Friday, March 15, 2013

The Martyred Saints at the Alter

A Great Multitude

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 
and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 7:9-10 

  After the servants of our God have been sealed on their foreheads the seventh seal may be opened.

  When John had finished seeing the “video” in which the Jews were sealed (v.4), he saw a different video, which he introduces with these words, After these things I looked.  He is no longer talking about those that were sealed.  He is talking about a great multitude, so large in fact, that no man could count all the people.  

   This group included people from every nation.  Praise the Lord that includes us!  This large crowd, clothed with white robes, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb.  With a loud voice, we are saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! The Living Bible has changed this to an easier to understand phrase; Salvation comes from our God upon the throne, and from the Lamb.

   Oh, what a resurrection day that will be!   Those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb will all be dressed in white robes, waving palm branches and shouting out at the top of our lungs, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb who has cleansed us!

Martyred Saints at the Alter

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 testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. 6:9-11  

    After the fifth seal was opened, John saw under the altar, the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God.  Not literally underneath the altar, but rather, at the foot of the altar, and probably on their knees; Weymouth has: I saw at the foot of the altar.  All the other Bible translations which I checked, use the word under or underneath.

  This altar corresponds to the altar of incense in Solomon's temple: And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer. And many incenses were given to him, so that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God from the angel's hand. 8:3-4.   

   These saints who were martyred for Jesus are waiting for Jehovah to keep His promise, for He has said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. Rom.12:19.  They are asking, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood?  They were told to wait a little longer because there will be more martyrs coming.  To us, this does not seem like a pleasant thought, but those people, who have been martyred or will be martyred receive white robes.  Those white robes they receive right then, but God's revenge must wait until He is ready.

   A point of interest that might be mentioned here is that those members of radical religious groups who kill themselves while they are killing others will not be given credit as martyrs - they will simply get the punishment meted out to mass murderers.

   Concerning this seal Mr Smith** writes, The cruel work of Roman Catholicism did not altogether cease … Rome added hundreds of thousands to the vast throng of whose blood she had already become guilty.  In making this statement about the Roman Catholics he is too narrow in his thinking.  What about the Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Calvinists or any other group of people who have killed people because of what they believed; will the Lord not also judge those murderers?

Satan is locked Up

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; He cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while. 20:1-3  

   In the Bible, the final destruction of Satan is recorded in the same paragraph as his release from prison together with the last battle on earth.  However, the battle of Armageddon, the last battle on earth, is specifically mentioned in 16:16 and referred to in 19:11-21 which is an indication that at least some events mentioned in the book of The Revelation happen within the time period of 20:7-10.  This is another argument for the belief that The Apocalypse must be rearranged from the order in which we have received it.

    The fifth, sixth and seventh trumpet blasts and bowls of wrath are called woes because they were more intense than the first four trumpets and bowls were.  The reason for that is because just before the last three were poured out Satan had just been released from prison.  

   Fittingly, the destruction of Satan, 20:10, is recorded after the Rapture of the Church, which is found in 11:15-19 and 19:1-10, and the rapture happens later than the Battle of Armageddon, which is recorded in Chapters 9, 16 and 20. Does that sound confusing?  Hang in there and hopefully, with time, it will sort itself out.

   The angel laid hold of the dragon, which in 9:11, is called, The Destroyer, and bound him with the great chain that he had in his hand and threw him into the bottomless pit.  There The Destroyer will stay for one thousand years.  

Concerning the thousand years of peace, Asimov^ has this to say.  There may be a mystic symmetry here...First the earth will endure six millennium of labour, strife, evil and sin, one for each of the six days of creation. For with God one day is like a thousand years. ...Then for the seventh day of rest the earth will spend one millennium under the Messiah. Only then, when the Millennium is over, can the world indeed come to an end.

   Just to refresh our memory, in speaking of the sealing of the 144,000, Foster says that one thousand represents many so that literally there were sealed twelve times many.   If we are to use the same reasoning here, the word one thousand years simply means many years.  Therefore, according to many Bible students, it would be an unspecified length of time. 

** A Commentary of Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist.
^ Guide to the Bible, Isaac Asimov

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