February 18, 2014.
Revelation is often viewed as a scary book to most Christians. Some are brave enough to dive into the great liturgical abyss, but most of us steer clear. I was like that until this previous summer, where I found a really good podcast sermon series on the concluding book. I now see that there are some gems that we can pull from Revelation and that it is not as scary as we make it out to be.
Perhaps I will dig deeper into this book as my posts progress, but today I wish to focus on just one little section from which we can pull some application to our lives. It is possible, as with most of Revelation, that the interpertation that I think sheds the most truth on this passage may not be at all what it means. But Iw will do my best.
“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 witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”
John has been called into the spirit to be a witness of a prophecy filled with imagery and splendor. This passage comes in the middle of the breaking of the seven seals, each displaying a different scene. The fifth seal shows a picture of martyred saints under the alter pleading for justice the world over. “How long?” Their cry of lament seems almost heart breaking. But they are given a white robe and told to wait.
How long? Until the number was completed. Or until the number is completed. The second coming of our Lord will come when the number of souls that are to be added to the kingdom is satisfied. This says to me that God has a number, a known number, and is patiently waiting. Now, without getting to far in assuming implications of what that means, I am simply saying that He knows how many are to be saved (and how many are to be martyred, as this passage specifically deals with), because he knows all.
What does that mean for us? How can we apply that to our lives? It means we still have a job to do. We will have work to do until the day he returns, or the day the number is complete. There are some who say that they are ready for the return; whereas I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing (for Paul himself seemed to long for the return of Christ), I believe we need to remember that if he were to come back now, so many would still be lost. It’s our job to bring the gospel to the world, and as long as we still have time, we should be very concerned about that number and ever pressing to reach its fulfillment. I tend to think that the number is as large as is possible.
Suggested Daily Reading: Romans 6, 9, I Peter 3, Revelation 6.
Let us work in the vineyard of The Lord.