I don’t know how many of you are aware that the whole world is currently praying for Pastor Nadarkhani’s release. People like him, Asia Bibi, Gao Zhisheng, and many, many other believers in countries where persecution is rife are volunteering to put themselves on the alter of sacrifice.
When the big Christian organisations such as Voice of the Martyrs; CSW; and suchlike put out prayer requests for these precious people, they tend to ask for prayers for release, healing, freedom of religion, proper justice, etc. Since we are living towards the end of this sorry age, I know that true justice will never be served again anywhere. As for release of these people who have been incarcerated for their faith, it may just be wise to ask the Lord that they are made able to stand strong in their faith towards those who would, and do, harm them. Their refusal to back down on their belief in Christ serves as a timely warning to the Western world.
The altar of sacrifice.
I’ve just been praying about this, remembering the precious story of Abraham and Isaac, (Genesis 22) his then only son. God told him, commanded him to take his only son, this child whom Abraham loved, and offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord. Without question, Abraham prepares his servants and takes them with him to a certain place. He leaves the servants, tells them to wait there for him, promises they’ll be back, takes his son and they both go up to the place of sacrifice. There, Abraham builds the altar of sacrifice with the wood which he takes from Isaac who has borne the weight of it. Isaac asks where the sacrificial lamb is for the burnt offering. Without hesitation, Abraham says, “My son, the Lord will provide.”
Shortly after that exchange, he takes hold of Isaac and binds him up, places him on the altar in faith towards his God, takes his knife and is about to slay Isaac, his beloved son. The Angel of God calls out to Abraham: “Don’t touch him! Now the Lord knows that you would not withhold your son, your only beloved son from Him.” Abraham then turns to see a ram caught in a thicket. He removes Isaac from his bindings, sets him down, takes the ram and offers that instead to his Jehovah Jireh.
Are you getting the picture?
It’s a similar picture to the sacrifice made by Abba Himself when he takes His Son, His only begotten Son Whom He loves with all His heart and with all His soul and places Him on yet another altar of sacrifice (see the Four Gospels). This time, the knife cuts deep. His beloved and only begotten Son in Whom the love of the Father was forever endowed not only allows this precious Lamb to die, but actually turns away from Him because God is a God Who cannot look upon sin. His eyes are too pure. This precious sacrificial Lamb cries out to His Father, screaming that He’s been forsaken. Then, He dies after thirsting for some water, which is not given. It was a bitter gall that was offered to Him instead. It reminds me of that desolate rich man in Hades who cried out for one drop of water and that one drop was refused him. (Luke 16:19-31).
It might be wise to pray for these dear children of God who have refused to deny Christ, deliberately offering themselves, that is, their bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) for Him to prove their faith. That is a very strong witness to those in other religions who would rather these offensive Christians were put to death.
We’ve become soft.
It is certainly not wrong to pray for release and/or a method of escape for these dear people sometimes, but I also think that we ought to ask the Lord to give sustaining courage in the face of evil to these precious lambs who have offered themselves for His sake. The Day is coming, and from what I’m reading and seeing, it’s not that far away, when God Himself will appear to those who love Him and the sweet promise will come, that He will wipe every single tear from the eyes of those who have loved Him enough to bear the sacrifices they have made. (Revelation 21:4). If those who have tormented and hurt these people never repent, they will see the strongest witness, oh I do believe God will make them witness it, that they didn’t have the last word after all and that these Christians who gave up their lives for God will forever stand as a witness against all evil that has been done to them. Just as those who pierced Christ will see Him and mourn, so I believe will those who have dared to touch God’s people will see them shine in the Kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43) while they themselves will be sent to eternal destruction.
May God have mercy on those who choose to repent. May there be more than just a few who repent, for God is Light, and in Him, there is NO DARKNESS AT ALL. (1 John 1:5).