Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the sixth seal


 


Revelation 6:12-17

NASB

The Sixth Seal – Terror

12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”


Thoughts

Below, I’ve given some history related to the sixth seal when it’s interpreted historically, expositions by historicists and futurists, and a passage from Eusebius describing what it was like when centuries of persecution came to an end in the Roman Empire. 


History related to the Sixth Seal when interpreted historically

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 713-714

The Day of Wrath at Hand

“Revolution. Upheaval. Convulsion. Consternation. Sun Darkened. Stars Falling. Heavens Rolled Up. Mountains and Island Removed. Kings and Peoples Frightened. . . Jesus had used similar language, in speaking of the Time of His Coming Again (Mathew 24:29,30; Luke 21:26). . . So had Isaiah, in predicting the Fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13:10). And Ezekiel, in predicting the Fall of Egypt (Ezekiel 32:7). . . Whatever else this Seal may refer to, it seems like a prediction of 4th century Upheavals in the Roman Empire.

“The Empire Ceased its Persecution of the Church. Emperor Constantine became a Christian (A.D. 312). Issued an Edict of Toleration (A.D. 313). Made Christianity the religion of his court. In A.D. 325 he issued a general exhortation to all to embrace Christianity. Moved his Capital to Constantinople. Theodosius (A.D. 378-395) made Christianity the State Religion of the Empire, and Church Membership Compulsory. A.D. 395 the Empire was Divided: the West with Rome its Capital, the East with Constantinople its Capital. This was the beginning of the break-up of the Mighty World Empire that had for 300 years tried so hard to destroy Christianity.”

Matthew 24:29-30

29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from [a]the sky, and the powers of [b]the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Isaiah 13:10

10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light.

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Western Roman Empire Timeline [Decline]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

285 CE – The Roman empire is split into the Western and Eastern Roman empires.

367 CE – Picts, Scots, Saxons, and Franks attack the Roman Empire. 
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378 CE – Eastern Roman Emperor Valens defeated at the Battle of Adrianople. Historians mark this as the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.
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391 CE – Emperor Theodosius closes pagan temples.
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402 CE – Ravenna becomes the capital of the Western Roman empire.
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410 CE – Alaric of the Visigoths sacks Rome.
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451 CE – Aetius defeats Attila of the Huns at the Catalaunian Fields, together with Rome’s allies.
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455 CE – Vandals sack Rome.
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476 CE – Emperor Romulus Augustus is deposed by the Germanic King Odoacer. This is the ‘official’ end of the Roman Empire.
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476 CE – Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman emperor, deposed by Odoacer and sent into forced retirement in Campania.
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480 CE – Julius Nepos, the last Western Roman emperor, dies. This is the ‘unofficial’ end of the Western Roman Empire. . .

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Total Solar Eclipse, 9 March 2016, from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Ezagren ~ Lunar eclipse September 27 2015 greatest Alfredo Garcia Jr

Commentaries

Historicist

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 12 

“A great earthquake – A most stupendous change in the civil and religious constitution of the world. If it refer to Constantine the Great, the change that was made by his conversion to Christianity might be very properly represented under the emblem of an earthquake, and the other symbols mentioned in this and the following verses.

“The sun – the ancient pagan government of the Roman empire, was totally darkened; and, like a black hair sackcloth, was degraded and humbled to the dust.

“The moon – the ecclesiastical state of the same empire, became as blood – was totally ruined, their sacred rites abrogated, their priests and religious institutions desecrated, their altars cast down, their temples destroyed, or turned into places for Christian worship.

Verse 17

“. . . Dr. Dodd observes that the fall of Babylon, Idumea, Judah, Egypt, and Jerusalem, has been described by the prophets in language equally pompous, figurative, and strong. ‘Now,’ says he, ‘it is certain that the fall of any of these cities or kingdoms was not of greater concern or consequence to the world, nor more deserving to be described in pompous figures, than the fall of the pagan Roman empire, when the great lights of the heathen world, the sun, moon, and stars, the powers civil and ecclesiastical, were all eclipsed and obscured, the heathen emperors and Caesars were slain, the heathen priests and augurs were extirpated, the heathen officers and magistrates were removed, the temples were demolished, and their revenues were devoted to better uses. . . Maximin, Galerius, Maxentius, Licinius, etc., with all their adherents and followers, were so routed and dispersed that they hid themselves in dens, etc.; expressions used to denote the utmost terror and confusion. This is, therefore, a triumph of Christ over his heathen enemies, and a triumph after a severe persecution; so that the time and all the circumstances, as well as the series and order of the prophecy, agree perfectly with this interpretation.'” 

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The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, ©2007, pp. 154-157 

Excursus on Celestial and Terrestrial Signs

The language obviously intends to indicate a great revolution—a decisive and terrifying act of Divine judgment. Nevertheless, this text should derive its specific meaning from the use of such apocalyptic language in the Bible. What this implies may best be seen by examining the Old Testament occurrences of the symbols which describe this seal. . . As Joseph Mede in his ground breaking analysis of Apocalyptic structure indicated in 1632 (and many after him), such symbolism is a common way of referring to ‘the ruin of states and. . . their entire subversion’. . .”

Fulfillment

“. . . when we look for the fulfillment of this seal, we should look for a nation or government central to the unfolding revelation of this book which falls in consequence of a Divine judgment. Moreover, the chronology of the seal prophecies indicates that this judgment should have occurred soon after the persecutions of Diocletian predicted by the fifth seal. . . Just such an event did in fact occur, an event historians are unanimous in identifying as a major turning point in history—the fall about A.D. 325 of the pagan Roman Empire. Contemporary historians recorded with great wonder this unanticipated and revolutionary event.”


Compelling, whatever your view!

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 10, Chapter 1, (4) through (7)

“(4) Thus, as the Scriptures command upon us to sing a new song, we shall accordingly show that after those dreadful and gloomy spectacles and events, we have been privileged to see such things, and to celebrate such things as many of the pious and martyrs of God before us ardently craved to see and did not see them and to hear and did not hear them. (5) But they, indeed, hastening on their course, obtained ‘what was far better,’ being transferred to the heavens themselves and to celestial pleasures. Freely acknolwedging this state of things in our day as better than what we could expect, we have been astonished at the magnifitude of the grace manifested by the Author of our mercies and justly do we admire and adore him with all the powers of our mind. We bear witness to the truth of those declarations recorded, where it is said, (6) ‘Come hither and behold the works of God, the wonders that he hath done upon the earth; he removeth wars until the ends of the earth, he breaketh the bow and snappeth the spear asunder, and burneth the shields in fire’ (Ps. 46:8-9). Rejoicing in these things fulfilled in our day, we shall pursue the tenor our history. (7) All the race of the enemies of God were destroyed in the manner we have stated and were thus suddenly swept away from the sight of men, as the divine word again declares: ‘I saw the wicked lifted up and exalted like the cedars of Lebanon, and I passed by, and lo, he was not; and I sought, and his place was not found’ (Ps. 37:35).”


Commentaries

Futurist

Got Questions: What are the seven seals of Revelation? 

“. . . John writes, ‘I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals’ (Revelation 5:1). This scroll contains the judgments of God; the fact that it is written on both sides indicates the extensive nature of the judgment pending. . .”

Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible

Arno Gaebelein was a dispensationalist and an evangelist to the Jewish people.

“Are the things mentioned under this seal to be taken in a literal sense or symbolically? Most of it is symbolical, yet at the same time great physical phenomena are also involved. The earthquake possibly means a literal earthquake. Earthquakes in diverse places’ our Lord predicted. And they increase as the age draws to its close. But the language is symbolical. Everything is being shaken in this poor world. The civil and governmental powers on earth all go to pieces; every class from kings to slaves is affected by it and terrorized. The political and ecclesiastical world is going to pieces. And when these shaking times have come, when thrones fall and anarchy reigns, when the great collapse of civilization and human society has come with signs on earth and in heaven, the earth-dwellers will see in anticipation the approaching day of wrath. Terror fills every breast and those who sneered at prayer, as the Christ-rejectors do now, will gather for a prayer-meeting to appeal to the rocks to cover them. Read the following Old Testament passages in connection with this seal: Isaiah 24:1-23Isaiah 34:2-4Joel 2:30-31; Zephaniah 1:1-18; Haggai 2:6-7.”

Isaiah 34:2-4

And all the host of heaven will wear away,
And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;
All their hosts will also wither away
As a leaf withers from the vine,
Or as one withers from the fig tree.

The Sixth Seal: The Day of Divine Wrath (6:12-17)

John F. Walvoord

“There are a number of reasons for preferring to take this passage in its literal meaning. While this is not the final breakup of the world as described later in Revelation, when a further period of terrible judgments will be poured on the world, it does seem to indicate that beginning with the sixth seal God is undertaking a direct intervention into human affairs. The judgments of war, famine, and death, and the martyrdom of the saints have largely originated in human decision and in the evil heart of man. The judgment described here, however, originates in God as a divine punishment inflicted upon a blasphemous world.

“In view of the catastrophic and climactic character of the period, there is no good reason why there should not be precisely the elements mentioned here, namely, disturbances in the heavens and earthquakes on the earth. This is borne out by the effect upon the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the chief captains, the mighty men, bondmen, and freemen mentioned in verse 15, who hide themselves in dens and in the rocks of the mountains. The events are of such character that all are impressed with the fact that the day of the wrath of the Lord has come and their judgment is now about to take place. . .

“The day of wrath is at the beginning of the day of the Lord, that extended period when God is going to deal directly in governing the entire world. It is significant that early in the book of Revelation the day of wrath is declared as having already come. It is another evidence that the great tribulation is already under way.

“The day of wrath is in contrast to the day of grace. Though God in every dispensation deals with believers and saves them by grace, the present age is supremely designed to manifest grace not only as the way of salvation but as the way of life. Today God is not attempting to bring divine judgment to bear upon sin. Though there may be some forms of immediate retribution, for the most part God is not settling accounts now. Neither the righteous are rewarded nor the wicked judged in a final sense today. This day of grace will be followed by the day of the Lord which features early in its progress the day of wrath. . .”


 

Is the Apostles Creed Christian?


2 Timothy 1:13-14

NASB

13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

1 Timothy 3:16

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.


Brethren, yes, the creed is Christian, and I believe what it affirms and you do. The Roman Catholic Church didn’t invent it and doesn’t own it. It was a confession of the early Church. Not everything that Rome affirms is wrong (the Deity of Christ), and not everything that uses the word ‘catholic’ (small ‘c’) is Roman Catholic. Since you love the truth, I encourage you to read the linked article by Phillip Schaff. Though no creed can be complete, the truths the Apostles Creed declares are Biblical. Only the Bible itself is inspired and is the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). 


From: The Creeds of Christendom by Dr. Philip Schaff

Click this link to read the rest of the history of The Apostles Creed.

[Please don’t let the Latin put you off.]

“The Apostles’ Creed, or Symbolum Apostolicum, is, as to its form, not the production of the apostles, as was formerly believed, but an admirable popular summary of the apostolic teaching, and in full harmony with the spirit and even the letter of the New Testament.

Character and Value – As the Lord’s Prayer is the Prayer of prayers, the Decalogue the Law of laws, so the Apostles’ Creed is the Creed of creeds. It contains all the fundamental articles of the Christian faith necessary to salvation, in the form of facts, in simple Scripture language, and in the most natural order – the order of revelation – from God and the creation down to the resurrection and life everlasting. It is Trinitarian, and divided into three chief articles, expressing faith – in God the Father, the Maker of heaven and earth, in his only Son, our Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Spirit (in Deum Patrem, in Jesum Christum, in Spiritum Sanctum); the chief stress being laid on the second article, the supernatural birth, death, and resurrection of Christ. Then, changing the language (credo in for credo with the simple accusative), the Creed professes to believe ‘the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.’ It is by far the best popular summary of the Christian faith ever made within so brief a space. It still surpasses all later symbols for catechetical and liturgical purposes, especially as a profession of candidates for baptism and church membership. It is not a logical statement of abstract doctrines, but a profession of living facts and saving truths. It is a liturgical poem and an act of worship. Like the Lord’s Prayer, it loses none of its charm and effect by frequent use, although, by vain and thoughtless repetition, it may be made a martyr and an empty form of words. It is intelligible and edifying to a child, and fresh and rich to the profoundest Christian scholar, who, as he advances in age, delights to go back to primitive foundations and first principles. It has the fragrance of antiquity and the inestimable weight of universal consent. It is a bond of union between all ages and sections of Christendom. It can never be superseded for popular use in church and school.

At the same time, it must be admitted that the very simplicity and brevity of this Creed, which so admirably adapt it for all classes of Christians and for public worship, make it insufficient as a regulator of public doctrine for a more advanced stage of theological knowledge. As it is confined to the fundamental articles, and expresses them in plain Scripture terms, it admits of an indefinite expansion by the scientific mind of the Church. Thus the Nicene Creed gives clearer and stronger expression to the doctrine of Christ’s divinity against the Arians, the Athanasian Creed to the whole doctrine of the Trinity and of Christ’s person against the various heresies of the post-­Nicene age. The Reformation Creeds are more explicit on the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures and the doctrines of sin and grace, which are either passed by or merely implied in the Apostles’ Creed.”


Brethren, we are indebted to believers who lived before us, and shouldn’t think we can do without their labors and insights. Remember what is said here,  

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 

Hebrews 11:4

 


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“You cannot separate Christianity from its ancient creeds. In fact, every true Christian adheres to the ancient creeds of the church, whether he knows it or not . . . . Creeds are concise doctrinal summaries of the doctrines of Scripture, and are subordinate to Scripture as our only infallible rule for faith and life . . . . If we are true Christians who have put our trust in the Christ of the Bible, it is impossible for us not to affirm the church’s ancient creedal statements on the Bible’s teaching. What’s more, we are living in a day when we must not only affirm them but defend them against the onslaught of heretical teachings about the person and work of Jesus Christ.”
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Dr. Burk Parsons, Senior Pastor of Saint Andrews Chapel, Sanford, Florida
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THE APOSTLES’ CREED

“The Apostles’ Creed is the oldest creed of the Christian church and is the basis for others, such as the Nicene Creed, that followed. The Apostles’ Creed, although not written by the apostles, goes back in its oldest form to at least AD 140. 

*The word ‘catholic’ with a lower case ‘c’ refers to the universal church worldwide.”

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


 

 

Ancient thoughts on the human will, and a contemporary portrait of genuine “Calvinism”

 


Matthew 1:21

NASB

21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

1 Corinthians 4:7

NASB

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Romans 9:15-17

15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”


Thoughts

A blogger friend and brother in the Lord has been discussing the doctrines of grace, so here is my response. Not my own thoughts here – though I agree with those I’ve presented – just insights from two Christians who lived many centuries apart. Let’s praise God for the great cloud of witnesses who have testified to the love and grace of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!


Augustine’s Doctrine of the Bondage of the Will

Monergism.com

Augustine of Hippo

Quotes from Augustine

“How have you come? By believing. Fear lest while you are claiming for yourself that you have found the just way, you perish from the just way. I have come, you say, of my own free choice; I have come of my own will. Why are you puffed up? Do you wish to know that this also has been given you? Hear Him calling, ‘No one comes to me unless my Father draws him’ [John 6:44 p.].” – Augustine, Sermons xxvi. 3, 12, 4, 7 (MPL 28.172, 177, 172f., 174)

“Why then, do miserable men either dare to boast of free will before they have been freed, or of their powers, if they have already been freed? And they do not heed the fact that in the term ‘free will’ freedom seems to be implied. ‘Now where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’ [II Cor 3:17]. If therefore, they are slaves of sin, why do they boast of free will? For a man becomes the slave of him who has overcome him. Now if they have been freed, why do they boast as if it had come about through their own effort? Of are they so free as not to wish to be slaves of him who says: ‘Without me you can do nothing'” [John 15:5]

“. . . the human will does not obtain grace by freedom, but obtains freedom by grace; when the feeling of delight has been imparted through the same grace, the human will is formed to endure; it is strengthened with unconquerable fortitude; controlled by grace, it never will perish, but, if grace forsake it, it will straightway fall; by the Lord’s free mercy it is converted to good, and once converted it perseveres in good; the direction of the human will toward good, and after direction its continuation in good, depend solely upon God’s will, not upon any merit of man [anything deserving in man]. Thus there is left to man such free will, if we please so to call it, as he elsewhere describes: that except through grace the will can neither be converted to God nor abide in God; and whatever it can do it is able to do only through grace.”

Excerpts from the author of the article

“Augustine argued that there are four states, which are derived from the Scripture, that correspond to the four states of man in relation to sin: (a) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); (b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); (c) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and (d) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified man.”

One thought here: Augustine’s explanation is helpful but incomplete because it doesn’t address the struggle involved in not sinning:

Romans 7:21-25

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

“There are times when Augustine uses the term ‘free will’ in a positive sense, as R. C. Sproul explains,

‘Augustine did not deny that fallen man still has a will and that the will is capable of making choices. He argued that fallen man still has a free will (liberium arbitrium) but has lost his moral liberty (libertas). The state of original sin leaves us in the wretched condition of being unable to refrain from sinning. We still are able to choose what we desire, but our desires remain chained by our evil impulses. He argued that the freedom that remains in the will always leads to sin. Thus in the flesh we are free only to sin, a hollow freedom indeed. It is freedom without liberty, a real moral bondage. True liberty can only come from without, from the work of God on the soul. Therefore we are not only partly dependent upon grace for our conversion but totally dependent upon grace.‘”


The Practical Implications of Calvinism

(pdf file)

Albert N. Martin

[Emphasis added]

“Matthew Henry, in his simple, homely, quaint way, says, ‘When God deigns to bless his people he sets them a-praying for the blessing which he desires to give them’. And so, if I believe the confession that God saves sinners, that he not only regenerates them, bringing them to repentance and faith, but that he keeps them and ultimately brings them into his presence — if that is his work then it will produce a consistent prayerfulness, not only a holy watchfulness and distrust of myself, but a constant application to him that he would perform in me that which he has promised. For what is prayer in the last analysis? It is a conscious spreading out of my helplessness before God. The true Calvinist is the man who confesses with his lips that grace must not only awaken him, regenerate him, but that grace must preserve him, and he Amens his confession by his prayer when on his knees he cries out, ‘Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil. I cannot even get my bread for today, Lord, unless you sustain my life and bless the labours of my hands: Give me this day my daily bread’. The doctrine of confession, God saves sinners, will produce in the heart of a true Christian the sane biblical pursuit of godliness, holy watchfulness, a consistent prayerfulness, and in the third place. . . A trustful dependence on God to fulfil all that he has purposed. . .

“For a person to claim to be a Calvinist, confessing the soteriological creed that God saves sinners, without this holy watchfulness, some measure of consistent prayerfulness, and a trusting dependence upon God in Christ to fulfill all that he, in grace, has promised, is a contradiction of terms. One of the great cries that is raised today, and some of it has justification, is that people, especially young men, who get hold of Calvinism, and seem to view it as an unanswerable, unassailable philosophical system, become proud, go back now to their secular schools and in ten minutes shoot holes in the views of their Professor of Philosophy. They become proud, cocky. That is a caricature, that is not real Calvinism.”

“What is the personal practical effect of the confession of Calvinism in the life of a man? If he sees God, it will break him, and if he understands that God saves sinners, it will make him a trustful, prayerful, watchful person pursuing practical godliness. Is that what these doctrines are doing for you right where you sit this morning? Some, perhaps, to whom these things are new have feared them and said, ‘Oh, that stuff will just lead to spiritual barrenness and dryness’. It is not so! For these are the truths of God’s Word; I am convinced they are. In their totality they are the truth which is according to godliness, the truth that sanctifies us in answer to the prayer of our great High Priest. May God grant that the truth will do that in you and in me!”


John 17:9-19

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.


 

Quote of the day – Kelly Ling’s “Christian Quote of the Day”


Psalm 18

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.


Earnestness of Preachers

“I go out to preach with two propositions in mind. First, every person ought to give his life to Christ. Second, whether or not anyone else gives him his life, I will give him mine.”

Jonathan Edwards

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the fifth seal

 


A Bible study


Revelation 6:9-11

GNV

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were killed for the word of God, and for the testimony which they maintained.

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Lord, which art holy and true! dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them, that dwell on the earth?

11 And long white robes were given unto every one, and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season until their fellow servants, and their brethren that should be killed even as they were, were fulfilled.


Thoughts

Much trouble – tribulation – is happening right now and will most certainly happen in the future, but we must remember that much suffering and tribulation lies in our past also. 

Paulicians

Waldenses in France

Lollards

Scottish Covenanters

Reformation martyrs under Henry VIII and his descendants

Anabaptists of the 16th and 17th century

Nate Saint and other martyrs of the Ecuadoran Mission

Christians around the world in our day, of whom the world is not worthy.

Hebrews 11

35 The women received their dead raised to life: others also were racked, and would not be delivered, that they might receive a better resurrection.

36 And others have been tried by mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover by bonds, and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned, they were hewn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword, they wandered up and down in sheep’s skins, and in goats’ skins, being destitute, afflicted,  and tormented:

38 Whom the world was not worthy of: they wandered in wildernesses and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth.


Related Scriptures

Revelation 12:11

11 But they overcame him by that blood of that Lamb, and by that word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 14:13

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, The dead which die in the Lord, are fully blessed. Even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


Letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

And unto the Angel of the Church of the Smyrnians write, These things saith he that is first and last, which was dead and is alive.

I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, it shall come to pass, that the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

11 Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.


History related to the Fifth Seal

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 712-713

Chapter 6:9-11.    The Fifth Seal

“There were Ten Imperial Persecutions of the Church, from Nero, A.D. 64, to Diocletian, A.D. 305. The vision may also be a prophetic hint of the Papal Persecutions of the Middle Ages, and perhaps also of the Persecutions of the Tribulation Period of the Last Days.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: The Ten Primitive Persecutions

The First Persecution, under Nero:

“This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

“To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.”

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

HT: Meg, The Antipas Chronicles

The Annals (Latin: Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68″ (Wikipedia). John received and wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81–96 A.D.) Tacitus wrote The Annals in 109 A.D. The Annals address events of the first of the “Ten Primitive Persecutions” – Nero’s – and recount his efforts to shift the blame from himself to Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The following excerpt shows how the world viewed us in Tacitus’ day. Is this how it sees us now?
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“But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. . .

“Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

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Colosseum Innen Rom - Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum In Rome – Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Mark Cartwright

Under Domitian [14 September 81 – 18 September 96], dramas were also held in the Colosseum but with a bloodthirsty realism. . . [It] was also the scene of many executions during the lunch-time lull (when the majority of spectators went for lunch), particularly the killing of Christian martyrs. Seen as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of Pagan Rome and the divinity of the Emperor, Christians were. . . killed in a myriad of cruelly inventive ways.

The Martyrdom Of Polycarp, or The Letter Of The Smyrnaeans

Early Christian Writings – ©Peter Kirby

[Polycarp, A.D. 69 – 155]

“13:3  Immediately then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him. As they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said: ‘Leave me as I am; for He that has granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, even without the security which you seek from the nails.’

“14:1  So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;

“14:2  ‘I bless You because You have granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of Your Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Your presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You did prepare and reveal it beforehand, and have accomplished it, You that art the faithful and true God.

“14:3  For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through Whom, with Him and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and ever and for the ages to come. Amen.’

“15:1  When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire.”

Diocletian

[20 November 284 – 1 May 305 A.D.]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Donald L. Wasson

“Aside from the continued problems with finance and border security, Diocletian was concerned with the continuing growth of Christianity, a religion that appealed to the both the poor and the rich. The Christians had shown themselves to be a thorn in the side of an emperor since the days of Nero. The problem grew worse as their numbers increased. Diocletian wanted stability and that meant a return to the more traditional gods of Rome, but Christianity prevented this. To most of the emperors who preceded Diocletian, Christians offended the pax deorum or ‘peace of the gods.’ Similarly, since the days of Emperor Augustus, there existed the imperial cult – the deification of the emperor – and Jews and Christians refused to consider any emperor a god.

“However, part of the problem also stemmed from Diocletian’s ego. He began to consider himself a living god, demanding people prostrate themselves before him and kiss the hem of his robe. He wore a jeweled diadem and sat upon a magnificent, elevated throne. In 297 CE he demanded that all soldiers and members of the administration sacrifice to the gods; those who would not were immediately forced to resign. Next, in 303 CE he ordered the destruction of all churches and Christian texts. All of these edicts were encouraged by Galerius. However, throughout this Great Persecution the Christians refused to yield and sacrifice to the Roman gods. Leading members of the clergy were arrested and ordered to sacrifice or die and a bishop in Nicomedia who refused was beheaded. Finally, any Christian who refused was tortured and killed. At long last, the persecution came to an end in 305 CE.”


Commentaries

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

“Observe, (1.) Even the spirits of just men made perfect retain a proper resentment of the wrong they have sustained by their cruel enemies; and though they die in charity, praying, as Christ did, that God would forgive them, yet they are desirous that, for the honour of God, and Christ, and the gospel, and for the terror and conviction of others, God will take a just revenge upon the sin of persecution, even while he pardons and saves the persecutors. (2.) They commit their cause to him to whom vengeance belongeth, and leave it in his hand; they are not for avenging themselves, but leave all to God. (3.) There will be joy in heaven at the destruction of the implacable enemies of Christ and Christianity, as well as at the conversion of other sinners. When Babylon falls, it will be said, Rejoice over her, O thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, ch. 18:20 .3. He observed the kind return that was made to this cry (v. 11), both what was given to them and what was said to them. (1.) What was given to them—white robes, the robes of victory and of honour; their present happiness was an abundant recompence of their past sufferings. (2.) What was said to them—that they should be satisfied, and easy in themselves, for it would not be long ere the number of their fellow-sufferers would be fulfilled. This is a language rather suited to the imperfect state of the saints in this world than to the perfection of their state in heaven; there is no impatience, no uneasiness, no need of admonition; but in this world there is great need of patience. Observe, [1.] There is a number of Christians, known to God, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, set apart to be God’s witnesses. [2.] As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted martyred servants of Christ. [3.] When this number is fulfilled, God will take a just and glorious revenge upon their cruel persecutors; he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, and to those that are troubled full and uninterrupted rest.”

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007, pp. 146-147

“So severe were Diocletian’s edicts of extermination that his reign has come to be known as the Era of the Martyrs. Churches were razed, libraries of sacred books were burned, and believers were tortured to death. Prior persecutions had been local and spasmodic – generally inconsequential against the spread of the Christian faith. Diocletian’s war against the Church is the outstanding exemplar of pagan fear and hatred of the true Faith.* At least two conclusions are implied by this text. First, the chronological sequence of the seal prophecies appropriately targets Diocletian’s persecution. Second, the message of the fifth seal also focuses more generally on suffering and martyrdom, a phenomenon which occurred in various locations and with various intensities throughout the entire earlier period of the seals, as well as after Diocletian until Constantine became sole emperor. The completion of the number of martyrs mentioned in verse 11 was to await yet another era foretold in Revelation 13. The symbolic “Beast,” an apostate church, was to conduct a war against the true faith which would dwarf the persecutions of the pagan Emperors. . .” 

* “Eusebius believed that the tragedy was God’s judgment against excesses of the Church.”