"When he [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the message of God and for the witness they had carried. They cried out with a loud voice, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their co-servants and their brothers and sisters should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been." - Revelation 6:9-11
In Revelation 5, the Lamb, Jesus, is presented to God in the heavenly throne room. The Lamb is worthy to unseal and open the scroll that is in the hand of God. In this chapter, Jesus opens six of the seven seals. The fifth seal concerns disciples and believers who have been killed for carrying the witness of God's message. Probably these are believers who are killed during the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation. It is difficult to know for sure. They are begging God for justice. They are given white robes and told to wait until the full number of martyrs is complete.
At church yesterday we heard about present day persecution of believers in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere. These brave and faithful men and women are standing for Jesus and his message despite the great suffering they are experiencing. I hope I would do the same if I were in their situation. As believers living in a free and open Western society, we are very blessed. But we must always be ready to suffer for Jesus and his message, if need be. We can be sure God will one day avenge the blood of his saints. He is a sovereign, just, holy, and true God. He will not allow the persecution of his people to continue indefinitely.
Father, thank you for your attributes of justice and patience. We believe you will bring perfect justice to our world when Jesus returns. In the meantime, be with your people and help them. We remember today the persecuted church and ask that you would guard them, provide for them, and save them from suffering, that you may be glorified and praised. Show our brothers and sisters the reality of your presence. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman