Revelation Series #10
Seven Sealed Book p2
Seals 5 and 6
5. Fifth Seal - Martyrs Under the Altar
Saw them Under the Altar
- Souls of the Slain
- Because of the Word of God
- Because of the Testimony they had Maintained
They Called Loudly
- How Long until you Judge
- How Long until you Avenge
Given a White Robe
- a little longer
- until the number of martyrs is complete
Historicist - most would see this era of History as the Era of the Martyrs between AD 270 and 306 under Dioclesian and Maximian the bloodiest of the 10 persecutions before Constantine ended the persecution in 313
Preterist - The souls under the altar is like the blood poured out at the base of the altar in a sacrifice. They were asking for vengeance so their persecutors were still on the earth. John saw the vision prior to AD 70 and thus the major persecutors were Jewish Leaders in Jerusalem. Mt 23:35 shows them that God was calling Jerusalem to account for generations of killing prophets and righteous people and compare it to Luke 18:1-8 - The Bloodshed called for Action and Judgment by God
Futurist - under the altar are the martyrs of the Tribulation - all who had been martyred during the 1st 4 Seals period. TO the dispensationalist, this is after the Rapture of the church and the Martyrs are not identified with the Church - It would seem that anyone converted after the Rapture must be martyred except the remnant of Israel. Debate is to whether these are martyred in the first 1/2 , 2nd ½ or entire Tribulation. Non dispensationalists would see these as Christian Martyrs from the Church during the Tribulation
Spiritual/Idealist - These are Christian Martyrs who have died thus far for their faith i.e. 1 Peter 4:6 - Emphasizes the sacrificial picture of their deaths. Whether all Martyrs or those in Domitians reign this reminds us that all anticipate vindication of the Lord
1st Seal - Antichrist is brought in on a white horse as a counterfeit of Christ unifying the world in peace with a bloodless revelation
2nd Seal - The Red Horse Rider though shatters peace with war following this "peaceful" leader. Peace is always shattered when the fake smiling dictator is opposed
3rd Seal - The Black Horse sees famine follow war as it often does
4th Seal - the Pale Horse brings death to One Quarter of the population of the earth that remains after the Church is taken out. That would be 6% by Sword (War/Murder) 6% by Famine 6% by Disease 6% by Wild Beasts - Literal - Well I think so and I think the context, grammar lead to the same conclusion
SO we come to the 5th Seal. The First 4 and the last two plus all the bowls and trumpets reveal ACTION to us but this one reveals the RESULTS of the Action that takes place on earth so, we are left to assume the action that takes place.
The Result of the Action is Death of Saints, Followers of Christ.
Who are they? - Souls of the Martyrs. Well … who is there? The 24 Elders are THERE so these do not appear to be part of that group which we believe to be the Church, the Priests of the New Covenant, the Church. So, who are they are those martyred in the period since the Church is no longer spoken of on the earth. They are SOULS not Resurrected, New Body Given Believers. We know from the end of Revelation that these will experience their own Resurrection at the end. So these come out of the action that has taken place on earth. We know that 25% of the population goes out in the 4th Seal. We know that there is bloodshed in the 2nd Seal. A portion of these who die are those who have turned to Christ and received salvation from Him
How did They Get there? Because of the Proclamation of the Word of God and the Refusal to bow down to the new christ on earth the rider of that white horse, they have lost their lives. We can only imagine what that was like for these. But from reading the rest of the book we know that people are excluded from purchases because of their refusal to bow to the new leader. They refused to bow down and worship him and like Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah) they were sent to the executioner for their faith. Perhaps vigilantes or individuals murdered them for their proclamation of Christ as the sword of the red horse was an assassin or slaughters' sword. They are there because they were a "martus" in life in deed and to the death. They proclaimed the truth and they held on to the truth no matter the consequence or edict of the ruler
Where are they? They are UNDER the altar. There are 2 altars in the Temple which is a copy of Heaven according to God's instruction to Moses. IN Heaven there was a Golden Altar that held the incense or the prayers of the people and there was a Bronze altar upon which the sacrifices were offered. These are under the Bronze altar of sacrifice. Why UNDER instead of upon? When Paul talked of being sacrificed as a living sacrifice, or as himself a sacrifice, he referred to it with the understanding of being ON the altar, as an action taking place. But toward the end of his life he said "even now I'm being poured out". When the sacrifice was finished, the blood of the animal would then be poured at the base or under the altar thus the sacrifice was complete. Paul was saying, I'm just about done. Well these Martyrs were no longer ON the altar of sacrifice they were UNDER the altar as finished offerings of worship and sacrifice to God. But there is also a beautiful picture of them being UNDER the table of sacrifice as being UNDER the wings of Christ for protection and provision. Under his sacrifice they are safe in their sacrifice. They will suffer no more because he covers them now.
I'm sure that these martyrs after placing their faith in Christ faithfully proclaimed Christ to any who would listen or would not and it resulted in their deaths. A prophet of God will proclaim the Judgment of God. They saw these worldwide shifts and catastrophes as the Hand of God and proclaimed it and the world doesn't want to hear of it. They will say, "oh that's just the way things are"
What do they say?
They CRY OUT LOUDLY - Sovereign Lord (despotes) <word only used HERE> HOLY AND TRUE - understanding It goes against your nature to look the other way … so …
Till you JUDGE krino (kree-no)- separate, put asunder, to determine, resolve
and AVENGE ekdikeo (ek-dik-eh-o) to protect, defend, to avenge a thing, to punish a person or thing
Avenge our Blood - Return to them what they have done to us - Might point to a Jewish or non-Church - understanding of Eye for Eye / Tooth for Tooth
The Answer of God
Given a Robe - - Why would they have been given a Robe if were souls without a resurrected body? LOTS of Debate even among dispensational futurists over this. If they don't get their resurrected bodies until the end of the Trib. Then what kind of bodies do they have? Walvoord says this "they have not been raised from the dead and have not received their resurrected bodies … it is not the kind of body that Christians have, not a body of the earth, nor is it a resurrection body of flesh and bones … It is a temporary body suited for their presence in heaven but replaced in turn by their everlasting resurrection body given at the time of Christ's return" Dr. Criswell says I do not think a spirit can wear a white robe. I think the gift is an earnest pledge of the resurrection which is soon coming. There was given to them the promise that they should have this beautiful garment of the Lord, manifest righteousness, the glory of what God can do with a life that is devoted unto him
Well I don't know if they have a temporary body or no body, but I DO believe that the Robe as a DEPOSIT or PROMISE of a coming Resurrected body is a beautiful way to prepare them for the answer he is about to give them ….
In a Little While … NOT YET … SOON - It is beautiful that God says "until I give you a resurrected body righteous, holy and pure, let me give you this white robe, and I promise you it is coming shortly, and so I also promise you that you will be avenged and they will be judged shortly but Not yet. Why NOT YET? Why in a Little while? Because those who will be martyred is not yet complete which means that those who will still come to Christ is NOT yet complete.
God's delays are always because he hasn't yet redeemed all whom he wants to redeem. Our God is an Awesome God of Salvation, even in the midst of Judgment!
By the way … how did they come to Christ? One writer calls it the Silent Witness. All those witnesses that have gone before and been not understood or responded to
All those Bibles that lay dusty in the hotel drawers, in prison cells, those faithful Gideon, Wycliffe, other Society Bibles given quietly and freely will be turned to in the beginning of Tribulation as people ask "God what is happening"? and people will come to Christ and then willingly give their lives in gratitude to him
How Long? In a little while but there are still some to come to Christ so Let's get busy
6. Sixth Seal - Is the World Falling Apart?
Amazing the difference between the scene in Heaven and the Scene on earth. Wiersbe says the Martyrs cry "Avenge us' but the unbelievers cry, 'Hide us'!
This is a frightening scene - people running to hide from God. Dr. Vance Havner said a day is coming when the most expensive piece of real estate will be a hole in the ground
How times will change! A Few months too Saddam Hussein from Palaces with Gold Bath Tubs into a Spider Hole ventilated with a 4 Dollar Fan. Why? Because Justice was catching up with him and it was time to pay the piper for years of rejecting Right and living by his own set of laws and doing what he thought was right in his own eyes.
I Watched - This is a scene developing - a movie developing linearly in front of his eyes
- Great Earthquake
- Sun turned Black
- Moon turns Blood Red
- Stars in the sky fell as figs drop when the Tree is Shaken by the wind - there are figs that produce winter fruit after the leaves are gone and they are more susceptible to the winds
- Sky Recessed like a scroll (clouds peeling back?) (Ozone Layer?)
- Mountains / Islands Removed from Place -
Kings, Princes, Generals
Rich and Mighty, Slave and Free
ALL hid in caves, among rocks, looking for safety
Called Out to the Mountains - Greatest prayer meeting in History and they are praying to the Hills
"Fall on Us" "Hide Us from HIM/Throne"
Great Day of Their Wrath (Father and Son) has Come
The World will know what's going on and still will not repent
Historicist - may be the fall of paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire in Constantine. The earthquake is a metaphor of prophesy for political and spiritual revolutions. Sun, moon, stars, are different levels of authority great to small falling
Some see this as 395 and the separation of east and west and the eventual fall of the empire in 476. Some see the 6th seal as prophesying what comes in the 6th Trumpet
Preterist - "The Great Day of the Lord" predicted by Malachi in 3:2 and by John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, and Jesus. They see it as the end of the Jewish state and fall of its leaders. As the 4 Horsemen were symbolic and not really riding the earth so these physical images are also symbolic of things that happen as judgment upon the persecutors of the church. This was fulfillment of the words of Jesus in Luke 23:28-31 and pictured the fall of the Jewish leaders and political structure
Futurist - Some see both literal and symbolic interpretations here. Earthquakes often accompany the visitation of God, on Mt Sinai, to Isaiah, in the prophesy of Haggai when Jesus was crucified. So the reader is left wondering if this is literal or figurative - Gaebelein says most is symbolic, yet at the same time a physical phenomena are also involved. The earthquake possibly means a literal earthquake … Everything is being shaken in this poor world. The civil government … all go to pieces; every class from kings to slaves is affected by it and terrorized. The political and ecclesiastical world is going to pieces.
Others while seeing it as future see it as a symbol of the worldwide upheaval that shakes the world and turns everything upside down and no safe place is found
To Bullinger, Ryrie, Wlavoord, Morris, and others see the literal as making the most grammatical and logistical sense and a symbolic interpretation requires too much conjecture and jumps creating difficulties. A literal interpretation requires less explanation. Ryrie sees it very literally save the "stars" as being meteors showering down. He says these are 6 events calculated to strike terror into the hearts of men living on the earth … at this point men will know assuredly that the tribulation has begun for they recognize it as the great day of his wrath
Henry Morris says the worldwide network of unstable plates will slip and fracture and cause a gigantic earthquake. This is evidently and naturally accompanied by tremendous volcanic eruptions, spewing vast quantities of dust and steam and gases into the upper atmosphere. It is probably these that will cause the sun to be darkened and the moon to appear blood-red
Hal Lindsey says this seal describes the first nuclear exchange. He says this will trigger the worst earthquake every. The smoke will darken the sun and make the moon appear red. The falling stars he says are Russian Bombs.
Ray Stedman says this picture of the sun and moon is from dust and ash an effect like what Carl Sagan has called a "nuclear winter" caused by the detonation and ash and dust thrown up
Spiritual/Idealist - this is too early to describe the final judgment of the world. So they would see this as God's judgment on the Roman Empire and others persecuting Christians in John's day.
But most others would see this as a picture of the 2nd Coming of Christ. The First 5 seals are social and political upheaval but this 6th is the Great Day of God's Judgment.
7 classes of the earth and 7 classes of men shows the universality of this disaster.
Wilcock - the question of whether … literal or metaphorically misses the point. That day will spell the end of the entire universe as we know it
So…. What do I see here?
600 Years before Christ Daniel got a vision of 70 Weeks in which God would Restore Israel and use them as a light to the world. 483 years after the beginning of this fulfillment, 69 of the 70 weeks saw The Anointed One Jesus take his place in History exactly most would say to the DAY fulfilling the prophesy … but then after Christ's death on the Cross the Nation of Israel takes a back seat in God's plan. It is a pause between week 69 and 70 because God is no longer working through Israel.
Does that mean God will NOT finish what he started with Israel? NO she will again be a light to the World and we will see that more clearly next week. But the Tribulation period is that final WEEK or 7 years. We know from Daniel that ½ way through that last week, the Antichrist, little horn, will bring abomination into the Temple of God.
The Tribulation is divided into 2 parts sometimes called Time, Times, and Time and a half or 42 months or whatever but it's two parts. The Tribulation and the Great Tribulation
In Matthew 24 Jesus calls it the "Beginning of Sorrows" and The "Great Day of the Lord". So, the "Great Day of the Lord" will be the 2nd half or last 3 and ½ years of the 7 year Tribulation. So the 5th Seal and the 6th Seal bring us to this ½ way point in the Tribulation, the DAY or TIME of the Lord to bring final Judgment on wickedness and Satan
The Previous Seals were things that God set free on earth and THEY brought about Judgment, but now God begins to move by his own hand to unleash his Judgment
Earthquake - I believe it is a real earthquake. Earthquakes in the scale are exponentially bigger. A 6.0 is 10 times greater than a 5.0 but a 7.0 is 100 times greater. SO you can imagine that an 8 or a 9 in multiple places would do untold damage. I told you that an earthquake in China killed 830,000 people and that was without the Skyscrappers and all of today and tomorrow. As people move into cities and become more and more packed.
Sun, Moon, Stars - It is NOT difficult for us to imagine worldwide earthquakes which bring about volcanoes and probably explosions, could all by themselves produce enough ash and dust to darken the sky. If per chance nuclear war is a part of this time, then that just turns up the notch. About 7 years ago in Houston our sky was darker for MONTHS simply from Fires in Mexico 100s of miles away. If the Lord's hand is in this then Meteors falling to the ground like winter figs or prunes being shaken from a tree and falling rapidly and hard to the ground like 1000s of Charcoal briquettes at 200 miles an hour.
The Lord is Reaching out and taking this earth by her foundations and shaking it and saying you have rejected me and thumbed your nose at me and I will have it no longer.
What God is doing here in Revelation should not surprise us because they are things that God has done all through scripture and throughout history. They are things that have happened naturally but now will come magnified and multiplied
The Sky rolled back? - Not sure, could it be as with all the others that the sky just seems to disappear in the smoke etc. Could it be that the Ozone layer is destroyed by the sudden and multiplied volcanic explosions, fires, and perhaps bombs? Yes I think that is a possibility which will effect the world for the remaining 3 and ½ years
Mountains and Islands moved - Doesn't sound amazing, if the earthquakes, volcanoes etc, the Mountains will be moving for sure as they are growing and shrinking with lava and fissures. We have seen Islands appear in days and disappear in days due to volcanoes. Scientists have told us for years that an Earthquake could separated California from the US so it isn't far fetched to imagine continents realigning and Tidal Waves reshaping Cost Lines and Destroying and covering entire Islands and Coastal Regions
PAUSE NOW and FOCUS
What, HOW, Literal or Symbolic, Political or Natural, who cares, what is important to see is that GOD is moving and he is bring Judgment on this earth
What is important to see is that Great and Small, Rich and Poor, Powerful and Weak will all be affected
Millions and Billions will CRY OUT.
They will cry out because they will KNOW what is happening
They knew it when the church disappeared 3 ½ years earlier but they convinced themselves that it was something else. But now they will know for sure. Yet they will not call out for Salvation but for death, for safety from Judgment.
Jesus said if we do not fall on the Rock the Rock will fall on us - Mt 21:44 - he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed
Hide us for the great day of the Lord has come and how can stand? No one can stand in the face of God's judgment save him who stands on Christ
Some say that all those who have rejected Christ before the church is out will not have a chance but only those who have yet to be confronted with Christ.
But no matter, this scene should cause us to proclaim Christ
Hold Christ out, while he still calls out
Seek him while he may still be found
No One has to face these days.
I fear not the mountains and the rocks that fall because I sing
On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
How Firm a Foundation ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word
What more can he say than you hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
But the Cry of a world without Christ in the path of God's Judgment is instead
Tell me the story of Jesus
Write on my Heart ev'ry word
Tell me the story most precious
Sweetest that ever was heard
Tell how the angels, in chorus
Sang as they welcomed his birth
Glory to God in the Highest
Peace and Good tidings to earth
Tell of the cross where they nailed him
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid him
Tell how he liveth again
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see
Stay, let me weep while you whisper
Love paid a ransom for me
Tell me the story of Jesus
Write on my heart ev'ry word
Tell me the story most precious
Sweetest that ever was heard
Wednesday Night Bible study Fall 2005-Spring 2006
The following resources were used among others in preparation
Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary – Steve Gregg
W.A. Criswell Expository Sermons on Revelation
Dr. J.A. Seiss Expositions on Revelations
MacArthur Bible Studies: Revelation – John MacArthur
Dr. David Jeremiah Expositions on Revelation
The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation
Wiersbe: The Bible Exposition Commentary