4/03/18 Revelation 6:9-17 “Martyrs die and the earth is judged”
Revelation 6:9 – 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:
It’s clear that this fifth seal is the consequence of at least some of the previous 4 seals. God’s people (it doesn’t say Christians and is most likely Israel) will be martyred for their faith in the word of God and because of their testimony (obviously of their salvation. See Revelation 12:17 – And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.)
These people will not back down from what they believe; consequently, they, like many martyrs of previous centuries, have been put to death for their faith.
John 12:25-26 – 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour.
Many of God’s people will certainly die in the tribulation, but at least they’ll go to heaven! They are under the altar, a fitting place, where the blood of sacrificed animals was poured out according to the Old Testament covenant law which was but a figure of that which was to come.
Exodus 29:12 – And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put [it] upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar.
Leviticus 4:7 – And the priest shall put [some] of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which [is] in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which [is at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
These martyrs have been poured out as an acceptable blood offering to God.
Note the sword of Revelation 6:4 – a large knife of sacrifice, indicating that these martyrs may have been the sacrifices. However, the “sword” of Revelation 6:8 is a long Thracian javelin, or a large sword worn at the right shoulder; each was a strong weapon of war.
Revelation 6:10 – 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?
Lord – despotes (Master; Lord) Cf despot, or absolute ruler
loud – megas (great) megas is a Greek word often used in Revelation! So many occurrences are megas!
“And they (the martyrs of God) cried out (or prayed aloud) with a loud (megas) voice, saying “How long (When will You) O Lord, holy and true (sincere) before You judge and avenge (vindicate) our blood on them that dwell on the earth (who have done this)?”
Psalm 94:3-4 – 3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? 4 [How long] shall they utter [and] speak hard things? [and] all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?
This martyrdom may mean beheading, such as with a guillotine, or a large sharp sword (note sacrificial beheading)!
Revelation 20:4 – And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Revelation 6:11 – And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest (be patient) yet for a little season, until their fellowservants (syndoulos) also and their brethren (in Christ), that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled (pleroo).
fellowservants – syndoulos (serving together as one; a fellow servant, one who serves the same master with another)
season – chronos (time) That is, for a short time. The devil has only a short time.
Revelation 12:11-12 – 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
White robes signified cleanliness and holiness, after filthy clothes were removed.
Note Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3:3-4 – 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
Also note the lack of the garment on the man at the wedding feast in Matthew 22:11-13 – 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The garment represented spiritual cleanliness; lack of it represented spiritual uncleanliness.
The martyrs were to be patient until the full number of martyrs should be fulfilled (pleroo). Whether this fulfillment was according to a pre-designated amount, or according to God’s foreknowledge of all that would be martyred, we are not told.
It is also clear that their souls in heaven have a definite form which could speak and also wear robes.
Revelation 6:12 – And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great (megas) earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
Joel 2:31 – The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
Matthew 24:7 says that earthquakes will follow the famines and pestilences. This may refer to the tribulation, although its context might also suggest an earthquake before the tribulation. I don’t think the meaning is clear yet.
black as sackcloth of hair – like a blindfold that cannot admit any light at all. The sun will be darkened (it will not shine) and the moon will turn red (as it did recently when there was a total eclipse – called a blood moon), as a consequence of this massive (mega) earthquake. A volcanic eruption can push so much ash and debris into the atmosphere and block so much light that the world can be darkened for months, even years (Eg Krakatoa in 1883). This earthquake will apparently cause so much dust and debris to enter the upper atmosphere that the sun will not give any light and the moon will be eclipsed.
Jesus spoke about such signs in the heavens.
Luke 21:25-27 – 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Revelation 6:13 – And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Isaiah 34:4 – And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree.
Similar events appear to happen also to announce the imminent second coming of Christ the Messiah.
Matthew 24:29-30 – 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Some teach that the stars falling from heaven signifies something like satan and his demons being cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9); others say this means earthly rulers being cast out of their positions of authority. Both of these are unlikely, though. It could also mean hundreds of satellites in space falling from orbit before their use-by date has been reached; thus the picture of figs falling before they are ripe. Some such as Hal Lindsay suggest that this may be the atomic missiles coming down from the upper atmosphere, causing all the “earthquake” symptoms. However, the earthquake appears to occur before the stars fall; thus this earthquake is not likely to be a consequence of the “stars” falling. But, something falls from heaven, either in reality or symbolically, possibly before their proper or planned time of use is reached.
The picture of the unripe figs falling in a violent wind can suggest things that are shaken or used before their intended time, but they could simply mean that many things fall like so many figs in a wind storm. Vs 14 could suggest an atomic interchange, though, and perhaps the events of Ezekiel 38 and 39 are also depicting a massive exchange of great weaponry, possibly even atomic warheads, even from space as suggested by Revelation 6:13. Earthquake > stars fall > Vs 14.
Revelation 6:14 – And the heaven departed (parted asunder) as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
See Isaiah 34:4 – And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree.
Whatever Vs 13 means, this verse does clearly demonstrate that there is massive displacement of the atmosphere, something like a mega-mega clap of thunder that shakes the whole world. A lightning strike cuts through and burns the atmosphere, causing a sudden expansion of the air, so sudden, in fact, that it creates a thunderous sonic boom which can be quite destructive to things nearby. The shock wave of a sonic boom can break windows of houses if close enough. A lightning strike sonic boom can cause injury to people nearby.
However, an atomic bomb creates a far more dangerous shock wave than even the most powerful thunderstorm. An atomic bomb first releases radiation, then a heat wave which can burn the skin off your body and even flesh off your skeleton. But the most damaging effect is the blast wave which can flatten everything within a certain radius of the explosion. For example, the Hiroshima bomb levelled an 8 square km area, and it was tiny compared with today’s bomb capabilities. If a person is close enough, the shock wave can literally rupture your body organs causing you to rapidly bleed to death. Further away, you can still be killed by debris flying outward at massive speeds. And if big enough the shock wave can literally displace mountains or even small islands. In this verse, every mountain and island is set in motion (kineo – we get “kinetic” from this word) and they do not return to their original positions.
Note that as part of the final vial or bowl of wrath, every island and mountain is removed.
Revelation 16:20 – And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
A world-wide atomic exchange could produce such a result as noted in Revelation 6:14, but it cannot exclude God simply using His infinite power to just move things around and destroy other things. God Himself could simply shake the heavens and the earth if He so desires.
Haggai 2:6-7 – 6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land]; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
Revelation 6:15 – And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And every person, from the highest (kings) to the lowest (bondmen – doulos) hid themselves in dens (caves) and in the rocks (or cliffs) of the mountains. Rocky mountains signify security from attack, which is why most towns and cities (such as Jerusalem) in ancient times were built on hills or mountains.
Revelation 6:16 – And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
“Fall on us and conceal us from the face of God and from the wrath of the Lamb (who is sending these judgments upon us).” The word “Fall” can signify judgment falling upon them; thus they could be saying that they prefer the judgment of the mountains and rocks to the judgment of God. But not even death will permit them to escape this divine judgment! Such people clearly know that it is God they are hiding from, which demonstrates that they are wilfully opposing God at this stage; ignorance of God’s sovereignty does not appear to be a factor here.
See Hosea 10:8 (not necessarily end-times) – The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
Also see Luke 23:29-30 – 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
Revelation 6:17 – For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (See Malachi 3:2)
stand – cause or make to stand; be established; stand firm, immovable; be steadfast;
Who will be able to stand firm before the wrath of the Lamb when He sits in judgment? Christ is the final and absolute Judge; His word will be final with no avenue for appeal, ever!
These people, clearly opposed to God, are afraid of God’s judgment, yet cannot bring themselves to repent. They know the consequences, yet cannot turn aside from their evil. Like Pharaoh their hearts have been hardened; they cannot turn from the course upon which they have embarked.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 – 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Revelation 9:21 – Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Revelation 16:10-11 – 10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
So, is there a timeline here in the seals; and, if so, where do they fit in? The 7th seal becomes the 7 trumpet judgments of God, with the last 3 trumpets being renamed as the 3 woes. The 3rd and last woe then becomes the 7 vials or bowls of wrath, culminating in Armageddon and the pressing of the wine-press of the wrath of God.
It is difficult to see these seals, and then the 7 trumpets, and finally the 7 bowls or vials, as being anything else but in some sort of chronological order, which means that the seals come first, then the trumpets, and then finally the bowls of wrath. I think the seals commence at or near the start of the 7-year tribulation period, and that at some stage these plagues and judgments cross over into the 2nd half of the tribulation. It is possible that the first 6 seals occur in the first half, then more severe judgments come in the second and more severe half, a 3½ year period during which Israel fless into the wilderness.
Matthew 24:15-16 – 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
It is also possible that the first 5 seals occur more or less concurrently throughout the first half of the 7-year tribulation. The second half starts with the abomination in the temple, Israel escaping to safety for 3½ years and ends with the 2 witnesses in the streets of Jerusalem being killed and then rising back to life again, and the setting in action of the last “woe” (= the 7 bowls of the wrath of God).
Much of Daniel, especially the conflicts between the kings of the north and the south in Ch.11, is difficult to understand. Yet the following is quite clear:
Daniel 12:11-12 – 11 And from the time [that] the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed [is] he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
When the abomination occurs, Israel is to be hidden in the wilderness for 3½ years (Revelation 12:14) = 1260 days. The 2 witnesses in the streets of Jerusalem will be there for 1260 days (Revelation 11:3), and Daniel says it will be 30 days longer until the end, with a further 45 days to a time of blessing. The real spiritual warfare of the tribulation will be in that second 3½ years after which there will be a 30-day period during which the bowls of wrath are poured out, ending with the gathering of the armies of Armageddon and a final massive destructive judgment.
Revelation 16:16-21 – 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, [and] so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, [every stone] about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
And most of mankind just doesn’t want to know the truth!