Refuge from Persecution

Did Yeshua tell His disciples that He would return before they finished visiting the cities in the land of Israel?

Concept of refuge and safety (Image © Bigstock)

Yeshua foresaw a coming time of persecution when His disciples would be hated by all men for the sake of His name. He advised the disciples to escape from persecution by moving from city to city.

But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23)

Yeshua assured them that they would not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. This does not mean that they would not finish bringing the gospel to the cities of Israel before the final redemption, it means that the disciples would not run out of places of refuge before the final redemption.

The early believers employed the Master’s strategy of flight from persecution, and as they fled, they carried the gospel message with them. For example, when facing persecution from religious authorities in Jerusalem, the disciples of Yeshua scattered to other major Jewish communities in large cities, carrying the good news with them:

So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word … And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21)

Jewish disciples also found places of refuge within the land of Israel, just as the Master predicted. Communities of Jewish believers persisted in the Galilee and Transjordan well into the Byzantine Era. The world ran out of Jewish believers living in the land of Israel long before the Jewish believers ran out of towns to which they could flee to find safe refuge.

Ultimately, the final redemption was delayed beyond the expectation of those first disciples, but the Master’s words did not fail. His words still pertain to the persecutions and tribulations of the last generation before the advent of the Messianic Era. In those days, the disciples of Yeshua can anticipate facing persecution again, and according to the Master’s promise, they will find refuge in the cities of Israel until He comes.

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