We have heard of the horrific events experienced by Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS fanatics who have been beheaded in Libya. This direct attack on Christian’s by Muslims who are following direct commands from the Quran (Sura 8:12 and 47:4) has generated significant press coverage although this particular incident is just the tip of the ice-berg in terms of the barbaric violence experienced by the victims of ISIS.
Despite the horror experienced by both the victims of this attack and the grieving friends and relatives, comfort can be taken by the promises in the book of Revelation – a wonderful 1,000-year reign with Christ is guaranteed to those who refuse to forsake the name of Jesus when they know this means a death sentence.
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
You would expect unrestrained outrage from the Coptic Christian community with a call for revenge but this is not the teaching of the Christian faith. Beshir Kamel, the brother of two of the slain Christians in this attack, has gone so far as to thank ISIS for the ‘proclamation of faith in Jesus’ that was heard when this atrocity was committed. He said he was proud of his brothers for being a ‘badge of honour to Christianity’. This demonstrates incredible grace and shows what true Biblical Christianity looks like in the most painful and desperate of circumstances. Another powerful feature of this atrocity is the determined and faithful response by those young men as they went to their execution – many of them could be seen mouthing prayers for strength to Lord Jesus as they prepared to meet Him.
We thank God and are encouraged that faith in Jesus Christ has the power to bring about this kind of forgiveness and pray for Beshir and others suffering such extreme grief at this time. We should also use the responses of both the victim and the grieving friends and family as a great example for ourselves – when we are wronged by others on account of our witness for Jesus, we should show the same forgiving attitude and demonstrate the heavenly perspective shown by these men. We believe this kind of testimony has to power to seriously challenge those responsible for such attacks and should pray that their eyes be opened to the forgiveness that everyone needs.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)