Today, Sunday April 03
“How Long, O Lord…” Revelation 6:9-10
“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?"”
As we look at these passages from Revelation 6 through the end of the book and we see the wrath of God poured out on the inhabitants of the earth, I realize it must raise some questions in the minds of many about the character of God. In Revelation 4-5 we just witnessed a beautiful worship scene in heaven as the saints and all creation praise God as Creator and the Lamb as their Redeemer. But almost immediately in chapter 6 John watches as the Lamb begins to open the seven-sealed book and the judgment of God begins on earth.
It seems strange to us that worship and judgment should go together, but this is because we do not fully understand either the holiness of God or the sinfulness of man. Nor do we grasp the total picture of what God wants to accomplish and how the forces of evil have opposed Him. God is longsuffering, but eventually He must judge sin and vindicate His servants.
We need to keep in mind as we study these fourteen action-filled chapters, that John wrote to encourage God's people in every age of history. He was not only writing prophecy that would be fulfilled in the end times; but he was also writing great theology and dramatically revealing the character of God and the principles of His kingdom. These chapters describe the cosmic conflict between God and Satan, the New Jerusalem and Babylon; and no matter what "key" a student may use to unlock Revelation, he cannot help but see the exalted King of kings as He vindicates His people and gives victory to His overcomers.
Especially today as we watch the war in Ukraine live on our televisions, we are overwhelmed with the pain and suffering that is taking place as innocent women and children are being killed so needlessly. And sometimes we wonder why a loving God would allow this to happen. Even I often struggle with this as I watch this destruction day after day on the news. It is a question that is often asked, “Why does a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” It is a tough question to answer!
We need to understand that all human suffering is the result of the original sin and fall of man! Ever since Adam sinned, evil was released on earth as the consequence of sin. The first two boys born into the human race were Cain and Abel. And Cain brutally murdered his brother Abel. It is hard for us to comprehend the devastating, destructive power of sin! James reminds us that, “When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)
So, when I struggle with this question, I remind myself that it is not God’s fault, or desire, or original intent that there should ever be pain or suffering but it is the consequence of sin and evil. And I assure myself that God has proven His love and kindness to us because He has provided a remedy for our sin through the sacrifice of His Lamb!
And I can also console myself with the knowledge that one day God will judge and execute judgment and punish all the evildoers on earth and our question becomes like those who were slain under the altar and they are crying out, “"How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
One day God will make everything right and the judgements and tribulation we see in this book gives us this assurance!