And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.(Revelation 6:9-11)
There is a book, that is the Word of the purposes of God to bring about a New Heavens and New Earth. But the book is sealed and only the person called the Lamb is qualified to open the seals to bring it all about.
We have seen that these seals are the necessary conditions which accompany the bringing in of the age to come. I believe that some of the seals have been opened by the Lamb already, such as the releasing of the Spirit of AntiChrist(White Horse), and of violence (Red Horse).
The others have yet to be initiated, but surely they are not far off, for the Black Horse (Economic and commercial tribulation), and the Green colored Horse (Death and Hell) can spiritually be heard snorting and raring to go, by all who have ears to hear.
We come now to the opening of fifth seal, which is the coming period of mass martyrdom. John saw souls under the altar, almost as if their own deaths were some kind of sacrifice, for they were “Slain for the Word of God”.
There have always been souls slain for the Word of God, from Abel all the way down to our terminal generation, Christians have been required to seal their testimony in their own blood.
At this time(2011) there are various estimates that anywhere between 160,000 to 200,000 people a year are put to death for their adherence to the gospel.
Consider this, that one seventh of the world is Muslim, another seventh is Hindu, also more than a billion people live under Communism, all of the above being extremely hostile to the Word of God.
The freedoms of Christians in the West to openly worship God, is the exception and not the rule. The Bible is the true source of our incredible blessings, for all of the rest of our freedoms come from our worship. Such liberty as we in the West have known have been a somewhat recent phenomenon in this sinful world.
But there is coming an unprecedented wave of martyrdom with the breaking of the fifth seal. It seems that God’s truth is going to have to be attested to by people willing to die rather than deny it here in the formerly free world as in other places.
There are a few things I wish to draw your attention to in this passage,
* The Method of execution…And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
Note that they were beheaded.
Beheading is a ritualistic method of execution. It is interesting that the Muslims seem to prefer this particular method. This is not to say that all of the beheading takes place by Muslims, but it is of interest that such a barbaric and seemingly forgotten practice is in vogue in our day.
* Note that they cry for vengeance…We all know that God doesn’t want us to be personally vengeful people, and that wherever possible we should graciously forgive those who have abused us, as our Lord and Saviour Jesus did.
But that doesn’t mean that the desire for Divine vengeance is somehow wrong. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord”, is a promise that is supposed to bring some kind of comfort to the believer’s heart.This is indeed a moral universe and all wrongs will be righted.
Righteous retribution is one of the attributes of the glory of God. Unjust violence, sin and impunity shall not have the last word, for our God is Holy and Righteous ! Holy vengeance shall be executed against the evil ones in God’s due time.
As I write this our “Senators” are fighting furiously to maintain the forced taxpayer subsidization of abortion, in spite of the overwhelming mandate against them. They piously parade before cameras pretending to be the last defenders of “Women’s health”, when in reality they and their constituency know that it is abortion on demand, paid for by coercion of the American people.
They would do well to realize that a Holy and Righteous God will soon bring them before his bar of justice , and all such pretense will evaporate before His holy eyes. That alone will be unbearable to them, but they will then be given over to an everlasting fire wherein they will experience an attribute of God that is almost inconceivable to us.
For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.(Deuteronomy 32:22-24)
* There is a fixed number of martyrs – But they are told to wait, for the martyrdom of God’s people is not the result of a random, out of control, maelstrom of evil. Rather it is something that is under God’s control and to His glory, and according to a number which He has set.
Giving them the white robes of victory , and assuring them that it just a season of rest, before the vengeance comes, the martyrs are comforted to know that each one counts and is known in heaven.
CNN, Fox, and the BBC may overlook the martyrdom of christians in Syria, Chad, Ethiopia or the Sudan, but God sees each one, and numbers them. Not one of these martyrs escaped his notice. The world is not worthy of these forgotten ones!
When the Egyptian Army teamed up with the Muslim brotherhood to kill Coptic christians in the street, the headlines of the modern press attempted a vague moral equivalence.”Religions Clash In Cairo”, as if Copts were rioting and killing poor Muslims! The whole world is at the service of the evil one.
But known unto God is a specific number of martyrs. When that number is reached, the world shall see the God of vengeance in all of His Holy Glory. On that day they shall beg the stones and rocks to fall on them hoping to dissolve rather than face the Lamb.
Oh that men would seek the Lord now ,while He can be found!