In recent years, the news has brought us reports of Christians around the world who are being beheaded and burned alive. Others have been imprisoned merely for preaching the Gospel or not being a Muslim.
In times past, Christians have been burned at the stake, sawed in two, and crucified. They have been shot, fed to lions, and forced to choose between their faith and their freedom. Many were gassed along with the Jews for harboring their Jewish neighbors.
The Bible teaches that in the last days, evil, including every kind of persecution will continue to grow.
Even as we watch acts of terrorism on the evening news in Europe, the Middle East, and here at home, we often feel somewhat insulated. Most of us, probably, can’t imagine beheadings or people being burned alive here. But what if we were faced with the choice to stand up or betray Christ in the face of intense persecution?
And is there another kind of invasion going on? One that appears benign, but may be just as insidious?
Leviticus 11 & 12
Islam, Christianity & Cultural Invasion
Little Things & Big Things
Chapter 11 contains all the dietary restrictions God set for Israel. They were being taught to obey God in the daily details of life. That’s a tremendous truth for us, as well.
In Luke 16.10 Jesus was talking about how we use our resources, but the principle is the same. He said:
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
If we’re not faithful in the little details of life, we won’t be faithful in the big things.
The dietary laws, also, served to set them apart from the world around them. What sets you and me apart from those around us? What should set us apart?
Is it that we attend church on Sundays? I know many unbelievers who attend church every Sunday. They check off that religious box on their to-do list and think they are good to go for the rest of the week.
Is it that we don’t party or run around? I know people in cults who don’t drink or live immoral lives.
Is it because we call ourselves Christians? Or own a Bible? Or have joined a church? Or prayed a prayer once?
What really sets us apart?
Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13.34-35).
And in Matthew 7.16 He said, “You will know them by their fruits.”
They should know us by our fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and by our love for one another.
Paul said Christians are to:
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2.14-15).
I have to admit there are times when I don’t look any different from the world around me. What about you?
These restrictions, also, helped keep them culturally unique, separate from the pagan nations around them.
That thought grabbed my attention because of something I read about Muslims in Dr. David Jeremiah’s book What in the World is Going On?. Dr. Jeremiah quotes an Iraqi Christian by the name of Georges Sada. Mr. Sada says, talking about the words Fatah and Jihad, “… these doctrines express the belief that Allah has commanded them to conquer the nations of the world both by cultural invasion and by the sword.”
Did you get that phrase “cultural invasion”? He goes on, “In some cases this means moving thousands of Muslim families into a foreign land—by building mosques and changing the culture from the inside out, and by refusing to assimilate or adopt the beliefs or values of that nation—to conquer the land for Islam. This is an invidious doctrine, but it’s … being carried out in some places today by followers of this type of Islam.”
Make no mistake, these radical Islamics are committed to the complete conquest of the West by any means, including the sword and sheer terror, as we well know. But one of the ways they’re purposefully working is through their cultural identity and by forcing it on others. This is happening in schools where administrators have been forced to set aside times of prayer and by changing cafeteria menus to accommodate Muslim students. At the same time Christians are barred from demonstrating their faith in any way.
And while we, as Christians, are called to be culturally different, we prefer to blend in with everyone else. Instead, we should be committed to taking over culturally, not by forcing our beliefs on others, but by living our lives in such a way that others want to be like us?
Terrorists are willing to kill and be killed for what they believe, claiming their God demands it. We serve a God who was willing to die so that we might live for Him.
And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf (2 Cor. 5.15).
Someone posed the question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Before we answer that question, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we faithful in the ‘little things‘?” Are we faithful to stand up for unborn babies when the subject of abortion comes up some place besides church? Are we willing to say, I’m a stay-at-home mom because I believe it’s what God has called me to do? Are we faithful when a friend asks for our approval for unrighteous behavior? Are we faithful around our friends and neighbors and co-workers?
27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 10.27-33)
If we are not faithful today, it’s very unlikely we will be faithful tomorrow if, or when, more difficult times come.
Today’s Other Readings:
Driving Through a Strange City
The need for humility and the fear of God are emphasized throughout the Scriptures. Here we see that it is those who humbly see their need for His instruction whom He guides and teaches.
Verse 15, “My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.”
Maybe it’s because I’m directionally challenged, but as I meditated on that verse, I thought about what it’s like to follow someone through a strange city. You don’t take your eyes off of them because they know where they’re going and you don’t.
God knows the end from the beginning. He knows the plans He has for us, plans for our welfare and not calamity (Jer. 29.11 NASB). And if we’ll keep our eyes on Him instead of looking around at the circumstances, He’ll keep us from the enemy’s net.
The Desire of the Wicked
The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish,
But He casts away the desire of the wicked (v. 3).
We sometimes feel like the wicked are prospering without any consequence, but verse 3 tells us that in God’s timing “the desire of the wicked” will be cast away. We need to stay focused on doing what God has shown us and allow Him to deal with the wickedness of others.
The Danger of Religious Traditions
In this passage we continue to see Jesus challenging the religious traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees (vv. 23-28). We cannot forget that denominational preferences and our religious traditions are not on a par with God’s Word and sometimes stand in opposition to it. When there is any doubt, we must go back to His Word.
He Calls the Undeserving
We also see Him calling Levi, the tax collector (v. 14), better known as Matthew, who wrote the Gospel we just finished reading.
It should give us great hope that Jesus would call a tax collector to be one of His 12 disciples. Tax collectors were hated by their fellow Jews because they co-operated with the Roman government and then padded their own pockets by collecting even more than the Romans required. God loves to save and use those who least deserve it when we repent and turn to Him!
Do those around you see something different about you? Are you a light to them? If so, is it bright enough for all to see or is it just a dim flicker once in a while?
Are you as determined to protect what is uniquely Christian in your life as radical Muslims are to theirs? Are you being faithful in the “little things,” so your faith will be strong enough to withstand anything that comes?
In what area of your life do you need to get your eyes on Him and not the circumstances?
Share your thoughts with me.
Lord, help us to be lights shining in a dark world. Help us to stand for truth while loving and praying for the lost around us. Help us to remember that those who seek to conquer our country are also a great mission field. Help us, also, to remember that while we are in the world, we are not of it, so help us to live holy lives, so that others will see You and that You will be glorified!
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