Acts 9:3-4 – And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
I urge you to take a few moments and read our Manna for Today. The Ecclesiastes passage is critical. Then having read the Manna for Today, consider the events surrounding our Text for Today. Those events have already transpired, but the level of circumstances surrounding them have occurred at other times in history, and I believe, are taking place at this very hour at a level that has never before been seen. What was happening? The church was being persecuted, but at the same time, the church was praying. Sons and daughters are born to the kingdom of God when Zion travails. It is no coincidence that Saul of Tarsus was born again when he was born again. Someone was travailing in prayer. We don’t know who, but we can be assured someone was travailing in prayer. Was the church being persecuted? Yes, and as never before, especially in its infancy. But it would seem that instead of thinking about preservation of themselves, the saints were thinking about expansion of the kingdom.
In today’s parlance, we might call Saul of Tarsus the “point man” in the religious world’s persecution of the church to destroy it. And to whom did Jesus come directly to address this situation? To the “point man.” And what did Jesus ask him? “Why persecutest thou Me?” Jesus did not ask why Saul was persecuting the church. Jesus took it completely personally, and Jesus never changes.
What are we seeing today? While the church has always been persecuted, I believe the persecution of today is the worst that has ever existed. At least Saul had to carry some “legal” authorization from the Jewish high council in Jerusalem. But today, it’s more than a religious persecution. While it still comes from the religious-minded, today’s persecution is arising from all sides. Liberal politicians with their governmental powers are attacking the church and all for which it stands. Educational institutions are doing the same. Hollywood and the entertainment industry, with their overwhelming influence in the public view, likewise are seeking to destroy all that is holy. Of course, we MUST NOT overlook the current influence of radical Islamists around the world. All this can be seen in laws attempting to silence the church, entertainment that mocks all things truly Christian, educational elements that mock Christianity and denying the truths of God, and the bombing of churches and open slaughter of Christians (including children) in many nations where Islam is pressing itself upon society.
Then the question arises. Is the church today praying for preservation of self, or expansion of the kingdom? When the intercession is right, there will come modern “Damascus Road” experiences. You see, it is still Jesus that is being persecuted. He still takes it very personally. Pray for your enemies; pray for kingdom expansion; pray that the church would get out of its own way. We await that time to come again when the persecutors hear the challenge of the Lord.
Manna for Today – Acts 9:1-18; Ecclesiastes 1:1-11; Isaiah 66:18; Malachi 3:6; Hebrew 13:8