Today, Saturday April 09
“How Long, O Lord…” 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.”
Now the fifth seal is opened by the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and John sees the souls of those slain for their faith during the seven-year Tribulation. These are those who boldly proclaimed their faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ and as a result they will be martyred. Just like now, even in the Tribulation when a believer dies, his body is left on the earth, but his soul immediately goes to heaven. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). And one day their body will be resurrected, from wherever it is, and be reunited with its soul that is with the Lord. Until then, their souls are robed in white, and they are enjoying heaven in a temporary heavenly body in the presence of the Lord.
We are told that as these souls are under the altar, they are crying out, “How long, O Lord until you avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" But is it "Christian" for these martyred saints to pray for vengeance on their murderers? After all, both Jesus and Stephen prayed that God would forgive those who killed them. I have no doubt that, when they were slain on earth, these martyrs also prayed for their slayers; and this is the right thing to do. Jesus taught us to rejoice when we are persecuted and pray for those who are doing it (Matt. 5:10-12, 43-48).
The great question, however, was not whether their enemies would be judged, but when. "How long, O Lord?" has been the cry of God's suffering people throughout the ages (see Pss. 74:9-10; 79:5; 94:3-4; also Hab. 1:2). The saints in heaven know that God will eventually judge sin and establish righteousness in the earth, but they do not know God's exact schedule. It is not personal revenge that they seek, but vindication of God's holiness and the establishment of God's justice. Every believer today who sincerely prays, "Thy kingdom come!" is echoing their petition.
God made clear to these martyrs that their sacrifice was an appointment, not an accident; and that others would join them. Even in the death of His people, God is in control (Ps. 116:15); so there is nothing to fear.
Many others would be slain for their faith before the Lord would return and establish His kingdom (see Rev. 11:7; 12:11; 14:13; and 20:4-5). Then as today, it appears that the enemy is winning; but God will have the last word. Even in our "enlightened" times today, multiplied thousands of true believers are laid downing their lives for Christ and it is certain they will receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
Today we need to be in prayer for those believers who are being persecuted and martyred for their witness for Jesus Christ. Today, there are more believers on earth, suffering and dying for their faith than in any other time in Christian history. From good sources, we are being told that today, over 360 million believers live in places and countries where there are high levels of persecution. That is 1 in every 7 believers. Every day over 13 Christians are being murdered because of their stand for Christ. This means that every month over 400 precious people are laying down their lives for Jesus. Last year 5,898 Christians were killed for their faith, 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings attacked, and 4,765 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
The countries where this persecution is the most severe are: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and many more places. It is apparent that the world is getting set up for the Antichrist to be revealed and set up his reign of terror after he promises peace! Today join me in prayer for the persecuted believers, that they would be strengthened and remain faithful to the Lord in the time of their suffering.