I Don't Need a Week to Decide — Kill Me Now!
23 August 2014
Today I read an article entitled 'One week' deadlines for Iraqi Christians to convert or 'face the sword' on the WorldWatch Monitor Web site. I'm not going to reproduce it here, so please take the time to read it before you continue with the rest of my article, as I will be referring to it quite a bit.
In the parts of Iraq where the Islamic State (ISIS) has taken control, there have been many reports during the past couple of months of how Iraqi Christians are being persecuted by the Muslims. At first, they were told to either leave the country, pay the Islamic jizya submission tax, convert to Islam, or else be killed. Later, there were reports of Christian homes being marked with the Arabic letter "N" (looking somewhat like the letter "U" with a dot over the center) with a circle around it, the "N" standing for Nasrani, the Arabic word for Christian (see Matthew 2:23; Acts 24:5).
Now it seems as if the Christians' options are narrowing. In the article I referenced above, it is reported that the ISIS Muslims are telling Iraqi Christians that they have one week to convert to Islam, or else be killed. Many of these Christians are panicking and trying to escape, resulting in huge refugee problems as they have to flee from place to place in an attempt to say ahead of Islamic advances. Some try to save their lives in a different way, by submitting to the Muslims and converting to Islam.
Apparently it's getting so bad in Iraq that even Pope Francis seems to be endorsing military action to stop Islamist militants from attacking Christians in Iraq, breaking with the traditional Vatican policy against the use of force. So even though there is no defense for Christian self-defense, he appears ready to give his blessing to dispatching non-Christians to hell for eternity. Rather than praying the war prayer, the Pope would be much better off, and much more in line with the teaching of the New Testament, if he were to follow my advice on how to pray for Iraq instead.
Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven — I find it REALLY hard to consider Christians being martyred as a tragedy. The New Testament does not regard martyrdom as a tragedy, but as a victory over Satan (see Revelation 2:10,12:11; Romans 8:35-37). Isn't it really that we love our own earthly lives more than we love God that makes us so fearful of death, and that makes us think that martyrdom is such a "human rights" catastrophe?
If we truly believe what God says in the New Testament, then why should we get so bent out of shape about Christian persecution and martyrdom? Yeshua (Isa, Jesus) and His early followers who wrote the New Testament promised that Christians would face such tests of faith, as I documented in Don't Be Surprised. It's simply par for the course. When the apostles were flogged for preaching the Good News of Yeshua, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Messiah (Acts 5:40-42). The early Church considered martyrdom as such a high honor, that they went too far and started seeking martyrdom! So what's the big deal about Christian persecution, suffering and martyrdom in our day? Where are the willing martyrs?
I can already hear people replying: "It's easy for YOU to say all this! You're sitting in peace, safety and comfort there in Oregon. If you were in the place of the Iraqi Christians, you'd be singing a different tune! When Muslims hold a knife to your throat, you'll squeal like a pig just like the rest of them! Don't criticize someone until you've walked in their shoes!"
These are valid observations and complaints. But I think that those who would make such replies are not really understanding why I'm writing this article and the points I am trying to make.
On one level, I am concerned about the Iraqi Christians. I don't want them to lose eternity in Heaven by denying Yeshua and trying to save their earthly lives (Mark 8:34-38). I don't want them to bring shame and disgrace on Yeshua by their fear and panic. I want to see the names of Yahweh and Yeshua honored among the Muslims in Iraq when they see the true and faithful witness of the Iraqi Christians, as they remain faithful to Yeshua even unto death. I want to see a glorious, radiant Bride of Messiah in Iraq, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-32).
But it's practically too late to say anything to the Iraqi Christians, because they are already in the midst of the fire of persecution. Once you are at that point, it's too late to prepare. Such preparation must happen BEFORE the persecution comes. My guess is that a lot of these Iraqi "Christians" are cultural or religious "Christians" only, who have never really given their lives completely to the Master. They are not rooted and grounded in the Messiah. As Yeshua taught, "Since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away" (Matthew 13:21).
On another level, I'm deeply concerned about the largely cultural and religious "Christians" in the West. Like the "Christians" in Iraq, for the most part they have not sunk their roots deeply into Messiah.
Just as you received the Messiah Yeshua as Master, keep living your life united with Him. Remain deeply rooted in Him; continue being built up in Him and confirmed in your trust, the way you were taught, so that you overflow in thanksgiving. Watch out, so that no one will take you captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit, following human tradition which accords with the elemental spirits of the world but does not accord with the Messiah. (Colossians 2:6-8)Instead of being rooted in Yeshua, Western Christianity has, for the most part, been taken captive by means of human philosophy and tradition, and empty, demonic deceit. A self-centered, feel-good "gospel" has sapped the Western church of its vitality and left it woefully unprepared to face suffering, persecution and martyrdom. Your Islamic future is rapidly approaching. To me it is apparent that Islam will win. One day, perhaps not as far away as you might imagine, the Islamic Antichrist will be revealed to the world. Will you be ready to face the consequences?
It's not too, too late for Christians in the West to prepare themselves, but the time is getting very short. Just one look at the news headlines should be enough to make that quite clear! I've said the following before in a previous article, but I need to say it here once more — I must repeat the truth again and again until Western "Christians" get it!
In stark contrast to the early followers of Yeshua, Christianity has, over the centuries, almost completely lost its vision for, and desire for, martyrdom. There is a desperate need in this late hour for believers to assimilate and live out a modern theology of martyrdom.
From my personal experience, I believe that the best way you can prepare for your Islamic future is to buy and carefully study the book Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven by Josef (Iosif) Ton.
The teaching in this scholarly work is vital to you being prepared to face the stark choices coming your way. Will you remain faithful to Yeshua, even to the point of martyrdom? Or will you deny Him by submitting to Allah, in a vain attempt to save your earthly life?
The destiny of your eternal soul hangs in the balance! Will your follow Yeshua to Heaven, or Allah to Hell? The Biblical teaching in this book will equip and strengthen you to make the right choice and then stick to it come hell or high water. Priced at only $15, you can't afford NOT to buy this life-changing book!
The tragic, violent events which are taking place in Israel, Iraq and Syria are merely the front-lines of a worldwide battle which is already unfolding in Europe and which will sooner or later be raging full-force in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Your Islamic future is steadily and surely approaching! Are you ready? If not, you had better get prepared ASAP!
If we pledge our allegiance to Allah and Muhammad, then we are condemning our souls to Hell for eternity. As Yeshua warned, "Everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before My Father in Heaven. But everyone who denies Me here on earth, I will also deny before My Father in Heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). It we are wise, we will learn by heart a better Shahada before it's too late.
I long to see the same glorious, radiant Bride of Messiah in the West, and the rest of the world, that I desire to see in Iraq — without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Compared to that, our earthly lives are worth nothing to us (see Paul in Acts 20:24). In closing, I'll leave you with this critical warning from my article Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven, Part 3:
Before you read the following chapter, I need to emphasize something which is VERY important! You are not going to get a life-changing theology of martyrdom embedded deep into your mind, soul and spirit just by reading this article! It's just NOT going to happen! You absolutely MUST buy the book and spend however many months it takes to read and ponder each paragraph. You need to look up each scripture verse Mr. Ton references and study it for yourself.
It is going to take MUCH time and effort for you to find out what the New Testament teaches about suffering, martyrdom and rewards in heaven, and to make it your own. And then the rest of your lifetime to live it out! You are NOT going to "get it" simply by reading this article! If you settle for that, when persecution comes you will most likely fall away because you didn't take the time to develop deep roots (see Mark 4:1-20). The ONLY way you are going to make it in the hard times to come is to develop deep roots into God's Word NOW, while you still have the chance. You've been warned!