The Lord is a Refuge
Bible Text: Matthew 5:11-12 | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
The ominous clouds of war were hanging over Europe in 1937. Claiming that he could turn the economy around and put people to work, Adolf Hitler began to strengthen his grip on Germany. Those who dared to oppose him were silenced as the detention camps were opened, eventually to be known as concentration camps.
A former submarine captain turned pastor was one of the few who spoke openly against what Hitler was doing, and Hitler hated him with a passion. Martin Niemoller had to be silenced. Eventually the knock came at the door and he was taken by the S.S. troops and put in prison. On February 7, 1938 Martin was to face his accusers in court.
A strange thing happened on that morning as Martin was led through an underground tunnel from the prison to the courtroom. Suddenly Martin heard the words of Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
What so disturbed Martin was that there was no one who could have spoken those words. He was both shocked and surprised. Was this the audible voice of God speaking courage to his troubled heart? No matter whose voice it was, God used that incident to bring both comfort and encouragement to a man who was beginning an ordeal which he neither deserved or should have faced.
A Christian guard had learned that the acoustics in the tunnel would allow someone to whisper into the wall and to be heard by the prisoner a considerable distance away, and a man who was a brother wanted to encourage Martin. He never forgot those words: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Neimoeller was acquitted of the charges which had been made against him, yet he was imprisoned for more than seven years. “On what charges do we sent a man to prison who has been acquitted?” the prosecutor asked Hitler, and the Fuerher replied, “He is my personal prisoner!”
Martin Neimoeller was neither the first not the last individual to be falsely accused and imprisoned. As the gates of the concentration camp swung shut on Martin, he was in the company of some of the world’s saints–from Paul, the Apostle, to John Bunyan who was imprisoned in the old Bedford jail in England.
Jesus put it: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Most of us would just as soon do without the blessing of wrongful imprisonment, yet, at the same time, no person who stands boldly for truth and integrity, who stands for the right, is immune from the sarcasm and insults of those who love darkness rather than light.
Have you never heard comments like, “What’s the matter with you? Too good to go along with us?” Notice the labels of “radical right” or “anti-abortionists” which are often hung on those who protest. Watch how the media often pictures Christians as being weird or out-of-touch with society in an attempt to discredit their influence. Their enemies cannot silence them by putting them in prison but they do their best to discredit them through misinformation and deceit.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” said the psalmist. Have you experienced that great truth, friend?
The person who commits himself to anything worthwhile will always experience the hostility of those who stand for nothing. Don’t ever forget that the Lord is a fortress for the righteous which endures forever.
Resource reading: Psalm 90