The number of journalists murdered worldwide for doing their job in 2001 was 37. That’s 13 more than were killed the previous year. Of the ones killed last year, nine lost their lives covering the Afghan war. Apart from them, most of the murdered journalists were terminated because they reported on government corruption or some other controversial issue.
Three journalist killings occurred in Colombia, the world’s leading narcocracy. Two each happened in the United States, Thailand and the Philippines. Also in 2001, 118 journalists were thrown in prison, most of them in China. In 2000, that figure was 81. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based group, compiled these figures.
The point is, telling the truth these days can get you killed or jailed – but when has it ever been any different? Killing or imprisoning the messenger when one doesn’t like his message is as old as mankind itself. When the prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s truth into his time, the priests, other “prophets” and the people all wanted to kill him (Jeremiah 26). Jeremiah did time in prison for his truth telling.
King Jehoiakim tracked down the prophet Urijah all the way into Egypt, brought him back to Israel, and murdered him there (Jeremiah 26:20-23).
Referring to the prophet Micaiah, king Ahab of Israel said, “…I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (I Kings 22:8b).
Speaking of the Israelites of his time, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “…this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:9-10).
In Jesus’ day, John the Baptist was imprisoned and murdered by king Herod because John had told him truthfully that he was living in an adulterous relationship by taking his brother Philip’s wife from him (Matthew 14).
In whose interests?
The fact is, truth, whether told by a journalist or a prophet often works against the interests of those in power. Whenever it does, those in power strike back. It is not in the interests of China’s ruling party to have journalists out there exposing the realities of life in the world’s largest communist state. In the United States, the Press is the watchdog of government. In China, the government is the watchdog of the Press. There, a journalist can go to jail if those in power do not perceive that the truth he’s telling is in their best interests.
Colombia’s drug lords do not want intrepid journalists crusading against their grip on power in that country. Because of the vast wealth they have accumulated, mainly from US pushers and drug users, they wield power that rivals that of the government itself. In Colombia, investigative journalism is a high-risk way to earn a living.
The world’s growing terrorist population is a barbaric, murderous, demonic menace to civilized society. Those journalists who have the courage to expose it for what it is do so at their own peril.
Macro & Micro Corruption
The corruption of power is in reality a global phenomenon. It happens at both macro and micro levels. It happens at the highest levels of national government, and it happens in churches large and small. It happens among Olympic judges, basketball referees, and it occurs throughout the business world. Power corrupts. Once accountability is removed, the sky’s the limit. People in power will tend to do whatever they can get away with. Those who try to stop or expose them are often subject to the strongest possible reprisals.
In some respects, it might be appropriate to view honest, objective, journalists as modern day prophets. They may or may not be sent directly by the Lord, but they often speak painful truth into the spiritual darkness of what Paul called “this present evil world.” The people of God should do the same. We represent Jesus Christ who was, and is, the light of the world.
When the prophets come
Before God rings the curtain down on this age of bloodshed and barbarism, it is likely that he will send prophets to warn of judgment to come. If and when he does, the world will surely turn on them as it has turned on all of their predecessors. To survive, they will have to be supernaturally sustained (cf. Revelation 11:3-6). Those who speak truth into the modern age will be, as those who went before them, beaten, imprisoned and in some cases murdered. It’s the nature of the “beast” (cf. Revelation 11:7).
Jesus revealed to John that the bodies of his two witnesses would lie exposed in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days. While they lie dead, the people against whom they had prophesied and brought down plagues will rejoice over their deaths (Revelation 11:9-10). At the end of that period of transient rejoicing, God will bring his two witnesses back to life – to the dismay of those who were partying over their demise. This will be the pattern for all true servants of God. Jesus told his talmidim (disciples), “…fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna]” (Matthew 10:28). God may not raise all of his servants immediately, as in the case of the two witnesses, but he will raise them to life eternal.
We live in dangerous times. It is vital that we know what we stand for and which hills, if any we are willing to die on. Just as Jesus warned: there are those out there who genuinely believe that when they are killing a Christian or a Jew that they are doing God a service. But Jesus also taught that whatever anyone does to his people, they do to him (Matthew 25:31 ff.). Jesus takes the persecution of Christians personally – even when other Christians or those who claim to worship God do it.
The terrorists, operating under demonic delusion, believe that they will be rewarded with access to large numbers of beautiful virgins in Paradise for murdering Jews and Christians. The apostle John, reflecting the teachings of Jesus the Messiah, said to the contrary, “…no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15). Those who murder, or otherwise persecute, those who tell the truth will themselves face damnation. It is Satan, not God, who is the author of murder (John 8:44). Those who murder truth tellers – whether they are journalists or prophets – are destined to reap what they have sown.