Blessed Are The Persecuted
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)
During the summer of 1969 I had the privilege of working in Israel under Dr Benjamin Mazar, who was then Professor of Biblical History and Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He guided my fellow students and me as we toiled under the blazing sun in an area known as the Temple Mount – the historical heartland of Jerusalem. We were uncovering a section of steps that led up to the Mount.
Several important discoveries have been made in that area since, none more so than two small clay bullae (seal impressions); one found in 2005 and the other in 2008. Keeping up the family tradition, they were discovered by Dr. Mazar’s granddaughter, Eilat.
What is astonishing about these 2600 year-old bullae is not only that they’ve survived but that they are stamped with the exact names of two high-ranking government officials that are mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1 – Gedaliah son of Pashur and Jehucal son of Shelemiah.
What is especially sobering about these two officials is that they sought to kill Jeremiah by putting him in a cistern where he sank down into the mud at the bottom. They objected to Jeremiah’s message that had been given to him by God.
It seems that not much has changed for many of those who seek to obey God. In a disturbing article in the Independent on July 27 in 2014, Paul Vallely asks why there is so little protest about the treatment of Christians around the globe. He illustrates the situation with sobering facts such as: ‘The Centre for the study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year, targeted because of their faith – that is 11 every hour.’
Jeremiah was eventually rescued through the compassion of one individual. It seems for many today the help they need is not forthcoming, yet even today just one individual can make a difference. We can speak out for Christians and against persecution, and of course, our prayers can make a difference..
Thank you, Father, that many of us can worship freely. Help us never to take that for granted and help us to do what we can do to help those in the perils of persecution.
Study by Denys Fell
Densholme Farm Community Church
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