September 2, 2021
Scripture: 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 witness they had borne. 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 fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. Revelation 6:9-11 ESV
Observation: As we progress through Revelation, John’s grand vision raises more questions than answered. Theologians differ on timelines and the meanings of these cataclysmic prophecies. Do the judgments and catastrophic events apply to the very end of the age or a lengthy period leading up to Christ’s return. Are we to read John’s detailed accounts as literally descriptive or symbolic? The best way to approach these remaining chapters is to view the big picture and its timeless principles. In the above passage, those martyred leading up to these end times seek justice and vengeance on their persecutors. They receive white robes that symbolize how they have been made righteous before God and then told to rest a little longer. Why the delay? Because the Lord is calling more of their fellow servants to follow the same path to glory.
Takeaway: First, vengeance is the Lord’s (Romans 12:19). Dietrich Bonhoeffer joined an assassination attempt against Hitler with his brothers and friends. Their scheme was exposed, and they were imprisoned and executed weeks before Hitler committed suicide. Were they martyrs? Or did they errantly seek vengeance thinking that they were God’s instruments of justice? Their timing would indicate the latter. The timeless principle? Patiently wait on the Lord, finding rest for our anxious souls in him as we wait. Secondly, if called to glorify God as martyrs, we need to hold fast to our faith. When we die, we are present with Jesus, and we will receive our robes of righteousness as his faithful servants. What pain we endure in death is but a spec of time in our glorious, pain-free eternity with the One we love.
Prayer: Father God, grant us your grace to patiently rest in you when it seems that our enemies are freely persecuting our loved ones and us. And give us your courage and peace if called to lay down our lives for your glory and your kingdom. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling