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            As you can see, like Europe, we are a post Christian nation and this world is moving towards a one world religion, a one world government. This world is being prepared for the antichrist. We see a major war ready to break out in the Middle East. We see the things that the Bible has warned us about happening prior to the Lord’s return occurring right before our eyes! We see evil on the rise as people call evil good and good evil. Now many Christians see this and they throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use?” Other Christians see all that is happening and they are terrified, they are worried about what is happening and it almost paralyzes them! Maybe after hearing the first study this evening you are discouraged, you may even be depressed, “What are we going to do now?” you may be thinking!

            That is really what Part 2 of this study is all about because I believe we are here for such a time as this! Let me explain. Picture a big Hollywood movie production. All the sets are in position; all the details have been researched out. Everything is ready to go from the people working on the set to the actors and actresses that are going to be in this movie. The director is there and yells out “ACTION!” and nothing happens. It is almost as if all the people involved didn’t hear what he said, that his words fell on deaf ears! No one responded to his voice. What would he do? He basically has two choices to make. He could either repeat his words, “ACTION!” to see if they would respond, maybe try to encourage the people to do their part, or get new people to do this movie.

            Folk’s, I believe God is calling us to action and to show you what I mean we are going to look at what took place in the book of Esther because the words that were spoken to her, the position she was in, is similar to what we are in today and I pray we respond as Esther responded.

Now as you read through the book of Esther you truly see the sovereignty of God, the providence of God throughout these pages. God positions people, events for a final outcome, and as we will see, what He did back then, I truly believe He is doing today.

            If you remember, Esther was a Jewish maiden who was elevated by God to be queen in Persia.  As she kept her position as queen, she remained in the palace, really isolated from the outside world.  She was not necessarily kept abreast of what was happening outside of the palace.  There was no Nightline, or news shows or newspapers to inform her of various happenings in the kingdom.  Because of that, she was totally unaware of a plot that became a decree to have all the Jews living in Persia exterminated on the 13th day of the 12th month.

Now the reason for this whole ugly plot coming into existence was because of a wicked man named Haman, who was second in command in Persia.  He was upset at Mordecai, a Jew, who refused to pay him homage and bow before him, like all the other people were required to do and did.  And this filled Haman with anger, and as that anger boiled over, he asked the king to sign a decree that not only would have Mordecai put to death, but every other Jew in the kingdom would also be destroyed.  And the king signed the decree and gave Haman the resources and people to carry this out. Now keep in mind that Esther was now married to King Ahasuerus but was again, unaware of what was taking place, but her cousin, Mordecai knew exactly what was taking place.

This brought Mordecai to his knees as he cried out to the Lord in sackcloth and ashes.  And Esther, the cousin of Mordecai, is totally unaware of this decree, so she sees Mordecai in these worn and torn clothes, and sends him some new clothes to wear, maybe that will cheer him up a bit.  But Mordecai refused the clothes and continued mourning before the Lord over this tragic situation that was quickly coming upon the Jewish people. 

And so Esther gets word that Mordecai is still carrying on, and since she could not just go and talk with Mordecai to find out what was going on, she sends one of the kings eunuchs, Hathach, to go and see what is troubling Mordecai. And Mordecai tells this eunuch everything, and to make sure that Esther doesn’t think he is overreacting to this situation, he sends a copy of the letter or decree, with their death sentence stated upon it, to Esther.  And as Esther takes all this in, she is uncertain what she can do about it.  You see, you could not just go and see the king anytime you wanted, even if you were the queen! 

In fact, Ahasuerus has not seen queen Esther for 30 days, and she feels her hands are tied in this matter.  For unless the king calls for you to come to him, you could not just approach him.  If you did and he did not hold out the royal scepter, you could be put to death.  That is why Esther is so tentative in what to do. She does not want to approach her husband the king because she is fearful that he may have her put to death if he does not want to see her.

And this is what took place next, in Esther 4:13-14, And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’

In other words, Mordecai is telling Esther “How do you know if God has prepared you for this time? And if you refuse to do anything about this, then God will take care of it, He will raise up someone else to do it.” And we know that Esther prays about it and she goes forward and God delivers the Jews from destruction.

How does that relate to us today? There is an evil force you might say, just like Haman, trying to destroy our faith, trying to destroy what we believe, trying to destroy us! And I truly believe we might be that generation that is going to close out the Church history, that generation that will be around when the Lord calls His Bride, the Church home!

Now as exciting as that is, please understand that the events leading up to the Lord calling us home may not be very pretty, in fact they may be ugly. We have talked about where this country is going and we can see the handwriting on the wall. You can look at the news and see how things are moving quickly, something is happening in this world and as you put it alongside what the Bible says, we are moving quickly towards the Tribulation Period, those seven years where God pours out His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world leading to the battle of Armageddon where the Lord comes back to put a end to this rebellion and to set up His Kingdom on this earth where He will rule and reign for a thousand years! But, prior to this taking place, this seven year Tribulation Period, the Church will be caught up or Raptured to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we will be with Him and we will return with Him when He sets up His kingdom on this earth!

            Now, there are some who are just waiting for the Rapture, they don’t think anything bad will happen between now and then and all I can say to those who think along those lines, “Are you crazy?”    Paul warns us in II Timothy 3:12, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Notice that it doesn’t say, “Might” or “Maybe” or “There is a possibility” but if you are a Christian and you want to live out your faith in this world, you “Will” suffer persecution.

            You see, what Paul wrote of and warned Timothy of regarding the Roman persecution of Christians back then, I believe the Holy Spirit is also warning us of what things will be like leading up to the Tribulation Period for us Christians.  And please understand that Paul is not speaking of this coming just from the unsaved, which is understandable. He is speaking of those that appear to be saved, have a form of faith but are spiritually dead on the inside. It is the religious people who will come against true believers, persecuting them for their faith, putting them down for believing the Bible.  They will bring in destructive heresies and keep people from the saving faith in Christ with their lies.  Paul, in II Timothy chapter 3 is warning Timothy, and us, to avoid them, expose them, and oppose these spiritual imposters who are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing!

            John MacArthur tells us:

            Throughout church history the full counsel of God has been unpalatable to many who have claimed the name of Christ.  In his book Dammed Through the Church (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1970), John Warwick Montgomery discusses the difficult times as he offers a list of what he calls “the damnable epochs of church history.”  He identifies and discusses seven specific movements or theological orientations – from the sacramentalism of the Middles Ages (also called the Dark Ages) to the subjectivism that is so rampant in our own day – that are clearly unbiblical, ungodly, and destructive of the body of Christ.  As the title of the book implies, these false gospels are damning to their adherents.

In each of those difficult times, men’s ideas were substituted for God’s truth and therefore for God Himself. Under sacramentalism, the church replaced God; under rationalism, reason was god; under orthodoxism, god was sterile, impersonal orthodoxy; under politicism, god was the state; under ecumenism, god was uncritical fellowship and cooperation among nominal Christians; under experientialism, god became personal experience; and under subjectivism, which still reigns in much of Christendom, self has become god.

It would be appropriate to add to Montgomery’s list the current emphases on mysticism, which seeks to determine truth about God by intuition and feeling, and on pragmatism, which attempts to determine what is true by what produces desired effects. These movements do not come and go but come to stay, so that as the years go on, the church accumulates them, and the battles continue.

- John MacArthur


            And thus, we see the church or the false church coming against what we believe. We see the world coming against what we believe, and they are turning up the heat as we have seen in our first study this evening! Persecution has always been a part of a believer’s life but there are times when that heat is turned up more and I think we are seeing that today!

            Let me just show you what I mean. This video is about 9 minutes long but it shows how you can be arrested in the United States of America for sharing your faith. At the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests. They were arrested for sharing their faith in Dearborn Michigan back in June of 2010 and they recently have been acquitted of this crime of sharing the Gospel! Can you imagine, arrested for sharing their faith in America, what ever happened to freedom of speech? But watch this short video and you will see what is happening in our country and you tell me if our freedoms are being taken away! You really have to see it to believe it and thus, I will show this to you.


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Why did I show you that? To show you that if you are a Christian today living in America, watch out! And the reality is, this is just the tip of the iceberg you might say. You doubt that this is just the tip of the iceberg, this persecution against Christians. Think again. A Florida Principal and an athletic director could go to jail. Why you may wonder? Because, believe it or not, they prayed before lunch! We are told, “A principal and an athletic director could be charged with crimes and spend six months in jail after they prayed before a meal at a school event, the Washington Times reported. . . . They’re accused of violating the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the times.”

Here is a story that you probably did not hear anything about and the reason is simple, it happened to Christians and thus, not really news worthy. Let me show you what I mean by reading to you what took place. We are told,

A religious liberty group warned Saturday, February 6, that “Anti-Christian hostility is getting increasingly deadly” in the United States after two street preachers were shot and killed by a teenager who apparently opposed their message.

“The increasing demonization of Christians in our culture makes some feel its open season on Christians,” said Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

Tite Sufra, 24 and Stephen Ocean, 23, were shot and killed late Saturday, January 30, in Boynton Beach in the U.S. State of Florida, where they evangelized, after meeting 18-year-old Jeriah Woody, local police said.

“They witnessed to Woody for fifteen minutes when he got a phone call and told the preachers he ‘had to go’”, added the Commission, which closely monitored the case.

“As they walked away, Woody suddenly started walking back toward them. Sufra walked up to greet him and was killed with a shot gun blast at point blank range. When Ocean ran, he was shot in the back. After he fell, Woody shot him in the head execution style.”

Woody was detained Wednesday, February 3, and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Bail was reportedly denied to him.

Cass complained about a lack of interest in national media. “As of today, there are no national news organizations reporting this vicious murder of two innocent Christian men. Why?” Cass said, “I’ll ask this: If two Muslims, or two feminists or two homosexuals were murdered, wouldn’t the media be all over it? These were two fine young black Christian men shot by another black man for their Christian faith, yet the media does not seem to care.”

- Copyright 1999-2010 Christian Persecution Info - a Christian website of the Worthy Network, 2010-02-06


            Maybe the news media and many people in this country do not seem to care what happened to these two Christian men who were murdered for their faith, but God does as His Word tells us, Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15. Or as The Amplified Bible puts it, Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones). May we not forget that and may we not forget those who have given their lives for their faith. They are precious to God and they should be precious to us!

            Listen to this report of what is going on out there in our country and you will see that this antichristian theme is growing. We are told,

. . . many of the hottest best selling books in recent years have publicly mocked Christianity. . . .

Just consider the titles of a few recent New York Times bestsellers. . . .

            “God is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything” by journalist Christopher Hitchens.

            “The End of Faith” by atheist author Sam Harris.

            “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.

But this anti-Christian sentiment is just not held by a few elitists.  The reality is that it has spread to much of the general population.

For example, the following are the titles of just a few anti-Christian threads on one of the most popular political discussion forums on the Internet. . . .

“Dirty, Filthy, Christians”: Treatise On The Most Dangerous Death Cult In Human History

How can we destroy Christians?

Christians should not participate in politics

Why Christians are so ******* lame . . .

Attention Heterosexuals! Repent! Jesus Can Finally Make You Gay!

Christians are sub-humans

The truth is that hatred for Christians and Christianity is rapidly increasing.



            Now, remember the quote I read from C. S. Lewis, it is really prophetic in nature. I want to share this with you again but as you will see, he hit the nail on the head. This is what he wrote,

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims maybe the most oppressive. . . . Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. . . . In reality, however, we must face the possibility of bad rulers armed with a Humanitarian theory of

punishment. . . . We know that one school of psychology already regards religion as a neurosis. When this particular neurosis becomes inconvenient to government, what is to hinder government from proceeding to “cure” it? Such a “cure” will, of course, be compulsory; but under the Humanitarian theory it will not be called by the shocking name of Persecution.”

- C. S. Lewis, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” God in the Dock, pp. 292-293


You see, they don’t see this as persecution. They feel that what they are doing is right, it is good, there is nothing wrong with it. They think that Christians are crazy and thus, they must be dealt with accordingly and that is exactly what they are doing. They think they are doing us good by persecuting us or really, in their minds, trying to cure us of this religious neurosis that we have.

Now let me share with you what a pastor said back in early 1934 from his pulpit in Germany. His name is Martin Niemoller and his church was located in the Berlin suburb of Dahlem. And pay attention, just listen to what he declared to his congregation regarding God’s purpose in the trails that were facing the German church and see how this can be speaking to us today. He said,

We have all of us – the whole Church and the whole community – we’ve been thrown into the Tempter’s sieve, and he is shaking and the wind is blowing, and it must now become manifest whether we are wheat or chaff! Verily, a time of sifting has come upon us, and even the most indolent [lethargic or lazy] and peaceful person among us must see that the calm of a meditative Christianity is at an end. . . .

It is now springtime for the hopeful and expectant Christian Church – it is testing time, and God is giving Satan a free hand, so he may shake us up and so that it may be seen what manner of men we are! . . .

Satan swings his sieve and Christianity is thrown hither and thither; and he who is not ready to suffer, he who called himself a Christian only because he thereby hoped to gain something good for his race and his nation is blown away like chaff by the wind of time.

- Quoted in J. S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945, on an opening unnumbered page


            There is no doubt in my mind that God is separating the wheat from the chaff, the true from the false. It is kind of like oil and water, when you shake them up they kind of mix, but when you let things settle out, the oil separates from the water. Folk’s, as these things come against our Christian faith, what are we going to do? Are we going to run and hide? Are we going to keep silent so no one knows what we believe, a kind of secret agent Christian? Are we going to compromise our faith so we don’t rock the boat, you know, don’t tip the boat over? Sounds like a song!

            I pray that we don’t do any of those things but that through all these things our Christian faith is lived out and people see that what we believe is real, that we love the Lord and we love His Gospel! You see, persecution truly comes our way to purify us and sharpen us so that we may shine more brightly for Him!  Paul said in Philippians 1:27-30, Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

            Now let’s look at these verses a little closer. The Greek word Paul uses for “conduct” is POLITEUOMAI (pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee) and the idea is “to behave as a citizen.”  Philippi was a Roman colony and thus enjoyed all the benefits of Rome.  Thus, the people were not only proud of this but they also obeyed the rules of Rome so they would not lose their statues with Rome.  Paul is calling the Philippian believers to a higher standard for they are citizens of heaven and thus they should walk according to the high calling by which they have been called.  To live as faithful citizens of heaven according to God’s Word.  Think about it, one of the greatest testimonies we have to a lost world is our integrity, that what we believe has impacted our lives in such a way that it is manifested in what we say and what we do!

            Paul also gives them some words of encouragement and accountability. He calls for them to conduct themselves in a godly way whether he is there or not but he also tells them he is watching them.  Why is that, did Paul not trust them?  Not at all, but again, it has to do with accountability. We should all be accountable to each other so that if we start going astray, doing something that is not pleasing to God and we don’t see it, or don’t want to see it, a brother or sister in the Lord will let us know it in love!  In fact, Paul tells us we are one in Spirit, the Spirit of God.  We are one in mind; we have the mind of Christ.  And we are “striving together” and the Greek word that Paul uses is a compound Greek word that is composed of a preposition, SUN (with) and the noun ATHLEO that speaks of competing in a contest, such as a sporting event. It is the term from which we get our English words “athlete” and “athletics”.

            Here’s the thing.  We are a team working together for a common goal, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, seeing the kingdom of God grow. We are working together, giving it our all.  Now, for example, Randy Moss who use to play for the Minnesota Vikings and I am not sure what team he is on or if he is even playing anymore. But when he played football on a team, at times he didn’t run the routes all out. He gave a half-hearted effort.  Sometimes he walked off the field before the game was over while the rest of the team was still playing.  Sometimes he didn’t even know what play was being run and walked off the field to the sidelines when he was suppose to be the receiver on the play.  The outcome is that it affects the whole team, not just Randy Moss and that is Paul’s point here, we are working together as Christians for the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Paul continues on and he wants the Philippian believers to remain focused and not be “terrified” or startled by the enemy.  Paul uses the Greek word PTURO (ptoo’-ro) and the idea here is of an uncontrollable stampede of startled horses.  Horses can be startled by something as small as a bee and the same is true for us as Christians and Paul wants them to stay focused, not be startled by anything the enemy might throw at them be it persecution or even imprisonment or death!  Remember what Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

            Thus, as you stand firm against the enemy it shows to them God’s judgment upon them, eternal punishment.  It is as Paul said in II Thessalonians 1:4-10, “so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

            Not only does it show their eternal punishment but our salvation because persecution shows we are His.  Persecution should not be discouraging to us but it should be encouraging.  Paul said in Colossians 1:24, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.”  In Galatians 6:17 Paul tells us, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” 

Folks, the enemy will be destroyed and our salvation is secured in Christ because God is the one bringing these outcomes to pass!  It is as Jesus said in John 3:16-20, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

            I don’t know how often you hear this in churches today but not only has God, in His sovereign grace given to us the gift of faith to believe but also He has given to us the privilege to suffer for His sake!  Paul tells us in Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 

Also, Peter tells us in I Peter 4:12-16, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  Thus, we should not be surprised when difficult times come as Paul tells us, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”  I Thessalonians 3:3.

            Paul, in a sense, is saying to the Philippian believers, “Brothers and sisters in the Lord, for you and for me the battle is on; let us not lose heart but let us do something great for the Lord!”  Paul is trying to encourage them not because persecution might come but it has come and more is coming so don’t give up, don’t fall back, it is time to stand up and fight for the faith which has been entrusted to us!  And may we not just stand up and fight for the faith but may we do it with joy in our hearts!

            Let me give to you another example of a man of God who was right in the middle of this Nazi persecution. His name is Dietrich Bonhoeffer and he was willing to speak out against the atrocities that were going on. In fact, he wrote, “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.” He spoke those words in the dark days when the church in Germany was being Nazified. And at the age of thirty-nine he was hanged on the gallows for his faith and died. He practiced what he preached.  Listen to his words,

            Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. . . . In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. . . . Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. . . . Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, pp. 43, 45


            These were not empty words, like I have said, he lived what he believed and he died for his beliefs. And it was not just Bonhoeffer that stood up for Christ; it was not just Bonhoeffer that would not compromise his faith. There were many, many unknown Christians who took the stand against Nazism and many of them lost their lives for it. We need people like that today who are willing to stand up for their faith in a time when darkness is filling this land. We need to be a light to show people Jesus. The thing is, are you willing to pay the price of obedience and do so with joy?

            Let me share this story with you and show you what I mean. There was a school principal who was named Rainy. And principal Rainy, of whom a child once remarked that she believed he went to Heaven every night because he was so happy every day, once used a fine metaphor about a Christian’s joy.  “Joy,” he said, “is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.”

            Who is on the throne of your heart? You can tell by the flag that is being flown over your life!  May it be Jesus and may your heart overflow with joy, may you rejoice in the Lord and the work He is doing no matter the situation you find yourself in as Bonhoeffer did and as many others have done, are doing and will be doing!

            Let me share with you one more hero of faith from today. Listen to how Erwin Lutzer tells the story. He wrote,

            A recent hero of mine is a Coptic Priest named Zakaria Botros, a man who through his television program and the Internet preaches the Gospel to fifty million Muslims in the Middle East each week. Best of all, tens of thousands of Muslims have come to saving faith in Christ through his ministry.

            I became acquainted with this man’s ministry when World magazine nominated him as “Daniel of the Year” in 2008. More recently, we have had him speak here at the Moody Church under heavy security since Jihadist groups have reportedly posted a death threat of $50 million on his head. He is regarded as Islam’s public enemy number one.

            After his talk in which he exposed the deceptions of Islam, I asked him this question, “What price have you had to pay for your boldness in pointing out the errors of Islam and sharing the claims of the Gospel?”

            His answer surprised me for its simplicity and authenticity. He said, “Whatever price I have had to pay is cheap in comparison to what Jesus Christ has done for me in shedding His blood for us!” Then he explained how his brother had his tongue cut out and a stake put through his head for preaching the Gospel in Egypt. But that was okay if it was the price that needed to be paid for preaching the Gospel.

            Where does this man get his courage, living as he does with constant death threats and the knowledge that he is Islam’s number one public enemy? “Jesus takes care of me until it is my time to go.”

            What it comes down to is a question: Is what we as Christians believe the truth? Or is it not? If yes, then we should not be intimidated by our culture.

            Many Muslims who have converted to Christ say that they are willing to come out of hiding, so to speak, because of Dr. Botro’s bold witness. How refreshing to find a man who is so bold and yet loving in his witness, that not even Islam can silence him!

            May God give us millions of such “ordinary” heroes!

- Erwin Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God, pp. 122-123


            How dose he do it? Very simply and yet very powerfully, “Jesus takes care of me until it is my time to go.” As I begin to rap this up, turn to Revelation chapter 5 and let’s read verses 1-4, where John tells us, And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

Now what I want you to notice what it doesn’t say first of all. You see, many people throughout history were WILING to step forward and try to rule the world.  We have seen Satan who is still trying, and men like Nebuchadnezzar, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and others.  In fact, you can go all the way into the future, the NEAR future I believe, and see that the Antichrist is willing to do this!

            But that is not the question here.  The question was who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?  You see, none of those men were WORTHY, even though they were WILLING!  And the point being is that no celestial being, no terrestrial being, not even a subterranean being was worthy to step forward and take the scroll out of the Father’s right hand!  All were impotent in this matter. None had the power or the authority to do so.  They were not WORTHY!  Now, is this a big deal? You bet it is! 

You see, as John continues to observe all this and he sees the inability of anyone being worthy to do this, he begins to weep. Now, please understand, this is not “Boo hoo!” weeping.  The Greek word is KLAIO, (klah’-yo) and it means to weep aloud, to weep convulsively.  It is the same Greek word that is used in Luke 19:41 as Jesus wept over Jerusalem and in Luke 22:62 as Peter wept bitterly after his betrayal of the Lord. 

            You see, it is the utter despair, the utter hopelessness of the situation that John sees before him. But why is he so broken over this?  So no one can take that scroll, he is with the Father; he should be rejoicing and not wailing. So why is he acting like a man who has lost everything?  And please understand, as far as I can tell, this is the only time we see tears shed in heaven, so this has to be big!

First of all, to understand why John is weeping we have to know what this scroll is all about and that will help us to clearly understand John’s reaction to what is taking place before him.  I believe this scroll is the title deed to the earth that was given to Adam when God created the heavens and the earth, when He created Adam. And the Lord said to Adam, Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  Genesis 1:28.

I don’t know how it is in your Bible, but in my Bible, the goodness that God created only lasted 2 pages. You see, Adam sinned or rebelled against God and thus, he forfeited the right to be king over the earth. And folks, this sin not only affected Adam and all of his descendents, you and me, but also the ground, the animals are under this curse of sin.  Paul put it this way in Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.  What we see around us today is the result of Adam’s sin; we are still suffering the consequences from it!

             And so as John sees what is happening he begins to weep uncontrollably and this is the reason John is weeping uncontrollably. He sees the earth and its inhabitants doomed, the title deed to the earth in the hands of Satan forever!  You see, according to Jewish law, the law of the forfeiture of property, if you lost your property, like Adam did, it would remain with the new owner for a period of six years. Then, in the seventh year you could redeem it back or purchase it back as long as you could fulfill the requirements that were written on the scroll and sealed.  The problem of course, is that man could not purchase back this earth because he was not worthy to do so!

            So John is weeping uncontrollably and you know what, there are many Christians today that have this fatalistic idea in their mind when they see what is going on in the world and they lose hope, they lose that joy and the problem is we are not seeing the big picture, or as Dr. Botro said, “Jesus takes care of me until it is my time to go.”

            Let’s read on in Revelation chapter 5 and see how this works out because it truly is as Dr. Botro said. We are told beginning in verse 5, But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’ And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Revelation 5:5-7.

So now we see one of the elders step forward and he tells John to stop weeping, or chill out, relax.  Why did he do that?  Because the tears that John was shedding were inappropriate or out of place for this situation.  You see, don’t look at the situation but look at the lion from the tribe of Judah who is not only worthy to take the scroll, but He is more than able to get the victory!  He can redeem man back and not only man, but all of creation.  You see, what was impossible for man to do, what was impossible for all of creation to do, Jesus was able to prevail and conquer what has disqualified all of us from doing!

           Here’s the thing. If you couldn’t redeem your property back then a relative or next of kin could step forward and do it and this person was known as the GOEL or the kinsman redeemer!  That is the whole story in the book of Ruth and if you want, you can read that book for extra credit!  Now to fulfill this role you had to meet three requirements or conditions.  First of all you had to be a near relative of the one who had lost the inheritance – Jesus meets that requirement as God became flesh and dwelt among us, He became a man.  Secondly he must be willing to redeem us back – Jesus was willing to lay down His life for us even when we were still in rebellion against Him. And the third requirement is that he must be able to pay the price of the redemption – Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, He alone could pay the price for us for He was without spot or blemish, He did not have inherited sin or acquired sin in His life.  Thus, it is as Peter tells us in I Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. 

            And so, for some 6,000 years this earth has been in the hands of the usurper, Satan.  It is now time for our GOEL or our kinsman redeemer to take back that which He has already purchased with His blood!  John’s heart must have been pounding at this point - the lion from the tribe of Judah is worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals!

             But as John turns and looks he doesn’t see a lion from the tribe of Judah, but this little lamb and not just a little lamb, but a lamb as though it had been slain.  Think about it, the king of the jungle, a lion with all his majesty and power may be able to defeat a dragon, but this little, broken, wounded lamb, how could He defeat this dragon?  Because this lamb is also the lion from the tribe of Judah, He is Almighty God. Never lose sight of that fact. And don’t forget that the dragon, Satan, was defeated at the cross and shortly Jesus is going to step forward and consummate or complete the victory! So what do we fear? Look to the lion of the tribe of Judah, the lamb that was slain for our sins and in Him you will find that peace, that victory, that strength to do the work that He wants you to do!

            Yes, many are coming against us, they want us to replace the cross because the cross causes divisions, problems but like Bonhoeffer warned the church in his day, it is a warning to us in our day. In August of 1933 he sent this letter to his grandmother and listen to what he said,

            It is becoming increasingly clear that what we are going to get is a big, popular national church whose nature cannot be reconciled with Christianity, and we must be prepared to enter upon entirely new paths which we shall have to tread. The conflict is really Germanism or Christianity and the sooner the conflict comes out in the open the better. Nothing could be more dangerous than its concealment.

- Eberhard Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 232


            You are aware of what is going on, now what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to shine for Christ or hide your light? Peter Marshall said, “It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.” Understand if you are serving the Lord, His work will not fail and He will be victorious, He will rule and reign one day. Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 15:58, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Or as The Amplified Bible puts it, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]. May we not forget that our work that we do for the Lord is never in vain, it will accomplish what God desires. But, if you follow the people of this world, doing your own thing, it will never succeed, you will fail.

            I guess we can say that it is our time now, let’s live accordingly because, as Mordecai said to Esther, For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14.