“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Messiah. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Yeshua HaMashiach my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings,
being conformed to His death,
by any means,
I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
-Sha’ul, Philippians 3:7-9a, 10-11
The Blessed 21
This last week, my family celebrated my 21st birthday (according to the solar calendar, although my birthday is Nissan 10, according to the biblical calendar). A few days before my birthday, I learned of a video in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) filmed their murder of men accused of being spies for the United States. They were slaughtered like animals and their bodies were hung, some lifeless, from meat hooks. It was heart-rending to hear of such cruelty perpetrated by evil men…
I was reminded of the 21 followers of Yeshua who were martyred in 2015…
They were kidnapped by ISIS and led to a beachfront where they boldly refused to deny Yeshua and to follow Islam, embracing their own beheading, for the sake of Messiah…
Just before they yielded up their spirits, many of them were attested as crying out,
“Lord Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ)!”
When I think about these brothers, whom I’m not even worthy to call my brothers, these verses from the Bible come to my mind…
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been
beheaded for their witness to Yeshua
and for the word of G-D, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of G-D and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation of Yeshua HaMashiach 20:4-6).”
It doesn’t get much clearer than this: those beheaded for their witness to Yeshua and for the word of G-D will attain to the first resurrection and will reign with Messiah for a thousand years.
These 21 followers of Yeshua who were beheaded on that beachfront in 2015 are
“blessed and holy.”
I was shocked to hear recently from an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in Israel, who doesn’t believe in the Apostolic Writings (traditionally called, “the New Testament”), who believes that Messiah will reign on earth as the King of Israel for a thousand years. I didn’t know both followers of Yeshua and Orthodox Jews agree on this particular point, but apparently we do!
What Really Matters
I wonder what these 21 followers of Yeshua were thinking just before they were martyred…
Do you suppose they were thinking about how much money they had made in their life?
Do you suppose they were thinking about how big their house was?
How many possessions they had accumulated?
What their financial net worth was?
Which job they were going to choose or where they were going to attend school?
Or even, who they had chosen to marry, or who they were planning to marry?
Were they thinking about if they had made enough friends in their life or about what their relationship was with each of their family members?
Were they thinking about their children?
It’s all merely speculation,
I don’t think so.
Because when you’re looking death squarely in the face, I don’t believe you’re thinking about things which are lost to you in the moment and completely outside of your control.
I believe these 21 men were preparing to meet their CREATOR and, with the hope of G-D fixed firmly within their hearts through Messiah Yeshua,
enter into eternity.
I believe this is what all of us should be doing,
all of the time.
What kind of weight does our house, our money, our material possessions, or our superficial relationships with people hold up against our eternal destiny and the eternal destiny of others?
How can you compare the very extremely finite to the infinite, in worth or in weight?
Or do we really believe in Eternal Life?
“Yeshua spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “FATHER, the hour has come. Glorify YOUR Son, that YOUR Son also may glorify YOU, as YOU have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as YOU have given Him…” -John 17:1-2
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of G-D is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” -Romans 6:23
You see, workers will talk about work and they will accomplish their work, criminals will talk about crime and they will commit their crimes, but do those who talk about Eternal Life
really live for eternity?
Or are they living for this life, what they can obtain or achieve for this life?
How does this incredibly short, pain-filled life compare with the glorious Eternal Life which the FATHER desires to give us?
In case eternity is just too vast for us to comprehend or to fathom and we get lost in something too abstract for us to even consider, let’s look at an example…
Compare the twenty to maybe forty years of life of the 21 men who were beheaded for the sake of Messiah to the 1,000 years that they will reign with Messiah in the Messianic Kingdom of Israel. Is there any substantial comparison to be made between the two, in terms of the length of time?
How much more eternity!
Do we believe in the Bible when it says those beheaded for the testimony of Yeshua will be resurrected and reign with Messiah for 1,000 years?
I believe we are given this 1,000 year reign of Messiah as a bridge over the gap of understanding between our present, finite state and eternity.
I fear that even with this example, many of us who claim to believe in Eternal Life will not try to honestly ask ourselves what we truly are living for…
So why do many, if not most, people live for this life?
Is it possible that many of us have chosen to live like animals, living instinctively, only just to survive and find comfort in the moment, choosing to be ignorant of the spiritual realities of this world?
Perhaps this is why Yeshua said in Luke 12:22-37…
“Then He [Yeshua] said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and G-D feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then G-D so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will HE clothe you, O you of little faith?
And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your FATHER knows that you need these things. But seek the Kingdom of G-D, and all these things shall be added to you.
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your FATHER’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them…”
The problem is that many of us are living in the world of “Limited Good,” where fear and disbelief cripple us to live as though there are not enough resources in the world for us and we have to struggle in order to survive.
Many have subscribed to the world’s system and have bowed their knees to the Kingdoms of this world, which really are greedy, corrupt, and oppressive to all of their subjects, “under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19),” instead of remembering that the time is soon coming when “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our LORD and of HIS Messiah, and HE shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15b)!”
We have forgotten that we serve the G-D of Unlimited Good, who loves us so much as to give us “all things we need,” Eternal Life and whose “good pleasure it is to give us the Kingdom” that is to come!! HE is the G-D who fed Elijah through the ravens, the G-D who fed all of Israel in the wilderness with manna, and the G-D who raised Yeshua from the dead, unto Eternal Life. There is nothing that can stop HIM from providing for those who love HIM, and HE has promised to provide!
“HE who did not spare HIS own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall HE not with Him also freely give us all things?” -Romans 8:32
By living simply for this life, what we eat, what we drink, what clothes we wear, what house we live in, and so on, instead of living for Eternal Life, we are declaring to G-D that we don’t believe that HE is the G-D who loves us and certainly we would rather serve ourselves than serve HIM,
choosing death over life.
Certainly, I have not already attained or have already been perfected in the truths which I have now shared. I acknowledge my own sin and my own deficiency before G-D. In addition, I know that if I don’t examine my own life in light of these truths, then I will never live them or walk them out. My hope is to help you to also examine your own life so that we can seek to walk this road together and to truly be…
Joined With Jacob.
Because the King is coming to rule over the House of Jacob and only those counted worthy will see His day…
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
He who loves his life will lose it,
and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me;
and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me,
him My FATHER will honor (Yochanan 12:24-26).“
Now, I would like to honor my 21 brethren who gave their lives for the sake of Messiah, by typing out each of their names, individually…
Milad Makeen Zaky
Abanub Ayad Atiya
Maged Soliman Shehata
Youssef Shukry Younan
Kirollos Boshra Fawzy
Bishoy Astafanous Kamel
Samuel Astafanous Kamel
Malak Ibrahim Sinyout
Tawadros Youssef Tawadros
Gerges Milad Sinyout
Mina Fayez Aziz
Hany Abdel Mesih Salib
Samuel Alham Wilson
Ezzat Boshra Naseef
Luka Nagaty Anis
Gaber Mounir Adly
Esam Badir Samir
Malak Farag Abrahim
Sameh Salah Farouk
Gerges Samir Megally
May these brothers’ memory be for a blessing to us all, for these are they who truly gained Messiah and were found in Him…
who knew Him,
the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, and who will one day soon know
the power of His resurrection.
Pictures taken from: