21 men in black dress with masks and knives.
21 men in orange jumpsuits.
1 video camera that recorded it all.
The news reported last night that members of the Islamic State had 21 Egyptian men hostage. The news continued to report that these 21 Egyptians were also [Coptic] Christian. (Note: I’m using the numerical form as a symbol). No coincidence given that the Islamic State is seemingly threatened by the truth of Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and therefore are hellbent on eradicating Christians like a new kind of Holocaust.
These 21 Christian Egyptian men were marched in single file to a beach, supposedly one that boarders the sea in which the body of Osama Bin Laden was dumped. The Christians, on video, were forced to kneel, each assigned a murderer that stood behind them. A caption on one of the still-frame photographs of the event says,
The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.
Just before the slayings, one of the masked Islamic State militants stood with a knife in his hand and said:
All crusaders: Safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together. Therefore we will fight you all together,” he said. “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.
Then the Christians, forced on their stomachs, were all beheaded simultaneously. All 21 of them.
Nothing more than that. Simply for their belief in Jesus Christ.
While my intention isn’t necessarily political, I find it troubling that the United States government has yet to say anything about this event.
Why hasn’t President Obama made a speech if not for addressing this slaying then at least for offering support to Egypt as they seek justice for their own?
He quickly addressed the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases; circumstances claimed to be “racially-motivated.” Yet, he won’t address these discriminatory (religious) slayings. In fact, it seems that he doesn’t want to acknowledge the targets of the Islamic State are “Christian.” It is on record, as evidenced in his speech transcripts, he doesn’t want to use the words “Muslim,” or “Islamic” in referring to these terrorists. He doesn’t even use the word “terrorists” (he recently referred to them as “insurgents”).
But beyond that, where is the universal moral outrage by the world’s leaders?
Where is the outrage by the Muslims who say ISIS gives Muslims a bad name?
(Still waiting) . . .
All the while the Christian community around the world are feeling a mixture of emotions: frustration, anger, sadness, unity, grief, and even forgiveness.
Those 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS yesterday are my brothers. While myself, and million of other Christians keep the faith (Jude 3), these men have been promoted to glory: seeing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face (1 Cor. 13:12 c.f. Matt. 5:8).
They were faithful to Christ unto death, knowing with a fullness of hope, that Christ has overcome death. Due to the death and resurrection of Christ, Death has been defanged, and soon will be destroyed at His second coming (1 Cor. 15:50-58).
These men, our brothers, weren’t victims, but overcomers (Rom. 8:35-39; 1 John 5:4-5; Rev. 2:26, 3:21, 21:7). Jesus told His followers that because the world hates Him, the world will hate those who follow Him (Mark 13:13). But blessed are those who are persecuted for His name’s sake (Matt. 5:10-11; John 15:18-21).
Romans 8:35-39 says,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Early church apologist Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), said:
They can kill us, but they cannot hurt us.
Jesus said something similar:
I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. (Luke 12:4-5).
The world may persecute and murder the followers of Christ, but that is all they can do. They have no real power, no real authority. All authority belongs to the risen Christ (Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 2:10; Jude 25). He with greater power can do far greater things than just end physical life.
And it is with these words of truth, instruction and encouragement, we are reminded that the families of these noble men need prayer. They have fought the good fight. They have finished their race. They have kept the faith. They didn’t renounce it to save their lives. They displayed courage. They endured the suffering. They were faithful unto death by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of Christ.
While they are no longer with their loved ones, now in the everlasting presence of Christ, we must pray that the Lord gives their families great grace.
Also we, as Christians, should be praying: Lord, come quickly.