Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off;
for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Yes, truth fails, and the one who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”
“Righteous are you, O Lord, when I plead with you;
yet let me talk with you of your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are they all happy who deal very treacherously?”
For most of my life, I have thought that, one way or another, if severe persecution ever came upon me or upon others in Christ, the righteous would somehow be able to get enough of the truth out in their defense to turn the tide, if they were close enough to God. Looking back on it, I don’t know why I ever thought that. The Bible is full of examples of perfectly innocent, wise, and upright people being ruthlessly persecuted. And in most of those stories, those suffering saints were unable to do anything to escape from the persecution or stop it.
If by declaring the truth and exposing the persecutors to be who they really are, God’s servants could overcome the envy and lies spoken against them, Jeremiah would never had been cast into a mud pit, Micaiah would not have been imprisoned, Urijah and Zedekiah would not have been murdered, John the Baptist would not have had his head cut off, and Paul would not have been beaten with rods.
Think about it. If being truly righteous and innocent, and exposing one’s persecutors to be hypocrites and liars could provide a man security in this world from injustice and cruel persecution, would Jesus have ever been crucified?
Over the past two years, especially, I have seen God give wicked men success in their ungodly machinations against innocent and humble souls. I have seen courts rule in favor of liars and unfaithful husbands, and against innocent and upright children of God who had done no evil at all; on the contrary, they had been maltreated and had themselves done good at all times. I have seen elements of the world take up the cause of deceitful brothers and sisters, and then broadcast their slander as if it were important news that everyone should know. There have also been times when I have seen God provide deliverance for his children from the cruel wrath of backslidden men. But a most important lesson I have learned through suffering the vexation of helplessly watching evil win is that escape from injustice, persecution, and public abuse is not always the lot of the righteous; nor has it ever been.
As much as I wish it was not true, I cannot help but to expect God to give more victories to the wicked over the upright, and to do it soon. I expect soon that the souls of righteous people will be vexed, as Lot’s soul was daily vexed at the filthy conduct of the wicked in Sodom. And I feel that our Father’s purpose will be to help us turn loose of things in this life that may mean more to us than we think they do. Prepare your hearts.
In both Daniel and Revelation, the world ruler that John called “the Beast” is mentioned. And in both books, we are plainly warned that the saints will be overcome by him! There will be no escape for God’s people from his cruelty. Daniel said it this way: “He shall speak great words against the most High, and he shall wear out the saints of the most High.” But John was plainer: “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God . . . . And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to conquer them.” The deeds of the Beast will be wicked, and his acts against the saints will be unreasonable and cruel, but no amount of right, reasonable talking will provide relief from his arrogant wrath, and no saint will escape his abuse by telling the truth. Quite the opposite. Telling the truth will only make things worse for them and make their sufferings worse.
I cannot promise those to whom I minister the word of God that they will not suffer. It would be more honest of me to promise them that they will. “All who are living godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted,” wrote Paul, and I know these sheep, that they are righteous people. Moreover, I am certain that if they suffer, they will suffer unjustly, for I know them, and I know that the life of holiness which Jesus taught, they live. And they know me and my manner of life. If more persecution comes my way, the Lord will let them know whether I am suffering for evildoing or for doing what is good in his sight.
Every child of God everywhere should be warned. Just as there is such a thing as doing evil and then suffering for it, the Bible makes it clear that there is also such a thing as doing good and suffering for it. And the blood of many thousands of precious, humble, and godly saints throughout history bears witness to the fact that, in this present, wicked world, evil sometimes wins.