Abel the First Martyr
The word "martyr" signifies
witness, and is particularly used in reference to those who witness to the
Lord's cause faithfully, at the cost of suffering or death. Abel has the
distinction of being God's first martyr. It is very remarkable that nearly
all the martyrs have suffered at the hands of "brethren." Thus
Jesus and the Apostles received their persecution chiefly from Jewish
brethren, sharers of the same blessed hopes and promises. (John 16:2,3.)
How strange that it should be thus!
Similarly, during this Gospel Age,
Christians have suffered martyrdom
at the hands of fellow Christians. Thus the Scriptures foretold,
saying, "Your brethren that hated you and that cast you out, said,
"The Lord be glorified. But He shall appear to your joy, and they
shall be ashamed."Every martyr,
in proportion to his faithfulness, will ultimately receive a crown of
life, while all persecutors will ultimately be ashamed.
of Sin and Death continued for four thousand years before God sent His
Son into the world to be its Redeemer and Deliverer. The Redeemer will set
it free from bondage to Sin and Death, but He could not do so unless first
He paid the death penalty--dying, the Just for the unjust. During those
four thousand years vague promises were given from time to time. But no
start was made to fulfil them until Jesus appeared. Even those vague
promises were confined to the Jewish nation. Outside nations, the
Gentiles, received no promises of relationship to God. They were condemned
sinners, and no hopes were held out to them. As St. Paul says, they were
without hope--"being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and
strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God
in the world."--Ephesians 2:12.
For six thousand years, according to St.
Paul, we have had a reign of Sin and Death. Christians are still praying
for the blessed Day of Messiah, for Satan's binding. Then blessings will
displace sin, sorrow and death.--Revelation 21:4.
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