28 ¶ When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.
When dictators and tyrants come up men who believe in liberty must operate in secret. Thus, it has been all through history. Finally, when the monster in charge either dies by natural causes or is assassinated, if a good person takes his place, the righteous flourish. Now, this isn’t just a political statement referring to the oppression of tyrants versus freedom loving people. This, in the Bible, is a reference to the wicked, as in Satan’s minions, those who care not for God, God’s ways, or His people. They achieve power and the faithful to God are forced underground until the wicked is overthrown.
1 Kings 18:1 ¶ And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. 2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. 6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. 7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? 8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10 As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. 15 And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
The Hebrews who had to hide from a wicked king weren’t hiding from an Assyrian, an Egyptian, or a Persian. They were hiding from one of their own, someone who should have been extolling God but who was a murderous hypocrite, brazen enough to claim God’s blessings but foolish enough to worship other gods, including himself. Beware of the leader who proclaims faith in God with his mouth but with his actions causes Christians to hide just as you would rail against a Communist or Muslim controlled government that persecuted Christians as in Indonesia or Vietnam. (Sometimes the wicked is a system and not just a person, as in the medieval Roman Catholic Church.)
Throughout major and minor persecutions of Christians under Roman emperors, including some who wanted to steer the empire back toward paganism and away from the paganized state Christianity that their predecessors had created; Christians who escaped the burnings, tortures, crucifixions, and being eaten by nearly starving wild animals in the arena had to hide themselves until such despots died or were overthrown, praying the next pagan would be more tolerant or at least nominally one of their own.
Paul says in 2Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Christians today, the righteous only by virtue of having the Spirit of Christ implanted in them by the new birth, are being martyred at a much higher rate than in the Roman Empire rivaled only by the murders committed by the spiritual Roman Empire in the Medieval period of Western history. Perhaps Islam will experience a Reformation of its own which will make its governments more tolerant of other religions politically. Perhaps Vietnam and China will morph into modern, secular democracies with an impartiality toward religious expression, even if a negative impartiality as in Europe and America.
As it stands today in the United States, you can still say your Merry Christmas’s, you can still pray at work even if not openly, you still have a legal right under the Civil Rights Act to your particular day of religious observance that you can demand free from your work responsibilities without fear of retribution, and you can still unite together as a church, the body of Christ, and even command tax benefits if you don’t venture too far into political demagoguery. In fact, many politicians proclaim their faith in Christ, on both the left and the right, although it’s more fashionable to express that faith on the right. Enjoy it while you can because a day will come when you or your spiritual descendants will be driven underground if the Lord doesn’t return first to call His church out. Of course, we can rejoice that when the wicked Beast of Revelation, who is popularly called “The AntiChrist”, is vanquished by Christ and He sets up His millennial reign on earth the righteous will not only increase but will flourish under His authority as the faithful believers rule with Him for the thousand years before eternity begins.