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Read Introduction to Revelation

 

“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. I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?“


6:9

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.

The fifth seal reveals those martyred for Christ.

The phrase “under the altar” may refer to the blood the martyrs shed for their testimony for Christ. The “altar” here is an allusion to the altar of the temple or tabernacle. This was a bronze altar outside the Holy of Holies, the place of sacrifice of animals. This refers to the work of Christ on the cross. These martyrs died for their testimony to His work on the cross.

These martyrs died for their stand on the Word of God and for their testimony to the person and work of Christ for them.

6:10

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?”

The martyrs cry to God with loud voices and ask how long this persecution will last. They call for retaliation upon their persecutors. This is not a day of grace but a day of God’s judgment on the earth. God will call to account those who perpetrate injustice on the world. The prayers of these martyrs’ mirror God’s program for the Tribulation. Today, God calls the Christian to forgive like Stephen, the first martyr.

6:11

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.

God gives the martyrs white robes. The “white” robe indicates their victory as martyrs and share in eternal life. “White” indicates that they possess imputed righteousness. This is not a righteousness of their own but the righteousness that God gives them.

They would have to wait [rest] until other martyrs face their fate. God has a perfect time for everything. Vengeance is God’s; He will repay in His own good timing. We can leave God’s justice in God’s hands. God has a time for everything so we can relax and leave it in His care. There is no point in getting upset and bitter. No hatred or vindictiveness, implacability, or fear will help us. We need to rest in the sovereignty of God. There is a right time for God’s vengeance.

6:12

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

With the opening of the sixth seal comes a great earthquake. The sun becomes pitch black and the moon turns blood red in color. This may be a solar eclipse.

6:13

And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.

The stars fell to earth like figs fall from a fig tree in strong winds. These are great catastrophes in nature and cosmic upheavals universe-wide.

6:14

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

The sky looked like a rolled-up scroll. The mountains and islands moved from their locations.

6:15

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,

Due to these preceding events, great fear came upon the leaders of the earth. People of all social strata go into a state of great fear. John indicates that there were seven walks of life affected by these cosmic disturbances. This probably refers to people of all stations in society taken in terror by these events. No politician will be sheltered from these events.

6:16

and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

The leaders of the earth call for death. They would rather die by natural disturbances than yield to the Lamb.

6:17

“For the great day of His wrath has come,

God is not only a God of love but He is a God of judgment — “the great day of His wrath has come.”

and who is able to stand?

Those who avail themselves of the Lamb slain for our sins can stand. All others will not stand. All those who refuse the offer of God’s grace will have nothing on which to stand in the presence of God.

Principle:

Pride keeps people from God even in the face of great evidence.

Application:

It is strange that people who see the direct hand of God upon earth still refuse to believe. They think death is better than belief. They believe they can escape God by death, by entering oblivion.

God says, “It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Pride will keep them from humbly submitting themselves to God. They must stay in charge of their life. They cannot yield themselves to God. To yield self to the death of Christ as the only payment for our sin is a hard pill to swallow for arrogant humans. We can only come to God by grace. If grace does not humble us, God’s judgment will in eternity.

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