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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 14

Revelation 6:9-11
The Fifth Seal
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When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[a] were killed just as they had been.
a11 - The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.
Every day our brothers and sisters around the world are being imprisoned, beaten and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. Below are some accounts of this persecution - warning, it's hard to read, but we need to be aware of what's happening to our brothers and sisters so that we can pray earnestly.

  • Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, is guilty of the imprisonment and torture of 30,000 of your brothers and sisters in Christ. (Read More)
  • A Ugandan Pastor was the victim of an acid attack by people unhappy that he left the Muslim faith. (Read More)
  • The wife of a U.S. citizen is to be hanged for apostasy. The birth of a healthy baby is usually a joyous occasion. But when Meriam Ibrahim gave birth it triggered a two-year countdown to her execution.  The 27-year-old Sudanese doctor was sentenced to death for apostasy by a Sudanese court. In addition, she is to endure 100 lashes for the crime of committing adultery—with her Christian husband. (Read More)
I found these stories and many more on a website called The Voice of the Martyrs, a site that keeps us informed of persecution around the world, invites us to get involved and to pray for these tortured Believers.

It's easy to turn our head an not want to know or see what's happening, because it's so awful to imagine that people can be so cruel or that God doesn't seem to be protecting His people from these attacks.  We want to believe that as children of God, He puts up a shield that nothing can bad can penetrate, but that's not what Jesus said would happen. Here's what the Bible has to say about this...

  • In this world you will have trouble. (from John 16:33)
  • “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  (John 15:18-20) 
  • But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:1-12)
Brothers and Sisters, this world is not our home. We don't fit in. We are called apart for God's purposes, which puts us in direct conflict with Satan and those he influences for evil.

2 Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan the god of this world (KJV) or the god of this age (NIV). What does that mean?
The phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) indicates that Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions. (Read more)
Could God stop all this violence? Could He put an end to Satan and his evil influence on mankind? Of course He can...and He will, but for now, He has chosen to allow mankind the privilege of free will. We are free to chose our own behavior - for good or for bad.

Why would God do that? Why would he give man the right to choose?  I believe that it goes back to His desire to have a voluntary (on our part) loving relationship with His creation. He didn't want a bunch of robots that had no choice about whether to enter into a relationship with Him. He wants us to want Him...and so, He gave us free will. If He then decided to stop us every time we were about to do something wrong, we wouldn't have free choice, would we?

So, as the fifth seal is opened, we see the voices of the martyrs, those who have already been tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ, those who refused to recant their Christianity. They are crying out for justice. They are wondering how long it will be until God judges the inhabitants of the earth (those living and dead, evil and good). We will all be judged, however, those who have received Christ as our Savior will be judged in light of Christ's sacrifice and His blood that paid for our sins.

These martyrs were given white robes (signifying holiness) and were told to...
...wait a little longer until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (verse 11)
I have to admit, that bugs me. Why doesn't God end things now. Why wait for more of his children to be tortured and murdered?

Here's the bottom line - God has a plan, a specified time frame for the things he is doing. His time frame and mine are not the same. He knows who is yet to be saved. Everything will happen just as he knew it would and when the time is right, we will see the rest of the events in the book of Revelation take place. Until then, I will trust him and pray that I will be strong if I should ever face real persecution...and I will pray for my brothers and sister who are facing the horrors of it today.

Read more about God's timing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this passage or the topic of persecution. Please feel free to leave a comment to this post. (First time posts are moderated, then posted due to a large amount of spam posts I've gotten recently.)

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