The frequency of the occurrence of all predicted events, especially in Matthew 24, preceding the incontrovertible second advent of Jesus are both reassuring and frightening. Reassuring because, it authenticates the gospel we preach and frightening because of the apparent unpreparedness of the church. For instance, opportunities to advertise the Master are generally perceived as challenges and impediments. But, in the beginning, it was not so. Hence, I want us to reason together on yet another act of the Apostles as documented in Acts 8:3-6. “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.”
Throughout the book of the Acts of the Apostles, persecution was a necessary ingredient of propagating the gospel. The event described in the scripture quoted above happened after Stephen was stoned to death in the preceding chapter. Consequently, great persecution arose against the apostles and they had to flee Jerusalem. However, rather than fleeing Jerusalem to hide, throw away their convictions and mourn their losses, the Bible says they went everywhere preaching the gospel. The more they were harassed, the more they advanced. The more they were intimidated, the bolder they delivered on the mandate. You remember the experience of Peter and other disciples in Acts 4:29, “And now, Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word…” This was after they had been strictly warned by the powers that be never to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. Rather than allowing the enemy to drown their voices, they cried louder. I believe this should be our attitude at such times as these.
I am aware of the complexity and sophistication of the strategies of the enemy to close our mouth. For instance, we have political, religious, economic and spiritual persecution. Talking about spiritual persecution, many have been deceived to back out on their pursuit of eternity and spreading the gospel because the enemy convinced them that there is no need to continue any longer having failed a couple of times! It’s all lies of the enemy. Zion, I believe this is the hour for vigorous defense of the gospel. If we fail to do just that now, we may lose our ground completely to the adversary. There is this beautiful story in 2Samuel 23:11-12 about one of the mighty men of David:
“And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory.”
If Jehovah must do great things through our hands, we must be prepared to stand our ground for God. We must be ready to shove off ALL intimidation and harassment from the pit of hell and brace up gallantly for the defense of the gospel. Saints who have gone before are watching us from the gallery of heaven! It is not time to back out, rather, it is a time to dig in and fire on. If you fall, rise again; if you are discouraged and weak, receive new strength from God. Are you confused, consult the Holy Spirit for clarity. Our ultimate triumph is Jehovah’s joy.
As I round off, I leave you in the hands of the Holy Spirit as we continue to occupy more vigorously for the Master.