And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (Revelation 6:9-11).
The fifth seal transitions from the four horsemen to faithful Christians who are slain by the ideas and actions perpetuated by the horsemen. Why were they slain and in what manner?
They were slain for their faithfulness to the word of God and their testimony of Jesus Christ.
Contrast this with the horsemen who are not faithful to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
On one hand, there are those who follow a false idea of Jesus, who use the word of God negligently and murderously, who are blind and make unjust judgments, thereby leading many to their deaths.
On the other hand, there are those who follow Jesus in sincerity, who use the word of God responsibly, whose eyes are enlightened to make righteous judgment, thereby leading many to life eternal in Jesus Christ.
Some things to consider when interpreting this seal:
- Although there is limitation on our judgment of other Christians, as far as whether they are sincere or not, there will come a time when the distinction is made clearer. This is that time of separating the wheat from the chaff, as Jesus teaches.
- In the end, all who the Lord intends to save will be saved, and there is nothing the enemy can do about it. Jesus is faithful and true.
- In the end, any who retain horsemen attributes without repentance and redemption, and thereby continue to kill others spiritually and literally are not the true children of God.
- In the end, any who are killed spiritually by horsemen figures without redemption, and thereby face real death instead of salvation, are not the true children of God.
- God is in control of all things, all things are working according to His good will, and all things are working together for the good of those who belong to the Lord.
These four horsemen are given authority from God as instruments of Satan. Their purpose is, in the final sense, to aid in the separation of sincere Christians from the insincere.
Those who act with horsemen traits repent. Any who belong to Jesus under the horsemen influence also repent. All are shown a truer way.
In the end, none who belong to Jesus of sincerity are harmed by the horsemen, at least spiritually. Many sincere Christians are killed in the flesh in the final days, but remember, we are looking at these seals as it applies to Christianity today. We are considering these ideas spiritually.
So, what manner of death are we seeing portrayed by those slain under the alter? Is this spiritual death or literal death?
For now, let’s keep with the spiritual interpretation.
Any who are faithful to Jesus out of a sincere heart, but are somehow led astray by horsemen, will eventually be redeemed. As mentioned above, the Lord will lead all who belong to Him towards a better understanding, repentance, and a truer pursuit of the Christian life.
This crying under the alter can indicate a feeling of confusion, hopelessness, and desperation often felt by sincere Christians as they try to find Jesus despite all of the commotion in the Christian world. These cry out to Jesus, asking for help and judgment. One in this state might cry out to the Lord:
- Oh Lord, are you really there?
- Oh Lord, how do I know if the name of Jesus is the only true way?
- Oh Lord, which denomination is right?
- Oh Lord, why do I feel so far from you? Aren’t I “saved” because I recited the sinner’s prayer?
- Oh Lord, help me! This world is destroying me!
- Oh Lord, which way is true; judge it all and show me!
Such as these are spiritually dead, and it is because of the horsemen. Yet, they will not remain dead. Jesus will give them white robes. Both those who act as horsemen and those slain by horsemen can be led to this point of desperation, and they will be if the Lord wills it. They will cry out to the Lord, Jesus will begin to reveal truth to them, they will repent, they will be healed. They will be given white robes. Then…
They will see their brethren killed in the same way they were once killed. They will see the confusion, the lies, and all manner of Christian corruption.
Many of us go from being one who is influenced by the horsemen of this world to one who cries out to Jesus. Then, we begin to see things more clearly. Yet, while we are yet babes in Christ and lack love and wisdom, we can find ourselves on the other end of things. We then become horsemen ourselves in one regard or another. We repent again. We learn to wait on Jesus while being better stewards of what Jesus gives us to do.
Jesus tells us, be patient, trust in me, “rest yet a little season.” It is not yet time to reap. The horsemen will continue killing until the purposes of God are fulfilled.
Then comes the sixth seal – the reaping has begun.