Today, Friday April 08
The Fifth Seal is Opened 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.”
In Revelation 6:1-8, John recorded what he saw when the first four seals were opened by the Lamb. As each seal was opened, one of the four living creatures summoned a rider on horses of different colors. We believe the rider is the Antichrist and the color or the horses represent how he takes control of the world and what he brings. The white horse; he comes promising peace. The fiery red horse; he breaks his peace treaty, brings war and blood runs in the streets. The black horse; famine breaks out. The pale horse; death follows the war and famine!
Now the fifth seal is open by the Lamb and John saw the souls of those slain for their faith in the tribulation. When the Old Testament priest presented an animal sacrifice, the victim's blood was poured out at the base of the brazen altar (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30). In Old Testament imagery, blood represents life (Lev. 17:11). So, here in Revelation, the souls of the martyrs "under the altar" indicates that their lives were given sacrificially to the glory of God. The Apostle Paul had the same idea in mind when he wrote Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.”
The Greek word martus, which gives us our English word martyr, simply means "a witness" (see Rev. 2:13; 17:6). In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that they would be witnesses unto Him. He was telling them that they would be killed, be martyred, for sharing their faith. History tells us that eleven of the original disciples were martyred, and only John, after they couldn’t kill him, was exiled to the Patmos where he writes this last book of the Bible!
I know you must be asking, “I thought you told us that only lost people are in the tribulation because all the believers got raptured before it began?” Good question! It is true that there are no believers on earth at the very beginning of the tribulation, but as we will see later, the Lord sends two witnesses who will be preaching the Gospel (Revelation 11:3-13) for the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. One hundred and forty-four thousand Jews are saved as a result of their preaching and they share the Gospel with every tribe, every kindred and every nation (Revelation 7). Millions of people will believe their message and be saved. I believe these are ones who will refuse to take the mark of the beast and they will be hunted down and murdered!
Also these saints here in Revelation 6 were slain by the enemy because of their witness to the truth of God and the message of Jesus Christ. The forces of Antichrist do not accept the truth, because Satan wants them to be deceived and accept his lies (see Rev. 19:20; 20:10; also 2 Thes. 2:9-12). It is already becoming a reality today as we see the forces of evil taking more and more control of our country, and that they hate the Gospel and will do anything they can to shut up and shut down the voice of the believers.
We also need to remember that these martyrs in Revelation 6 represent all who have laid down their lives for Jesus Christ and the cause of God's truth, and they are an encouragement to all today who may be called to follow them. They assure us that the souls of the martyrs are in heaven, awaiting the resurrection (Rev. 20:4), and that they are at rest, robed in heavenly glory.
Today, there are more believers on earth, suffering and dying for their faith than in any other time in Christian history. We will discuss this in more detail tomorrow. We can see the handwriting on the wall by all the events that are taking place today that the tribulation is just around the corner! May the Lord help us to be willing to be witnesses even today for His glory!