For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven :: By Candy Austin
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Seemingly when ‘lost people’ know that you are a true Christian, they sometimes like to mock, joke around, or even persecute you and your beliefs. For example, when they find out that you’re a Christian who doesn’t celebrate Halloween, maybe they will decide to try and get a rise out of you by donning their porch with ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. As if that wasn’t enough, they even go on to install a huge 12-foot skeleton alongside an expensive ginormous hairy spider in front of their house just so you can be confronted by all of it every time you go outside.
Or how about at the “Oddity store” downtown, which, come to find out, is actually a ‘witchcraft shop’ that has taxidermy and apothecary items used for and purposed in casting spells. Not only that, upon entrance and off to the right, one will see a rug with a picture on it, which is supposed to be the face of Jesus (Catholic version with the burning Sacred Heart on his chest).
Seemingly, this is their way of relaying their disrespect and disdain for Christ and Christianity before one will ever step foot into this evil place by conveying that they are all about trampling over our Biblical values and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
These examples of persecution here in America, although upsetting and unpleasant, unfortunately pales in comparison to the types of ill-treatment that go on throughout our world and in other countries. According to the Christianity Today website (The 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus in… | News & Reporting | Christianity Today), the top 10 countries where it is the hardest to follow Jesus lists as follows:
A thousand more Christians were killed for their faith last year than the year before. A thousand more Christians were detained. Six hundred more churches were attacked or closed. And Afghanistan is the new No. 1, according to the 2022 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian.
Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:
- North Korea
Why are Christians persecuted in these countries?
The main motivation varies by country, and better understanding the differences can help Christians in other nations pray and advocate more effectively for their beleaguered brothers and sisters in Christ.
Open Doors categorizes the primary sources of Christian persecution into eight groups: Islamic oppression (33 countries), Dictatorial paranoia (5 countries), Communist and post-communist oppression (5 countries), Religious nationalism (4 countries), Organized crime and corruption (2 countries), Christian denominational protectionism (1 country), Secular intolerance (0 countries) and clan oppression (0 countries). -End Source
Sister in Christ (Rooted in Christ Channel) sharing about such persecution:
Watch This Before It’s Too Late! Christian Persecution | 2021 https://youtu.be/JB8SsxkdAj4
Soon enough, when the Rapture of the Church happens and we finally get to go home and see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face (“then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so, shall we ever be with the Lord” 1 Thess. 4:17), then, the persecutors of our Faith, the ‘earth dwellers,’ as Revelation calls them (“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth” Rev. 11:10), will be left behind to go on and endure the harrowing 7-Year Judgment, Wrath, and Tribulation of our Almighty God!
Once that appointed time frame is gruesomely fulfilled, then will come the glorious 1,000-Year Rule and Reign of Jesus Christ (“Blessed and holy is he which hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years” Rev. 20:6) which can finally ensue!
For whenever we pray the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples, which is, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-13), we are essentially praying for Christ’s rule here on earth during the much-anticipated Kingdom of Heaven! Not only will it be a time of the rule and reign of the Messiah Jesus Christ in that ‘Golden City of David,’ which is our Lord’s Headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel, — our Lord is also offering those of us who have been persecuted for righteousness (His sake) to come and govern alongside Him there as well! It really puts our circumstances, albeit daunting as they may be, into perspective and as if they were ‘light and momentary in comparison to the coming joy that is set before us’!
1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
Verse 10 – Which are persecuted, which have been persecuted (Revised Version). “Those who are harassed, hunted, spoiled. The term is properly used of wild beasts pursued by hunters, or of an enemy or malefactor in flight.” Our Lord, by the use of the perfect, wishes to indicate:
(1) the fact that they have endured persecution and still stand firm; and probably,
(2) the condition of temporal loss to which they have been reduced by such persecution. They have “suffered the loss,” possibly, “of all things,” but they are “blessed.” For righteouness’ sake. No article (contrast ver. 6), either as indicating that for even a part of righteousness persecution can be undergone, or, and more probably, simply dwelling on the cause of persecution without idealizing it. St. Peter also says, perhaps with a reference to our Lord’s words, that they who suffer (1 Peter 3:14). For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The same promise that was given to “the poor in spirit” (ver. 3) is here given to the persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
In the former case, poverty in the sphere of the spirit obtains the fullest possessions; here the same promise is given to temporal loss produced by faithfulness to the cause of righteousness. In ver. 3 our Lord removed all occasion for intellectual and spiritual pride. Here he comforts for temporal and social losses (cf. especially 2 Corinthians 6:10).
(1) confuses this and the preceding Beatitude;
(2) gives a curious reading of some who alter the Gospels: “Blessed are they who have been persecuted through righteousness, for they shall be perfect; and blessed are they who have been persecuted for my sake, for they shall have a place where they shall not be persecuted” -End Source
In Revelation 19—20 Jesus returns to earth as the King, and He sits on a throne ruling over Israel for one thousand years. After that thousand years, He fulfills His role as Judge, and after judgment is fulfilled, His kingdom continues in a new earth for eternity. Because of what the Bible tells us about the future, we know that we also need to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” We need to change our minds about how we become righteous and rely on God’s grace and Jesus’ saving work on the cross, not on our own works and efforts. For those who have believed in Him, we have already been transferred to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13), but because His kingdom isn’t here yet—because the King isn’t here yet—we need to set our mind on the things above where He is, rather than on the temporary things of earth (Colossians 3:1–4). -End Source
The Kingdom of Heaven will be a time like no other; peace will reign supreme (“And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” Isa. 2:4), people will live a lot longer lives (“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” Isa. 65:20), and the animals will be tame (“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” Isa. 11:6). It will be beyond anything we can even imagine, and there will be so much for us to do…. Once again, I cannot wait!
One day, Jesus will return to the earth to set up His kingdom (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15). Jesus’ reference to the “least in the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 5:19 suggests that there will be different levels of honor in the kingdom. The criteria used for assigning honor seem to be based on the handling of God’s Word. Those who received God’s Word and fulfilled their responsibilities in God’s sight will be called “great,” but those who rejected parts of God’s Word and shirked their responsibilities will be called “least.” This corresponds to the believers’ appearance before the judgment seat of Christ one day, where we will be rewarded based on how faithfully we served Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Some of us will “suffer loss” when our work “will be shown for what it is” and its quality does not pass the test (see 1 Corinthians 3:11–15).
Immediately after speaking of those who are least in the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus indirectly condemns the Pharisees and religious teachers for their misconduct concerning the Law: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees, then, were examples of those who “set aside” some of the commandments, and they would suffer shame for it (see also Mark 7:1–13). Not only did their actions diminish some parts of the Law, but they had no true righteousness—because they rejected Christ.
In summary, Jesus taught that the Law is good (Matthew 5:18–19), and the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in Himself (verse 17). His message was not contrary to the Law; rather, His words confirmed the Law, and His works accomplished the Law. Those who lightly esteem God’s Word will themselves be lightly esteemed. Greatness in the kingdom of heaven will not be based on one’s gifts but upon how one handles the Word of God (see 2 Timothy 2:15). -End Source
Acts 5:40-42 “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
In light of the coming Rapture of the Church, The Millenium (the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ), and The Kingdom of Heaven, which is for all of us who are ‘truly born again’ and who have been persecuted for (His) righteousness’ sake, this should give us pause and cause us to rejoice and be grateful that we are counted worthy to suffer for His Name; for the dividends are ‘priceless,’ and they are literally out of this world!
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). “…Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). -End Source
May this encourage our weary souls in these last moments and hours…
Until next time, Maranatha!
Sincerely and In Christ,
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