These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. NKJV
There is a very simple answer to the question of whether or not you should escape persecution, or whether you should evade capture by your enemies and the answer is, YES! Indeed, I would go further, and say that unless you have a clear command from God which is definite, certain and totally unequivocal, then evasion and escape, protection and provision should be part of your planning and preparation for mission and for living.
You will say to me, listen now Robert, Ezra did not fear and run, not even when rumors of an assassination were pushed into his ears! And I would reply, yes indeed, and Ezra had a wall, armed men around him and a mandate from the potentate of the time to do what he was doing. You will say to me, ah but Christ did not flee from his enemies! And I would say, our Lord escaped many times, disappearing invisible like from those that would harm Him until the appointed time of sacrifice came. You will say to me the great apostle Paul petitioned fearlessly to be taken into the mouth of the Lion even to Rome itself. And I would reply, yes, only when he escaped over a wall, played the political citizen card once too many times and in the end could do no other. You will say to me, ah but Christ sent His apostles out with nothing but a friend. And I would say that weapons of protection were found amongst the disciples, which at one time Peter inappropriately used in the removing of the ear of Malchus. You will say to me Ezra never asked for an armed guard when some of the remnant returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, And I will say to you that Nehemiah did, and he got one! He was all tooled up. You will say to me…….and so it goes on.
My point is this, in this life, those who live Godly in Christ Jesus, and that means those who are obedient to His Great Commission commands, shall suffer persecution. Don’t be surprised by this, but don’t be a numpty about it either! The cry of ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’ is a great saying in a Sunday school, but when it’s your blood and the blood of your loved ones that is being let from your there, or burned from your body, splatted on the ground from a great height, or tortured for Christs sake, then it’s a whole different ball game. In passing, I have to tell you that those Christians wiped from the face of North Africa by the barbarism of Islam, never seeded a vibrant church for century after century after century after century, even
It was of course, that early church father, Tertullian (maybe the Wayne Gruddem of his day) who coined that most famous throw away phrase of today that ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.’ He did this in a great apologetic work called ‘Apologeticus,’ a powerful joining of the defense of Christianity, its doctrine and practice with arguments for its peaceful continuance under and for the true benefit to Rome. To those Roman magistrates he hoped would read his discourse he concludes, “Crucify us- torture us, condemn us, destroy us! Your injustice is the proof of our innocence… When we are condemned by you, we are acquitted by God” Most certainly, here was a man who in his time saw many a martyrdom and could see the immediate fruit of such laid down lives. It most certainly did reproduce. However, it is David Pawson who when describing the reason for the victory of the church over the then Roman Empire who said quite simply that, “Christianity was victorious because the early Christians outlived, out-thought, and out-died the world around them.” In other words, against all the odds, the persecuted Church both physically and spiritually reproduced themselves. Later, ascendant anti-Christ Islam never did allow, and never shall allow that kind of double reproduction to happen.up to now.
There are then four preparations for the ‘time of the end’ Christian: (1) Prepare to live well. (2) Prepare to suffer persecution. (3) Prepare to escape persecution. (4) Prepare to die well.
First of all then, prepare to live well. In the context of where you are live life to the fullness of your parameters. Do not be hedonistic, but be ‘heavenistic.’ In other words, before the face of our good God, enjoy His bounties here on earth. Laugh, love, eat, indeed, feast your senses on all that is righteous, holy and very, very tasty. Know your calling, fulfill it, complete it with joy, and in the so doing, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Do not fritter away what you have been given in pointless depression and all the other misappropriations of time. Prepareto live well.
Secondly, prepare for persecution. What are your legal options? Who do you call? What are there contact details? As much as possible is your family provided for? Where shall they live? Under whose roof and protection might they go? If skipping countries is an option, then where is a place of comparative safety. How do they get there? Where is the money to get there? What is/are the route(s)? What do you say when you arrive? Who is ‘safe?’ Where is secure? When you are captured and interrogated, how long shall you suffer before giving your torturers the information they require? Who do you need to forget? What don’t you need to know? Get yourself a multitude of ‘escape plans.’ Etc, etc, etc. You see, if there is to be any recovery from disaster, it needs planning for. Prepare for persecution.
Thirdly, prepare to escape. You shall depart this life at the appointed time, but until then, your life and the message you carry, is far too valuable to fall into enemy hands. So, have a prepared and practiced escape route. Learn how to get the handcuffs off. Learn how to evade. Learn how jump and roll. Get a gas mask. Ditch the tracking devices. Learn how to fight. Know your enemies. Know your friends. Know where to go and how to get there and the plans you shall have thereafter. Know these now. Prepare to escape persecution.
Fourthly, remember that ‘he who is afraid to die shall never live!’ Indeed, those who prepare to die, shall fear the process less. So then, is your departure letter written? Are your funeral arrangements known? Do you have a last will and testament? When you depart from this life, who do you want to have what little you may have left of your earthly treasure, and what do you want your loves one to know. What shall be your last words spoken? Look you now, when I think of the brutality of what we see right now against our brothers and sisters throughout the world. I fear. I fill my pants. Courage is doing your duty, it is living well despite the fear. I shall live for God’s glory today knowing that Christ will give me grace to die for His glory tomorrow. More than anything though my brothers and sister, I fear that I might die without love. You know, that my heart would succumb to hate, or that any sacrifice would be some subtle vain-glory, would be nothing but an earthly and indignant courage in the face of the enemy.
‘And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.’ (1 Corinthians 13:2,3 NKJV)
Oh God, how to fight well and die well with love rather than hate. This, I confess, is my own battle to win. Even so, let us prepare to die well.
Lastly, may I say that all of these questions around these four major points, and many more besides, need answering in the daytime and not at twilight. Are you ready for what is to come, for what is already here?
Listen: But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra — what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10-17 NKJV)
Pray: The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me. Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalm 27 NKJV)