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. And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Revelation 6:9-17 (KJV)
The Lamb opens the fifth seal to reveal “Souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”.
There have been Christian martyrs ever since the near beginning of the Church. These are a different set of martyrs unless of course, you see this as merely historical, and that, in my opinion, does not fit with the rest of scripture. Who, then, are these martyrs mentioned in verses 9-11?
The Church is in Heaven praising and worshipping God around the throne as seen in the twenty-four elders. Whereas, man has been allowed (after the translation of the Church), by the coming of the rider on the white horse, to have his way on the earth to the point of destroying the human race; these martyrs are those who opposed him and died for the faith believing God’s Word and bearing testimony to that affect.. These martyrs are people who believe God and reject the rule of the “man of sin”, or “son of perdition”.
The cry of those who were slain is their cry for justice upon the unrighteous. These, are at this time without resurrection bodies. Yet, it is said, “White robes were given unto every one of them” (v. 10). It is not known how a spirit can support a robe, but they do seem to have some type of body. They are waiting to receive their resurrection bodies at the last part of “The first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-6). (EXPLANATION: The first resurrection began with the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and those who came out of their graves (Matthew 27:52-53); it continues with the translation [rapture] of the believers, dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), before the time of judgment begins in Revelation six. The first resurrection ends when all those who died because of faith during the judgment will be raptured and given resurrection bodies.) These martyrs are told they must wait until all who will die for the faith have died.
The sixth and final seal of chapter six is opened by the Lamb and now begins the intervention of the divine judgment. The Lamb of God “Slain from the foundation of the world” is now wreaking judgment upon a God-hating, Christ rejecting world. As far as a time frame on this there is no certainty, but let me lay out a small outline of a proposed time. The first four horses and horsemen would represent the first three and one-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27). The fifth horse and horseman would be at the end of this three and one-half years, partly due to the “prince” of Daniel breaking the covenant, and causing the death of all who believe in Jesus Christ. The sixth seal would then begin the latter half of the three and one-half years, with the seventh seal continuing the judgment upon the earth, and the “Inhabiters of the earth” (8:13 & 12:12). The “Inhabiters of the earth” are those whose heart is on the things of earth, rather than God and His Christ.
Earthquakes are not in the power of man, nor are the other celestial bodies in the realm of human control. The earthquake is probably one so violent the whole world shakes. Every living thing feels the shaking, heaving and volcanic eruptions which take place.
The sun is darkened. There appears to be no reason to see these as symbols of something else. It is simply divine judgment upon mankind. The moon turns as red as blood. Stars fall to the earth. We have meteor showers all the time, but this will be a spectacle of catastrophic proportions, such as never seen before, nor, will be again. Not only is the earth shaken, but it seems the entire solar system is shaken. Only the divine could accomplish that. Hebrews 12:25-29 could be a reminder and warning to God’s people of what is truly important. The Almighty God is doing this in order to build an unshakable kingdom.
When faced with this divine judgment the people of earth flee from God. Notice there is no economic, social or religious group which receives special favor among the unrighteous. Each is equal before the judgment of God. Many times today, when we face divine judgment we flee to God – at least that is the heart of a child of God. Because of the hardness of heart by sin, these flee from God and cry out for death rather than to face holiness. They cannot hide. Even in death, they will face their Creator and His eternal judgment.
From whom are they fleeing? From the Lamb and His wrath. The gentle, meek, bloodless (because He shed His for us), Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
For those of you who believe that God is only love, and would never consign anyone to eternal judgment, you have never read the Revelation or either have chosen not to believe it. The Revelation makes it quite clear that the One who died for our sins will also severely judge those who reject His gift of eternal life.
Who shall stand in the great day of His wrath? Only the redeemed of the Lord.
BEHOLD. The wrath of the Lamb on the inhabitants of the earth.