Modern Day Martyrs: The Fifth Seal
We have read about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. In Acts 22 vs 19 and 20 Paul is recounting his journey to Christianity, he tells how he used to persecute Christians and in fact he beat and imprisoned people because they believed in Jesus Christ. He goes on to say that he was present when God's martyr Stephen was killed, in fact Paul admits he supported the murder of Stephen and even assisted by holding the clothes of the people who were stoning Stephen to death.
A martyr is a person who is killed because of their beliefs. Stephen was a martyr, he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and was stoned to death but never wavered in his commitment to Christ. Stephen was the first, but there have been many Christian martyrs since then.
Revelation chapter 6 verse 9 tells us that many more martyrs will follow even up to the very end of time.
Revelation chapter 6 vs 9 says:
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
As we recall, Revelation is running in sequence, one seal following the other. Previously we witnessed the pale horse and Death. Now we see, that arising from this death are martyrs. The bible says they were slain for what they believed. Do we find ourselves moving into a world where there is no tolerance for Christian beliefs?
Revelation chapter 6 vs 10 continues:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Here is a cry for vengeance. Romans chapter 12 vs 19 Paul writes 'Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
So we are seeing in revelations 6 vs 10 the Christians following the biblical concept and waiting and trusting in God to take vengeance on the people of the earth for the murders they committed. These martyrs worship God, calling Him holy and true. They call on God for judgement, judgement against the people who killed them simply because they worshipped and loved the Lord.
We see God's response in Revelation chapter 6 vs 11:
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
God rewards the martyrs, clothing them in white as a sign of imputed righteousness. God also lets them know that the time of His wrath is not yet come, they have to wait a little while longer. Why? Because more Christians must die as martyrs first.
These three versus tells us about the time that follows the ride of the pale horseman. Following death and calamity a system that refuses to accept God will be introduced. People who refuse to deny the God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be killed. This will be a wave of tribulation that has never been seen before.
Matthew 24 vs 21 to 22
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
From the days of the black and pale horsemen, great challenges come for all the earth, but in the time of the fifth seal comes the greatest challenge for the church. The great tribulation.
Though we may end here this week, this is certainly not where the prophesy ends.
Join us next week as we look at what happens when GOD steps in!