Summary: This sermon explores who the martyred saints may be and their cry unto God, along with God's response
The Book of Revelation
In 303 A.D., during the reign of emperor Diocletian, Andronicus was martyred for his faith. He said,
“Do your worst, I am a Christian. Christ is my help and supporter, and thus armed I will never serve your gods nor do I fear your authority or that of your master, the Emperor. Commence your torments as soon as you please, and make use of every means that your malignity can invent, and you shall find in the end that I am not to be shaken from my resolution.”
Andronicus was unwilling to deny his faith, so he was imprisoned, whipped, tortured, thrown to wild beasts, and eventually killed with the sword. But he continued steadfast in the faith.
Thomas Hauker died in England in 1555. He was in prison the day before he was killed, and his friend next to him said,
"Thomas, I have to ask you a favor. I need to know if what the others say about the grace of God is true. Tomorrow, when they burn you at the stake, if the pain is tolerable and your mind is still at peace, lift your hands above your head. Do it right before you die. Thomas, I have to know." Thomas promised he would.
The next day, Hauker was bound to the stake and lit on fire. Hauker's skin was burnt and everyone thought he was dead until all of a sudden he lifted his burning hands above his head toward the heavens and clapped three times.
The people burst into shouts of praise and his friend's request was answered.
Chinese pastor and evangelist, Li De Xian, has been beaten unmercifully and put into prison on many occasions. In one six month period he was arrested 13 times for “illegal preaching.” He said,
“Humanly speaking we know that no one likes to suffer physically. But I know that if the Lord leads me into it, He will give me the strength to survive it.”
Today we’ll be looking at the 5th and 6th seals Jesus breaks open from God’s Scroll of Destiny, His Last Will and Testament for humanity and the universe.
Read Revelation 6:9-11
Although there are several views as to who these martyrs are, their cry to God for me transcends time as this cry can be from any who died for their faith in Jesus Christ. If I could give you a rough translation it would read, “Lord, You who are holy and true, how long before you stop the injustice and evil.”
And while the debate continues as to who these martyrs are, who they are isn’t the important point, rather it’s that they died for their faith, and are special to God holding a special place before Him under the altar.
The idea of being under the altar is significant, because this is the altar of sacrifice. In the earthy temple this is where the animals were sacrificed and their blood poured out for the forgiveness of sin.
The specialness of this place is further seen in that it was at this heavenly altar where Jesus came, not with the blood of animals, but with His own blood, the blood He shed upon the cross to redeem us.
It’s here before God’s heavenly altar, at it’s very foot, that now stands all those who sacrificed their lives for their faith. They’re martyrs because they died for their witness of Jesus Christ.
During this time of tribulation the entire world will be completely antichrist, that is, it will be against everything that is of God, against His word and all those who live by His word.
Yet this is nothing new, at least for believers as we look at history
All the way back to the Babylonian captivity as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down the Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. When Nebuchadnezzar told them to bow or burn, they basically said, “Nebe, do your worst, and know that God can deliver us from your furnace of flames, but if he doesn’t, know that we’ll never bow.”
And so Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace and Jesus met them there and kept them safe and delivered them.
But not everyone who has stood their ground has been delivered; many faced persecution and even a martyr’s death. The writer of Hebrews tells us something of them. He said,
“Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith.” (Hebrews 11:36-39a NKJV)