Rabbi Yeshua warned His disciples that a time of strife would come during which family members might betray them. He said, “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name” (Luke 21:16-17). When will these things happen?
On the one hand, the Master spoke prophetically about the coming times of persecution His followers would face. The first-century Jewish believers sometimes suffered acute persecution from the religious establishment. Paul of Tarsus pursued, persecuted, arrested, and prosecuted them. Occasionally, believers suffered martyrdom by order of the Sanhedrin or the government of Herod Agrippa. In the decades after the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin at Yavneh declared the believers heretical and forced them from the synagogue. Meanwhile, the Roman government began to arrest believers and, in many cases, execute them if they refused to renounce the name of Yeshua. Nero sent the believers of Rome into the arena, and the Romans declared Yeshua-faith to an illegal superstition, punishable by death. Just as Yeshua had predicted, His disciples found themselves hated by everyone for the sake of His name.
On the other hand, the Master spoke prophetically about the end of days—the last generation before the Messianic Era. Jewish tradition refers to the tribulations of those troubled days before the coming of Messiah as “the birth pains of Messiah.” The sages called the last generation before the coming of the Messiah “the footsteps of Messiah” or “the heels of Messiah.” In those days, lawlessness will increase:
And in this generation children will reproach their parents and their elders … Some of these will strive with others, the young against the old and the old against the young, the poor against the rich and the rich against the poor, the lowly against the great and the great against the lowly, and the beggar against the judge. They will strive concerning the Torah and the covenant because they have forgotten the commandments and covenant and festivals and months and Sabbaths … (Jubilees 23:16-19)
Those who weather through the persecution for the sake of Messiah, however, will find salvation. “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved,” Yeshua said (Mark 13:13).
Jewish believers today understand what it means to be hated by everyone for the sake of the Master’s name. The Jewish disciple who confesses Yeshua and remains faithful to Torah may find himself or herself ejected by the Jewish community but also unwelcome in a Christian community so long as the new disciple continues to practice Judaism. It’s still possible to be hated by everyone for the sake of the Master.
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, and is reposted with permission.