Just as in the case of the Lord Jesus who was marked for assassination by His enemies (who succeeded but failed), so is every dedicated real Christian likely marked.
Some of these spiritual assassination attempts will succeed (we have Scriptural examples). The vast majority will not. But no matter. Physical death is not the end of the story. Every real Christian so marked is also marked for resurrection just as our Founder was marked. He was destined to die for a great purpose but was also destined to rise again not long after. In His case it happened on the third day after His death. (This also happened to be the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) For the vast majority of real Christians, however, their resurrections will come much later. There will be a day in the future when all will rise again together. Old-timers referred to it as “that great gettin’ up mornin.’
I say “the vast majority” because there were some who actually received their resurrections from death in the first century AD. In this, I am not referring to Lazarus or others whom the Lord or the apostles raised up because those people had to die physically a second time. I am instead referring to those mysterious resurrections which took place soon after the Lord’s resurrection referred to in Matthew’s Gospel:
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. [Matthew 27:50-53]
One wonders if there were others elsewhere in various locations who were also raised at that time. The city of Jerusalem was not the only place saints of old were buried though it is possible more might have been buried in its environs than elsewhere. One wonders further just who these saints might have been. What qualified them to be resurrected at that time? Were they Old Testament saints from centuries past? Or were they first-century believers who died at some point during the Lord’s ministry? What if some of the well-known national figures were included in this group, such as David, who was buried in Jerusalem?
THE PRIVILEGE OF RESURRECTION
Because there is so much misunderstanding or lack of information about the future resurrection of those who have passed, the subject must be put into context. We know the Scriptures are clear that all will be resurrected, both the saved and unsaved:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” [John 5:25-29]
In addition to this, the Lord makes it clear that the future resurrection unto Life is a privilege not given to everyone or just anyone but only to those who are worthy:
Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” [Luke 20:34-36]
It is likely the case at most funerals that the person who died is assumed to have gone to heaven. Imagine all the funerals (term used very loosely) worldwide for all time. The dearly departed was likely loved by someone or maybe a great many. To question his or her eternal destination at such a time is probably the height of protocol-breaking or certainly awkward. According to the teachings of the Lord and the entry requirements He mandates, most of these people went to the opposite place they were assumed to have gone.
The point, of course, is that “going to heaven” and participating in a future resurrection unto Life is not automatic or a right but a great privilege and blessing reserved only for a relative few. It is something, in the words of the Lord Jesus, to attain. The Greek word means “to hit upon, meet, happen, obtain.” It is something to strive for, to work toward, and to make oneself worthy to receive. This does not mean we can earn our salvation, which is impossible, but that we must work within the context set forth by the Lord Jesus to be “considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of the dead.”
WHY THE LORD JESUS WAS A MARKED MAN
We are in a war. It is a spiritual war. The devil is a mighty foe. He is very powerful. He attacks his enemies. His aim is to eliminate anyone attacking him or his kingdom. Those who do the most damage are at the top of his list. But the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, is so much more powerful He could squash the devil like a bug any time He felt like it. And He will protect His children in this world who work for Him the same way He protected Himself from the many assassination attempts upon His life before He surrendered to His destiny as the Sacrifice Lamb.
A close friend told me the other day something a pastor had recently preached. The pastor said to the effect, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Lord was killed or murdered. He laid down His life willingly…” I said “Well, the pastor is wrong. It is in fact, both. The Lord certainly laid down His life and made Himself vulnerable, but He was also murdered. The apostle Peter said this very thing in the first anointed message of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.” Here is the passage:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” [Acts 2:22-24]
It is often said that Stephen was the first martyr of the Church but this is not true. It was the Lord Jesus who was the first martyr. He had to be first. He was indeed greatly persecuted by evil unbelievers and eventually suffered physical death at their hands. He was the first to die and also the first to rise. It had to be this way. Nothing else could have possibly worked otherwise. The Lord Jesus is both the Door and the one who opened the door to Life. He is the only spiritual Warrior who could defeat death, hell, and the grave. He had to go first to do this because He was the only one worthy. It would have been impossible with anyone else because everyone else has sin but He never did. He was thus worthy to attain His resurrection and eternal life.
And because He did attain it He makes it possible for His followers to attain it as well. They must be cleansed of all sin, however, or forget it. But He has the power to do that. He has the power, with His own Blood, to cleanse a person of all of his or her personal sin. He also has the power to raise one up to new life in this world, fill one with His Holy Spirit which enables one to be properly equipped for service and the spiritual battlefield, live an overcoming life over sin, and also to work for Him within His kingdom doing works that He did. THESE are the people, in general, who are the worthy ones.
Thus, heaven is not nor has it ever been automatic, the only condition met being death. It is reserved only for those who submit to the salvation method of the Lord Jesus. Now, granted, there will be those who are also judged by Him to be worthy who do not fit the apparent conditions within the context of His teachings. Paul alluded to this possibility in the following:
For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. [Romans 2:11-16]
It is thus possible that one may never hear the Gospel and still go to heaven. (Consider all those who died prior to the Lord’s ministry or who lived at great distances away on other continents long before the Gospel ever reached their lands.) But this can only be possible if the preceding qualifications are met. How many millions, and indeed, billions of people who have ever lived on this planet lived in such a way that they did their best to honor their conscience, strove to do good and shun evil, and reached out to a Creator they knew must exist. These are things beyond the realm of human judgement or knowledge. No one can see such things but the Lord. Only the Lord Jesus knows all hearts. He is the best possible Judge of one’s soul. He will make the right decisions. He will always render perfect judgments.
THERE IS LIKELY A CONTRACT ON YOUR LIFE
If you are a big enough threat, expect to be attacked. But know also that the Lord has means to grant you victory. I knew someone several years ago who was attacked severely and his entire life was essentially destroyed. The devil’s aim was to do even more. His original goal was to destroy everything including the person’s life. But it didn’t work out quite that way. Because this man had walked with God the Lord allowed his former life to be destroyed but preserved the man’s spiritual life. He preserved the man’s ministry and life purpose. He worked with the man over several years to sort out all the ramifications which resulted from both a diabolical Jezebel attack and also a Judas betrayal. The enemy meant total destruction and it should have been such in that he threw everything he had at him. It was a pure assassination attempt in the first degree.
But it failed. Rather than be overcome by the severe repercussions of the spiritual attack, this man worked with the Lord over several years to work everything out. He patiently crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s. Everything was settled above board and properly. And it was done with no evil intent toward his human attackers who assisted in the plot. This man had what might be termed an ongoing resurrection. Though the enemy tried with all his might and though he succeeded at destroying much, he failed at destroying all. This is always a dangerous outcome. It made the man who was marked for death an even greater threat than he was before.
It also meant he survived the worst. This man will never have to go through such again. You may know people like this. Their experience is noted for something many have gone through over the last quarter century or so. There are people who represented a threat to the enemy who for all practical purposes should not have survived the attempt against them who then later became a greater threat than before.
Those who are forced to go toe to toe with some gnarly Goliath, who face otherwise certain death and destruction, and live to tell the story of a great victory are the kind of people you want on your team. They have already experienced a type of resurrection, reminiscent of their future one, and rejoined the Lord on the battlefield. The assassination they were marked for is what they mark the enemy with and have greater power and ability given by God to achieve that objective.
All praise and glory to the Lord Jesus.
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
They have crossed over into full-fledged iniquity. They break the law routinely and no longer care. They are determined to have their way. They will not be restrained by anything including the Constitution.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” [John 3:19-21]
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” [Matthew 7:23]
In reading the preceding verses, remember who the Lord’s ministry was directed to. At that time He was obviously not referring to the world at large but only the land associated with His direct ministry. Much of the context of the Gospel message is lost without this proper frame of reference.
HIDDEN EVIL (IN OTHERWISE PLAIN SIGHT)
Going back to ancient times, there have always been people in the world who gained enough power and money to do absolutely anything they desired. They reached a point of no restrictions. Though the possibility existed that some of these people possessed enough self discipline to restrict their behavior, and though outward observers, including those researching history, may have thought the best of such powerful people, the reality is that the vast majority, in essence, all of them save a possible one or two here and there, crossed over into absolute hedonism.
Consider this hypothetical question: If a person has gained so much power and money he can do anything he wants and no one can stop him, do you think he will limit himself? The Word of God is clear on the depravity of unregenerate humanity bound by sin and out of relationship with the Lord. Those who sow to the flesh will reap the sinful fruit of the flesh. Those who do so with powerful means and no restrictions will reap the greatest of sinful fruit. The Lord Jesus expounded upon this issue in the following:
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]
Reflect on the Biblical illustration of Solomon, a person many Christians highly honor, as one who fits the preceding passage perfectly. He reached a point in which he gained zero accountability and did whatever he wanted (because he quit on God and eliminated God’s prophets). Rather than one wife, for example, he appropriated several and many more “concubines.” As time proceeded there were never enough women to satisfy his lust. He eventually possessed over a thousand:
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. [1Kings 11:1-3] 
Can you then see the distinct likelihood that other powerful people like Solomon with zero accountability might have grown tired of attempting to satisfy their lust with grown women and branched out? The Old Testament spells this out exactly. The Law of Moses describes specifically the sins which one should never engage in. It involves the most disgusting practices you can imagine. It’s all right there in black and white. Great tyrants who could do whatever they wanted were doing such things. No one could stop them. Then their disgusting sins permeated the entire nations over which they ruled and those nations became as corrupt as the disgusting leaders. Then the nation of Israel engaged in the exact behavior. Repeatedly. Over and over. The rumors that abound in our day of powerful people engaging in such lawless behavior are rampant. Remember, they can do anything they want and no one can do anything about it. They have embraced absolute lawlessness. They possess the means, the motive, and the opportunity.
It is strange that people don’t see this. The evil of the powerful mostly remains behind a curtain. The likely reason is centuries-old psychological conditioning in that the subjects of such people are forced to fear their leaders and what will happen to them if they attempt to call them out. There have always been stiff penalties. Offending those in power has traditionally resulted in societal rejection and prison. Revolting against them has resulted in death. This is how the world has always been run. The ones who gain power and their sycophants step on everybody else to get there and keep a boot on their face after they do. Whoever objects to the sin and lawlessness of those who gain power are made to pay and some are made to pay exceedingly as examples to check whoever else may have such tendencies. This is likely why most people refuse to consider the subject. The Lord Jesus, however, has forever remained undaunted regarding such. He strives to root out and expose the evil. He knows the great harm it causes. In the nation of Israel’s case the Lord sent prophets. Even so, what happened to the prophets?
We could get into a long list of such powerful unaccountable people from ancient times to the present in both the secular and religious fields, including “Christianity” of course, even if we restrict it to the world’s most powerful at the top of various hierarchies and pyramids. But for the purposes of this short paper I will limit the scope to just one guy to illustrate what is possible and to honor the Lord for using this person as an early example in His Word:
The first great empire on the planet was created by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, the “land between two rivers,” in about 3000BC, roughly occupied at present by the country of Iraq. The Bible refers to this land as Shinar. A man by the name of Nimrod created and ruled over this first of all empires and did so with an iron fist. It was not an easy task to run roughshod over the entire population of the vast region and cobble together a union of city states. To streamline the process Nimrod gave very little or no heed to “human rights” or what any of his potential subjects may have thought of the process. He was determined to rule the world and he achieved his goal. In the process everyone under his rule became slaves to various degrees. Those who bucked the process were simply eliminated.
How do we know some revolted? The bigger question, in my estimation, is why did not everyone revolt? Why was there not a wholesale revolution? Why did they not stop him from coming to power? What Nimrod engaged in was a total mockery of humanity and rejection of the inherent liberty of each person. He had no respect for the mass of people. He would only use them for his own ends. Once he gained enough toadies bound to his will, those who had the same evil outlook in life who wanted only to satisfy their flesh with the usual sinful practices, and paid them off with such, he had enough of an army to fight the few who were bold enough to oppose him. Though the great majority were likely greatly offended at what was happening, likely only a relative few, as always, had the boldness to put their lives on the line to prevent it. In the case of ancient Sumer it obviously did no good. It was the end of an egalitarian social structure and the beginning of a collectivist one-man-rule dictatorship model later emulated by others, notably ancient Egypt and eventually Rome. Ironically, those early Sumerian tyrants are credited with creating “civilization.”
NIMROD IS HERE
To better explain the following verses of Scripture regarding Nimrod, I wrote the following passage about twenty five years ago. It is an excerpt from my book Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church. What I wrote then has turned out to be prophetic. What I wrote then has now essentially come to pass. The warning I gave then was largely rejected by the very people (Christians, especially those in “leadership”) who should have taken it to heart. See if any of the following sounds familiar. Remember, I wrote the following in approximately 1995:
Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. [Genesis 10:8-12]
Nimrod was the great-grandson of Noah, the grandson of Ham and the nephew of Canaan. In this verse he is called a “. . . mighty hunter before the Lord,” but this phrase is not very clear. Its surface meaning is a tad ambiguous, and its deeper meaning is hard to judge on the basis of its simple translation. Therefore, an in-depth explanation is called for. This will get somewhat confusing, but the end result in greater understanding is worth the effort.
- To begin with, the English word “mighty” in the above verse is translated from the Hebrew word gibbor which means “powerful,” but by implication, a “warrior,” or “tyrant.”
- Tsayid is the Hebrew word which was translated as “hunter,” yet tsayad is the proper word for hunter or “huntsman.” Tsayid actually means “the chase” or “hunting.”
- “Before” is taken from the word paneh which means “the face (as the part that turns),” or as the preposition “before” in the sense of being “against.”
- “The Lord” in this case is, of course, YHWH, the “Self-Existent or Eternal.”
When translated closer to the original intent, the following sense emerges: “Nimrod was a powerful warrior-tyrant hunting the face of YHWH.” Now, what exactly does it mean to hunt the face of YHWH?
First of all, it helps to be aware of the terminology of early Genesis. In the first fifteen chapters, the word paneh (face) is mentioned eighteen times. On seventeen of these occasions, “face” is a reference to the face of the deep, the waters, the earth, and the ground. On one occasion, there is a reference to the face of YHWH. 
Of course, even though God appeared in theophanic form on occasion, Nimrod wasn’t hunting God’s human face but the façade which marked the boundary, or surface (presence) of the Lord, or in other words—the Lord’s dominion. He was against the Lord in this sense. Nimrod’s name means “rebellion.”
In essence, Nimrod’s objective was to hunt, or chase after, the kingdom of God. He either did this in direct competition against God, as one who would build his own kingdom, or he labored under great deception, thinking he was seeking the kingdom according to God’s will and by God’s plan. In either case he was wrong, and the effect was the same.
Throughout the ages and continuing into the present, countless Nimrods have established control over the unsuspecting by wresting away their freedom. They create governments which place themselves in supreme authority over the masses. They swell up like Thanksgiving Day parade balloons with the life they steal from their subjects—those who innocently trust them—those defenseless ones who eventually become nothing but inert husks, mere shells of destitute humanity. As fish out of water, a people lose their energizing spark and eventually breathe their last breath, while those who destroyed them build monuments to themselves.
It is for this very reason that the founding fathers of the United States of America sought to place ruling authority in the hands of “We the People.” This would prevent another Nimrod from taking over. History clearly shows us that this experiment in government known as the USA has been the most successful of all that have ever existed, hands down. Why? It is due simply to the fact that when people have authority, they have freedom, and when they have freedom, they have the chance at life. That is why the Declaration of Independence refers to the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No other government in the history of the world had ever stood on such a principle, with one exception.
Many centuries earlier, an extremely limited form of government was created which depended on one thing to make it work—obedience to God. The nation was ancient Israel. This form of government failed because its people did not “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,”  nor did they “love your neighbor as yourself.”  The government that God gave to Israel was also formed to keep a Nimrod from taking over, but that objective failed and we have documented proof to verify it.
In ancient Israel, the spirit of Nimrod rose from within. The Old Testament gives us a Hebrew king list which is largely composed of one despot after another who ruled the descendants of Jacob with complete disregard for God’s first intention—His children’s life and liberty. When the people of Israel turned their back on God, they turned their back on everything, and thus received the leadership they deserved.
The USA will also fail to stop the current Nimrod insurgency if we don’t get our priorities straight. Each citizen of this country is guaranteed by the Constitution the right to life. This right has been greatly curtailed, paradoxically by the government itself, that is, the government of “We the People.” We have surrendered much of the substance of our original right to life. We have created a hierarchical, bureaucratic machine which has no feeling or regard for our true welfare. We now largely look to the government instead of to God for answers to our problems. Even though our government was built in such a way to keep Nimrod from taking over, Nimrod is about to come to power anyway—we created him, and the exact creation has transpired within American Christianity.
In the early church, God spread out power and authority evenly among His people, but in the majority of today’s churches, the religious upper class rules with a velvet-gloved iron hand. If one doesn’t think this is true, then one has never challenged the ruling class as Jesus did. Those who do find out post haste that it has a dark side, that it often regards its dependents with contempt, and that its holy exterior remains that way only as long as one remains its fool:
And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.[Luke 4:28–29] 
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
 Genesis 4:14
 Deuteronomy 6:5
 Leviticus 19:18
 © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.