Saturday, 3 August 2013
As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Romans 8:36
Today Paul returns to the fountain, Scripture itself, to continue with the previous thought. This is a quote from Psalm 44:22. The Psalm is written about the sufferings of the people of Israel, the people of God. The surrounding nations had attacked and plundered them and the psalmist cried out his plea to God about the matter. Despite what was happening, he reminded God of their faithfulness –
All this has come upon us; But we have not forgotten You, Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant.
Paul looks to the treatment of the New Testament saints in the same way. Despite all of the woes which could come against them as noted in 8:35, they would remain faithful to God. In 1 Corinthians 4:9, he highlights a similar note concerning the apostles –
“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”
“For Your sake” means “God” and it is related to the gospel message found in Christ Jesus. Because of our obedience to this glorious display of love, “we are killed all day long.” This isn’t just hyperbole. Christians were already being singled out and martyred for their faith at Paul’s time. From Stephen, the first recorded martyr (Acts 7:60), the slaughter of Christians has gone on unabated for two millennia. The floor of the Roman coliseum is still stained with the blood which flowed there eons ago.
“All day long” is an idiom which means, “ceaselessly.” The blood flows and the people’s faith remains and is strengthened. The surety of eternal life in Christ makes such suffering not only tolerable, but acceptable to the one facing the ordeal. Because it is, “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” A sheep will simply follow where it is led, without question. They don’t run away as they approach their doom. Instead, they obediently walk behind the shepherd where he leads.
The thought being relayed is that where Christ leads, be it to a life of length and green pastures, or to a slaughter house for His glory, His sheep will follow. The reason isn’t because of blind faith. The reason is because of revealed light. Christ has risen and those in Christ will rise. “What can man do to me? Christ is on my side.”
Life Application: A Christian’s life of prosperity and ease doesn’t indicate God loves that person any more than the one suffering in a dirty prison cell awaiting execution. Should the comfortable life you face suddenly come to a screeching halt and persecution comes to your door, will you still be thankful and willingly follow your Shepherd? Think about it now, who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Heavenly Father, long ago, the psalmist wrote these words –
For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
The New Testament repeats them. This tells me I may have to face trials, persecution, or even death for my faith in Christ. Should this honor come my way, I will be obedient. Where the Shepherd leads, I will follow. Amen.