Revelation 6:9-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 27, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

It’s been awhile since we’ve been in Revelation.  Let’s review:

John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos for his faith when he sees a vision of the future. John saw a door opened in heaven and he was caught up before the throne of God. He began to describe what he saw.

He sees God sitting on His throne in heaven.  He sees twenty-four elders with golden crowns, the four living creatures known as the cherubim. And lots of worship.

In chapter five, John sees a scroll in the hand of God, the title deed of the earth. Man had sold his inheritance to Satan when Adam sinned, and what we will be seeing over the next thirteen chapters is the process by which Jesus redeems the earth back for man.

As Jesus opens each seal of the scroll, events take place on the earth.

When each of the first four seals are broken, a “horse” and rider are released on the earth – these are known as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.

1st seal:  The Antichrist steps on the scene
2nd seal:  War breaks out
3rd seal:  Economic chaos
4th seal:  Death – one fourth of earth’s population dies.

6:9-11 Fifth Seal:  Martyrs

: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.

:9 underhupokato (“under” + “down”) – under, underneath

:9 altarthusiasterion – the altar for slaying and burning of victims used of altar for burnt offerings as well as the altar of incense

:9 under the altar

When an animal was slain in the Old Testament, the majority of the blood from the sacrifice would poured out under the altar (Ex. 29:12).

(Ex 29:12 NKJV) You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar.
(Le 4:7 NKJV) And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood of the bull at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

You are seeing a picture painted here of sacrifice.  These people have been sacrificed.

:9 soulspsuche – breath; the soul; the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)

It’s interesting that John can “see” the souls.

:9 who had been slainsphazo – to slay, slaughter, butcher

:9 fordia – through; by reason of; on account of

:9 wordlogos – word

God speaking through people – the Bible

This is also John’s word to describe Jesus.

(Jn 1:1 NKJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

:9 testimonymarturia – a testifying; what one testifies, testimony, i.e. before a judge

:9 slain for the word of God and for the testimony

Later we will read about the great cosmic battle between God’s kingdom and Satan.  Notice the key to the victory over Satan:

(Re 12:10–11 NKJV) —10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Here in the Tribulation, we see how these saints will have the victory – it will come even when they are dying.


Ready to die

These people will have given up their lives for what they believe in.
They are as sacrifices for the gospel.  They were willing to accept whatever trouble came their way because of Jesus.
Look at Paul’s concept of how he handled trouble in his life.
(Ro 8:31–39 NKJV) —31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Though we have it pretty easy in America, there may be a day when it becomes harder to speak and live like a believer in Jesus Christ.

Paul was convinced that nothing, including death, could separate him from the love of God – and you see a picture of this in heaven – these souls have made it into heaven, and God is paying attention to their cries.

What are you willing to do for the Word of God and your testimony?
I’m afraid that some of us have lost our eternal perspective.  We complain because Krispy Kreme ran out of our favorite donut, when we ought to be concerned about people we know spending eternity in hell.

Jim Elliot was a young man who wanted to serve God with his whole life.  In 1956, he was a part of a team of Bible translators that went into the jungles of Ecuador to bring Christ to a forgotten people.  On January 8, 1956, he and his four team mates were killed by the tribal people they came to help.  And yet his death would set things in motion for his very killers to one day come to Christ.

This is what he wrote in his journal seven years before dying:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

You are going to give your life for something.  It might be pleasure or it might be money.  It could be to serve the Lord.  What will it be?


A Roman coin was once found with the picture of an ox on it; the ox was facing two things—an altar and a plough; and the inscription read: “Ready for either”. The ox had to be ready either for the supreme moment of sacrifice on the altar or the long labor of the plough on the farm.

God’s desire is that we be ready for either.

It may be that we would be asked to offer up our own lives as a sacrifice to Him.

It certainly means that we are to be a “living sacrifice”, plowing a field for the Lord.

: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?”

:10 Lorddespotes – a master, Lord; relates only to a slave and denotes absolute ownership and uncontrolled power

:10 holyhagios – holy, pure

:10 truealethinos – real, true genuine; opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended

:10 judgekrino – to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose; to judge

:10 avengeekdikeo – to vindicate one’s right, do one justice; to avenge a thing

Comes from dike – right, just


Proper vengeance

Sometimes we get the notion that as a Christian, it’s wrong to even think of vengeance, of making things right. 
We think it’s not the Christian thing to do.
We ought to turn the other cheek.
I heard a story about a truck driver who dropped in at an all-night restaurant in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The waitress had just served him when three swaggering, leather-jacketed motorcyclists—of the Hell’s Angels type—entered and rushed up to him, apparently spoiling for a fight. One grabbed the hamburger off his plate; another took a handful of his French fries; and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it.
The trucker did not respond as one might expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away into the night.
When she returned, one of the cyclists said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?”
She replied, “I can’t answer as to that, but he’s not much of a truck driver. He just ran over three motorcycles out in the parking lot.”
Look what Paul tells us about vengeance:
(Ro 12:17–19 NKJV) —17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

God promises that He WILL repay.

Here in heaven, these martyrs are asking God to take vengeance.
They are handling it properly – putting it in God’s hands.
Vengeance is okay, but it must be done properly and justly, and for us, that means that we put it in God’s hands, we let God take care of vengeance.

: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.

:11 robestole – an equipment; an equipment in clothes, clothing; spec. a loose outer garment for men extending to the feet, worn by kings, priests, and persons of rank

:11 whiteleukos – light, bright, brilliant; brilliant from whiteness, (dazzling) white

:11 white robe

The Bible talks about our soul after death being “unclothed”.

(2 Co 5:1–5 NKJV) —1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

At the Rapture, a resurrection takes place and we will clothed with a new resurrected body.

(2 Co 5:1–5 NKJV) —1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

If this is after the Rapture (and we think it is since the Rapture took place in Rev. 4:1), then these people are among those who will die for their faith at the beginning of the Tribulation.

The white robes speak of the “deeds” that these people have done.

(Re 19:8 NKJV) And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

It has been suggested that these white robes are “temporary” bodies, and that these Tribulation martyrs will receive their final resurrected bodies at the time of the end.

(Re 20:4 NKJV) —4 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.

:11 the number… was completedpleroo – to make full, i.e. to fill to the full

Us prophecy buffs often talk about the “fullness of the Gentiles” bringing about the Rapture – that there is a number out there of people who God wants to get saved before the End Times events start unraveling.

Sometimes at the Harvest Crusade I wonder if that last person is getting saved and we’ll all be taken to heaven.

Here’s another number that’s waiting to be filled, one not so pleasant.

There will be a number of people to be martyred for their faith, and at this point in the Tribulation, there are more who will die.

Why does God allow this to go on?  Why doesn’t God just bring it all to an end?

(2 Pe 3:9 The Message)  God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
Those who have trusted in Jesus have eternal life.  If some of them have to give up their earthly life, that’s okay because they will be in heaven.
But God waits to bring judgment on the unbelieving world in order to give those who don’t know Christ a chance to repent.
This is the sense of our “sacrifice”, being willing if necessary even to die so that others might have a chance to find Jesus.

9:12-17 Sixth Seal:  Cosmic Trouble

:12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake;

:12 earthquakeseismos – a shaking, a commotion; a tempest; an earthquake

:12 greatmegas – great

:12 a great earthquake

Last April (2011) Japan was hit with a 9.0 earthquake, followed by a Tsunami.  Over 15,000 people died.  It is ranked 5th in worst earthquakes to hit the planet in modern times, but the most costliest in terms of property damage.

The greatest earthquake in modern recorded time was in 1960, in Valdivia, Chile, registering 9.5 in magnitude.

The deadliest earthquake of all time so far took place in Shaanxi, China in 1556.  Over 800,000 people died when China was hit with an estimated 8.0 earthquake.

There is an even bigger earthquake coming:

(Re 16:18 NKJV) And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.

:12 and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.

:12 sunhelios – the sun; the rays of the sun; the light of day

:12 blackmelas – black; black ink

:12 sackclothsakkos – a sack; a course cloth, a dark course stuff made especially from the hair of animals

:12 hairtrichinos – made of hair

:12 moonselene – the moon

:12 bloodhaima – blood

:12 the sun became black

This is part of the classic description of the coming of the “day of the LORD”, the time of the end:

(Joe 2:30–31 NKJV) —30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

Jesus referred to it as well:

(Mt 24:29 NKJV) “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Peter quotes this on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers, fulfilling part of Joel’s vision:

(Ac 2:15–21 NKJV) —15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

:13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.

:13 starsaster – a star

:13 fig treesuke fig

:13 dropsballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls; to scatter, to throw, cast into

:13 late figsolunthos – an unripe fig which grows during the winter, yet does not come to maturity but falls off in the spring

:13 mightymegas – great

:13 windanemos – wind, a violent agitation and stream of air; a very strong tempestuous wind

:13 shakenseio – to shake, agitate, cause to tremble

:14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.

:14 skyouranos – heaven; the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it; the aerial heavens or sky

:14 recededapochorizo – to separate, sever; to part asunder; to separate one’s self, depart from

:14 scrollbiblion – a small book, a scroll, a written document

:14 rolled upheilisso – to roll up or together

:14 mountainoros – a mountain

:14 islandnesos – an island

:14 was movedkineo – to cause to go, i.e. to move, set in motion

:14 the sky receded as a scroll

Could this be a description of a nuclear bomb being detonated?  Watch as the sky “rolls up”.

Play Tsar Bomba clip

There are descriptions of the events of the last days that we now sometimes compare to things like thermonuclear war.

It may be that God will use mankind’s own weapons against him, or it could be that God will unleash things like volcanoes that are similar to nuclear war.

:15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,

:15 kingsbasileus – leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king

:15 great menmegistanes – the grandees, magnates, nobles, chief men

:15 rich menplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources

:15 commanderschiliarchos – a chiliarch, the commander of a thousand soldiers

:15 mighty mendunatos – able, powerful, mighty, strong

:15 slavedoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

:15 free maneleutheros – freeborn; in a civil sense, one who is not a slave

:16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

:15 the kings of the earth, the great men …

It’s not just the rich and powerful that are among the group hiding in bunkers, but the slave and free man are among those seeking shelter.

Makes me think of the movies where they take you to the NORAD command center buried deep in the Colorado mountains.

:16 rockspetra – a rock, cliff or ledge

:16 faceprosopon – the face; countenance, look

:16 Him who sits on the throne

This is God the Father

:16 wrathorge – anger, wrath, indignation; anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself

:16 wrath of the Lamb

Quite an interesting choice of words.

How could you be afraid of the “wrath” of a cute little Lamb?

:17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

:17 the great day of His wrath


Time of wrath

This period of time known as the “Tribulation” is a time when the wrath of God is unleashed on the earth.
Some people have set up a false idea that if God is a God of “love”, then there can’t be any sense of judgment or wrath.
The truth is that God is not only “love”, but He is “just” as well.
The concept of “justice” is at the root idea behind the word for “avenge” in verse 10.
When you think about it, we all like the idea of justice.
We all long for a day when evil will be punished and wrongs are made right.
God’s justice, God’s wrath, is a part of the Tribulation.


Who can stand?

That’s the real question.  Who can stand up to God’s judgment?
We like the idea of sin being punished, as long as it’s not my sin.
I want mercy, not judgment.
God has made a provision for us by sending Jesus to die in our place.  Jesus took our punishment so we wouldn’t have to.
(2 Co 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to pay for the sins of the world.
Isaiah wrote,
(Is 53:5 NKJV) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
I want to show you a little footage of the Samaritan Passover, where the Samaritans still carry on the traditions of the sacrificial lamb. 

Play SourceFlix clip “The Sacrificial Lamb

How do we escape God’s judgment?  By accepting God’s payment for our sins which paves the way for us to be forgiven.  We are saved by believing in Jesus.
(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
When we come to put our life into God’s hands and have “faith” in Jesus, then God is forgives us because the price for our sin has already been paid.
We no longer find ourselves facing the judgment of God.
(1 Th 5:9 NKJV) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

This is one reason why I believe the church will not go through the Tribulation.  The Tribulation is a time of wrath, and we have not been appointed to wrath.

Will you be able to stand the day of God’s wrath?
Have you put your life into Jesus’ hands?
Is this fair?
People will say, “So Charles Manson can go to heaven if he asks Jesus to forgive him on his deathbed?”
In one sense, there is nothing fair about it.  Why did God have to send His perfect, sinless Son to die in our place?  What’s fair about that?
On the other hand, this is what mercy is all about.  In reality we are no different from Charles Manson in that we too have sinned and are deserving of judgment.


Harder to repent

The people in the Tribulation will have an awareness that the things that are happening are coming from heaven itself.
Yet instead of repenting and asking God for help, they are running and hiding from Him.
It will not be easier to come to Christ during the Tribulation, it will be harder.
You might say, “Well I’ll just wait and see if this all happens, and then I’ll accept Christ”. You are being a fool.
If you can’t open your eyes to the truth about Jesus now, you are going to have a harder time when the world has fallen under the spell of the Antichrist.
Paul wrote,
(2 Th 2:9–12 NKJV) —9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Do you “love the truth”?  Open your heart to Jesus.

Today is the day.  It’s time to start living for Jesus.  It’s time to have your life aimed at eternity.