Meditations on the Psalms
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)
It is against God the people of the earth rage and rebel. YHWH, the proper name for God, is used. His Anointed is Messiah. The progression of their hatred begins with God, who is untouchable, moves to the person of Jesus Christ, who experienced the full wrath of the people, was murdered and was raised from the dead, and is finally directed against Christians, who are the representatives of God the world can touch. It should not surprise Christians who experience suffering for righteousness’ sake.
Jesus tells us that following Him will bring suffering for righteousness’ sake, just because we follow Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ends His description of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven with the reality of the hatred of the world. Those who are and carry the characteristics of the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven will be hated and persecuted by the world.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)
After Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He prepared them and then sent them out to preach repentance for kingdom of heaven is at hand. His instructions are detailed. They were to allow nothing to keep them from teaching and preaching His words.
Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:17-25 ESV)
It is not against the Christian, who is feeling the brunt of the persecution, the world rages. It is against God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christians identify with Christ and since the world cannot murder Christ again it does the next best thing by persecuting and murdering those who represent Christ.
Why would anyone want to invite persecution? Those who are servants of God know God intimately. They have recognized their sin and rebellion against Him and realized the consequences of their corrupt nature. They have relinquished control of their lives to Him who gives life and begin pursuing Him through the direction of the Holy Spirit. They become wholly His, abandoning themselves and whatever they might have in this world for eternal life. Drawn toward God they cannot imagine returning to the futile and sinful thinking of the heart of those in the world.
When people rebel, it is against God and His Son. When any come to Him it is at the direction and command of God and His Son. Our action toward those who persecute the Christian, ourselves included, is to love them, showing them the light of God through our lives lived in righteousness. We are the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5: 14-16). Our lives are meant to draw people toward God, not drive them away.
Peter, who fully experienced the persecution of the world, tells us “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). It is toward God, the object of the wrath of the world, that our lives direct the world, so the world might “glorify God on the day of visitation.”