Persecution is a crushing; it is vicious, and it is painful.

But like grapes clenched in a wine press, something precious is being brought forth.

I had a dream last week that I think will encourage you as you walk through the aftermath of persecution and rejection.

In the dream, I was being invited to many “Christian” events, but when I got to the locations, they were more like Hollywood awards shows, events created for the people to celebrate themselves, not God.

When I arrived at every one of these events, the people in charge were standing on ladders and painting something that looked like a giant evil eye on the walls and on banners. They said it was the Eye of Horus (ancient Egyptian god), but that they were painting it for Jesus.

When I saw it, I started to pray, and then I began to burn inside. My guts felt on fire, and I bent over double, clutching my stomach.

The people stopped painting and, wherever they were, they turned and smiled as they watched me burn.

And I heard Him say, “I used them to put you through the fire.”

I felt like the people there wanted to watch me suffer in front of everyone, and I felt vulnerable and alone, like I was being publicly sacrificed to the Eye.

And I asked, “God! Why do you tolerate this abomination?”

He said, “They thought it was the Eye of Horus, but they were wrong. It was the Eye of the Living God.”

He showed me that as they painted certain strokes, it was as if they were painting a Hebrew letter that looked like one thing but had more meaning than could initially be seen.

And I heard Him say, “I used them to put you through the fire. They thought they were persecuting you, but their very actions were your consecration. You had to be consecrated, tested and proven in the fire. Because what is coming is so much more serious than you realized. There is so much more weight to carry than you knew, and you had to know before you made your choice to go forward in Me.”

I woke up stunned and blessed because His words cast so many events of the past in a different light.

I wasn’t being consecrated because of what I had been through–the persecution itself was the consecration. As I was persecuted, I was consecrated unto Him.

It made me think about the painted eye and the comparison to the Hebrew letters. I wondered if there were a Hebrew letter that looked like anything I had seen in the dream and if I would find confirmations if I researched it.

The eye design was very simple, two curved lines meeting around a circle in the middle. When I looked up the Hebrew alphabet, I found a letter that looks like the circle, or an eye, the letter Samekh.

As I was persecuted, I was consecrated unto Him.

Every Hebrew letter has a symbolism beyond its sound and a numeric value in addition to its phonetic function in the alphabet.

Samekh is the fifteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and it has a numeric value of sixty. The website I use for reference, Hebrew for Christians, says that the root for the letter Samekh means “to lean on, to uphold, or to support.” This root is also found in the concept of Semikhah, which was the “laying on of hands upon the head of a sacrificial victim in a blood ritual . . . which was also a means of consecrating the priesthood (Lev 8, Ex 29, etc) . . . Today the Jewish ordination ceremony is called a Semikhah.”

Interesting.

I had heard in the dream that they thought they were doing one thing, which felt to me like being publicly sacrificed, but it was actually my consecration. And this, sacrifice and consecration, was the same language used in the definition of Samekh–the Hebrew letter that I had seen in my dream.

The persecution itself was the consecration.

My sister was staying with me at the time, and we had planned to do a Bible Study on Numbers 6 that day.

As I studied Samekh, the confirmations grew.

Hebrew for Christians says, “The letter Samekh represents the number sixty, and . . . this is the same number of letters found in the Birkat Kohanim–the Priestly Blessing found in Numbers 6: 23-27. Also of note is the fact the Priestly Blessing’s sixty letters are found to form fifteen words–the same ordinal number that represents the letter Samekh.”

The Priestly Blessing is the blessing that Aaron and his sons were to declare over the Israelites. It was considered a responsibility of the consecrated priesthood. And the letter Samekh that I saw in my dream is closely associated with this blessing in the Hebrew tradition because of the numerical ties between the two.

And even though I had no previous knowledge of any of this, the Priestly Blessing–with its 60 letters and 15 words, the same numbers associated with Samekh–was included in the scripture that my sister and I had planned to study that day.

Hebrew studies can feel like a rabbit hole at times, but I wanted to share them because the point is this:  You can’t make this stuff up.

When I study and I see connections like these that bring confirmation, over and over, it adds weight to the dream and helps me pay attention. It highlights a thing to me and urges me to press in to the Lord until I grasp the message He is giving me.

Persecution comes when we are misunderstood and hated because of a lie, or it can come when we are understood perfectly, but hated for the truth. Either way, no matter how tough we get, no matter how many times it happens, it still hurts.

However.

Knowing that the persecution itself brings our consecration if we go through it with our eyes fixed on the One Thing, Jesus Christ–knowing this truth is its own redemption.

The persecution you have endured in Christ is your consecration.

As you run toward Him, you are being promoted with every strike against you. With every evil curse thrown at you, you are being blessed by God. When men speak evil against you, rejoice, for God is building His tower of strength inside you, brick, by brick, by brick.

Forgive quickly. Bless those who persecute you generously, for they know not what they do.

They don’t know that they are your consecration, your promotion.

Forgive them, Lord. Bless them, Lord. Thank You for them, Lord.

He is bringing new wine out of you, as from grapes in the crushing press.

Be encouraged.

As you run toward Him, persecution will increase.

It is a fact. Count the cost.

But know this:  He has your back, and the reward of being His is far above and beyond any natural price you might pay. And He is working even when you cannot see it and do not feel it, to turn all things for your good, for the good of those who love Him.

***

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine

In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground

So I yield to You and to Your careful hand
When I trust You I don’t need to understand

Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever

You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus, bring new wine out of me

~Lyrics to New Wine by Brooke Ligertwood

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. Matt 5:11-12

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 you1 Peter 4:12

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28