How have our spiritual ancestors suffered?
Another beast…ordered the people of the world to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. He was permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.
The Great Persecution
When Diocletian became emperor of the Roman Empire in 284, Christians were encouraged because of rumors that his wife and daughter were believers. And, in fact, during the first nineteen years of his reign, Christians lived in relative peace and prosperity.
Gradually, life became more difficult for Christians. Deciding that religious unity would strengthen his empire, Diocletian published three edicts to guarantee the supremacy of the Roman state religion.
On February 23, 303, the day of the Roman feat Terminalia, an edict was posted that ordered all copies of Scripture to be burned, all churches destroyed, their property confiscated, and Christian worship forbidden. The Great Persecution had begun.
In early 304 another edict insisted that everyone in the Roman Empire sacrifice to the Roman gods. Every Christian was in jeopardy. Finally, the years of the Great Persecution ended with an edict of toleration by Constantine in 313. It granted religion liberty to Christians and pagans alike.
adapted from The One Year® Book of Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, Tyndale House Publishers (2003), pp 108-9
Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House