“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” (Matthew 24:9)
When Yeshua (Jesus) was asked by His disciples about the end times and the sign of His coming, He prophesied that there would not only be wars, famine and earthquakes, but that persecution would increase, especially as His return approached. (Matthew 24)
It seems that today, this prophecy is in the midst of being fulfilled!
In 2016, over 90,000 Christians were murdered for their faith and 500–600 million were otherwise persecuted in such ways as imprisonment, abductions, economic restrictions, destruction of property and loss of personal rights. (CENSUR)
Let us not forget the thousands of innocent people massacred on 9/11 in the name of Allah.
“This was not a natural disaster. It was caused by radical Islamists,” said Carlo Notaro during a memorial service in honor of his daughter Daniela Rosalia Notaro who died at the World Trade Center.
Widespread Islamophobia seems to be one backlash of 9/11.
Consequently, in America and in Europe, nearly 1.5 million Muslim refugees since 2015 have become the new cause for human rights groups.
In their efforts to secure rights for Muslim immigrants and refugees, accusations of hate crimes against them abound.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”
In the West, even bacon can be a medium for hate.
At a Ramadan event (Ramadan is holy month in Islam), at the New Dorp high school football field in New York a few years ago, Muslims reported to the police and media that—bacon—(yes, bacon), had been discovered lying on the ground.
According to the Quran, Muslims are not allowed to eat pork.
Unbelievably, the police were called in to investigate this act of littering as a hate crime against Muslims.
“The Ramadan event had been organized by a local chapter of the Muslim American Society. However, the Muslim American Society is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and some of its chapters have called for the murder of Jews.
“Calling for the murder of Jews however falls under freedom of speech. Unlike bacon which is a hate crime,” Daniel Greenfield said. (Gatestone Institute)
The New Sheriff Has Arrived
Routing for the underdog could be the underlying reason President Trump’s first Executive Order of a temporary travel ban on seven nations was overturned by the most liberal court in the US—the 9th District Court of Appeals. And the second has also been blocked.
The goal of the ban, Trump says, is not hate but rather the implementation of wise vetting procedures to prevent hate, especially from the entry points of the nations that produce the most hate-filled terror agents: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.
Thirty percent of refugees admitted to the US in 2016 came from three of these nations: Iran, Somalia, and Syria—without strong vetting procedures, the White House says.
Boko Haram and Fulani: Purging Nigeria of Christians
Since 2000, the Islamist terror group Boko Haram murdered over 14,000 Nigerian Christians and has pledged their support to Islamic State (ISIS).
In the last three months of 2016 another group, the Fulani herdsman, murdered 808 people and wounded 57 (both Christians and moderate Muslims), burned down 53 villages, including 1,422 houses and destroyed 16 churches. (Open Doors)
While these two groups are private, social and economic pressure against Christians from the government makes it difficult for Christians to survive.
Open Doors, an advocacy group for persecuted Christians worldwide, knows of ten Christians who converted to Islam in order to receive government grants to start businesses and be able to meet living needs.
One such convert said, “Before my conversion I could hardly see food to eat or money to solve the basic needs of my family, but now we have enough.” (Open Doors)
Coptic Christians in Egypt
It is believed that the Egyptian Church has existed since the Apostle Mark first evangelized Egypt in AD 42.
The first Christians spoke Coptic, a late form of Egyptian with Greek adaptations. Today, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian church in Egypt, as well as in the Middle East and Northeast Africa.
Coptic Christians were the majority in Egypt until 1453, but now make up 10% of Egypt’s population (about 9 million people).
Even though Egypt did not make the Trump travel ban list, that does not mean that Christians are safe in Cairo or anywhere else in the nation.
A bomb in December during mass at the women’s hall in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Cairo killed 24 people, mostly women and children.
This was not the first attack against Christians and won’t be the last.
Christians feel the violence is escalating and are protesting for protection from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Though persecution persists in Egypt, perhaps the nation must be applauded for the fact that so many Christians still remain in this nation, yet it and other nations in the region have not been so successful in retaining their once thriving Jewish community.
The Failure of Nations: The Exile of Jews
“Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.” (Psalm 119:161)
Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister stated after the massacre at a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015, “If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
He is correct, and yet throughout the Middle East, once thriving communities of Jews have dwindled to near extinction, as in Egypt and Iran.
Egypt had a once large, thriving Jewish community numbering 75–80,000 in 1948 when Israel became a nation. At that time, the government sequestered land and issued one way tickets to Egypt’s Jews.
Years of Muslim nationalism effectively pushed out all Jews except a handful of women over 80 who remain in Cairo, and their spiritual leader Magda Haroun, who is in her sixties.
Biblical Persia (today’s Iran) once hosted Queen Esther and Mordecai, and many thousands of Jews who did not return to Israel once their exile officially ended in the 6th Century BC.
At the time of Israel’s rebirth in 1948, 140,000–150,000 Jews remained in Iran with only about 10,000 today. That’s down 5,000–10,000 from five years ago.
Persian Jews continue to emigrate to Israel, the haven of hope for Jews since the Holocaust ended.
One might think that Israel would be the beacon of safety and security for persecuted Jews around the world.
With its extreme intelligence capabilities and military ingenuity, it often is. Yet, every neighbor Israel has would like to see it disappear from the face of the earth.
The stated goal of Palestinian leaders in Judea-Samaria (“West Bank”) and in Gaza, for example, is to reclaim the land of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as Muslim territory.
As well, lone terrorists from these territories take the lives of innocent Israelis and wound hundreds every year toward that goal.
There will be no true safety in Israel until Messiah comes.
We have only scratched the surface of the recent persecution that Jews and Christians are facing.
Comparatively speaking, Jews and Christians have been blessed in the American continents, but Matthew 24 reveals that there will be a time when tribulation will be widespread.
Yeshua warns us through several parables to be ready, not just physically but most importantly, spiritually.
“Blessed is that servant whose master returns and finds him doing his job.” (Matthew 24:46)
May you be blessed in your labor for Messiah.