"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
– 2 Timothy 4:3,4
During the past five years, terrorists have used the murder/martyrdom technique to draw attention to their causes. Of course, murder/martyrdom dates from antiquity (review Samson's death in Judges 16:30), but the frequency of people killing themselves in order to kill others has grown substantially in recent years. Terrorism is a demonic genie that has been let out of the bottle in which no one can put back. The world cannot return to where it was before 9/11. The war in Iraq proves that even the most powerful and best equipped army on Earth cannot stop sneaky acts of violence against unsuspecting civilians. Every time I hear of a murder/martyr attack, I think of this text:"The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become[in Noah's day], and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. . . . So the Lord said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.' "(Genesis 6:5,7, insertion mine)
The bulk of today's murder/martyrdom phenomenon springs from hatred, and as strange as this may sound, humiliation is the root cause. Lucifer was the first to be humiliated when the Father told him that he could not have the exalted position and worship that belonged to Jesus. (Isaiah 14:13-15; Ezekiel 28:13-17) Deep hatred caused Lucifer to lie and scheme among the angels. He eventually led one-third of the angels to join him in an attempt to murder Jesus so that he could take Christ's place. Murder was the only way he could achieve what he wanted. Centuries later, when Jesus publicly humiliated Jewish leaders with their own words, they wanted to kill Him. Jesus responded,"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning[of sin], not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."(John 8:44, insertion mine) Jesus said Lucifer was a murderer from the beginning because hatred is the natural response of the carnal heart when humiliated.
Cain was humiliated when God showed deference to Abel's sacrifice. Instead of asking himself why God did not honor his offering, Cain loathed Abel. He suspected that God would make Abel "the first born of creation" and rather than repent of his arrogance, Cain killed Abel. For similar reasons, the Jewish leaders murdered Jesus. His wisdom and teachings humiliated them and they did not want Him to take their place. (Acts 10:39; Luke 13:17; John 11:50, 12:10) Hatred rises when humiliation occurs and unless there is a speedy recovery through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, hatred can fester into a gnawing desire for revenge and retaliation.
Because hatred leads to murder, the Bible declares,"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."(1 John 3:15) Of course, there are different forms of humiliation, but the outcome depends upon the core attitude of the heart. If a person has a meek attitude, humiliation is a powerful learning experience. If a person has a proud heart and a stubborn head, humiliation can be devastating. In this latter case, hatred often forms because the carnal nature hates humiliation – being made to appear inferior. Hatred starts as a feeling and ends up as an attitude. Jesus said,"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."(John 3:20, italics mine) So, what happens when pride and religious arrogance are humiliated by truth? The murder of Jesus answers this question.
We have entered an age of rage, anger, and hatred. Social tensions are mounting. Economic tensions are high. Ethnic tensions are growing. Religious tensions are evident. The world is rapidly coming to a boiling point, which brings me to the point mentioned in last month's issue. During the Great Tribulation, there will be a bold and glorious presentation of God's truth. The 144,000 will humiliate the religions of the world with speech inspired by the Holy Spirit, accompanied by powerful signs and miracles. Hatred will rise up in the hearts of those who hate truth. No wonder Jesus said,"A man's enemies will be the members of his own household."(Matthew 10:36) Love for truth is not genetic. Love for truth has nothing to do with church experience or affiliation. Love for truth, like hatred, begins as a feeling and grows into an attitude; but unlike hatred, love sets us free to learn more truth. Love enables us to forgive our enemies and leave revenge in God's awesome hands. (Romans 12:19)
Last month, I mentioned the devil will be defeated for the seventh time at the Second Coming. During the seven last plagues, the devil will be publicly humiliated (fifth bowl). In a rage, the devil will gather the armies of Earth together in a massive attempt to murder Jesus when He appears."They[the ten kings]have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the[lamb-like]beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. . . ."(Revelation 17:13,14, insertions mine) Of course, the wicked will perish, but once again, murder will be seen as the horrible fruit of hatred. If there is any hatred in your heart, ask Jesus to give you victory over it. He will!