The history of the world, specifically it's spiritually battles, are packed full of magnificent victories as well as awful defeats. The triumphs of life can usher in a sense of ecstasy, even heaven on earth. While life's tragedies bring a state of devastation, which some have expressed as hell on earth. Outside of the battle against sin, I would suppose that no other battle has caused more pain, grief, and internal agony within the hearts and minds of the Saints then that of the battle between the religious and the righteous. This epic battle sparked and burned in Judaism and rages wildly in Christendom today. Many of God's true Saints have felt the heat and burn of this battle.
The first murder in all of history was also in fact the first martyrdom. This tragic story is non other then the two brothers, Cain and Abel. While Cain is commonly thought of as being like the uneducated heathen of today, the contrary is true. Cain grew up in a family of believers. He and his brother both made sacrifices to God, and may have even prayed together. Yet the religious Cain martyred his own righteous brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brothers righteous. (1 John 3:12).
The mystery within this event is why did God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's? There is no clear answer, however scripture says that Abel also brought of the first born of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering (Gen 4:4) yet there is no mention of the quality of Cain's sacrifice at all.
The righteous, as Abel, will not merely give God what he wants to give or what he feels that he could afford to go without. The righteous will give to God everything that God wants. The righteous gives God all that He is worthy of. In our day the religious, who follow in the footsteps of Cain; will give God only what they want to give. They will give God a few measly hours once a week on Sunday. They will go through the actions which make them feel pure and holy. They are willing to cleanse the outside of the cup for image and reputations sake, but the inside of the cup is kept comfortably sinful. God hates Sunday service Christianity that never penetrates and permeates into the rest of the week. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination (Pr 21:27). I fear that we have a generation of Cain's today, that believe God should accept their one hour of singing worship on Sundays, who get jealous and mad when others give the Lord more then they are willing to give.
The righteous are a reflection on the corruption of the religious. The righteous will rock the boat of the lukewarm religious. The religious will despise those who desire to rise higher then themselves. He that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. (Pr 29:27) A storm always starts with a few drops, but before long it's a down pour. The storm of hatred inside the heart of the religious always starts with a drop of jealousy here and a drop of hurt ego there, but before long it escalates into a raging, murderous storm. Within modern Christendom today, there are only two types of believers. There are the Cain's and there are the Abel's. Where do you stand?
The first recorded imprisonment within the scriptures is that of Joseph. Because of the visions which God had given him, he was betrayed by his own Jewish brothers, princes of Israel! Their hatred was founded upon jealousy. They started hating him when they saw the favor that their Father had on him and then hated him even more when they heard the dreams God had given him. That tragedy in this man's life is hard for anyone to bear. But the optimist with in me says that within every tragedy there is a triumph. The vision God had given him would only be attained and reached if Joseph walked on the road of suffering. In order to be exalted to the place of power next to Pharaoh to save the nation in a time of drought, he had to be brought down low to the place of a slave, and then even lower to the place of a criminal. To save his brothers, he must first be rejected by his brothers.
Father God highly favors His righteous saints. The visions of your heart which God has given you may bring even those within your own household (physical and spiritual) to laugh and even hate you. Hold fast to God though the world rejects you and the Church despise you. Learn to expect God's triumph in every tragedy, a victory in every defeat.
The cross of the righteous is a cross of rejection. Some may think I mention this too much. But I would say that some mention it too little, considering how common it is. The righteous will be opposed on every side by the unsaved in the world, the unsaved in the church, and the unsaved in his family. As with Abel, rejection often comes from those closest to us. (Micah 7:6, Luke 12:53).
A. W. Tozer wrote about this cross which utterly slays the righteous. The cross is a sword and often separates friends and divides households. The idea that Christ always brings peace and patches up differences is found nowhere in his own teachings. Quite the contrary is true. For a man to cast in his lot with Christ often means that he will be opposed by his blood relatives and will find his true family ties only in the community of regenerated souls The philosophy of mid-twentieth century Christianity is a philosophy of appeasement. Peace and unity have become the Castor and Pollux of the majority of religious leaders, and truth is regularly sacrificed on their altars. The notion that peace on earth as the New Testament uses the words, means concord between light and darkness is foreign to the whole traditional Christian position. Our Lord cared nothing for the good will of bad men, nor would He alter one word of His message to stay in favor with anyone, be he Jew or pagan or even a member of his own earthly family. For even his own brothers did not believe in him.' (John 7:5).
Even our Lord was rejected by his own family, the same family that once went with him to the Temple and weekly to the synagogues.
King David, a man after God's own heart, knew quite well the pain of this battle. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng. (Ps 55:12-14). The Christian can tolerate the world rejecting him. They've rejected God as well. But it's almost unbearable to be rejected by those who call themselves brothers and sisters, children of God who have walked side by side you to the house of the Lord. There is always someone, somewhere, who doesn't like you, for some reason. But it's a terrible tragedy when that person is called a Christian and he is found in Church, and the reason he has an inner vexation and irritation towards you is because you walk with God more then him, and are willingly to give and sacrifice more then he himself is willing. The wounds of a friend cut the deepest. Those who bear the scares of this battle can testify that they still sometime hurt and ach long after they've been healed.
As the saying goes, Cain will persecute Abel until the end of the world. A King for the Nation of Israel, King Herod, once went to be entertained by John the Baptist, and instead he got educated. Though he typically was respected and accepted, this time he was rebuked and accused! Despite the Kings belief in John as a prophet, he would not let go of his own adulterous sin with his brother's wife. The rebuke of John echoed embarrassment all throughout Jerusalem and Judea for the adulterous couple. The lustful eye of this King caused him to swear an oath to the daughter of Herodias, if she would dance for him she can have whatever she desired. When she asked for the head of John the Baptist, though Herod was sad because he believed, he complied and made a martyr out of John. The reflection that this righteous man had on the wicked was too much to bear, until it finally cost him his freedom and his blood.
Jesus Christ has been the most rejected man in all of history. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) Millions today still continue to curse His holy name. During His time on earth He faced rejection from His family (John 7:5), rejection from His friends (Ps 41:9), and rejection from the synagogues and the Temple (Matt 26:59). It was the hypocritical religious leaders that opposed him the most viciously because He preached repentance and stood for righteousness.
The murderous, religious Saul of the New Testament was a spiritual descendant of the murderous, religious Cain of the Old Testament. Blinded by zeal, this religious man passionately attacked and killed early Christians. Once he was converted, he switched sides in the battle of the religious vs. the righteous. The acceptance of man is a wavering thing, never to be trusted. The acceptance by the religious is unstable and always uncertain. While they may start by saying Hosanna they will end by saying crucify Him. Paul experienced this when he arrived to the synagogue in Antioch. The rulers eagerly sent for him to give an exhorting word (Acts 13:15). Afterwards the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. (Acts 13:42) Man's acceptance of Paul was not to last long. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. (Acts 13:45)
The righteous are bewildered and baffled when those whom they expect to accept them, turn around and reject them. Those who should most willingly receive them put them out most vehemently and even violently. Those whom they had thought would love them the most end up loving them the least. Rather then caring for the saints, they seek their hurt.
The hatred that the righteous receives from the religious far surpasses even the hatred they receive from the world. The religious will lash out in retaliation to protect their own self-righteous image. They will seek to destroy the flame which reflects on their coldness, the energy which reflects on their laziness, the love that reflects on their hatred. And if they can not put these out, they will seek to put you out. Will you dare to tread in the way of the Saints?
While on a witnessing trip to the place I dread the most, New Orleans, a group of us stopped to eat in a restaurant. From the very first we walked in the door I was remarkably impressed by the service of one of the bus boys. As I observed him more I noticed how hard working he was, going out of his way to serve every customer. All of us in the group noticed this one worker, but also noticed the tension between him and the other workers. They would mock him behind his back and have the worst of attitudes with him. There was enough coldness coming from his co-workers to chill the dinners of everyone in the restaurant!
We discovered something interesting when we spoke with him. We really wanted you to know that we appreciate all the hard work you've done. You've really gone out of your way to serve. We noticed that some of your co-workers seem to give you a hard time. Don't let them get you down, keep up the great work! With a smile on his face he said Don't tell anyone, but I'm actually not a bus boy. I've been hired to be the new manager, but have been working as a bus boy for the first few weeks to see who really works and who slacks off. Once these few weeks are over, a lot of these people are getting fired!
Though the Saints will go through these hard times now while they are serving next to those who are merely sitting, remember that one day the saints will judge the nations! Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? (1Co 6:2). Abel's blood cried out for justice (Gen 4:10). And once the days are over in which the blood of Christ cries out for justification, the martyrs will cry out for justice. When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)
God has given the religious time to repent. The Cain's of this generation are not reprobates who are beyond hope and reach. Any Cain can become an Abel. Any Saul can become a Paul. God spoke to Cain If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen 4:7). And so if you find yourself jealous at those who serve and sacrifice more then you, or feel an ever growing irritation towards those who serve to set up the Kingdom of God, God is longing for you to do well and be accepted yourself. Rather then murdering the Abel's, repent and give God all that He is worthy of.
Quote: Tozer The Radical Cross, forward by Ravi Zachariah. Page 59-60
For the Audience of One