VOL. 36 NEWSLETTER JAN./FEB. 1999
Dear fellow citizens and co-heirs,
“Shalom shalom” from Israel in Yeshua’s precious Name. I pray all of you are well and filled with the joy of His salvation and His all surpassing peace.
I was not able to write this issue of the newsletter on time because the Lord was silent -- until the evening of February 20th. That evening I was checking links in the “newsletters” pages of Or Tzion’s Website, The Electronic Tabernacle, when I came upon reports of persecution of Christians. As I read, the Lord moved upon me very strongly and said, “That’s it! That is to be the main topic of your newsletter!” Immediately a stream of other topics followed like water running from a faucet. But the main one was persecution!
Revelation 6:9-11: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?" Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
Many Western churches, if not most, ignore the fact that some of us are called to martyrdom. All of us are called to walk in the works our Heavenly Father prepared in advance for us2. Some of us, however, will die for the Word of G-d and for our testimony. It is a predetermined, specific number of brethren whose “works” include martyrdom.
We need to understand that G-d is building the heavenly Jerusalem with those materials that are brought forth by our works, the works of the saints: building stones radiating like diamonds, precious stones for the foundations of the wall, gold so pure it is transparent, and pearl for the 12 gates3. Let us take note that pearl is produced only through suffering, as is purest gold through the “heat” of trials and afflictions!
While suffering is a carefully avoided topic in most Western churches, the flock is ill prepared for the days ahead. Our Lord did speak on the suffering of the saints in the end days, and so did Paul4. It will be a worldwide phenomenon during the time of the “beast” system.
Blessed is everyone who already has it settled in his/her heart and mind that suffering with Messiah is part of the Christian walk, and a great privilege5.
In the book of Revelation, chapter 7, saints are clothed in white robes, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. During their lifetime on earth they had suffered great tribulation, hunger, thirst and scorching heat6. Revelation 14:12-13 says that during the time of the “beasts” we will need much endurance and that there will be those who die in the Lord -- apparently from persecution. However, they will be blessed and their deeds will follow them.
Already millions of brethren are suffering persecution: the loss of all possessions, imprisonment, torture and death for Yeshua’s sake. How can we, who have so far escaped, blind ourselves to what is already going on and to what our Lord has said to the churches?
Revelation 2:9-11, to the community of saints called “Smyrna”: "I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.”
Revelation 2:13, to the community of saints called “Pergamum”:
"I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; you hold
fast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas
witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan
dwells.” 2:14 “But I have a few things against you...
Revelation 2:19, to the community of saints called “Thyatira”: "I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jez'ebel... 2:22... those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 3:8, to the community of saints called “Philadelphia”: “...You have but little power [a little strength], and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name... 3:10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial... 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Not all will suffer for the sake of our faith alone. Some will suffer for having entertained immorality in their midst; the lust of the eye and of the flesh; pride; vainglory; false prophets and teachers; for having idolized ministries and ministers instead of having been jealous for the Lord, His Name and His glory. Rather than letting them go to perdition the Lord will war against them and throw them into great tribulation, so they might come forth purified and worthy of the Kingdom of G-d.
As Peter said, we are to put away all malice, all guile, insincerity, envy and all slander 7a, and instead have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind 7b so that, even if we suffer for righteousness’ sake, we will be blessed 7c. Since Messiah suffered in the flesh we must arm ourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin7d. Above all we are to hold unfailing our love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins7e.
Indeed, as the Lord’s words to the Philadelphia saints show,
neither size, great works, nor prophetic powers and signs and wonders qualify
one for belonging to “Philadelphia”. Rather, to love one another as He
has loved us, to keep His commandments8
with patient endurance, and not compromise His Name for anyone or anything,
are what count.
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