Let me set the stage by quoting from a recent Reuters article.
DOHUK Iraq (Reuters, by Humeyra Pamuk, August 19, 2014) – When Islamic State militants stormed into a northern Iraqi village and ordered everyone to convert to Islam or die only one person refused. But that did not satisfy the Sunni insurgents who are even more hardline than al Qaeda. The militants, who have seized much of northern Iraq since arriving from Syria in June, wasted no time after the village’s leader, or sheikh, stood up for his ancient Yazidi faith. Khalof Khodede, an unemployed father of three who escaped with his life, recalled how 80 men in the village of Kocho were killed and all the women and girls were kidnapped. … “Then our sheikh said ‘I won’t convert to Islam’. And then they gathered us inside the village school,” he said. The men were taken to the first floor and the women to the second after the villagers’ money and gold jewelry were seized, probably to fund the group made up of Iraqis and other Arabs as well as foreign fighters. Then the Yazidis were loaded onto minibuses in groups of 10 to 20 and transported outside the village after being told they would be taken to Sinjar, the ancient homeland of the sect. The vehicles stopped abruptly and the militants opened fire without warning. “They started shooting at us randomly. They had heavy guns like machine guns. I was hit in my leg and on my pelvis,” said Khodede, showing where he had been wounded. (Read more).
The Reuters news report identifies the unnamed sheikh as the only one in the entire village who refused to convert to Islam. His act of faith is reported to have resulted in the death of 80 men and the captivity of the women and children of the village. The Zoroastrian faith is an ancient Persian faith, predating Christianity, which arose around the 6th century BC or earlier. It seems the sheikh valued his faith more than his life.
Does the Scripture warn Christians against committing apostasy as the Yazidi villagers did of their god? What counsel does Scripture give us if our choice is to convert or die as was the case for the Zoroastrians, of which only the sheikh refused to convert?
Revelation 13:15, 17 (NASB) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed… 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Underscore mine)
Revelation 14:9-11 (NASB) Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
It seems as if prophetic Scripture has been written to prepare Christians for the precise event that is going on in Iraq in the present day (and has been occurring ever since the time of Christ). May we follow the way of the sheikh and not deny our Lord — for the sheikh refused to recant his false god, believing him to be true. Our God is the one true God. His only Begotten Son is the way, the truth, and the life to the one true God; and, to deny the Son is to deny the Father. (1 John 2:22; 1 John 5:10).
Jesus come quickly.