Revelation of Hope
Introduction – In this Session we will complete Revelation Chapter 6 and see how this New Testament prophetic letter to the First Century Church was fulfilled in history. To the churches receiving the Revelation, this prophetic vision given to John would have comforted them and encouraged them during the persecutions and hardships that they faced.
It is important to de-mystify the book of Revelation and interpret it in the context of the First Century, Jesus prophesies in Matthew 24 and the history surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
What we believe about the future flavors the way we live our lives, minister to others, and the outlook we have regarding our destinies or life paths.
a) The Fifth Seal introduces us to the Martyrs that have been persecuted and killed because of the Word of God and their Testimony. The Word of God being mentioned here is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and specifically that Jesus is Messiah. Their testimony is their death confession of fidelity to Him.
b) As we learned in Chapters 2-3, that the Early Church was persecuted by the Roman Authorities and the Jews who rejected Jesus and considered Christianity a Jewish Messianic heresy. In fact the Jews did not consider Christianity a separate religion from Judaism until the Second Century. We know from history that Nero began an empire wide persecution of Christians after the Great Fire of AD 64, and eventually killed the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome. Some historians estimate that nearly 500,000 thousand Christians were put to death during this time of persecution. Nero was nicknamed the Beast by the Roman Senate and there are accounts of Nero dressing as a Beast and mauling the bodies of men and women as they were tied to stakes. Then they were eventually ignited at night to light Nero’s gardens.
c) Notice that the souls of the Martyrs are under the Altar. This is the Altar of Incense. We see a better description of it in Revelation 8. On this Altar there is no sacrifice for sin. Only the sacrifice of worship and prayer to the Lord. Martyrs who die in Christ are lovingly positioned in the place of deepest intimacy with Him.
Revelation 6:10 a) The Martyrs intercede for the justice of God to avenge their blood. In Genesis 4:10 we learn that blood has a voice. We also know from Leviticus 17:11 that it says life is in the blood.
b) Only the Lord is the righteous Judge. The judgments of God are perfect and holy, true and right.
a) It was mentioned earlier that the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls are the same narrative repeated in increasing intensity and scope of content.
b) The Martyrs were told to wait.
c) They were given a white robe to wear. This is the covering of purity, and innocence. First their faith is pure and true because they did not deny their Savior. Second, loving Christ is no crime and Christian character denies evil and wrong doing. Christianity expresses itself through acts of love, service, supernatural power, and grace.
d) God is slow to anger and full of lovingkindness. We see in Scripture that God gives people time and abundant opportunities to come to faith and experience His love and grace in their lives. Even the Apostle Paul said he tried to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ before his conversion on the road to Damascus.
e) In verse 11, we see that the Lord has a set limit to the number of those that have suffered for His Name. This is an expression of His sovereignty. Jesus pronounced judgment on Jerusalem in Matthew 23:34-35 – Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
Revelation 6:12 a) Matthew 27:45-54 says that darkness covered the land and an earthquake split rocks and tore the veil of the Temple in two. The darkness showed creation mourning the death of the Son, and earthquake that ripped the veil in two symbolized Jesus body being the true veil and through His torn body all have access to the Father.
a) To properly interpret this section and most of Revelation, we need to interpret it from the position of Hebrew/First Century thought and culture. In prophetic Scripture we see stars, moon and sun referring to governmental power and ruling authorities. We need to go back to Genesis to find the interpretation of this verse. See Genesis 37:9
b) Many times in Old Testament Scripture we see the stars, moon, sun, etc. being symbolic of ruling authorities and governmental powers. See Joel 2:10, Joel 3:15, Obadiah 1:4
c) What we have here is an intense description of the Lord overturning authorities and powers in Jerusalem. There was the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple that needed to fall as it was not useful anymore to mediate between humankind and God, the judgment of the governmental authorities who condemned Christ and denied Him being Messiah and we have the Old Covenant being put to death by the New Covenant that Jesus cut with His blood.
a) Josephus gives an account of the leaders and followers who were fighting the Romans during the siege of Jerusalem leaving the city and hiding in the subterranean caves in the area and hiding from the destruction of the Roman army. It was Josephus’ position that Jerusalem was being judged by God for Israel’s rebellion, the murder of James the Just and many other men who were considered holy.
b) We see that no one was able to stand and hide from the wrath of the Lamb as Jerusalem was judged for her rejection of Messiah.
c) Josephus Book 6, Chapter 9, Section 5 – “by God Himself, and fled immediately to that valley which is under Siloam, where they again recovered themselves out of the dread they were in for a while, and ran violently against that part of the Roman wall which lay on that side; but as their courage was too much depressed to make their attacks with sufficient force, and their power was now broken with fear and affliction, they were repulsed by the guards, and dispersing themselves at distances from each other, went down into the subterranean caverns.”
The Apocalypse Code – Hank Hanegraaff josephus.org The Story of Christian Theology, Olsen G. Davis Dean – The Revelation of Jesus Christ Blue Letter Bible.com Preterist Archive.com Charles Taylor – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – The Gospel of the Kingdom Loraine Boettner – The Millenium Harold Eberle – Victorious Eschatology Holman Bible Dictionary Strongs Concordance NIV – Interlinear Greek New Testament- NASB – Interlinear Greek New Testament Jonathan Welton – Raptureless George Peter Holford – The Destruction of Jerusalem Wikipedia Rapture Fever – Gary North The Prophets Dictionary – Price Early Christian Martyr Stories – Bryan M. Litfin Vines Expository Bible Dictionary