The Signs of the Times (14): Martyrs

editor - 23 September 2018

‘…When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been…’
Revelation 6:9-11 (NIV)

Who are these martyrs? If we continue to draw the parallel with the sermon on the last things, the great tribulation from Matthew 24:21 is yet to come at this point. More about that later. Then this refers to the ones who were killed in the past centuries. Slain Jews and slain Christians? One group because of the word of God, the other because of the testimony of Jesus and the word of God?

In the original translation of this verse, they address the Lord with ‘Despotes’, not with ‘Kurios’. Kurios means Lord. Despotes means something more like all powerful Master, absolute Ruler. They call for vengeance, like in some Psalms of the Old Testament where Jewish people cry out for revenge upon their enemies, who hate them and try to kill them, like for instance in Psalm 68 and 83.

And another thing. Is the altar with the souls of the martyrs under it located in heaven? Or is it on earth? Like the altar of burnt offerings which was outside the Holy Place and outside the Holy of Holies, in the outer court? They were butchered on earth and are they still in the paradise part of the afterlife of the dead within the earth? Or did Christ take these souls with Him to paradise in heaven during His ascension, as ‘prisoners of war’?

Some questions can go too far. Questions like: is the pit of the abyss located in the blazing centre of the earth? Could there be the division between the paradise-part and the place of torment and pain we read about in Luke 16:19-31 where Jesus speaks about the fate of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus? The unbridgeable chasm?

What about ‘gehenna’, hell, is that there also? And the ‘tartarus’, the abyss for fallen angels as well? One thing is for sure, the souls of the slain are safe with God. And our earthly dimensions differ from the dimension of eternity that surround us. If we understand more about dimensions, these questions have become irrelevant. Our four dimensional world, our space-time continuum, exist in other categories of being than the many other, heavenly dimensions that are as real as our dimensions are.

These martyrs are given a white robe, and they have to wait a little longer, until the resurrection, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, have been killed just as they were. Their innocent blood cries out to God from the soil of the earth. This flowing of innocent blood began with the first murder of that righteous man, Abel. And since then innocent blood has been calling out to God for centuries.

From the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, who was killed between the altar and the Temple, Matthew 23: 35. The blood of the martyrs from Hebrews 11:32-38: tortured, flogged, stoned, sawn in two, being killed by the sword. Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will there not be a day of reckoning, a day of vengeance?

The martyrs ask for the murderers, the perpetrators, the ‘inhabitants of the earth’, the wrong-doers to be judged. To execute what Paul writes about in Romans 12: 19 “…Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord…” The innocent blood spilled since the beginning of time until the very end. Including the six million of the Holocaust, the murdered Christians in Russia and China and in the Islamic world of this century, and the multitudes that will be slain – Revelation 7:14-17 – in the great tribulation.

How long Lord, can You remain silent seeing the fate of Your children, Psalm 83:1-2? When will you act, not for our sake but for Your own Name’s sake? The answer they are being given is this: Wait and rest in the presence of God and of the Lamb. Just a little longer.

First the 144,000 who are to be sealed from Israel (Revelation 7:4-8) and the great multitude that no one can count (Revelation 7:9-17) and then…resurrection of the tortured body and everlasting, eternal life!



The Signs of the Times
Many people are afraid of the future. Will the turmoil in the world lead to World War III? Or is there still hope? What do the ancient prophecies of the Bible teach us? Are we at the beginning of the end of this world? Or are we approaching a new beginning? Could Israel be a sign of hope? In this new series Rev. Willem Glashouwer looks at 52 of the many signs of the times that are mentioned in the Bible.The English edition of ‘The Signs of the Times’ will be published by Christians for Israel International in the coming months.

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