As American Christians, we have been blessed to enjoy a level of religious freedom not known throughout history. This blessing has been purchased for the sacrifices of many and is not something we should take lightly. Therefore, I believe that American Christians should gratefully hold the gift of freedom and do everything in their power to protect and preserve it by voting, praying, and making their voices heard on issues that contribute to preserving or losing freedom.
Yet somehow American Christians have become so accustomed to the comfort of freedom that we forget that both Scripture and history teach us that devoted followers of Christ should expect to suffer for their faith.
Yes, and all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Based on current events and, in particular, biblical prophecies, I believe we will see increasing violations of religious freedom as the Lord’s return draws near.
Today, America aspires to paganism and at the same time to socialism. People who no longer believe in God ask the government to meet their needs. And the government is overjoyed to come in and fill this gap. For example, the Build Back Better bill, which recently passed the House of Representatives, is so socialist that even New York Times called it “from cradle to grave … social safety net.”
One of the real concerns of the Covid-19 pandemic for many of us is the way it has opened the gates for government mandates to individuals, communities and churches.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I pointed out that in some cases the mandates for churches exceeded the limits set by shopping malls, cinemas and other business places. It seemed to me, even then, that this could be a precedent for more aggressive persecution in the future.
More recently, mandates have insisted on vaccination with the threat that individuals will lose their jobs or access to public places (including school) if they are not vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, I was not one to advise others on medical decisions. I believe that these decisions are best made from person to person because individuals seek the advice of their doctor and make decisions that they believe are best for them and their children. Like many others, I am disturbed by the government’s mandates on these issues and I pray that the mandates are withdrawn.
Either way, however, we need to acknowledge that there could be more mandates, and those could be mandates that directly hamper our faith. Are we ready to stand up for Christ if and when that time comes?
American Christians should recognize that there could be more mandates, and these could be mandates that directly inhibit our faith. Are we ready to stand for Christ if and when that time comes? Click to Tweet
If there is a biblical character who exemplifies how to intercede for God under the compulsion of authoritarian mandates, it is the prophet Daniel.
All the presidents of the kingdom, governors and princes, advisers and captains, consulted to establish the royal statute and to make a firm decree that anyone who asked for a request from any God or man in thirty days except you, the king, would be thrown into the lion’s den. (Daniel 6: 7)
Impressively, Daniel, who was about eighty years old at the time and had served in Babylon since he was captured as a teenager, was still serving in the palace, which at the time was under the Media-Persian Empire. This kingdom, though kind to the Jews, was a godless society. In the midst of this, Daniel continued to serve God with a great spirit (Daniel 6: 3) and continued to receive and transmit prophecies from God (Daniel 7-12).
One of Daniel’s prophecies involved prophesying the kingdom of the last word in which the ten powers would eventually transfer their loyalty and power to one world leader.
And the ten horns of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and others will rise up after them; and he will differ from the first and will subdue the three kings. And he will speak great words against the Most High, and will exhaust the saints of the Most High, and will think to change times and laws; and they will be handed over to him until time and time and time. (Daniel 7: 24-25)
We know from Revelation that this leader will be the Antichrist, who is mentioned in Revelation 13 as the “beast.”
And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw the beast rising from the sea, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy … And they worshiped the dragon that gave power to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? who is able to go to war with him? (Revelation 13: 1, 4).
Revelation 13 speaks of the kingdom of the Antichrist, this final one-world kingdom, which has a kind of global currency.
And it seems that all, both small and large, rich and poor, free and slaves, receive the mark in their right hand or on their forehead: And that no one can buy or sell except the one who had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of her name. (Revelation 13: 16-17)
Although some have tried to suggest that the current vaccines are the “mark of the beast”, it cannot be, because when the real “mark of the beast” comes, people will know that it is part of this one world government and that receiving it would be an expression of loyalty to the Antichrist. None of this is currently present.
I believe, however, that what we see now in the current mandates is something on the dry path to what will happen under the Antichrist. I think we’re watching governments flex their muscles, develop technology, and set up systems for globally shared bills and ultimately globally shared currency.
Yet even as this happens, many Christians appear to be either apathetic or fixed on vaccine mandates. Few seem to be looking forward with insight into how these mandates lead to increased mandates against Christianity in particular.
Here we turn to Daniel again and find comfort and encouragement through his example.
For all that has been written before is written for our teaching, that through patience and the consolation of the scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15: 4)
When Daniel was faced with a mandate that directly attacked his worship of God, what did he do?
That’s it. He did not gather support against the kingdom from other Hebrews who lived in Babylon. He was not hiding. He did not overthrow the government with all the big letters on Facebook. He prayed.
Daniel stood for God on his knees.
Now that Daniel knew the letter had been signed, he entered his house; and the windows were open to him in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he knelt three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)
What can discerning Christians do right now in the face of even more oppressive mandates to come? How can we move forward with the New Testament mandate to proclaim the gospel in an increasingly hostile world?
We learn three important practices from Daniel:
Develop patterns of spiritual consistency now.
Daniel did not start his prayer life when Darius signed the law against prayer. In fact, the very reason why envious rulers proposed such a law was that Daniel had already prayed so faithfully that they knew they would break it. Daniel 6:10 indicates that he prayed consistently three times a day long before the law was passed.
If you do not already have patterns of spiritual consistency, it will not be easier for you to develop them in the future. Christians who are not already going to church faithfully will not start when new mandates are passed against the gathering. (We have seen this in the past two years.) Christians who are not already reading or studying the Scriptures are unlikely to begin when mandates are identified that identify the Bible as hate speech. It is unlikely that Christians who do not already share their faith will start when it becomes illegal.
If you want to stand up for Christ in the face of all government mandates that could be against Christians, be sure to stand up for Christ now.
Maintain a flawless testimony.
Something that is easy to miss in Daniel’s story is that the motivation of those who considered themselves his political rivals to create this anti-prayer mandate was that Daniel’s integrity was impeccable. He lived such a righteous life that they could find no excuse or reproach; for he was faithful, and no error or defect was found in him ”(Daniel 6: 4).
Christians today are often hampered in their efforts to share the gospel because their testimony is weak. If you’re an angry neighbor, an unemployed worker, an unfaithful spouse, or a constantly resentful citizen, it’s hard to have a testimony like Daniel’s.
When we live in a way that is in line with what we say we believe, the world will hate and persecute us. They will, like Daniel, invent excuses why our faith is offensive and harmful to others. But the world will also know that we have what they need.
But if you suffer for justice, you are happy; and be not afraid of their fear, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready to always answer to every man who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Have a clear conscience; yes, while they speak evil of you as evildoers, let them be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3: 14-16)
Do you live in such a way now that you do not have to be ashamed to let others know that you are a follower of Christ?
Get on your knees.
There is one lesson from Daniel that many Christians today forget. In our apprehension that our voice will be heard and in our frustration over exceeding the government, we forget that real victory is always on our knees.
The power to win in oppressive times comes through prayer.
Today, we need men and women in America who will dare to stand up for God — and take this position on their knees.
Even now, there are nations around the world with impossibly restrictive mandates against Christians. Believers in Iran, Malaysia, China and other Muslim, communist or socialist nations around the world know what it means to go forward for Christ on your knees. Let us, as American Christians, return to our knees.
And that we, as American Christians, determine that no matter what future mandates come that are directly focused on our faith, we will stand for Christ from our knees.