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BECAUSE YOU CARRY MY NAME
"He went on, 'Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You'll think at times that the very sky was falling.
"'But before any of this happens, they'll hunt you down, arrest you and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You'll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I'll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.'" Luke 21:11-15 (The Message).
Reading Jesus' words is like reading today's newspaper. Both parts of His prediction are happening all around us - conflicts and natural disasters on the one hand and persecution of His followers on the other.
Wars, earthquakes, and famine are so common that only the biggest make world news. As for persecution, how much of it is ever reported in the mass media, and yet it goes on all over the world, from petty personal and family vendettas to national political policy to exterminate those who follow Jesus and refuse to embrace the official religion of that country. Jesus warned that it would happen "because you carry my name."
Much of Jesus' prophetic warning was fulfilled in the generation after His death, when Titus and the Roman army invaded Israel in AD 70, reducing the temple to rubble and slaughtering thousands of Jews across the land. Israel ceased to exist until its rebirth in 1948.
Why is there such animosity against the name of Jesus? What has He done to cause such hatred against Him and His followers? Was He so evil that He and His disciples had to be obliterated? On one occasion He told His disciples, 'I did not come to bring peace but a sword,' implying that His coming was going to produce a sharp division between people.
To understand the reason for this great divide we have to go behind the scenes, back to the beginning. Before the creation of the earth, Satan made a bid to oust God. His rebellion was so serious that it resulted in the establishment of a rival kingdom. Satan and one third of the angels were evicted from God's presence and exiled to the earth where they would operate until judgment day.
There are two unseen kingdoms at work in the world, God's rule of love and freedom and Satan's dominion of fear and force. Every person is influenced by one of these powers. That does not mean that Satan shares equal power with God. His presence on earth is part of God's way of fulfilling His plan to build a family who freely choose to love Him for who He is and what He has done. Satan, on the other hand, uses deception to ensnare people into slavery to him.
Jesus came to expose his lies and defeat him at the cross, inviting people to return to His Father by believing the truth about Him and His Father, receiving His forgiveness and submitting to His rule.
Satan's hatred for God is expressed through those who are enslaved by his deception. He sows lies about God and His Son which turns them into God-haters. So vicious is people's hatred for Jesus that they will stop at nothing to destroy those who carry His name, even murdering their own family members if they convert to follow Jesus.
And the reason? Because they "carry His name". In Hebrew thought a name is a prophetic utterance of character. Everything that Jesus is, is enshrined in His name. To carry His name implies to be like Him. Christians who carry the name of Jesus are such a threat to Satan's dominion that he will stop at nothing to destroy them. Since people who do not love God are under his influence, they are his tools to do his dirty work.
But Satan's doom, and all those who follow him, is already secure. God has appointed Jesus, to whom He has given the highest name because of His victory through the cross, to be Lord. To Him, including Satan and all who believe his lies, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord! (Philippians 2:5-11)
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