Faithful on Fridays Blog

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Midweek Message from the Archive

Blessed are the Persecuted

Many of you know the song The Twelve Days of Christmas but do you know it’s history? I was reminded this year of the origin and realized it interestingly fit with the last two beatitudes from Matt. 5. They both speak of one reason for people calling you blessed: persecution. What does persecution have to do with the song? Let me explain. In the 16th century Roman Catholics were persecuted in England for their faith. Surprisingly, the persecution wasn’t from non-Christians, it was from other Christians. Yes, in our bleak past, believers have suffered but not always from the outside. Shamefully, we have tormented one another. This song was written as a memory device for learning Christian doctrine. Here’s how it goes:

My true love is Jesus Christ, our returning King.
A partridge in a pear tree is the Savior, symbolized as a mother who serves as a decoy to predators to protect her young
Two turtle doves- Old and New Testaments
Three French hens- faith, hope, and love
Four calling birds- four gospels
Five golden rings- Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament
Six geese-a-laying- six days of creation
Seven swans-a-swimming- seven gifts of the Spirit
Eight maids-a-milking- eight beatitudes
Nine ladies dancing- nine fruits of the Spirit
Ten lords-a-leaping- ten commandments
Eleven pipers piping- eleven faithful disciples
Twelve drummers drumming- twelve articles of the Apostles Creed

Jesus taught us that there will always be persecution for believers. In fact, He said that if you live a godly life you can expect persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). What could possibly have sustained the believers through the ages to take their stand under threat of torture, imprisonment, loss of income and family? Could it be that their faith in the gospel was reality to them? It wasn’t some cosmic belief system but faith that was experienced and intimate. The Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs tells the stories of over 200,000 Christians from over 50 nations who gladly gave their lives for Jesus. This beatitude tells us they have a great reward waiting for them.

Read Hebrews 11 this week; it’s humbling what others have gone through before us as they stood in the power of the Spirit under extreme treatment. Google some other martyrs and read their stories: Ignatius of Antioch or Polykarp from the first century, the Waldenses, the Inquisitions, Bishops Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer later on. Down through history men and women alike have endured suffering for the sake of the gospel. For us in America it’s a part of faith that we haven’t yet experienced but that’s all the more reason to read their stories and stay current with what’s happening to Christians around the world today. The Voice of the Martyrs is a free publication and website you should read to stay informed in order to pray for these brothers and sisters. What a great New Years resolution this could be, definitely more value than losing 10 lbs.

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