Revelation 6:1-17 Part 9

1)    And I watched when the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals; and I heard one of the four creatures speaking as thunderous sound: “COME”!

2)    And, LO!  A white horse.  And the One sitting upon it holding a bow, a crown having been given to Him.  And He did come out overcoming and that He may overcome.

3)    And when He did open the second seal, I heard the second creature speaking: “COME”!

4)    And another did come out, a red horse; and to the one sitting upon it having been given to take the peace from the earth, so that one might slaughter the other, a great sword having been given to him.

5)    And when He did open the third seal, I heard the third creature speaking: “COME”!  And, LO!  A black horse, and the one sitting upon it holding a scale in his hand.

6)    And I heard as it were a sound in midst of the four creatures, saying “a chaenix of corn for a denarious, and three chaenixes of barley for a denarious; and do not unjustly injure the olive tree and the vine”.

7)    And when He opened the fourth seal I heard a sound from the fourth creature speaking: “COME”!

8)    And, LO!  A pale horse.  And the one sitting upon it named “the death”, and “the hades” was following him closely; and authority was given them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with famine, with plague, and by the beasts of the earth.

9)    And when He did open the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of the testimony that they were holding.

10) And in a great sound they did cry out, saying “until when, holy and worthy Master, are You not judging and avenging our blood from those dwelling on the earth?

11) And a white priestly garment was given to each one, and it was spoken to them that they should rest themselves yet a little time until also their fellow-servants and brothers who are about to be killed even as they should be fulfilled.

12) And when He did open the sixth seal a great shaking did occur, and the sun became as black as sackcloth hair, and the entire moon became as blood,

13) And the stars of heaven did fall into the earth as a fig tree casts her winter figs upon being shaken by a great wind,

14) And the heaven was swept aside as a scroll being rolled up, and all the mountains and islands were moved out of their places.

15) And the kings of the earth and the great men and the princes and the chiliarchs and the wealthy and the powerful and every slave and free did conceal themselves into the caverns and into the clefts of the mountains

16) and saying to the mountains and the rocks, “fall upon us and conceal us from the Presence of the One sitting upon the throne and the wrath of the Lamb,

17) because the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”



As we begin the second half of chapter six we will see, as the Lamb looses the fifth seal, the martyrs of our Lord’s Church at the end of the age.  And then in the last sermon in chapter six, with the loosing of the sixth seal John is shown what is soon to be the avenging of those who have died because of the Word of God and because of their testimonies.

As the elders read John’s letter to the Churches in the nations, the “beginning of travail” has been loosed by the Lamb – soon to give birth to a beautiful “daughter of Zion”.  And although all over Israel there is killing by the sword, and great famine and plagues and pestilence, there is also no shortage of misery, distress and vexation among the Lord’s people that have fled Israel at our Lord’s direction in Matthew 24.

The tribulations depicted in this letter were becoming all too real for the hearers in the Churches.  Not only was there an oppressive and dictatorial Roman government that now ruled the entire world, but our Lord had made it perfectly clear to His disciples that the princes and priests and pharisees would pursue and persecute and kill those who believed in this man Jesus and His soon-to-be Parousia.

Jesus also made it clear to them that, for the pursuit and persecution and murder of His people who held to His testimony, the blood of all the righteous, from Able to Zechariah, would be laid to their account.  And the Lord’s people would have known all of that from the preaching of the apostles – not to mention their letters.

They also knew what they had been taught about the blood… that “life” was in the blood.  The Hebrew word is “nefesh”; the Greek word is “psuche”, most often translated “soul”.  That translation (and the misunderstanding of it) has given rise to much bad theology and much deviant understanding of human life.  The “life” is in the blood (not the “soul” is in the blood).  More about that in a bit.

But because of the incessant and malicious pursuit of Christ’s people in the nations by judaists, and with Romanists’ cooperation with judaists in the persecution of Christians, and by the sheer weight of oppression by a pagan world government, the refugees from Israel knew anguish up close and personal.

Not only had the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” received the apostles when they were found; and not only had they followed the resurrected and ascended Christ in “the Way”, but they had also agreed to be expatriated (or emigrated) into a pagan world as they were commanded by Jesus, and as recorded by both Matthew and Luke.

Leaving “heaven and earth” – the land – the place of their forefathers for fifteen hundred years would have been difficult.  Leaving tribal members and close family members (those who did not receive the apostles of Christ) would have been excruciating.  Leaving homes and land and memories and valuables in order to go to some other place that was unknown and pagan would have been insufferable and anxiety producing – not to mention being very uncomfortable and dangerous.

But, in addition, each of these Churches would know persecution.  And each would know the extreme anguish of having some of its own persecuted to the extent of imprisonment and execution “because of the Word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (verse nine).

Our Lord had placed a very high value on His Church and its members (Matthew twenty-four) when He told His disciples that their pursuers would suffer the consequences of all the blood of the righteous.

The pursuit and persecution of His apostles and the lost sheep of the house of Israel was the final stroke, the greatest provocation, leading to the overwhelming inundation of Israel in the wrath of the Lamb.  Please note that Jesus did not say that His Own humiliation and crucifixion and burial was the last and greatest provocation; but the persecution of His Church by Judaists was the most vexing offence to the risen and ascended Lord.

Now, please listen to our Lord as recorded by the apostle Matthew, chapter fifteen:


“And having gone out from there, Jesus withdrew to the areas of Tyre and Sidon.

And lo, a Canaanite woman having come out from those regions cried out saying, ‘Pity me Lord, Son of David; my daughter is grievously demon-possessed!’

But He did not respond to her a word.  And His disciples, having approached Him, were requesting Him saying, ‘Send her away, she keeps on crying out from behind us.’

But answering He said, ‘I was not sent except to the sheep that have been lost of the house of Israel.’

But having come she was paying homage to Him saying, ‘Lord help me.’

But answering He said, ‘It is not good to take the bread of the children and throw it to the dogs.’

But she said, ‘Yea, Lord, for even the dogs eat from the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.’

Then answering Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith.  Let it be to you as you will.’


Our Lord, here in Matthew fifteen, plainly states to His disciples that He came (exclusively) for the purpose of finding the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And that, of course, was what He did.  But in the meantime we have received another of many indications of the covenant about to be extended to the nations… for this was a “Gentile” woman.

But the point here is, that the sheep of His pasture had been left blind, deaf, sick, crooked, robbed of their property, and left untended and unguided by the “shepherds” of Israel, who were commanded to lead the flock in the Word of God.  But, instead, the princes and priests and scribes of Israel had left God’s garden decimated by their idolatry and harlotry.

And now they want to pursue and persecute and kill the very ones Who our Lord has rescued!  They had caused God’s sheep to be in the condition they were in; and now they will oppress them and harass them and torture them and further victimize them – and falsely accuse them before Roman magistrates (just as they did with Jesus), and having many of them imprisoned and executed!

These are the beginnings of the Lord’s Church in the nations!  These are the ones who our God had kept for Himself out of Israel, and they had not bowed the knee to Israel’s idols.  These are the refugee remnant of the holy noble vine and the green olive tree.  These are the ones who the Son of God/Son of man came to seek and to save (as He told His disciples).  These are the ones who the apostles and deacons and elders spent thirty or thirty-five years of their lives hunting and finding and deporting before the Parousia of Jesus Christ!  These are the ones for whom all the offerings were received of the Churches for the Church in Jerusalem (expatriating twelve thousand people from each tribe was not an inexpensive proposition!).

And lastly (but certainly not the least in importance), these are the ones out of Israel for whom Jesus Christ died.  And these are the ones who the princes and priests and elders and scribes of Israel were pursuing in order to discredit them, in order to persecute them, in order to imprison them, and in order to kill them.

As was said last Lord’s Day, every single one of those who God had held for Himself as His Own were rescued in advance of the wrath of the Lamb.  They were not to be executed as the harlot; they were not to be drowned in the flood as idolators; they were not to be included in the zizanium to be burned; they were not to be scattered as chaff in the wind; they were not to die of starvation and be eaten by wild animals; they were not to die as hypocrites by “the death” and “the hades”; and they were not to be terminated as covenant breakers at the Parousia of Jesus Christ as He came in the glory cloud to “snap shut” heaven and earth like a metal scroll.

However, that’s not to say that many did not die.  Many did.  Many of God’s people, then living in the nations, were pursued, falsely accused, persecuted, beaten, imprisoned and killed.

But they were not killed for being members of the harlot; they were not killed as hypocrites.  They were killed because of the Word of God and because of their testimony to the Christ and His Parousia (verse nine).  They were steadfast in the Faith, and they died as martyrs for Christ’s Church.

That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?  In one instance they were saved from the wrath of the Lamb; in the other they were martyred for the sake of the Lamb.  In the one instance they were not covenant breakers; in the other they were covenant keepers.

In both instances they belonged to God, having been washed in the blood of the sacrifice… they were ones for whom Christ died.  And their persecution was the last, and the greatest, incitement of the wrath of God, for their persecutors were judaists (as our Lord said they would be).  And in many cases the judaists used the Romanists as co-conspirators in the persecution of Christ’s Church.

And having shed His blood and dying for them (for the life is in the blood), and having made them newborn babes in His humanity, He loved them.  And their deaths for the Name of Jesus justified our Lord’s attributing all of the blood of the righteous in history to their persecutors.  He charged Israel with all of the blood of the righteous.

This was the ultimate denial, you see; the ultimate repudiation, the ultimate offense to God… to persecute and kill those for whom the Son of God/Son of Man shed His Own blood.

You remember, of course, the priest of Israel – Caiaphas….  the one who stood before the Sanhedrin during the trial of Jesus.   And he uttered the words, “It is right that one man should die for Israel”.  He didn’t realize that he had spoken the truth as was prophesied.  But how he meant it was that this man Jesus had to die in order to save Israel from the wrath of Rome.  An uprising from this man and the thousands of His followers would have brought the armies.  But, of course, what he did not understand was that killing this man and the ensuing pursuit of His followers would bring the armies of Rome!  And killing Jesus did save all of Israel… just not the way Caiaphas meant it.

But at the loosing of the fifth seal (verse nine) by the Lamb of God, John sees an altar appear.  And under it, or at the base of it, were the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and the testimony that they were holding.

What John is caused to see here at the loosing of the seal is the altar before the door of the tabernacle.  It is the place where the sacrifices were slaughtered.  There was constructed a trench all around the altar so that the blood of the sacrifices would run down the sides of the altar and pool around its base.  So all around the altar was this trench filled with the blood of the sacrifices. 

And that’s what John sees here; but the blood is of those who have been slain because of their “testimony”.

Testimony is an excellent word here, for the covenant is the legal relationship that our Triune God had declared in existence with Israel – to which Israel responded in the affirmative – a covenant to which they never adhered!  And here at the end of the age (the time for the indictment and execution) the testimony provided by our Lord’s people in the Churches confirmed the Truth of Christ’s imminent Parousia and final execution of the adulterous nation.  And for their testimony (the confirmation of the Truth) they, themselves, were executed!  And for the gross injustice of condemning true testimony, Israel’s execution was potentiated!  The blood of all the righteous in history was laid to their account.

But listen to Moses, in Leviticus seventeen, as He writes God’s very words with regard to the blood:


8)    And you shall say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,

9)    And brings it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

10) And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

11) For the life of the flesh is the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the life (or person).

12) Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No person of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood.


The life is the blood; the blood gives life to the flesh; the blood is the life.  That’s how God created us.  That’s how we’re sustained. When our Lord shed His blood, He gave His life… His Person.  His blood – the life of the Son of God – was the satisfaction of the wrath of God for the lives of His people… their persons. 

The word “soul” in the common translations is an unfortunate one, for not only does it leave the impression that the “soul” is in the blood, but it also has spawned many errant ideas of humanity being bi-partite or tri-partite.  That could also be stated as bi-anthropic or tri-anthropic. That means, according to some, that man is two – or three – different entities… i.e. body and soul, or body, soul and spirit.  But such is not the case.  Man functions in a number of different ways, and on a number of different levels; but we are “persons”.  Not three different parts, but one person.  And blood is our life-support!  “The life is in the blood.”

Pagans all through history have known that the shedding of blood is a ritual having to do with life (or they would never have sacrificed to idols).  Many pagans have incorporated the eating (or drinking) of blood into their rituals.  They know that life is in the blood, and they drink the blood of their victims in order that the life of those victims might become their own.  The practice, of course, is a highly mystical, cultic and satanic one, instigated by a deviant understanding of God’s Revelation regarding blood.  Since the “life” is in the blood, murders and sacrifices in pagan cults are for the purpose of “eating” or “drinking” blood in order to ingest the “life” of another.

But God had ordered that His people not eat the blood.  It is pagan to drink the life of another – man or beast.  For the altar of sacrifice in the tabernacle prophesied and foreshadowed that the life was in the blood of the Christ… not in the blood of beasts or other humans. 

And that’s why we drink the wine at communion, for it is the sign and seal of the new covenant – through Faith – in the blood of the Christ.  It was His blood shed at the altar for our life!  His life (the blood) for our life.

Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me”.

John sees the altar; and the blood of the martyrs is trenched up around it at its base.  It is the “persons”; it is the life of those who, having faced persecution, torture and death, have held to the testimony.  It’s not their “souls”; it is their blood!  And the life is in the blood.  The unrighteous officers of the covenant have shed the blood of the righteous, and their blood cries out for the vengeance of the Lord.

The priests of Israel, by God’s Law of the sacrifices, are the ones who spilled the blood of the sacrifice into the trench at the base of the altar.  So if the martyrs’ blood is flowing around the base of the altar, as John sees it in the heaven, then it must be the priests of Israel who have spilled it!

After the four horsemen of Zechariah chapter one have been sent on their mission of “the beginning of travails”, John sees the martyrs asking how long the “Master” will continue to put up with Jerusalem and its pursuit of Christ’s Church.  They’ve now spilled the blood of the Lord’s people!  As Jesus and the apostles testified, Jerusalem was the murderer of the prophets (Matthew 23).  The connection with “the blood of Abel” crying out from the ground near the altar in Genesis 4:10 is further indication that this passage refers to judgment upon Jerusalem.

And so the blood of the righteous cries out for the days of vengeance (Luke 21:22):  “until when, holy and worthy Master, are You not judging and avenging our blood from those dwelling on the earth?”  Our Lord Jesus Christ promised it!  How long will it be?  That’s a faithful question, you see!  The vengeance is prophesied… our Lord Himself said it.  How long before we are avenged?

The earth, as we’ve seen so many times from Scripture, is Israel, formed by God as the new heaven and earth – the new Edenic paradise – the land of milk and honey.  And she was promised by God, through Moses, that should she not obey the covenant, she would be de-created.

And the blood of the martyrs is crying out for that decreation, when the sun and the moon and the stars and the hills and the mountains and the waters and the crops and the animals and the people all disappear from the cosmos in the fiery inundation of Jesus’ Parousia.

And John sees the lives, the persons, who have been pursued and killed by the princes and priests and elders and scribes of Israel, (he sees them) receive the white robes of cleansing in the blood of the Christ.  And they are told to rest themselves, for there are more martyrs to come… more spilling of the blood by which our Lord’s perfect justice will be satisfied, thereby avenging the blood of all those for whom our Lord died.  Before the days of vengeance there will be more whose lives will be spilled into the trench before the altar.

There is one interesting and exciting word here in our text which we must quickly address before we finish this morning.  And that is the word translated “Master” in verse ten.  “Holy and worthy Master…” is what Jesus is called by His martyrs.

The Greek word is despotes – transliterated “despot” in English… the Owner/Lord of the house is a “despotes”.  Listen to Second Peter chapter two:


“But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”


And from Jude’s letter:


1)    Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

2)    Mercy unto you and peace and love be multiplied.

3)    Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.

4)    For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.


The use of the word “despotes” with reference to our Lord Jesus Christ is rare, and only occurs in connection with the house of Israel as the time nears for judgment upon the “house”.

Both Peter and Jude exhort the Churches to steadfast faithfulness, and to be very aware of false prophets and false teachers as the Churches are persecuted from without and from within.  And they both address the Lord Jesus Christ as the “despot” – the Master – who has a right to His Own, and Who freely exercises the power over His Own house – to save it or to dispose of it.  Despotes is most assuredly a covenantal word; and it is certainly a word closely connected to our Lord’s Parousia, as we clearly see in our text.

Now, lastly, some words of exhortation.

That this blunt cry from Jesus’ martyrs for vengeance strikes many of today’s Christians as strange, just shows how far we are from a Biblical worldview.   You see, there is a faithful cry for vengeance in the heaven!  And John records it!

I would think that if our Churches were acquainted with the Psalms and great hymns in their singing, rather than the syrupy hymns and choruses and praise rock that characterize modern evangelical music, we would probably be better able to understand the Biblical cry for justice, judgment and vengeance.  The Church just doesn’t know the Psalms.

But we have fallen under a pagan delusion that it is somehow “unchristian” to pray for God’s judgment upon the enemies and persecutors of Christ’s Church.  Yet there is, as I said, a recorded faithful cry for vengeance right here in the text, which was answered with a positive response from the throne!  And that’s also what we see God’s faithful people doing, with His approval, all through the older and newer Scripture. 

And now listen to the Psalmist, King David, in the fifteenth Psalm:


1)    A Psalm of David. Yahveh, who does sojourn in Your tent?  Who does dwell in Your holy hill?

2)    He who is walking uprightly, and working righteousness, and speaking truth in his heart.

3)    He has not slandered by his tongue, He has not done evil to his friend; and he hath not lifted up reproach against his neighbor.

4)    A reprobate is one despised in his eyes, and he does honor those fearing Yahveh. He has sworn to suffer evil, and he does not change.


As David says, by Holy Spirit, a characteristic of the godly man is that he despises reprobates!  And that which is expressed in the many imprecatory prayers in the Scripture is a necessary aspect of Christian character!  Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter (this is chapter four and verse fourteen):


14) Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; may the Lord repay him according to his works,

15) of whom also do you beware, for greatly has he stood against our words.


Paul didn’t “repay”; he prayed God’s vengeance upon the coppersmith!

Much of the impotence of today’s Churches is attributable to the fact that they have been emasculated, and they are effeminate.  Such Churches are unable even to confront those who are evil, much less to “overcome”.  And they will, sooner or later, be dominated by our Lord’s enemies should they not repent.

But we are enjoined by God’s Word to pray the Lord’s vengeance upon His enemies, which are also His Church’s enemies, and which are also our enemies.  And they are our enemies!  King David, in his prayer to God said: “You hate all workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 5)  And we know that the King of Kings will answer our prayers in due time; for vengeance will come upon all His enemies.

But the Master’s faithful are recognized in the heaven as kings and priests of our God.  They are overcomers.  And they will overcome in Christ Jesus our Lord.