The Fifth Seal

THE FIFTH SEAL: THE SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR (6:9-11). Here it is apparent that for believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The white robes indicate they have received resurrected bodies.

Historicists see those killed during the persecution of the Church under Diocletian, and a few hold to under Maximian (A.D. 270 to 304).

Preterists see the Jews killed in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It should be noted that those Jews had rejected Christ; they will not be in heaven pleading for vengeance. The Christians had fled Jerusalem before it was destroyed.

Idealists believe this seal concerns the suffering Church during this present age, picturing the sacrificial character of their death.

Futurists believe the souls under the altar are persons martyred for their faith; they are the great multitude who have come out of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-10, 13-14).

CRY FOR VENGEANCE. Their cry is like the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms: “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Their cry sublimely aligns with Deuteronomy 32:35 quoted by Paul:

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19).

There can be no response to their cry until the number of the martyred is complete. The number of the elect is definitely fixed: perhaps to fill up that of the fallen angels. However, this is mere conjecture. The question is not whether but when their enemies will be judged.

WAIT A LITTLE LONGER or “yet a little time” adds up to at least eighteen to twenty centuries if the martyrs are from the early centuries as historicists, Preterists and Idealists claim. It seems seven or three and one-half years better fits the period.

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