Revelation 6: 9-11: When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Post Apocalyptic Horsemen
After the four horsemen of the Apocalypse fulfill their demonic roles on earth (the one-world dictator takes the stage, the short time of peace is decimated, hyperinflation is followed by famine, and a quarter of the earth’s population dies), John’s vision is taken from the earth back to the realm of heaven where Jesus is sliding His finger beneath the fifth seal.
What appears next reveals to us the power of the gospel—the good news of Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the hope of eternal salvation.
I believe this is the big take away from this 5th seal revelation—the awesome reminder of God’s eternal purposes. God is building a kingdom for Himself. His love, sacrifice, and salvation are continued even during His wrath.
Beneath the Altar
Back to John’s vision, he’s shown beneath the altar are thousands of souls who have been slain because of their faith and testimony. These souls appear to crave justice, knowing God’s wrath is incomplete and a day of judgement is not too far in the future. “How long,” they cry, “until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
These faithful servants are martyrs, those–who’ve been murdered during the tribulations of the four horsemen.
I can imagine after the rapture of the church; a one-world leader taking stage; and the rage of the four horsemen, many who’d been on the fence about Christ pre-rapture are now quick to become faithful, brave believers. Having lived prophecy, our tribulation brother and sisters will passionately work to spread the gospel at this last hour. With the supply of information the raptured church left behind, new believers will have pathways (albeit secret) for heralding truth and converting unbelievers.
Considering the spiritual anti-Christ climate of our world today, I can understand better how these Great Tribulation Christians will face acute persecution as the antichrist and his demonic forces thirst for power, control, and the blood of Christ’s family. There is an anti-Christian movement rising up beyond the enemy’s historical strongholds. In America, deadly persecution seemed impossible just ten short years ago. Today, I can feel it coming.
Obviously, many believers are killed during the last half of the Great Tribulation, but at this moment in John’s vision, the blood bath of martyrs is not complete. The souls beneath the altar crying out for justice are given white robes and told, “that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
There is a specific number of tribulation believers who will be slaughtered for the sake of Christ.
The idea of a specific number of martyrs reminds me of Paul’s writings in Romans eleven when he addresses God’s mercy for the gentiles and the partial hardening of Israeli hearts. He writes: “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in …”
As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, one of my favorite commentators is Jack Kelley who passed to heaven in 2015. Concerning the “full number” of the gentiles, Jack writes: “According to my research the phrase “full number” is a nautical term that describes the number of soldiers and sailors necessary to operate a ship under sail. The ship couldn’t sail until they had the full number of crewmen. Once the full number was reached, off they went. Sometimes that meant they didn’t depart on the day people thought they would. It would have been on a date no one knew in advance.”
In Scriptures Revelation 6:11 and Romans 11:25, we’re given insight into one of God’s greatest mysteries—the intersection of His foreknowledge and His perfect will. He knows the number and His will will see that the number of new-kingdom people will be reached.
Even in the Great Tribulation, men, women, and children become believers. God’s redeemed and beloved people will fill His new heaven and new earth in a future time.
I’ll wrap up this fifth-seal blog with this: even though our world is headed for disaster (and news headlines and prophecy signs prove it), God still works in His people. And will work in His people during the coming wrath. The Trinity will continue to kingdom build. This holy work has been the mandate from the time Adam and Eve walked in the garden.
To discover more about God’s initial and eternal will for man, grab a copy of my Bible Brief, God’s Will: Unraveling the Mystery, on Amazon. The study is affordably priced so everyone can ponder our earthly purposes.
That’s all for now. More Revelation blogs coming in 2023. In the meantime, I’m working on the next Bible Brief to be published in 2023. God’s Will for Leaders. Get a taste of godly leadership in this Peculiar Leadership blog.
Keep watch. Stay brave.
If I perish, I perish,
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One thought on “Revelation Blog No. 10 – The 5th Seal and Martyrs”
I don’t understand why you think the martyrs were killed by the four horsemen. It would make more sense for them to be slain over the past 1992 years since Christ departed earth. Additionally, since they are mentioned at the beginning, why not wait and include them with the rest of those killed during the tribulation (four horsemen) in Rev 20? I think the martyrs are those that were raptured per 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.