Summary: How long? is the cry of the Tribulation Martyrs...not WHY?
Revelation 6: The Cry of the Tribulation Martyrs (vs 9-11)
Last week, we returned to our journey through Revelation, wrapping up our study of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These Four Horsemen represented Antichrist in his conquest by diplomacy (white horse), war (fiery red horse), famine (black horse) and death (yellowish green horse). Twenty five percent of the population of the world will die during these first four seal judgments. It will be a time unequaled in the history of the world; conservatively over one billion people will die, from war, starvation, plague and animal attacks.
This week, we will study the The Cry of the Martyrs. But first, let's also talk again about our responsibility in the gospel.
Because we have been forgiven so much--so much more than we could ever in a thousand lifetimes repay--we should view presenting the gospel not as a favor to someone but instead as a duty. As a debt. We owe it to everyone. Not just the pretty, the handsome, the privileged, the self-righteous, the rich or powerful, the athletic or those with a Ph.D. No, this gospel is meant for all people. Jews, Gentiles, people of all nation, race and color. Not only those close to you, but to your enemies as well.
Paul wrote "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16a). We must pray for boldness in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. For everything that Jesus has done for us, why should we ever hold back?
If a organ donor gave you a heart, wouldn't you be grateful to that man? Would you not want to honor him for that sacrifice? This is exactly what Jesus Christ did for you, brothers and sisters in Christ. He has taken the heart of stone and exchanged it with a heart of flesh, a saved heart. Not just to the nation of Israel in the future, but to you at salvation.
The church, the body of Christ, while awake in spots, has largely fallen asleep. It is as though we, the bride of Christ, has been cast under a spell like the Evil Queen did with Snow White. The Queen used a poisoned apple; Satan feeds us lies, and we believe it: people have time. You can witness to them later. You do not know enough. What if they object. What if they get mad at me. What if, what if, what if?
It is my hope and prayer that these devotionals that display God's future wrath on a sinful world will wake brethren from their sleep, and bring boldness to the heart in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with all men.--JH
"Thousands will be martyred, sealing their testimony with their own blood. Those who trust in Christ in that day will be forced to stand the acid test of being faithful even unto death." Dr. John F. Walvoord
We come to this fifth seal after seeing war, famine and death being let loose on the world. If you have the idea that only the evil and unsaved would be affected during this time, you are sadly mistaken. In verse 6, we see that John "saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God". What is this altar?
There are some different ideas about this altar. This is the first mention of an altar in Revelation; the term is thusiasterion (thoo-see-as-tay'-ree-on) and refers to any altar of sacrifice, but Thayer states two in particular: the altar of whole burnt-offerings and the altar of incense. Thayer states that it is the altar of incense in particular in view here.
However, there are good arguments for both. First, these are people that are slain; they have sacrificed themselves which we will focus on in a few days.
Easley notes in Holman New Testament Commentary: "At the anicent tabernacle of the Israelites, the blood of slaughtered animals drained from the base of the altar, with the blood representing the life (soul) of the animal (Exodus 29:12, Leviticus 4:7, 17:11). Though wicked humans may kill Christians from God's point of view their deaths are a special heavenly sacrifice."
Robert Thomas notes in his landmark "Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary" (Moody) that this altar would be instead the altar of incense for a number of reasons that have merit. First, the idea that the blood of these saints should not be compared to the blood of Christ, and second that the altar of incense was located adjacent to the sanctuary in the tabernacle, yet the altar of burnt sacrifice was outside of the tabernacle. Also, the altar of incense represented the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:4).
Although there is some difference of opinion about which altar this would be--the altar of burnt sacrifice or the altar of sacrifice, a combination of either or neither--Kendall Easley makes the point that the altar is a key method in the Revelation of Jesus Christ of communicating with God.