with being God's elect.

Is it the beginning of sorrows or a time for rejoicing? It is a time of deep sorrow for those who are caused to fall away from the faith and to betray their brothers and sisters in Christ. They have not been born again and do not know the joy of receiving God's grace. But for those who have received Christ, it can be a time of rejoicing. Read what Peter told those who were anticipating tribulation:

"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (1Peter 1:6-9)

If you are a Christian in a country where the preaching of the gospel is prohibited, you might be facing tribulation every time that you speak the truth. You cannot sing His praises quietly, you cannot give your testimony without being heard, and you cannot stop speaking, because it is your calling. I hope the words in this devotion will be a comfort to you and I pray that the Lord will give you faith, boldness, and strength.

If you are a Christian musician, preacher, teacher or witness in a free country like the United States, you have it pretty easy right now. You should never think, however, that Jesus' prophesy will not come true in your own life. There is a great deal of hatred toward Christians in the U.S. and it is only being contained by the enforcement of our laws. It is imperative that we continue to grow closer to God in our daily walk in order to strengthen our faith against the day when we might also see persecution.

Before The Throne:

Give thanks to God for the protection that He has given you from His enemies. Rejoice in the small problems that you have had because of your faith. Pray that He will continue to draw you closer to Him, increasing your faith, building your love for Christ and His church. Ask for the conviction to overcome the stumbling blocks of life.

For Further Study:

** shall they. Mt 10:17-22; 22:6; 23:34; Mr 13:9-13; Lu 11:49; 21:12, 16-17; Joh 15:19-20; 16:2; Ac 4:2-3; 5:40-41; 7:59; 12:1-5; 21:31-32; Ac 22:19-22; 28:22; 1Th 2:14-16; 1Pe 4:16; Re 2:10, 13; 6:9-11; 7:14;

(v.10) ** shall many. Mt 11:6; 13:21, 57; 26:31-34; Mr 4:17; Joh 6:60-61, 66-67; 2Ti 1:15; 2Ti 4:10, 16; ** betray. Mic 7:5-6; Mt 10:21, 35-36; 26:21-24; Mr 13:12; Lu 21:16;


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