In this current series of writings, two previous articles described the events found in Revelation 4 and 5. These are crucial in understanding what happens directly after the Seals are opened in chapter 6. So far we have discussed the first four Seals in some detail with regard to the significance of each seal and the timing of the beginning of the “ride” of the four Horses of the Apocalypse. 

Just before we dig into the abundance of material relating to the Sixth Seal and what happens when it is opened, we must take a good look at the Fifth Seal for clues that would offer some insight into the timing of the Resurrection / Rapture event. A second question that we will hopefully receive some insight into is if there is an end to the time of persecution prophesied against Church Age believers, and when will it occur? 

Let’s begin…

9 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. 10 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?” 11 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.  Revelation 6:9-11

There are several important points to notice as we examine this passage of Scripture. The first four Seal Horses and Riders, although very real with literal physical consequences as they are released onto the physical earth, were and are still phantom / spirit beings. The Fifth Seal then introduces very real, literal persons and places. The Fifth Seal is not introducing a spirit being to create havoc on the earth, although the deaths of the saints being described is very much one of the consequences of the White Horse Rider and the religious deception and domination he offers to the world’s inhabitants. God’s purpose in showing John the opening of the Fifth Seal is to highlight the deaths of those who had died because of their testimony of Jesus Christ. John was also shown that their request for God’s vengeance would not be granted until the rest of those just like them who were still to be killed are gathered to their location. It is clear that there is a “full number” of these martyrs that will be reached, and only God knows what that number is. 

The word used to describe the violent death of Jesus Christ in Revelation 5 is “sphazo”. It is interesting to find that this is the same word used in the description of the deaths of these special saints of God. This brings up a fact we can glean from this passage. Not all believers who enter Heaven’s paradise go to the same location. Those who died violent deaths as martyrs are ushered into a place the Bible describes as being located “under the altar of God.” In our three-dimensional view, we may imagine this being rather limited in size, but we need to remember that neither God, nor His Heaven, is limited to the three-dimensional bubble we are familiar with. God is limitless and I’m sure God’s accommodations are quite sufficient for every one of them. We have a description of God’s Throne in Revelation 4 and 5 as being surrounded by myriads of angels, resurrected humans, and an untold number of other beings. So, how big is God’s Throne Room? We have no idea! Revelation 9:13 mentions this altar when the sixth trumpet of the Apocalypse is blown.

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God. (emphasis mine)

The souls John was shown were under this same altar directly before the throne of God. Their cry as innocents slain for their testimony is a constant reminder to God of the vengeance that is promised on their behalf. God has reserved the right to do the avenging that their innocent blood requires. The Apostle Paul mentioned God’s vengeance when writing to the Romans but he was referring to a passage in the Old Testament found in the book of Deuteronomy. 

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 

“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:35 

God does all things in perfect timing with His eternal plan. These martyrs ask how long until God avenges their blood? This would be an odd question for these martyred saints to be asking if they were killed during the time the Beast System is to rule the planet. Listed below are several reasons why.

  1. If these are martyrs who were killed for refusing the Mark of the Beast during the Great Tribulation, why would they already be asking for their blood to be avenged since that very same avenging has begun and progressed through the Sixth Trumpet judgment already. 
  2. If these are martyrs coming out of the Great Tribulation, they would already know the Apocalypse lasts seven years and would have no need to ask when their blood was to be avenged.
  3. If these are martyrs coming out of the Great Tribulation, it seems that they are getting impatient much too quickly. Not much time will have passed since their deaths. When we read their question in Revelation 6:10, we get the definite impression that they have been asking this question for a very long time. John’s vision in Revelation 4-5 is a representation of the Throne Room scene in the first century AD. The persecution and resulting martyrdom represented by the Fifth Seal includes the time period beginning at the ascension of Jesus to the Throne of God until the opening of the Sixth Seal. If that is truly the case, then these martyred saints have been awaiting the answer to their question for hundreds of years—some of them for nearly the entire 2,000 years of the Church Age. If these martyrs are viewed as being from the first century up to the present, there is no confusion in the chronology of events whereas, if we see this vision as representative of the time near the end of the Great Tribulation, the chronology becomes confused. 

We know, of course, that there will be martyrs during the Apocalypse. The time of the Great Tribulation will be one of great hatred for those who choose to serve God instead of the One World Government which will be in place. Because they will refuse to bow to the demands of the Antichrist by receiving his mark on their forehead or right hand, they will be executed. The verses below are two passages making mention of those who are martyred for their testimony of Jesus during the Great Tribulation. 

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the Beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the Beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. Revelation 15:2

These saints that are martyred during the Great Tribulation are a separate group from the huge multitude of believers (including the martyrs of the Church Age) already caught up to Heaven at an earlier time. Instead, these are those who were martyred because of their refusal to become part of the Antichrist’s system and worship him or his image. They will be executed during the second 42-month period of the Apocalypse after the Mark of the Beast has been established. This is a specific period of time in the near future and has nothing to do with the 2,000 year Church Age, therefore has no connection to the Fifth Seal of Revelation 6.

There is another important fact that we can glean from the answer given to the martyrs of the Fifth Seal when they asked, “how long?” God told them to rest a little longer until the full number of their fellow servants yet to be martyred are gathered together with them. This tells us that there will be one special martyr who will fulfill the completed number that God has already determined as the cut-off point in His eternal plan. Until that full number has been reached, the martyrs will continue to cry out to the Lord, “how long until…??” 

One principle taught in the Bible that we don’t hear much about has to do with the hatred God has for the spilling of innocent blood. This is referred to many times in Scripture, beginning in Genesis 4 when Cain murdered his brother Abel and spilled his innocent blood. God’s response to this spilling of innocent blood should be of special interest to us. When God confronted Cain for his sin, He said these words:

“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10 (emphasis mine)

God confronted Him, not just for murdering his brother but specifically for spilling his innocent blood—which apparently cried out to God from the ground. Incidentally, this was after God had already spoken to Cain about his anger at his brother because God accepted Abel’s offering but not his. 

Note these passages:

16 These are six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood…Proverbs 6:16-17

47 “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute’, 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.” Luke 12:47-51

Interestingly, history records how General Titus Vespasian along with his armies of Roman soldiers ransacked and destroyed the temple of God in 70 AD. This was the judgment Jesus spoke of for the innocent blood shed, from Abel all the way through Zechariah. That judgment was on the land, which we find was a principle established originally in the law of Moses. One year after the temple was sacked, the city of Jerusalem was plowed with salt and Jerusalem laid desolate for many years to come. 

That was one judgment for spilling innocent blood, but there was another. Another batch of innocent blood began to be collected in God’s cup of indignation and wrath throughout the next 2,000 years, which will end the Church Age with the last martyr to complete the “full number” of martyrs to be killed. We learn the responsibility for the shedding of this innocent blood later on in the Book of Revelation.

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. 22 The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. 23 The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” Revelation 18:21-24

SIDE NOTE:  There are several entities referred to as “Babylon” in the Scriptures. The Bible speaks of Babylon the city, Babylon, the empire ruled by Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and others, Babylon the Great, Mystery Babylon, and the Daughter of Babylon. Going into the individual identities of each of these will be saved for another time, but Babylon as an end-time world system will be judged during the Apocalypse. 

In Revelation 17, we have a passage identifying Mystery Babylon as being drunk with the blood of the saints. Let’s see what John was instructed to write:

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY BABYLON, THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. Revelation 17:3-6

God’s retribution came for the Old Testament saints in 70 AD. His retribution for the innocent blood of the Church Age saints will come beginning with the Sixth Seal—as will be explained in Part 7 of this series. And His vengeance upon a wicked, Christ-rejecting world will be poured out during the 7-year Apocalypse which the prophet Joel called, “The Great and Terrible Day of the LORD”.  During this time, once again, the innocent blood of the saints of God will be avenged. It was God who said, “Vengeance is Mine!

Praise God, the true followers of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will not experience God’s judgment on this fallen world. Jesus bore the payment for our sins on the cross of Calvary. He then rose from the dead and promised that all who believe in Him will be resurrected just as He was, and we will live eternally in the presence of the One who created us in His own image. Soon and very soon!

–Continued In Part Seven–

Jake Geier      


1 thought on “Chronology of the Seals in Revelation 6……Part Six

  1. Great insight to the tribulation martyrs and pretrib martyrs, and what state the government will be in. The scripture about being drunk in the blood of the saints, made me think what a euphoria state they would be in, that their flesh desires are fully given over to satan. As a believer in Christ I want to be Spirit lead, but my flesh’s ugly head does rise up and have to put it in its place with word & faith. people will fully give themselves over not only to the lusts of this world, but the deaths of believers. John the Baptist was be headed because of it.
    Again great insight!!

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