9 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. 10 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?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. ~ Revelation 6:9-11
Today, we return to our study of the book of the Revelation. We currently live during the Age of God's Grace, but the time of God's grace will soon come to an end. As the Scriptures urges us, "Today is the day of salvation." I trust you have trusted in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Otherwise, you will have to pay the penalty for that which separates you from God. And that penalty is quite hefty ... separation from all that is good for eternity.
In today's text we come back to our study of the seven-year period of time that many have wrongly called the Tribulation. It is most accurately called the seventieth seven of Daniel 9 and the time of Jacob’s trouble with reference to Israel’s role in it.
In v.9 we read, "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."
The altar mentioned here in v.9 has not appeared in the book of the Revelation until now. It will be confirmed by later references in this book, that we are viewing the great temple in heaven, the temple which Moses saw when he was on Mt. Sinai. He was shown a pattern which he was to copy. He was ordered to copy it exactly as it was shown to him. The tabernacle that Moses was given included a brazen altar, a laver in the outer court, a Holy Place with certain furniture, and a Holy of Holies, all reflecting the heavenly temple that Moses had seen.
We learn from other Scriptures that these symbolize the ultimate dwelling place of God which is man himself! Man is the dwelling place of God. Imagine that. When we come to the end of Revelation we will see that fulfilled. These symbols are given to us as a tremendously significant explanation of the psychological makeup of our humanity: body, soul and spirit, just as the tabernacle consisted of an Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.
This group of martyrs seen in today's text, is clearly identified with the great multitude in Revelation 7. John, the Apostle, saw a great crowd which no man could number, from every tribe, nation, and language of earth, standing before the throne, all having been killed for their testimony of the living Lord Jesus Christ. This group belongs to that multitude as well, for they are given a white robe and told to wait until their brethren would also be killed. This indicates that these martyrs and those killed later who make up the great multitude, all enter heaven at the same time. This is God's way of expressing the transference from time into the conditions of eternity, where past and future are eclipsed and only the instantaneous now exists.
In v.10 we read, "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?"
These prayers are not personal vendettas, they’re not thirsts for personal revenge. These prayers are the desire for the end of sin. Their holy desire is for the destruction of Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet and all who followed them. This prayer is the sign that sin has reached its zenith and unsaved man is slaughtering those who have come to faith in the Lord Jesus.
This seven-year period, identified in the book of Daniel as seven years, will be the time when God will unleash His judgment and wrath on the earth like never before. And, the Lord Jesus Christ not only will judge the ungodly, but He will take back the earth and the universe for His own possession.
The first four seals occur during the first three-and-a-half years of this seven year period of time. A careful study of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 reveals this. With the opening of this fifth seal, the second half of the seven year period of time is about to begin. Again, the pulse of this prayer from the martyrs is vengeance, but the vengeance doesn’t come in the fifth seal; only the prayers does.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 we read, “When the man of lawlessness is revealed he opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship. He takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
At this point, the Anti-christ will not be a political leader as before. He will not be a world deliverer, nor will he be a savior. At the mid-point of the seventieth seven, the Antichrist will proclaim himself to be god and he will sit in the newly built temple in Jerusalem.
In v.11 we read, "Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been."
These white robes which will be given to these martyrs is a sign of holiness and righteousness. The Greek term used here gives clear evidence that these robes will be dazzling white robes of dignity and honor. So, the Lord Jesus will give them honor and dignity and righteousness and holiness to clothe them. Their souls will be pure and righteous because they, during the first half of the seventieth seven, believed on the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
My friends, I trust that you have trusted in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of your sin. If you have not, let me encourage you to bow your head right now and tell God that you are a sinner and that you need His help and invite His Son into your life.