Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.
The first time I read these words in the Bible, I recall thinking, "Why beheaded?" At that time in history, beheading was an old-fashioned method of execution primarily associated with the French Revolution. Christians who lost their lives might be shot, hung, even consumed by cannibals, but thirty years ago I'd not heard of a Christian being beheaded since John the Baptist. I wondered if it was just an archaic translation, a Biblical anachronism. What future could possibly result in Christians being killed on a massive scale by a method so primitive?
In the last week or two, videos of Christians being beheaded have flooded the news and social media. Why beheading?
Ephesians 4: 14-16 explains: 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
The Bible describes believers as the 'body of Christ' - with Christ as the head of the universal church which includes all those who have given their lives to Jesus. Believers around the world form one unit working toward one purpose - the glory of God through a relationship with His Son. While possessing many diverse gifts, talents and callings - all those in Christ are led and guided by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. So it is entirely appropriate that the enemy might hope to confuse, discourage, embitter, and destroy the body of Christ through beheading believers.
Given this imagery of Christ as our Head, is it any wonder that the enemy desires to use this ancient, barbaric method of execution?
I Peter 4:11-13 encourages us: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
Romans 8:38-39 reassures us: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The enemy may be able to kill us, but he cannot separate us from our Head.
[Note: I have purposely not included any links to videos or graphic images. They are readily available.]