Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” —Acts 9:1-6
Yes, Saul set out to “destroy the church” (Acts 8:3; Galatians 1:13). There are those today who seek to do and will seek to do the same today in all parts of the world. America is beginning to see this start here as well http://www.wnd.com/2016/06/courts-say-living-by-christian-faith-illegal/.
We are in spiritual warfare and Satan will seek any avenue he can to destroy the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He used a highly religious man, Saul, to attempt to annihilate those who followed Jesus and Saul believed he was doing God’s work. Later Saul who became Paul gave this testimony that “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief” (I Timothy 1:13).
The spirit of anti-Christ has always been around since Satan rebelled. There are times when severe persecution breaks out and then there are times when it is more calm— just as it was in Paul’s day (Acts 8:1; 9:31). But, as we get closer to the end of this age persecution will become more intense world-wide. Satan will know his time is short and his fury will increase.
As the Lord Jesus Christ impacted Saul’s purposes and plans and drew him to Himself, may we also be praying that the Lord would impact persecutors today and draw them to Himself. As He does so, may these former persecutors become the greatest proponents of the gospel of Jesus Christ! May it be so! But, beware…
“Why would so decent a man have such a blot on his otherwise stainless record? The combined factors that affected Aurelius’s thinking reveal much about the causes of religious persecution in every civilized age. Aurelius the persecutor makes an especially interesting study because his intolerance was the result not of crude barbarism, but sophisticated political thinking infused with religious fervor. He had moral and ideological grounds for his policy of extinction toward Christians. It is well worth examining what made Marcus Aurelius, philosopher, humanitarian, and social reformer, a great persecutor.” http://www.libertymagazine.org/article/marcus-aurelius-enlightened-persecutor
We may be entering such an era here in the U.S. Surely so if we continue down this present slippery slope…
Dear Father, may we be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ regardless of what is happening in this world. Thank You for our home in Heaven and we surely look forward to being there!