In Israel this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted, “we will not advance any law against the Christian community,” assuaging fears concerning the new legislation that soliciting conversion would be punished by imprisonment (1). Whilst this legislation would be applied to persons who share their beliefs in an attempt for others to change their religion or beliefs, MK’s Yaakov Asher, and Moshes Gafni noted, “the attempts of missionary groups, mainly Christians, to solicit conversion of religion have increased” (1). It seems the two MK’s share the same hatred of Jesus and His followers Chris their forefathers did when they crucified Jesus, (Jesus rose again and was seen by over 500 people before His ascension (1 Corinthians 15), and then in the following years beat, killed and chased the new believers across the world (Galatians 1).
This proposed law reminds me of two things. The first is in Biblical history, when the Pharisees and Sadducees outlawed Christianity, placed the disciples in jail, and beat them. Then, when this did not stop the disciples, the religious leaders began to seek their deaths which Christ had foretold.
“16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.”
The religious leaders of the day did not know that their persecution of the disciples of Christ would be used for God’s plan. The Christians fleeing persecution spread the truth of Christ as they moved across the known world, thus obeying the great commission. We must remember God will use all things for good, and thus through their trials, the gospel was shared with those in their path and where they settled. The religious MK’s would do well to remember what happened in their history and know that persecution of a believer’s faith draws a Christian closer to their blessed Lord and waters the tree of revival.
“16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Secondly, the vetoed law foreshadows the future where during the tribulation (after the Lamb of God opens the sixth seal), twelve thousand men from the Jewish tribes of Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nephthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin will be sealed for the living God. These men are sealed for Christ during the tribulation when the enemy of God and the world leadership will institute a system in which every person must pay homage to the beast and take a mark.
“15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”
The 144,000 are sealed for God in Revelation 7 during perilous times for mankind, after the great earthquake in Revelation 6, when the holy Lamb opened the sixth seal. The opening of the seal initiated the great earthquake; the stars of heaven fell, the sun becomes dark, and the moon turned to blood, heaven departed, and every island and mountain moved. Men, earthly kings, great, rich, mighty, and every free man hid themselves in the dens (caves), and rocks calling for the mountains and rocks to hide them or crush them from the day of the wrath of Lamb.
The angels standing at the four corners of the earth were instructed not to hurt the earth and the sea until God’s servants are sealed. Then Jesus opened the seventh seal.
“1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
During the great tribulation, these men who are virgins are sealed as servants of God. We are not told what these men did between chapter seven of Revelation and chapter 14 where it seems they stand as martyrs for Christ. Yet we do know that firstfruits, giving the first fruit offering, a blessing to God, is possibly the first of the fruits of the Jewish martyrs, who will be killed for their testimony of Jesus; only time will tell.
“1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”
Through the truth of God’s Word, we understand that salvation comes through Christ and that we can overcome the accuser by the blood of the holy Lamb and our testimony. One must be reminded that the verse also states Christians loved not their lives unto death. We must believe the Bible that Christians will overcome through Christ and their testimony; however, it must be pointed out that they stood strong until death. This key precept further reverberates that death is not to be feared and Christians should not love this life but LOVE and reverence the one who judges their eternal soul (Matthew 10:28).
“10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
We know from Revelation that the dragon (Satan) goes after the remnant of Israel, those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).
Was death the end for the 144,000 men who were sealed by God? It is most likely, as the Bible states, that the evil one, the dragon of old, overcame and made war with the saints. All peoples will worship the beast except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Their reward is to follow the Lamb of God wherever He goes, and to sing a new song for only them (Revelation 14:3).
“7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Those tribulation saints who are martyred in the tribulation for the testimony of Jesus will receive beautiful rewards from their Savior. They shall take place in the first resurrection and be blessed as priests of God and Christ (Revelation 20:6).
No, the Jewish law did not pass in Israel at this time which would have made speaking about religious conversion illegal. Instead, it is a warning to us about ungodly laws. This law looks to the past when three Jewish men did not bow their knees to the false God and were thrown into the fire, where a fourth man stood with them (Daniel 3:12-30). Still, it looks to the future where the law will command all men to bow to the beast and his image, to take his mark or die, making any other belief illegal. So it looks to your future, where you must decide, will you stand for the testimony of Jesus as a child of God or take the mark of the beast and become an enemy of Christ?
Would you not wish to give your all for what you cannot lose rather than save what you cannot keep or in the words of (Jim Elliot) “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” (2)
May God bless you abundantly till we meet again.
Ben Samuels 3/22/23