When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is the 42nd Lecture on Revelation.
This lesson from Chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation is talking about the progression of the 7 Year Great Tribulation after the children of God are caught up into the air.
In his vision, Apostle John saw a book that records all the things that will take place until the end of the world, and the book was sealed up with seven seals.
As the Lord broke the seals one by one, the situation during the 7 Year Great Tribulation was getting worse and worse.
But the Lord doesn’t bring down the calamities upon the earth during the 7 Year Great Tribulation as He pleases.
It is the result of all that mankind has done out of their evil and greed that yields the various kinds of calamity according to Justice when the time comes.
While all the saints are caught up in the air and having a great time at the 7 Year Wedding Banquet, there will be wars, natural disasters, and diseases and various kinds of calamities on this earth as conditions get worse and worse.
In the meantime, among those who aren’t caught up in the air, there will be people who will try to find a way to salvation and some will die as martyrs.
Tonight, the scripture is talking about those who die a martyr’s death.
The verse 9 reads, “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.”
When the 7 Year Great Tribulation begins, many people will die in wars or natural disasters. But the scripture is not talking about them; ‘the souls’ in the verse 9 refers to those who die as a martyr to keep their faith.
They are not caught up in the air when the Lord comes because they don’t have true faith, but they fall down into the 7 Year Great Tribulation.
Some of them are those who once believed in the Lord and received grace, but then went back to the world when the grace cooled down. Some others didn’t have spiritual faith, but lived by the worldly passion even though they went to church.
While living like that, when people around them disappear, they realize that they are left without being caught up in the air.
And miserable despair and horror take the left surprise.
That’s because they know the meaning of what it is ‘being caught up in the air’ and ‘how terrible and excruciating the calamity and the sufferings in hell will be which will soon come on them.’
Even thought they heard about them, they didn’t believe them in their heart, and thus they lived their lives like chaffs.
But when the rapture becomes reality, they are now able to believe that the word of God is true, and then fear comes upon them.
But it’s too late; there is no way for them to be caught up in the air.
However, there is one opportunity for salvation.
It is not to deny the name of the Lord but to keep the faith to the point of martyrdom.
To die a martyr in order not to receive the mark of the beast is one case.
You may have heard of ‘the mark of the beast.’
I will explain the mark of the beast in great detail in Chapter 13, but tonight, I’ll give you a general idea of it.
Roughly speaking, the mark of the beast is the method of antichrist to control people when it is about to seize the power.
It will store each individual’s information into a barcode, and plant the code in a part of the person’s body so that computers can observe where the person goes and what the person is doing.
Now, Revelation 14:11 says, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
To receive the mark of the beast in the 7 Year Great Tribulation is to side with antichrist and to worship the beast and its image.
It is, therefore, to deny the Lord.
That’s why those who want to keep the faith will try not to receive the mark of the beast. But the antichrist doesn’t allow it.
Even if those believers run away and hide themselves not to receive the mark, the antichrist will keep chasing them, and threaten them to receive the mark using all kinds of torments.
Only when they overcome all theses persecution and sufferings till the end, and die a martyr, can they receive salvation.
All of these will come in full scale in the latter half of the 7 Year Great Tribulation. But in the scope of power of the antichrist, the martyrdom of the 7 Year Great Tribulation takes place in the beginning.
This is connected with what I explained in the last session about the verse, “Do not damage the oil and the wine.”
I said that when huge typhoons and various disasters come, the people of Israel and those who aren’t caught up in the air will be protected to some degree, but not all of them will survive.
That’s because many people will die of diseases, or in wars in natural disasters, but there are also the people who will receive persecution and die as martyrs for their faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
How is it that they will be able to receive salvation in the 7 Year Great Tribulation only through such persecution?
Figuratively, after harvest when farmers have gathered the grain into the barn they check the fields again to find ears that are left in the field.
Among the left-over ears in the field, if they find any of them that look solid, they try to gather them into the barn as much as possible.
In the same way, even though the human cultivation is already over, God gives another opportunity.
He is searching for the souls that may possess even a little bit of a good heart from among those who were not caught up in the air because they had no faith.
The problem is; it’s not easy to prove that they have faith sufficient to receive salvation.
Through the Rapture, the fact that the word of God is the truth is already clearly seen.
Of course there are people who stand against God out of evilness of their hearts even though they were witness to the Rapture. But still, those with a touch of conscience come to fear God.
But they KNOW it as knowledge since they witnessed it; it cannot be considered as faith believing it in the heart.
People cannot be saved through knowledge as faith.
After the prophecy of the bible is clearly accomplished, those people who are left on the earth will have to pass through a strict standard to be considered to have faith.
They must prove that they have true faith by overcoming any kind of torment, starvation, and severe persecution.
In the meantime, the enemy devil and Satan will manage the antichrist so as to bring just one more soul to destruction.
They will give such extreme pain that no one can endure that will cause people to deny the Lord. If the people don’t deny the Lord, they will even torment their little children in front of their eyes. They will do all kinds of indescribably brutal things.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit has already disappeared.
There is no fullness of the Holy Spirit. There is no comfort from the Holy Spirit. People cannot die a martyr by the grace of God.
They have to endure all those sufferings by with their own will and effort until they die; it is that much difficult to receive salvation.
Dear brothers and sisters.
The scripture says that those who kept faith and died a martyr after the Rapture were ‘underneath the altar.’
Being ‘underneath the altar’ means that they eventually came into the grace of God, and they received salvation.
But they barely received salvation by dying a martyr by their will.
Since they didn’t receive the help of the Holy Spirit, they didn’t understand the truth, and they didn’t circumcise their hearts and change.
This is clearly seen in the verse 10.
It says, “. . .and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?””
It is a scene of those who died as martyrs are appealing to God for their blood.
What they are saying is this, since they suffered greatly from many persecutions and afflictions until they died as martyrs at the hands of the evil ones, they are asking God to please judge and avenge their blood on those evil ones.
Of course, what they are saying is not wrong according to justice.
Those who persecuted the saints and planted evil will surely be judged according to what they did.
Because those who died martyr’s deaths know this justice, they can pray to avenge their blood.
However, even if it is the justice, because you know the truth, you can realize their payer is far from the heart of God.
What does the Bible say?
The Lord says in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Just as the Lord said, Jesus didn’t hate or curse those who drove the nails into Him and crucified Him on the cross.
He rather took pity on those who didn’t realize their sin, and He prayed to God to forgive them.
What about Deacon Stephen in the days of the Early Church?
Even though Deacon Stephen manifested great power of God, and spoke only the truth, evil people hated it and stoned Stephen to death.
But even at the moment he was being stoned to death, Stephen fell on his knees and cried out in a loud voice, as written in Acts 7:60, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
Likewise, those who are sanctified and resembled God don’t pray to avenge their deaths no matter how wrongfully they died as martyrs.
Even if they had not become completely sanctified, if they circumcised their hearts even a little bit, when they take off their flesh and stand before the Lord, they will not hate or seek to avenge their deaths.
They rather feel regret before the Lord.
They are so sorry because they didn’t cast off every form of evil while living a believing life, even though they are saved by the great grace of the cross.
But those who died a martyr and received gleaning salvation are completely different.
Instead of forgiving and having mercy on those evil people, they are pleading for vengeance of their blood on the evil ones.
We can see that the level of goodness of those who died as martyrs is completely different from those who were caught up in the air before them.
Since they died a martyr of their free will, even in an extreme situation, they could barely come within the boundaries of salvation.
Even though their faith was recognized and they were saved, just listening to the words of their lips, we can see they belong to a different level from that of those who lived a good believing life and were caught up in the air.
That’s why they cannot enter the 7 Year Wedding Banquet even after they die a martyr, and they cannot reign with the Lord for a thousand years.
Until the 7 Year Wedding Banquet and the Millennium Kingdom are over, they wait in a place separated from those who had been caught up in the air beforehand.
‘Underneath the altar’ in the scripture implies that they stay in a separate place which is prepared in the second heaven.
The second heaven is divided into two; an area of the light which belongs to God, and an area of the darkness where evil spirits dwell.
Ephesians 2:2 describes the evil spirits as ‘the power of the air.’
‘The air’ here doesn’t refer to the sky we see with our fleshly eyes, but to the second heaven, which is a spiritual space.
In the second heaven, the area of the light that belongs to God is Eden.
Inside Eden, God set a part of Eden and created a garden. Then, God formed the first man, Adam, and made Eve, and they both lived there. That garden is the Garden of Eden.
And the place where we will have the 7 Year Wedding Banquet with the Lord, our bridegroom is also the area of the light in the second heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Like this, in the second heaven, there is a space where the evil spirits stay, there is the Garden of Eden, and there is a place where the 7 Year Wedding Banquet will take place.
However, there is another space in the second heaven. That place is where those who die as martyrs in the 7 Year Great Tribulation and receive salvation will take rest until the Great Judgment.
From these facts, we can find again that the levels are completely different between those who die a martyr and receive gleaning salvation and those who are caught up at the Lord’s Second Advent.
Even though they overcome such great fears and sufferings and die a martyr’s death, they are least in the kingdom of heaven when compared to those who are caught up in the air at the Rapture.
That’s why they will live in a separate place on the outskirts of Paradise even when they go to heaven.
By the way, there are exceptions among those who die a martyr during the 7 Year Great Tribulation.
Unlike those who receive the Gleaning Salvation, there are people whose faith is recognized by God and go to a better dwelling place than Paradise in heaven. I will explain it some other time later.
Now, in the verse 11 is God’s answer to those who ask God to avenge their blood.
It says, “And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
Here ‘a white robe’ is a token of salvation which is given to those souls who die a martyr.
But the value of this robe is also completely different from the fine linen robe that those people wear at the Wedding Banquet who are caught up in the air beforehand.
Just by looking at the light that comes out from the saved souls, we can see how much their heart is sanctified. When we look at their clothes and ornaments, we can see their position in heaven.
Even though all the saved children of God put on ‘the white fine linen,’ according to how much they made it to spirit, the luster, glory, and dignity that the clothes emanate are different.
But, there are no rewards or glory to the souls who receive the Gleaning Salvation.
They are just given a white robe which basically shows that they are barely saved and they stay in Paradise.
When there is a bride and a bridesmaid, those who receive the Gleaning Salvation are not brides; they are like bridesmaids.
Now, the latter part of the verse 11 says, “they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also” means that it’s not the time yet for the judgment.
No matter how evil they are that in the end they are to be destroyed and to fall down to the fire of hell, God doesn’t judge them at any time.
The Judgment for the evil will surely take place, but the time and the place will be decided precisely according to Justice.
God waits until the 7 Year Great Tribulation is over and their evil is full to the brim.
Until their evil has been filled to the brim, more souls will be able to seize the opportunity of salvation through martyrdom.
And at the same time, God is giving a slight chance even for those who persecute the believers.
That’s because there may be some who can turn back.
Of course no matter how many opportunities God gives, the evil will perpetuate evil over evil, until they fall into the punishment of the Judgment.
God knows this, but He accomplishes His providence of the 7 Year Great Tribulation within strict justice.
Dear brothers and sisters.
John 20:29 says, “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.””
Even though you’ve never been to heaven for yourself, and even though you haven’t been through the upcoming 7 Year Great Tribulation, you know that the word of God is true.
That’s why you hope for heaven, give up many things that you may be able to enjoy, and forsake many of your desires.
You give your time, money, honor, and family to God. You deny yourself, and you die every day.
But this kind of life is not a loss at all.
It seems that you forsake everything, but it is actually to receive the greatest blessing.
As much as you cast off evil and recover the lost image of God, your spirit and soul will get along well, and whatever you do will be prosperous.
As you come into spirit and whole spirit, God gives you as much as you want, and God gives answers to whatever you desire in your heart. God gives all health, wealth, and honor.
Still today, there are many people who choose the life of suffering in order to accomplish the work of the Lord.
Some give up the opportunity to acquire honor and wealth, and devote their lives to the Lord and for the souls. Some others die a martyr for the name of the Lord.
But their sufferings and martyrdom are completely different from the martyrdom during the 7 Year Great Tribulation.
During the sufferings, God is always with them, and He provides them with comfort and hope. God gives them strength to overcome all the hardships in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Also, even though they suffer from persecution while living on this earth they will enjoy incomparable blessing in heaven.
The God of justice rewards them for every deed of faith with glory and awards in heaven.
Aren’t you thankful that we are cultivated with faith in the grace of God and living in the era of the Holy Spirit?
Every moment you find yourself involved in the work of the Holy Spirit and trying to resemble the image of God, it is the procedure of advancing into a better heaven.
Therefore, since you have faith, no matter what kinds of trials and hardships you undergo, you can give thanks and rejoice in any circumstances.
I hope that all of you, my dear brothers and sisters, will diligently discover yourself in the work of the Holy Spirit the Comforter, and change before the Lord comes back.
And thus, may you put on the most brilliant and beautiful bride’s dress when the Lord, the bridegroom comes back, and welcome the Lord, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ I pray!