The Slain Witnesses And Their Outcry - Rev. Herman Hoeksema
(Revelation 6: 9 -11)
9 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:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 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.
The Idea Of The Fifth Seal
This passage speaks of the fifth seal. The first four seals we have already discussed. They revealed the four horsemen, the white horse representing the victorious march of the gospel throughout the world, the red horse representing war, the black horse revealing social contrast, and the last horse (the pale) representing death in all its forms. Now we have the fifth seal, which speaks of the souls under the altar, or the slain witnesses and their outcry.
It is, in my opinion, impossible to explain the seals in such a way that they refer to the future only, or especially to a period of tribulation after the church has been taken to heaven, or as referring to special periods in the past, as others do maintain. This was difficult already, as we have explained, in respect to the first four seals. But this becomes still more absurd as soon as we come to the consideration of the fifth seal. True, there is indeed a certain progress in history and also in the order of these seals. Also this fifth seal, and still more plainly the sixth, shall be most clearly and definitely realized towards the end of this dispensation. But it is not true that these seals have either already been fulfilled or that they all belong to the future in all their effect. It is evident on the very face of it that this fifth seal speaks of martyrdom, of a being slain for the Word of God and the testimony which the saints proclaim in the midst of the world. But this does not refer to any specific period in the history of the church in the past, as, for instance, the period of the Waldenses or Albigenses or the period of the Reformation. It is true that also in those days this fifth seal was plainly manifested and realized. But it was not only in those times but also in various other periods throughout the new dispensation that the operation of this seal was seen. Was not John exiled to the Isle of Patmos for the Word of God and the testimony which he held? Did not most of the apostles suffer violent death because of the same fact? Did not the church suffer one of the most terrible persecutions under the Roman Emperor Domitian? And thus it is and was all through the new dispensation. Nor can it be true that this part of the Book of Revelation must be referred to the future only. To be sure, also in the future the saints will suffer for the Word of God and the testimony which they hold. Most violently the people of God shall suffer martyrdom towards the end of this dispensation. But also in the past they have suffered as severely as one can possibly conceive.
Hence, also this fifth seal we understand to refer to the entire history of the present dispensation, though we may, no doubt, expect that it will increase in force and that at the same time there is a certain logical sequence and connection between the first four seals and this fifth one. Nor is it difficult to discover that connection. The tremendous contrast caused by the white horse naturally causes martyrdom for the loyal subjects of the kingdom of Christ. The real spiritual kingdom employs no physical force or means, and its subjects merely testify of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the God of our salvation in the midst of the world. But this is not true of the kingdom of darkness. That kingdom, in order to maintain itself, is bound to employ force and fights those who oppose it with scaffold and stake. The result is martyrdom for those who are faithful. Besides, it must also clearly be discerned that as far as the material of this fifth seal is concerned, it is in a way already implied in the fourth seal, which represented, as we saw, the power of death mowing away the righteous and the wicked and doing so in all manner of ways, killing also by means of violent death the faithful witnesses of the truth.
This fifth seal, therefore, does not mean to emphasize the martyrdom of the saints as they are being slain and persecuted. This the fifth seal rather presupposes. The saints who are mentioned in this fifth seal have already fought the good fight and are evidently in heaven, waiting for their full adoption and the final glory. And one of the chief purposes of this special seal is undoubtedly to show clearly that also the martyrdom of the saints is controlled by Christ Jesus and that the world avails nothing unless the Lord wills it. For it is only when He opens the seal that there are martyrs crying for vengeance. And it was also only when He opened the seal that they were slain. We may add to this that also the purpose of this seal is to assure us that the martyrdom of the saints is an element in the progress toward the completion of the kingdom of Christ.
The Souls Under The Altar
Let us, then, look more closely for a moment at the description of these martyrs. We must not lose ourselves in the contemplation of all kinds of non-essential details. Nor must we forget that the whole is symbolical and visionary. If we do, we are likely to ask and find an answer to all kinds of foolish questions. Thus, the question has been indeed asked whether it were possible to see souls, which are spiritual. For John in this passage tells us that when the fifth seal was opened, he saw souls beneath the altar. But is it possible to see souls, it is asked. But the question is absurd. We must not forget that John is in the spirit; and in the spirit he is in heaven. All that he beholds he sees in the spirit and in a vision, so that the question whether in our present state we would also be able to see souls may indeed be considered absurd. Then too, the use of this passage in order to picture the abode of the dead after this present life and before the resurrection is equally absurd for the same reason, namely, that the whole is visionary and symbolical. And as to use made, of this passage to prove that the souls after death are conscious, since they cry for vengeance, we may indeed conclude from other parts of Scripture that the souls after death and before the final resurrection live consciously in glory; and perhaps we may also admit that there is some proof in the words of this particular passage from the Book of Revelation. Yet we must guard against the danger of making too much of a passage which is in itself visionary and symbolical. Besides, we cannot tarry here to make a lengthy discourse on this particular question. Our purpose in the study of the Book of Revelation is not the establishment of all kinds of different doctrines, but rather to obtain as clear a view as possible of the coming of Christ. And although it is undoubtedly true that there are many portions in the Book of
Revelation which afford beautiful material for building up of dogma, nevertheless we must at this time pass that by with a mere mention.
The chief purpose, therefore, is that we learn to understand the meaning of the symbolism.
John, in the first place, sees an altar. There can be little question that the altar which he here sees is the altar of burnt offering, which originally stood in the temple court. First of all, it may be said that the original word for "altar" points us in that direction, and not to the altar of incense. Secondly, the souls that are under this altar point to the shedding of blood, as was characteristic and essential to the altar of burnt offering, and not to the altar of incense. Also the fact that John saw the altar makes us think that it was the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the outer court and which, in distinction from the altar of incense, could be seen by the people. To that altar, therefore, the text evidently refers. On this altar the bloody sacrifices were made. Under this altar, we are told, was a large basin, into which the blood of the sacrificial animals was poured. And the sacrifices which were brought on this altar were symbolic of reconciliation and consecration to God the Lord. If we bear this in mind and find that in the vision John does not see the blood of animals under the altar, but the souls of men, the souls of the saints, we may from the outset draw the conclusion that the whole is symbolical of the fact that witnesses of Christ Jesus have laid their lives upon the altar of consecration to their God and Savior in Christ Jesus their Lord. These souls are men who have literally been slain, who have been butchered, on the altar of consecration to God in Christ. The opening of the fifth seal, therefore, shows us the martyrs in the church after they have fought the good fight and have been faithful even unto the end.
All this is corroborated by the further description of these souls under the altar. For we read that they had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. Literally it says here that they had been butchered, and therefore that they had suffered violent death at the hand of the enemies of Christ and His church. And the occasion and reason for this violent treatment by the enemies of Christ is also clearly stated in the text. It was the fact that they clung to the Word of God and that they openly testified for the truth of that Word.
They were men, therefore, who had been touched by the rider on the first horse, so that they had ben changed from darkness into God's marvellous light. By nature they belonged to the kingdom of darkness, and they were subject to the power and dominion of the devil. But the white horse had approached, and the rider on that horse had touched them. The result was that their inner being had been turned about. They had been regenerated by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. They had been called by His Word. They had obtained a vision of the glorious kingdom which was to be established by Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, their Mediator and Intercessor. Thus the Word had become their subjective possession. They were dominated by that Word of God. They knew the truth, and they loved it with all their heart. Hence, for and according to that Word they lived in the midst of the world. On the basis of that Word they stood and manifested themselves in the present world. They claimed that in every sphere Christ Jesus is Lord, that He is King over all the world and over all the hidden powers of that world. They firmly believed that there was hope for that world only in the blood of their Redeemer, and that only when a man was touched by the Spirit of Christ and was regenerated, so that he had a new life, could he possibly be called a subject of Christ. Such was the Word. And thus they believed. And the truth had struck root more and more in their inmost heart.
But there is more.
They did not hide their light under a bushel, but they testified of it. The Word as they appropriated it was burning in their hearts, and they were bound to express it. They could not possibly keep silent. And they felt that over against the world in the midst of which they lived they were bound to witness of the name of Jesus Christ their Lord. Such is the meaning of the words "...and the testimony which they held."
There are interpreters indeed who maintain that this must be understood as a testimony which Christ gave of them before the Father which is in heaven. But it is rather difficult to understand how for such a testimony they could ever suffer martyrdom on earth. Hence, it must be understood as referring to the testimony which they gave, which they expressed before all the world. They were obedient to the injunction of Jesus: "He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven." Thus they were witnesses.
The central idea and the chief contents of their testimony was that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Constantly they must have spoken of the cross as the only hope for sinners. They witnessed that man was lost in himself because of his fallen and sinful state, and that therefore there was no hope for him outside of Christ Jesus and His cross. They witnessed undoubtedly also of the necessity of regeneration in order to enter into the true kingdom of God. And they boldly maintained that all that was not in harmony with the principle of the sovereignty of Christ in the present world did not and could not belong to the kingdom of God. In the blood of Jesus was the only righteousness of sinners. For at the bottom of all questions and problems in the world lies the guilt of man. Thus they testified.
We can easily understand that as they bore this testimony in the world they came into conflict with worldly men. For as we have seen before, even the world is touched by the white horse. But the only possible result of this is that it aims at the establishment of what they conceive to be the kingdom of God, but which is in reality a kingdom of man. 0 yes, also the world wants peace and righteousness, bliss and happiness. But that world never confesses its guilt and its impotence to do any good. And therefore they must have nothing of the blood of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for their sins, and of the truth that the sinner must be regenerated by the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. They establish an imitation kingdom, a kingdom without Christ as He is revealed in Holy Writ. And the faithful witnesses of Christ condemned this kingdom of man and predicted its utter destruction. Thus they principally incurred the displeasure and hatred of the world, because they confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, the only Sovereign and King over all even in the present dispensation. They came into conflict with this world because they testified of the principle that God is the highest and only Sovereign of heaven and earth and that all men must bow before Him, something they will never do apart from Christ Jesus, His cross and His Spirit. And this hatred of the world became so bitter, and the attitude of the world toward those who are of Christ became so hateful and intolerant that they finally cast themselves upon these faithful witnesses and butchered them killed them because of the testimony which they had. And thus they were slain because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Is it necessary that I point to the history of the world, and particularly to the history of this present dispensation, to prove that this seal is actually opened? A long list of names could indeed be mentioned of them that are slain for the name and the truth of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Even in the old dispensation the history of these faithful witnesses was written in blood. There is the name of Abel, killed, no doubt, because of his faithfulness to God and to His service. There is the name of Enoch and the name of Noah, who truly were not killed, but who must have endured the reproach of the world for the name of the God they confessed. There are, as you know, the names of all the prophets, most of whom have been killed because of their faithful testimony, so that Jesus might indeed say: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest them that are sent against thee..." Or, if you please, read the latter part of that memorable chapter of Hebrews 11, and you will be surprised that even in the author's time there were so many of these souls under the altar of consecration to God who had been butchered for the Word of God and the testimony which they held.
However, this seal does not refer to the old, but to the new dispensation. Christ has received the book with its seven seals. And He is opening the seals. It is under His administration that Its saints, His servants, His witnesses, are slain. And also here it is evident from all the history of this dispensation that this fifth seal is constantly being realized. Think of the apostles, who first bore the testimony of Christ into the world. How they suffered and were persecuted, how they were hated and finally killed by a world which would not receive their testimony! Think also of the churches which are pictured in the first part of the Book of Revelation, of Smyrna, Pergamos, and Philadelphia. They were persecuted and hated, and the saints in Christ Jesus were killed. Think of the terrible persecutions under the Roman emperors, how they who confessed the name of Christ Jesus were literally butchered and tortured to death! Think also of the forerunners of the Reformation and of the thousands of martyrs at the time of the Reformation who did not wish to return to the mother church, to the harlot church of the sixteenth century. How they all suffered! How they all were persecuted! How they were driven from place to place! How they were put on the rack and tortured in every conceivable way! How they were brought to the scaffold and burned at the stake! In a word, as you go through history from its very dawn to the present time, you will find a host innumerable under the altar, slain for the Word of God and the testimony which they held.
And what is the reason for all this? It is simply the tremendous contrast between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the devil, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, striving for the possession of the same world.
The Prayer Of The Saints
Now these souls under the altar make a loud outcry. Thus we read in verse 10: "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
We must constantly remember that also this fifth seal, as well as all the others, represents a vision. And therefore we have symbolism in the text. As soon as we lose sight of this fact, we are apt to raise all kinds of objections and questions. Forgetting the fact that we have a vision here, we might simply conceive of these souls under the altar as glorified souls in heaven, and no more. Then, of course, the question arises: do these souls in heaven still suffer? Are the saints in glory still impatient, as is evident from the outcry? And are they still unhappy after death? Does not this outcry represent a very deep need that is not as yet fulfilled? Are not the souls especially of those who have suffered for the name of Jesus in this world perfectly blessed after this present life? But this question is not essential, and it should never be asked. We will understand this as soon as we remember that the text represents indeed a very important truth, but that nevertheless it is a vision, and that therefore in the outcry of the souls under the altar we have symbolism. Again, the question might be raised: do these souls in the state of perfection in glory cry out for vengeance? Is it not true that while they were still in this present world they prayed for their enemies, according to the injunction of the Lord Jesus that they should love their enemies, do good to them that hate them, and pray for them that despitefully use them? How then is it possible that now they invoke the wrath of God on them, and that too, while they are in the state of perfection in heaven? Is there then still sin in the state of glory in the hearts of the saints? But also this is not essential and has nothing to do with the idea of this outcry of the saints under the altar. As we shall see, they do not cry for sinful vengeance, but for the final manifestation of righteousness and justice and for the glory of their God. Hence, we must constantly bear in mind that we have also in this outcry symbolism in the highest sense of the word. This is in harmony with the whole Book of Revelation; and it is also in accord with the passage we are now discussing. For the entire passage is visionary and symbolic. It is only in the vision that John is able to see the souls. The altar under which they are found is visionary and symbolic. And the same must be applied to the outcry of these souls under the altar.
The question we must ask is this: what is really the meaning, what is the reality of the outcry of these souls under the altar? What is the essential idea of this symbolism?
The answer is not difficult to find. The outcry is symbolic of the necessity of ultimate justice, of the final manifestation of the righteousness of God which is to be revealed in the just vengeance upon the heads of those who have killed and persecuted the saints in Christ Jesus. It is an outcry which ascends to the throne of God throughout all the history of the church in the world. It represents the longing of the saints for the day of their final justification and of just retribution for all who have hated and persecuted them in the present world. This must be perfectly evident from the contents of this outcry. The saints under the altar address Christ Jesus, Who is exalted at the right hand of God, the King over His church and the Sovereign over the whole world. This is evident from the expression used in this address, which in the original means "despot," -not in the evil, but in the good and favorable sense of the word. It means ',master, lord, absolute sovereign." Some would have it that in this expression the Triune God is addressed. With this, however, we cannot agree. Not to God directly, but to Christ their Lord these saints address the outcry. This may also be gathered from the addition, "thou holy and true one." The same expression occurs in 3:5, where the Lord Jesus refers to Himself in these same words when He addresses the church of Philadelphia. Not the Triune God, therefore, but Christ is addressed. For to Him is given all power in heaven and on earth; and the Father also has delivered all judgment to Him Who sits at His right hand. That this outcry is not the expression of sinful longing for vengeance, but of just and necessary judgment, is plain from the fact that the judge in this case is called "holy and true." According to His holiness, He cannot allow sin to have the victory. He must execute wrath against all the iniquity, injustice, and oppression of men. And according to His truth, He must reveal Himself as He is, in harmony with His holiness and with His justice against all sin and unrighteousness. These souls under the altar, therefore, do not cry for a mere human and sinful vengeance. On the contrary, they long and cry for nothing less than the perfect manifestation of the holiness and truth of their King and Master. For His glory they have suffered in the midst of the world at the hands of those that hate their Christ.
We must remember that these souls under the altar have suffered because of the Word of God and the testimony which they held. They have suffered for the name of Christ Jesus and because they represented Christ's cause in the midst of the world. The enemies that have caused them to suffer have done so not because any unrighteousness was found in these souls under the altar as they lived in the world, but only because they hated the very name of Jesus and were opposed to the cause He represented, the cause of God Himself. Hence, when Jesus Himself was in the world, they manifested this enmity directly against Him. They caused Him to suffer and die on the accursed tree, and they cast Him out of the world. But He has been exalted to glory, and they can never touch Him personally any more. But the saints are still on earth. And they follow in His steps and represent His cause. They do so by bearing faithful testimony of Him as shining lights in the midst of the darkness of this present world. And because of this testimony concerning Him, they must needs also bear His reproach. What the enemies of Christ can no longer do against Him personally they now do against His people, against the saints who represent Him. And the principle of this persecution of the saints in the midst of the world is the same as that which motivated them in casting out the Christ. To harass and persecute and butcher the saints who are still in the world is a manifestation of their hatred against Jesus the Christ, the holy and true One. The holiness and truth of Christ is trampled under foot when the world kills His saints.
Moreover, in the present world this hatred and enmity appears to be quite victorious. It seems as if the enemy can kill and persecute the people of God in Christ Jesus their Lord with impunity. As far as the present history is concerned, Christ does not avenge the blood of His saints. Many years and centuries already have elapsed, and in these centuries rivers of blood have flowed. And the souls under the altar have always been crowded out of the world. The world still goes on. And the enemies of Christ, trampling under foot His saints, and thereby also trampling under foot the truth and holiness of their Lord, have never been punished. The saints have never been avenged. This, therefore, is the essential meaning of this outcry of the saints under the altar. It is the blood of the saints that cries out. And it cries out with a great voice. If only you will listen closely to the voice of all history in this new dispensation, you can very plainly hear this cry of the souls under the altar. There are the cries, first of all, of the apostles, butchered for the testimony of Jesus which they proclaimed in the midst of the world. They were butchered relentlessly, but they were never avenged. And there is also the blood of all the saints who followed
the apostles throughout the history of the church. Many of them were tortured to death for the sake of Jesus and the testimony which they held. They were butchered for their faithful witness of the name of Christ. In fact, all the saints of the new dispensation as they have suffered in the world for the sake of Christ their Lord are represented by the souls under the altar. Their blood must be revenged. The holiness and truth of their Lord are at stake. And therefore, all history cries as do these souls under the altar for revenge and for the final manifestation of the holiness and truth of their Lord and Master.
Such, then, is the meaning of the outcry of these souls under the altar. It is the expression, the historic expression, of longing for a day of vengeance which swells and grows louder and stronger as time goes on, a longing for the final day of judgment and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus it also must be plain that this fifth seal is of importance for the completion of the kingdom of God and His Christ. That kingdom cannot come by way of gradual development, but can only appear in a public day of judgment and destruction of the world. Those who have it that the kingdom of God will come without this day, that it must come along lines of gradual development here upon earth, are cruelly unjust in respect to the past and the history of the saints in the world. Hundreds of thousands, yea, millions of Christ's saints have suffered martyrdom; and the world has rejoiced over their death. Shall their suffering and death be passed by in silence? Shall the justice of God in Christ never be revealed at all? God forbid! These souls under the altar would cry unto all eternity if the Lord would not come and if He would not avenge them publicly, if He would hide His name of truth and holiness and justice so that it was never publicly manifest. In a final day of judgment the righteousness of Christ, the King of His people and the Lord of all the world, must be made very plain; and it must become manifest that He is holy and true indeed.
Hence, the fact that this fifth seal is opened and that the witnesses of Christ who are slain cry out for vengeance certainly implies that the kingdom of God will be completed by a final day of judgment. He must judge in righteousness. In that day it must become perfectly plain that the world actually hates Christ Jesus and that in this hatred of Him they hated the Father. This hatred they also reveal in the slaying of the saints who witness for the Word of God and the name of Christ. Hence, it is because these souls have been slain that the perfect revelation of the righteousness of God must be revealed in a day of Judgment, so that it will become perfectly manifest to all the world, as well as to all the church, that Christ is holy and true and that He represents God in His perfect righteousness and justice.
The Answer To The Saints' Prayer
What answer do these souls under the altar receive to their outcry?
It is found in verse 11 of this same chapter: "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."
The answer, therefore, is two-fold.
In the first place, they receive a white robe. And this white robe is, of course, symbolic of their glorified nature. A long white robe it is which they receive. As we have said before, white is, first of all, the symbol of their justification in the blood of the cross, of the fact, therefore, that Christ Jesus does not condemn them and that they are justified in Him. In the second place, these white robes are also the symbol of their holiness. They are now perfectly cleansed from sin, and they are holy before God in Christ. They are perfectly pure, and they can sin nevermore. In the third place, white is also the symbol of victory in the battle. Even as the white of the first horse is the symbol of victory of the cause of Jesus Christ, so also is the white of these robes which are given to the souls under the altar symbolic of the fact that they have conquered in battle, in the battle of faith.
And thus the meaning is perfectly clear. These saints have suffered for the cause of Christ. They have been put to death violently. They have been butchered innocently. They have suffered crying injustice. And therefore, here upon earth their blood cries out for just revenge and for the manifestation of the holiness and truth of Christ Jesus. Nevertheless, these saints under the altar have gone on to glory. They are perfectly blessed from the very moment that they entered into the state of glory. And as they entered into the blessed abode, they immediately received their white robes, their perfect and glorified nature, robes of justification and holiness and purity and victory. In these white robes they are blessed forevermore. In the world they were despised; in heaven they are glorified. In the world they were treated unjustly and trampled under foot; in heaven they are justified from the very moment of their entrance. In the world they seemed to be wrong, and the world appeared right in persecuting them; in heaven they are immediately given the symbols of their justification and victory.
In the second place, however, they are told that they must wait just a little while. Their question in the outcry was, "How long, 0 Lord?" And the answer is: "Not yet, but within a short time." This little while which the souls under the altar must still wait may seem a long time from our present point of view. Centuries already have elapsed since this was written, and yet these souls under the altar cry upon the earth. Still they must wait a little while. We must remember, as it is always in the Word of God, that the day of the Lord is always represented as being very near. It is the last hour. And in the Book of Revelation we are assured by the Lord Himself that He will come quickly. Therefore, although to us it may seem a long time, the Lord actually comes very quickly. He comes as quickly as possible. In view of all the tremendous events which must take place in the present dispensation before the time is ripe for the coming of the Lord and His kingdom, it is indeed but a little while that the Lord waits. And besides, in view of the fact that the souls under the altar are already glorified, and that they have received their white robes of justification and holiness and victory, they can afford to wait. To them the time cannot seem long, for they have already entered into eternal glory.
However, this time that these souls must wait before their blood shall be avenged in the day of judgment publicly is also further defined, and defined materially. How long must they wait? The answer is: until their fellowservants and brethren, that should be killed even as they were, should have fulfilled their course. This is plain language. It simply means that the time is as yet not ripe for judgment. The world has not yet shown its real character in all the hatred of its corruption. And before the world is ripe for that day of judgment, the Lord cannot and will not come. We find this phenomenon time and again in Holy Writ. The prediluvian period lasted about sixteen hundred years before the measure of their iniquity was full. And even when the climax was almost reached, the Lord still gave them one hundred twenty years in which they might hear the testimony of God through Noah, so that it might become fully evident that the day of judgment was a day of righteousness and justice. The same is true of the history of Israel. That history shows us that they had killed the prophets and stoned the messengers of God who had been sent against them. And it seemed as if the Lord would never visit them for their iniquity. But the
time was not yet ripe. Not until they had revealed their hatred to the full, not until they had clearly shown that they rejected the Son of God, could the day of judgment come and Jerusalem be destroyed. These judgments, so the Bible tells us, are but typical of the great day of the Lord that is to come. And therefore, also for that day the time must be ripe and the measure of iniquity must be filled. The witnesses of Christ also in the future must let their testimony go forth. They must witness of the Christ. They must witness of the blood of the cross. They must witness against all that rises up against Him. And over against this testimony the world must reveal its hatred still more plainly than already it has done in the past. In the past all these things were mere local affairs. In the future the Christian world in general, so-called, will rise up against the church. In the past the witnesses of Christ were butchered, but the enemy was not so directly conscious that they rose up against the name of Jesus Christ. In the future the enemy will do so fully conscious that it is the hateful name of Jesus Christ that is the great obstacle to all their plans for the world. And thus the world becomes ripe for judgment. There are still a certain number who must be killed for the Word of God and for the testimony which they hold. And when they are killed, then the Lord will come and avenge His holiness and truth and establish His kingdom forever.
Hence, we also must bear testimony for the name of Christ in the midst of the world. No, we do not have to seek martyrdom. We may not seek it purposely, just for the sake of dying and suffering for Christ. Nevertheless, we must bear testimony for the Word of God and for the name of Jesus as children of the kingdom. And if we do, we may have the hope in our hearts that presently we shall receive the white robes of justification and holiness and victory. And let us never forget that the enemy who persecutes us merely serves as an instrument to bring us to that state in which we shall enjoy the glory of the kingdom of Christ forevermore. The Lord rules! He opens the seals, also the fifth. And not a hair of your head shall ever be touched against His will!