While the prophecies regarding the Last Days can be frightening, the Lord encourages believers with promises to uplift them in times of trouble. He knows the weakness of our flesh and readiness to faint when we undergo persecution.
“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them … Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death” (Mark 13:9, 12).
Trouble has been the portion of all men since Adam sinned, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards” (Job 5:7). There are troubles that only the true followers of Christ will face, and it is of these that the Lord speaks of in this passage.
The believer must expect trouble from the world, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). We ought not be surprised if our doctrines do not bring upon us the favour of religious or political authorities. We live at a time when the Christian is likely to be imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, only because someone is offended. The true Gospel is an offence to the lost.
The believer must expect trouble from family members. Sometimes our own flesh and blood are the severest enemies of the Gospel of Christ. It seems that hatred of truth is stronger than family ties. “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:36).
These things must be considered as we follow Christ. We must count the cost of being Christians, and not think that it is abnormal to be troubled by those around us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:12-14). Here in the United Kingdom we are finding that the true church of Christ is being stripped of its God-given right to spread the Good News to the unconverted. Believers are being intimidated by a police force that is greatly influenced by homosexuals and Islam. We face the very real prospect of our churches being closed down by the government in the near future. Nevertheless, it is our task to preach God’s word and put up with ridicule, slander, persecution and imprisonment. The “offence of the cross” has not ceased (Galatians 5:11), and it is always going to be that those who are “born of the flesh” are going to persecute those who are “born of the Spirit” (Galatians 4:29).
“And the gospel must first be preached among all nations” (Mark 13:10).
The reason why the gospel is being prohibited today is because the devil “knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). In spite of devils and wicked politicians, the cross of Christ will be preached throughout the nations before the Lord returns. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against” the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18). Though our hearers are hardened in sin and governments try to prevent the Gospel being preached, faithful men and women will continue to proclaim the truth. They may bind us up with chains and legislation, “but the word of God is bound” (2 Timothy 2:9).
“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost … And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:11, 13).
Those who are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10) will find special help in their time of need. The Holy Spirit will assist them in standing firm and continuing to spread the word of God. They will be given words of wisdom that their adversaries will not be able to gainsay. This was true for the early church, the church in the Dark Ages, and will be so for the church at the end of the ages.
Patient perseverance is needed here, for it is the only way that results in final salvation. Compromisers may seem to win the day and save their skin, but they will finally lose eternity and their souls. Only those who endure tribulation shall enjoy their reward. The rich harvest is only reaped by those who bow their knee to Christ rather than the world. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5) … “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
We may be mocked, beaten and imprisoned for our faith, but soon the world will see who are on the victorious side. We may at times feel perplexed and even forsaken, but we must remind ourselves that the Lord is with us, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We need to “possess” souls in “patience” (Luke 21:19). One day the scoffers will be put to shame, but believers will be rewarded by the Lord, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4).