The world knows that ISIL (also called ISIS) is a very radical Islamist army that is attempting to impose its brutal version of Sharia law across wide swaths of Syria and Iraq. I will continue to call them ISIL, their original name. A recent post reported that Christians were specifically ordered by ISIL to either go into exile from Mosul, Iraq’s largest northern city, or be executed. I think we are now getting indications of just how brutal ISIL really is. The photos in these links are gruesome, and you should be prepared to be outraged and shocked when you see them.

The first link reports that ISIL/ISIS crucified 9 men in a Syrian town to make an example of them. This report comes from a well-known British media outlet and other world media sources have also reported these crucifixions. The second link adds an important item at the end of its story: That the nine crucified men were crucified because they were Christians. Amazingly, one of the nine crucified men reportedly survived. ISIL/ISIS is now becoming so incredibly evil in its brutality that even the other Syrian rebel groups are waging war against ISIL as well as against Syria’s leader, Assad.

The first link reports that Syrian rebel groups have successfully driven out ISIL fighters from some regions of Syria, but it also reports that ISIL rebels are fighting Assad’s forces near Damascus. It seems hard to reconcile these reports by looking at a map, but the situation in all of eastern Syria and northern Iraq is now so confused and fluid that it is difficult to know where ISL-controlled territory really is at any given time. What is clear is that regions under its control are currently one of the most dangerous parts of the world. There are indications in the third link that not only Christians are being crucified and that forced amputations, be-headings and ripping open pregnant women’s wombs are also reported as ISIL atrocities.

The third link, from Alex Jones’ info wars site, also reports that the nine crucified men were Christians and it also reports on the mass murders of Christians in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram, the same radical Islamist group which kidnapped over 200 young girls into some kind of Islamic forced-conversion and servitude, and mentions the brutal murder of a Coptic Christian woman “by a Muslim mob” in Cairo, Egypt (I suspect she was murdered by a mob of Muslim Brotherhood radicals–the same group which the Egyptian military ousted from power and which has been outlawed in Egypt).

These stories are brought to your attention for a purpose. Jesus Christ prophesied in Matthew 24:9-10 that there would be persecutions and martyrdoms of his followers in the latter days just because they were Christians. Just because it isn’t happening in your backyard or in your comfortable city in the western world doesn’t mean that this prophecy isn’t being fulfilled already in many parts of the globe where being a Christian can get you killed. The book of Revelation contains Jesus Christ’s evaluation of/message to the various schisms and divisions of Christianity in the latter days just before his return. It is quickly apparent that Revelation 2-3’s message to the “seven churches” in the latter days accurately predicted the reality that modern Christianity is deeply divided on matters of doctrine, organization, living conditions, etc. One wing of the Christian church is typified as the “Smyrna” church (Revelation 2:8-11) which is undergoing tribulation, poverty and a state of affliction in the latter days. Jesus says nothing about their level of doctrine or understanding of theological truths. Jesus urges them simply to endure and be “faithful unto death.” On the other hand, the church typified as the “Laodicean” church (Revelation 3:14-22) is rich, comfortable and feels it has “need of nothing” even though Jesus Christ pronounces them so “lukewarm”‘ about their faith that he is ready to “spew them out of his mouth.” Some Christian writers (myself included) see Jesus’ words to them in Revelation 3:17-19 as indicating that the “Laodicean” Christians in the latter days will be sent into the great tribulation to try them in the fire (of severe suffering). Clearly, Christians who live in Syria, Iraq, northern Nigeria, parts of Egypt, etc. are accurately described as being in the “Smyrna” type of latter-day condition. Many modern Christians in comfortable western nations read reports of horrible persecutions of Christians in other nations and they yawn and think to themselves “It will never happen here” as they devote themselves to materialistic lifestyles. Such Christians are clearly in the “Laodicean” mindset.

If you have not read my article entitled, A New Look at the Seven Churches of Revelation, I urge you to do so. It examines the prophecy of Jesus Christ in Revelation 2-3 about the spiritual attitudes and physical conditions of all those who profess him as Savior in the latter days. That article examines the modern denominations of Christianity and attempts to identify which Christian denominations and groups are linked to the seven groupings of Christian churches in Jesus’ prophecy.

I’ll close with a word of encouragement for any reader who may be in a nation where being a Christian places you in the “Smyrna” situation. When the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 are unleashed into the world scene by God in the latter days, I fully expect that they will assign plagues on any and all who persecute or harm Christians anywhere in the world. Revelation 11:6 foretells that they will be able to “smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will” and that those who try to harm them will combust to death as they are consumed by heaven-sent fire. The Two Witnesses will not need to hunt down and target people or groups with the plagues they assign. They will be able to send forth plagues either by Divine dispensation via the Holy Spirit or angels will be sent to carry out their directives. I take this prophecy to be a very literal one, and I also invite you to read my article, The Two Witnesses. When these two incredibly empowered prophets appear on the scene, Boko Haram, ISIL and others who persecute or kill Christians will have nowhere to hide. They will likely “reap what they have sown (or worse).”