Hope for the persecuted

 

N

Along with many other churches, we were interceding for the persecuted minorities in Iraq as part of our worship yesterday,  in particular for the displaced Christians of Mosul, although our prayers extended to the Boko Haram victims in Nigeria as well. We prayed for all those being persecuted and their persecutors too.

During the worship, I found myself watching a movie, as it were. It shifted my perspective completely from the heart breaking tragedy here on earth, with which I was grievingly burdened, to what was happening before the throne of God, which was as unexpected as it was joyous.  As I meditate on it today, I realise it’s all very biblical, but in the moment I was quite astonished – these were not my thoughts.

First I saw a long queue of people coming up to the throne of God. They looked Middle Eastern, from what I could see, and were wearing clean, white robes, although you could see where some had been wounded, bleeding. As each one came to the throne, our heavenly Father placed a crown on his or her head, and said, ‘Well done, well done, good and faithful servant.’  Tears rolled down my face. They were receiving the crown of life, mentioned in James 1: 12: Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Then I saw them waving branches and singing praises to the Lamb, ‘ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain! Worthy, worthy, worthy!’  They were incredibly thankful for what Jesus had done for them; they didn’t seem to be thinking of the price they had paid for their faith at all.  They just loved Him; they were ecstatic, joy filled to see his face.  In a loud voice they were saying:  ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,  to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength  and honour and glory and praise!’  Revelations 5:12

The last scene showed a huge, long banqueting table, covered in glistening white linen, with beautiful dishes and glasses of gold and delicious looking fruits in baskets in the middle of the table. And then I noticed Jesus was walking among them, and sitting down and talking with individuals here and there, and wiping tears from their eyes as they spoke, so tenderly, with such gentle attention and care.  I felt how much he valued each one of them, how deeply he knew and loved them.  And they were saying to each other,  ‘It was all worth it! It was all worth it.’   More tears rolled down my face.  It was all right. They were SAVED.

This morning, I wonder whether the fruit came from the tree of life mentioned in Revelations, which bears a different crop every month. The whole scene reminds of the wedding feast of the Lamb described  in Revelations 19:

‘Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.’

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

The peace that passes comprehension filled my heart and mind yesterday, watching that movie. I knew that my Almighty Lord is really working all things together for good for those who love him, turning darkness into light by his amazing power.  The Wonderful Counsellor does lead and guide us to pray, to give, to act on behalf of the persecuted, so that heaven comes to earth in the coming of his Kingdom of Love day by day, but He also comforts by bringing them to the heavenly joys of  the eternal life promised and reminding us here on earth of the eternal home awaiting us.

He makes everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

We are N. Amen