Hated, Excluded, Reviled, Spurned
Today’s reading: Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26
24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? Joshua 22:24
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:22-23
In the book of Joshua, we come to the end of the conquest of the land. The war was over and occupation had begun. It was now time for the eastern tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) to return to their territories across the Jordan River. They nearly set off a civil war by building an imposing altar on the western banks of the river without explaining what they were doing or what they meant by it.
Driven by fear of future exclusion from the rest of Israel and from the worship of God, the eastern tribes erected what was suspected to be an unauthorized worship site potentially leading to apostasy and the wrath and judgment of God. The whole nation was still smarting from the wickedness of Achan that had brought God’s judgment on them (Joshua 7). Fear on both sides of the Jordan almost resulted in war. Diplomatic talks clarified the issue and reduced everyone’s fears. War was averted.
In Luke today, we find Jesus experiencing hatred and rejection by the religious authorities of His day. The plotting against Him has begun. He knows opposition will ramp up and He will soon die. So will some who follow Him, but He does not tell them how to avoid opposition that comes on His account. He tells them to welcome it “when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil” because as they experience it, they are blessed and their reward will be great in heaven.
Do not fear persecution on the account of Jesus Christ. Do not be surprised if you are accused of being evil. This is nothing new. In ancient days, the prophets were mistreated and sometimes killed for being faithful to God. Do not take extreme measures, like the eastern tribes, to attempt to avoid being misunderstood. Be faithful to the Lord and the gospel. God will bless your suffering and reward you both now and in eternity.
Note: please consult your physician before attempting to leap for joy.