“The Seven Seals of the Lamb” (Part 3)
The Fifth Seal (Revelation 6: 9-11)
(Revelation 6: 9-11) “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been 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, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”(NKJV)
In His discourse on the Mount of Olives the Lord Jesus himself said that His followers would be persecuted, betrayed by family members, church leaders, and by friends and brought before tribunals to be tried for their faith in the Lord Jesus and some would be martyred. The word tribulation is used in this context for this persecution of the saints. (Revelation 1:9) The Lord Jesus also said that when believers were brought before these tribunals to be tried for their faith that they were not to worry beforehand what to say but at that time the words would be given them by the Lord Jesus himself. (Luke 21:12-19) The Apostle Peter also writes; “If you are insulted because of the name of the Messiah, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:14)
The altar in this context speaks of the cross and those who have been martyred for their faith in the Lord Jesus. They have been identified with the suffering of the Messiah and like Him have paid the ultimate price for their faithfulness and perseverance even to the death. Many will have been beheaded and they will receive a special resurrection. (Revelation 20:4-6) These who are crying out are not doing so in anguish so much as they are crying out with a sense of righteous anger in that they want to see justice done and that swiftly because of the martyrdom they are witnessing of their fellow believers.
Each one was given a robe and told to rest a while. This is the robe of God’s righteousness and the rest that comes with knowing they are accepted in the beloved and that they should rest because the Lamb has everything under control even where it concerns the martyrdom of their fellow brothers and sisters. This white robe representing their purity and righteousness in the Messiah reaffirms to them their right standing before God who will avenge them speedily.
These martyrs represent all those down through the history of the Church who have been martyred for their faith. They are to wait a little longer for other brothers and sisters in the Messiah who are still on earth and destined to be martyred for their faith. During the time of Great Tribulation the martyrdom of believers will be global. (Revelation 13:5-7) Faithful believers will be hated by all nations because they confess and identify themselves with the name of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Himself said; “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures (has endured) to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the entire world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:9-14)
This apostasy the Lord Jesus mentions will be due to spiritual deception, a loss of one’s first love for God, for the Lord Jesus and for the things of God and because of abounding lawlessness. These who fall away, what are they falling away from? It is not from religion but from their faith in the Messiah. If they were not genuine believers then what are they falling away from if they were not saved in the first place? All of these are conspicuous features in today’s world.
George Weigel a distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Centre has said “We have been living, and we’re living now, in the greatest era of persecution in Christian history. More Christians died for the faith in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries of Christian history combined. And while the character of the persecutors has changed, from the lethal heyday of the twentieth-century totalitarianisms to the first decades of the twenty-first century, the assault on the Christian faithful today is ongoing, extensive, and heart-rending.” During the time of Great Tribulation the martyrdom of believers will reach its Zenith. (Revelation 13:7a)
The prophet Daniel also wrote about this persecution of the saints during the time of Great Tribulation at the hands of the Antichrist’s beast empire lasting 42 months, 1,260 days or a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:21, 25; 12:7, 17) For three and a half years at the end of this present age persecution and martyrdom will mushroom primarily wherever Islam has power and control. Virtually all martyrdom is happening in Muslim countries today and they are being beheaded as we see spoken about in the Book of revelation. (Revelation 20:4) Also we must not ignore the persecution of faithful believers in China and North Korea as well. During this time of Great Tribulation both faithful Christians and Jews will be killed for their faith.
We always need to keep in mind that God is still in control and says to the devil “so far and no more!” as He did when Satan was persecuting Job. For the sake of His elect God will cut even those days of tribulation short. (Matthew 24:21-22) Satan is trying to destroy Israel and by extension and inclusion the faithful Church. (Revelation Chapter 12) God measures time differently in eternity than we do on earth. A thousand of our years on earth is as one day to Him in eternity where time as we know it here does not exist up there. (2 Peter 3:18)
There is a story told of two Christians who were in prison and due to die at the stake by fire the next morning. One was a seasoned veteran of many spiritual campaigns against the evil one and his minions from Hades, but the other believer was young in his faith. In the prison cell there was just a candle alight. Both men put their finger into the flame to see what it might feel like to burn at the stake and quickly withdrew their fingers because it was hot. It was not an easy situation for either of them and they both wondered what it would be like to endure the flames.
The next day they came for the men. They did not take them both but only the seasoned spiritual veteran. In the cell there was a window out of which could be seen the stake and the faggots ready to burn. As he was to be led away this seasoned spiritual veteran said to the young believer “If the Lord is with me I will raise my right arm” and after saying that he was led out to the stake. The young man watched with a sense of trepidation and mounting fear.
The seasoned veteran himself was tied to the stake by a rope. When the fire was lit and the faggots started to burn the fire burned through the ropes and freed his arms and when this happened, aware that the young believer was looking on from the cell window, he raised both arms and joined the ranks of the faithful martyrs and entered into his rich reward in eternity. This act gave the young man strength and he went to the flames, knowing that God would be with Him and give him a double portion of His strength to endure to the end, and enter into his eternal reward where he would meet his friend once again who had gone before Him.
The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6: 12-17)
“The End of the Age”
(Revelation 6: 12-17) “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
This directly corresponds with Matthew 24:29 which describe the same end-time events that occur at the end of the time of Great Tribulation. At this point people will see the sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky and the whole world will mourn as their day of reckoning has come. At this time the Lord Jesus will come descend from the heavens and take to Himself every faithful believer still living on earth to meet Him in the air along with the saints who have already died physically. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) It occurs “immediately after” this time of Great Tribulation (verses 29-31). These same portentous events that shake the cosmos and everything on earth that God has not established are found in other passages of scripture all describing the one and the same event. (Isaiah 2:10-22) (Isaiah 13:9-13) (Isaiah 24:18b-23) (Isaiah 34:2-4) (Isaiah 30:25)
Have you ever seen an angry lamb? We always associate a lamb with a gentle, vulnerable and weak little creature that hardly bleats and needs to be mollycoddled by its mother. The vision John describes sees of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus, as a judge and dispenser of divine justice that has all men everywhere and at every level of society “quaking in the boots” at the sight of this angry Lamb. At this time the constellations are shaken and the stars in the universe fall to the ground. The sky itself will be rolled back like a scroll to reveal the unseen realm of God’s powerful kingdom in the heavens. Men on earth will see the Son of God descending in the clouds of heaven with His armies following behind. (Matthew 24:30) (Revelation 19:11-16)
Men will be so terrified that they will seek to hide from Him and even call on the mountains and rocks to hide them so fearful are they of the divine wrath of the Lamb Himself. Men will see Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb! For they now realise with absolute clarity that the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand? Men will realise that He is the Lamb sacrificed for their sins and the one whose salvation they have rejected and whose wrath they have to now face. This is a divinely sanctioned appointment that every unsaved person living on earth at this time will have to keep. It will not be optional!
There will be a divine reckoning upon the unsaved for all the ungodly words spoken and deeds done. In his epistle Jude writes; “Behold, the Lord is coming with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment on everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of every ungodly act of wickedness and every harsh word spoken against Him by ungodly sinners.” (Jude 1:15) Only those who by faith in the Lamb of God himself to save them, who have sheltered under His atoning blood, will not face this wrath upon sin and rebellion, because their sins were judged at the cross and they have accepted this and responded to God accordingly. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Isaiah also tells us that every level of society will be affected. It will affect everyone on earth. It will affect the religious world, the business world, the domestic world and also the political world. (Isaiah 24:1-3) There is only one place of refuge and that is sheltering under the atoning blood of the Messiah by faith in Him. This is the only refuge when the wrath of the Lamb is poured out on the inhabitants of the earth.
When the judgements of God started to fall on Egypt the Israelites were still in Egypt but divinely protected. However, when the wrath came upon Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, the Israelites were out of Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land. While in Egypt over a 400 year period they had been accepted and had to a degree assimilated into Egyptian society and were not in bondage until a Pharaoh arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph and this Pharaoh turned on the Israelites and started to oppress them to the point where they cried out to God for deliverance and God sent them Moses to bring them up out of their captivity in Egypt.
The Passover Sacrifice and the shed blood of the lamb to atone for Israel’s sin, was the means by which they escaped Egypt. The Israelites, by faith, had splashed the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the doorposts of their houses and the destroying angel had passed over them on the night before they left Egypt the following day. Just as the blood of the sacrificial lamb protected the Israelites when the wrath of God was poured out on the first born of Egypt, so the atoning blood of the Messiah will protect every truly born again believer that, by faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation and looks to the efficacy of His atoning blood to save them from the wrath of God, will be spared from it. (Romans 5:9) This is why we must make much of the blood of the Messiah.
When we truly repent of our sin and desire to forsake our sins with God’s strength, the blood of Jesus will bring to us justification, sanctification, forgiveness of sin, redemption, a conscience purged of guilt and a deep and abiding cleansing from all and every sin. (Romans 5:9) (Hebrews 10:19-25) (Hebrews 13:12) (Hebrews 4:12) (Hebrews 9:14) (Ephesians 1: 7) (1 John 1:7-9) When the last judgements really start “to kick in” those believers sheltering by faith under the blood of Jesus will come out at the other end of the time of Great Tribulation spiritually intact even though many will have suffered in the flesh.
When the Lord Jesus appears in glory we will also appear with Him. As the Apostle Paul writes; “If then you were raised with the Messiah, seek those things which are above, where the Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth, for you died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
Those who are trusting in the Lord Jesus to save and to keep them in this present evil age will be rescued out of it at the end. (Galatians 1:4) As Paul also writes; “we are not destined for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus the Messiah…who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) It is always safe to trust the Lord! Trusting in the Lord Jesus to save us and in His blood to cleanse, to keep and to protect us is the spiritual safety net from the coming wrath!
Make much of the Blood of the Messiah!