Summary: When Jesus Christ breaks the fifth seal, the souls of all the martyrs of the world are seen under the altar of God.
We continue with the dramatic opening of God’s Book of Destiny that spells out the future of the world. We should be reminded that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the only one worthy of opening this book. He has stepped forward, taken the book from God’s hand and has begun to break the seven seals that hold the book closed.
When Jesus began to break the seals in order to open the book the most astounding things began to happen. When He broke the first seal, our from under the seal leaped a horseman. What was written in the book was actually leaping off its pages and being acted our before John and the heavenly host.
We saw 4 of the 7 seals broken last time. Tonight we look at the fifth seal as it is broken.
When Jesus Christ breaks the fifth seal, the souls of all the martyrs of the world are seen under the altar of God. What is it talking about when it says martyrs? It COULD be a picture of all those who have died for the Lord Jesus Christ down through the ages.
But this particular reference is probably to the martyrs of the end time. The reason we suspect that is that they cry out for justice against those who killed them and that judgment falls in the sixth seal. So these martyrs seem to be referencing the end time martyrs.
So John and the heavenly host see the souls of the martyrs. Where are these martyrs? They are under the altar. We need to digress a moment back to the Old Testament and the furnishings of the tabernacle. These furnishings were only patterns of the worship center in heaven.
This means that there is a perfected altar of sacrifice in the throne room of heaven. The altar in the tabernacle was where the animals were sacrificed. The blood was poured out at the foot of the altar, symbolizing that the animal was being sacrificed for the person offering it.
This is the picture here. The lives of the martyrs, their blood, has been sacrificed and poured out for God. The martyrs have offered their lives up for God. So, in heaven, the martyrs have a very special place before God: they stand at the foot of the altar. They are given a very special place near to God.
There’s a strong lesson in this for all believers. That lesson is that God has a very special place for those who are faithful until death, a place that is close and dear to his heart and throne. This alone should cause us to be faithful to Him every minute of every day.
That gives you a warm feeling, doesn’t it? To be close to God, close to His throne and to His presence, serving him throughout all of eternity and then laying down one’s life for Him. Remember what Jesus said? “In Matt. 16:25, he said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
In verse 9 we see that these martyrs are slain for God’s Word and for the testimony they had borne for Christ. There are two things here that we need to look at:
1. They were slain for the Word of God. And
2. They were slain for the testimony they had borne concerning Jesus Christ.
What does it mean when we read they were slain for the word of God? In the last days of human history some people will still love Christ and still believe the Scriptures. They will love the Word of God. They will believe it, live by it, study it, teach it, preach it, and pray over it.
Because of this, the world will react against the Word of God and kill believers. Why? In the end time under the antichrist, the people of the world will be required to give their first loyalty to the state. The government will demand loyalty to the state first, then the people can have freedom of religion and worship whatever god they wish.
The state will develop the idea of what could be called a state religion, something close to what exists in some states today. But believers in Jesus Christ can only give their loyalty to Him, so they will be killed. They will be killed because they cannot deny the Word of God. I hope we fall into this category.
Also, the world has always rejected God, cursed God, denied God, ignored God, disobeyed God, and disbelieved God. In the end time, all this rejection will be intensified.
The point is this: the world in the end time will reject God’s Word. The world and its government will demand that believers give their first allegiance to the state and that they keep quiet about the righteousness proclaimed in Scripture. The state will be atheistic and exalt itself as God.