As American Christians, we have been blessed to enjoy a level of religious freedom unknown throughout history. This blessing has been purchased by the sacrifices of many and is not something we should take lightly. Because of this, I believe American Christians should hold the gift of freedom gratefully and do all they can to protect and preserve it through voting, prayer, and making their voices heard on issues that contribute to the preservation or loss of freedom.
Yet somehow American Christians have become so accustomed to the comforts of freedom that we forget both Scripture and history teach us that committed followers of Christ should expect to suffer for their faith.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Based on current events and, especially, biblical prophecy, I believe that we will see increasing infringements upon religious liberty as the Lord’s return draws closer.
America today is trending toward paganism and simultaneously slouching toward socialism. People who no longer believe in God are looking to the government to meet their needs. And the government is all too happy to step in and fill this void. For instance, the Build Back Better bill, which recently passed the House of Representatives is so socialistic that even the New York Times referred to it as a “cradle to grave…social safety net.”
One of the real concerns of the Covid-19 pandemic for many of us has been the way it has opened the floodgates for government mandates on individuals, communities, and churches.
Early on in this pandemic, I pointed out that In some cases, the mandates for churches have exceeded the restrictions placed upon shopping centers, movie theaters, and other places of business. It seemed to me, even then, that this could set a precedent for more aggressive persecution in the future.
More recently, the mandates have insisted upon vaccinations with threat of individuals losing their jobs or access to public venues (including school) if they are not vaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, I have not been one to advise others on medical decisions. I believe those decisions are best made on a person-to-person basis as individuals seek their doctor’s counsel and make decisions they believe are best for them and for their children. Like many others, then, I am alarmed by government mandates on these issues, and I pray that the mandates will be pushed back.
Either way, however, we should recognize that there could be more mandates to come, and they could be mandates that directly inhibit our faith. Are we ready to stand for Christ if and when that time comes?American Christians should recognize that there could be more mandates to come, and they could be mandates that directly inhibit our faith. Are we ready to stand for Christ if and when that time comes? Click To Tweet
If there is a Bible character who exemplifies how to stand for God under the duress of authoritarian mandates, it is the prophet Daniel.
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:7)
Impressively, Daniel, who was about eighty years old at this time and had been serving in Babylon since he was taken captive as a teenager, was still serving in the palace, which was at this point under the Media-Persian Empire. This empire, although kind to the Jews, was a godless society. In the midst of it, Daniel continued to serve God with an excellent spirit (Daniel 6:3) and continued to receive and relay prophecy from God (Daniel 7–12).
One of Daniel’s prophecies included foretelling a final world kingdom in which ten powers will ultimately transfer their loyalty and power to a one-world leader.
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:24–25)
We know from Revelation, that this leader will be the Antichrist, referred to in Revelation 13 as “the beast.”
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy….And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? (Revelation 13:1, 4).
Revelation 13 speaks of the Antichrist’s kingdom, this final one-world empire, having a type of global currency.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16–17)
Although some have tried to suggest that the current vaccines are this “mark of the beast,” it cannot be, for when the real “mark of the beast” comes, people will know that it is part of this one-world government and that receiving would be an expression of allegiance to the Antichrist. None of that is present currently.
I do believe, however, that what we are seeing now in current mandates are something of a dry run for what will happen under the Antichrist. I think we’re watching governments flex their muscles, develop technology, and set systems in place for globally-shared records and eventually globally-shared currency.
Yet, even as this happens, many Christians seem to be either apathetic or fixated on the vaccine mandates. Few seem to be watching ahead with discernment toward how these mandates are leading to increased mandates against Christianity in particular.Current government mandates may be nothing more than a dry run for what will happen in the one-world government under the Antichrist. Click To Tweet
Here is where we turn again to Daniel and find both comfort and encouragement through his example.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
When Daniel was faced with a mandate that directly attacked his worship of God, what did he do?
That’s it. He didn’t rally support against the empire from other Hebrews living in Babylon. He didn’t go into hiding. He didn’t blast the government with all caps memos on Facebook. He prayed.
Daniel stood for God on his knees.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:10)
What can discerning Christians do right now in the face of more oppressive mandates to come? How can we move forward with the New Testament mandate to declare the gospel in an increasingly-hostile world?
We learn three important practices from Daniel:
Develop patterns of spiritual consistency now.
Daniel didn’t start his prayer life when Darius signed the law against prayer. In fact, the very reason the envious rulers suggested such a law was because Daniel already prayed so faithfully that they knew he would break it. Daniel 6:10 indicates that he consistently prayed three times a day long before the law was passed.
If you don’t already have patterns of spiritual consistency, it’s not going to get easier to develop them in the future. Christians who don’t already faithfully attend church aren’t going to start when new mandates are passed against assembling. (We have seen this over the past two years.) Christians who aren’t already regularly reading and studying Scripture are unlikely to start when mandates are passed identifying the Bible as hate speech. Christians who aren’t already sharing their faith are unlikely to begin when it becomes illegal.
If you want to stand for Christ in face of whatever government mandates might come against Christians, be sure that you are standing for Christ now.If you want to stand for Christ in face of whatever government mandates might come against Christians, be sure that you are standing for Christ now. Click To Tweet
Maintain a blameless testimony.
Something easy to miss in Daniel’s story is that the motivation those who considered themselves his political rivals had for crafting this mandate against prayer was that Daniel’s integrity was impeccable. He lived such an upright life that “they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him” (Daniel 6:4).
Christians today are often hampered in their efforts to share the gospel because their testimony is weak. If you are the angry neighbor, the idle employee, the unfaithful spouse, or the constantly-outraged citizen, it’s hard to have a testimony like Daniel’s.
When we live in a way that is consistent with what we say we believe, the world will hate and persecute us. They will, as they did to Daniel, make up pretexts for why our faith is offensive and hurtful to others. But the world will also know that we have what they need.
But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3:14–16)
Are you living now in such a way that you do not have to be ashamed for others to know you are a follower of Christ?
Stand on your knees.
There is one lesson from Daniel that seems to be forgotten by many Christians today. In our anxiousness to make our voice heard and in our frustrations over government overreach, we forget that true victory is always found on our knees.
The power for victory in oppressive times comes through prayer.
We need men and women in America today who will dare to stand alone for God—and to take this stand on their knees.
Even now, there are nations around the world with impossibly-restrictive mandates against Christians. Believers in Iran, Malaysia, China, and other Muslim, Communist, or Socialist nations around the globe know what it is to move forward for Christ on their knees. May we as American Christians return to our knees.
And may we, as American Christians, determine that regardless of what mandates come in the future that are directly aimed at our faith, we will stand for Christ from our knees.May we, as American Christians, determine that regardless of what mandates come in the future that are directly aimed at our faith, we will stand for Christ from our knees. Click To Tweet