Scriptural Vignette Cameo Study #2 - “I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were slain...” - Revelation 6

Scriptural Vignette Cameo Study #2

“I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were slain...”

Revelation 6

“9And 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:

10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the Earth?’

11And 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.”

[Note that the Word of God does NOT teach a blind, rainbow, repentanceless, indiscriminate ‘luv’ and blanket, universal forgiveness. Since these Saints* are in Heaven, in their glorified state, being in Christ’s Presence, and therefore, having been transformed into His Likeness, don’t you think that the Saints in Heaven better understand praying in the Will of God than do carnal, less-knowledgeable Christians on Earth...? and don’t you think that they are truly holy, being in God’s Presence...? —which is what the white robes symbolize; being clothed in Christ’s Righteousness and Holiness in their glorified bodies.

* The word Saints in the Bible does NOT refer to idolatrously quasi-deified humans upon whom the sinful, superstitious high-ranking members of the Catholic Church “voted” to have declared “super-holy”, to be revered, semi-worshipped, and prayed to even as Mary and angels (concepts NOWHERE mentioned in Scripture — except when Scripture mentioned the sinful Israelites who adopted the pagan Babylonian practice of worshipping “the Queen of Heaven”). The word Saints refers to any, some, or all of the true believers, the elect of God’s people, whether in Heaven or on Earth (depending upon context).

Understand, the “world” that God so loved is not referring to every upright walking biped on the planet, but is defined by other Scripture, even as Christ said, “I pray not for the world, but those whom Thou hast given Me out of the world” (John 17:9), and as John wrote “Love not the world... if any man love the world the Love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). God does not love those whom He hates. God is not double-minded. God is not the one who is confused. God does not love Satan, the fallen angels, demons, vessels of wrath, or the non-elect of His people. God will not damn whom He loves; He will not show Mercy to, forgive, or bless those whom He hates. God is Holy. God is Just. God is Good. Good does not reward evil. Again, man’s sinful, confused mind is to conform to God’s; not vice versa. Had David been carnally confused and sinful when He declared and prayed the following — God would have rebuked him and taught him the proper Doctrine and attitude:

“21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee? 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the Way Everlasting.” (Psalm 139)

Those who truly love God will love what He loves and hate what He hates — and thus it behooves the true Christian to know what God loves and to know what God hates; otherwise, one cannot “be holy as I am Holy”. Again, this “being holy” is not something that originates in man; it is not something that man achieves by his own ability or determination. It is the result of the Presence of the Holy Spirit that will lead the truly regenerate elect believer into the understanding of the Truth of God’s Word and empower him to come into conformity and obedience thereunto; and to give him the desire and ability to obey God. Those without the Holy Spirit, who do not have eyes to see or ears to hear or hearts to obey or truly seek after God, only “play Church” and engage in a pseudo-spiritual emotional experience within his own delusion. God is not fooled by fraud, no matter how “sincere” — the only sincerety that matters is obedience, not emotional energy sinfully misapplied by confused minds; sincere or not, a counterfeit is still a counterfeit.]

Why are the saints under the Altar...? They are not “sleeping” (despite being told to “rest a little while), because they are crying out to God in prayer (again, for vengeance, not for the wicked to be “converted”). They are not playing “hide and seek” from the wicked; for they are safe in Heaven; furthermore, the wicked on Earth can only kill an individual’s body ONCE. As Christ Jesus declared, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell*” (Matthew 10:28). This person who can destroy both soul and body in Hell* is God.

[* The destruction of the Second Death is not terminal, but continual. It is not the cessation of life, or annihilationism. Imagine a city in a war zone, the building with holes of various sizes blown through them, partial roof collapse, while the pitiful inhabitants who escaped death scavenge and live among the rubble, dogs, birds, and vermin; a perpetual living through destruction. It is probably whence the myth of Prometheus bound was derived. If Hell merely means the “grave” — after a life of suffering and injustice, pain and toil, disease and tragedy “non-existence” would be a blessing! It would be something welcomed; not feared. Everlasting destruction is not everlasting if it ends. God’s Wrath could not be “ever abiding” on those He is judging if they cease to exist. Yes, it is a horrible notion. But what impetus for repentance is it to tell sinners, “you better repent or all your pain and suffering will end once you cease to exist”...? Eternal Suffering, of unimagineable intensity and duration, irremedial, without hope... now THAT gets my attention; and the attention of any sane, rational individual. To gamble your soul for an Eternity of suffering, for a fistful of years of living in sin, which itself is not always “fun” based upon an impotent “hope” that Hell does not exist, and that sinful humans are wiser than God — is the height of folly. To risk one’s own soul is one thing, but for false prophets to play Eternal Russian Roulette with the souls of others equally as stupid and wicked as themselves, by leading them astray with false doctrine and false hope is an entirely different matter; and again, the degree of suffering is based on the degree of wickedness.]

However, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (I John 4:18). Love is not a gushy emotion; though true love can be accompanied by gushy emotions. Love is self-sacrifice (sacrificing what self would prefer in order to do something for someone else or for a greater good) and true love is obedience (which is also self-sacrifice: sacrificing what self wants to have or do in order to do what is commanded or what is right). Christ referred to the ultimate self-sacrifice when He expressed,

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus also said,

“If ye love Me keep My Commandments.” (John 14:15)

“If ye keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in my Love; even as I have kept My Father’s Commandments, and abide in His Love.” (John 15:10)

Since there is no authority above God, God’s “obedience” is being true to Himself, His Nature, His Attributes, His Decrees, His Will, His Plan, His Law — which never change (because God is Immutable and Perfect, Faithful and True). God’s Love is also self-sacrifice:

“For God so loved [the elect of His people in] the world, that He GAVE (John 3:16).

“10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if [since] God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12No man hath seen God [in His Fulness] at any time. If we love one another, [this is evidence that] God dwelleth in us, and His Love is perfected in us. 13Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” (I John 4)

[Again, God’s is not an indiscriminate love; and it has boundaries established in the never-changing Word of God. A truth becomes a falsehood when its boundaries are violated; when that which is limited and specific is made universal and general.]

So, true love is obedience; but, why is there no fear in love...? —because the elect of God’s people who are NOT in disobedience / rebellion to what God commanded do not have to worry about God’s Judgement:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

“Walking in the Spirit” is a synonym for obedience, keeping the Law of God, bearing Christ’s Fruit, being in Christ, obeying the Law of God, not sinning, doing that which is pleasing in God’s Sight (not by carnal will power, but by the Agency of the Holy Spirit within the regenerate elect individual). It is a by-product of salvation (regeneration); not a contributor or cause of it.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

What are the lusts of the flesh...? —the violation of all that God commanded; as the subsequent verses indicate:

“19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

All these sins / vices / crimes works (lusts) of the flesh are commanded against in the Law of God: which was not abolished — not one jot or tittle. Note also that the Fruit-package of the Spirit (which are a remedy, of sorts, or prevention for the lusts of the flesh) are the opposite commanded virtues; and Scripture adds, “against such there is no law”, which is juxtapositioned to those things against which there ARE laws. This is further evidence that the Law of God was never abolished (even though those who know the Shepherd’s Voice don’t need further evidence, since Christ Jesus said “think NOT that I am come to destroy the Law, for I am NOT”, and that “NOT one jot or tittle shall pass from the Law”; but those easily confused* by other Scripture need repeated reminders). The above list of things against which there ARE laws, is not intended to be an exhaustive list; it is merely a good smattering. Furthermore, the passage does not suggest that salvation or perdition are works oriented, which they are not. Furthermore, the passage is not inferring that anyone who commits any of these violations of God’s Law a single time will be damned. It is referring to those who habitually so sin, who continue therein as a “lifestyle” (more properly, a “deathstyle”), and who live in such in unrepentant sinfulness, even believing there to be nothing wrong with such behaviour — and that is evidence toward utter reprobation and that there was never any conversion, hence, never any regeneration.

[* There are many different types of “law” mentioned in Scripture; only a fool thinks that every mention of the same word refers to the same thing. It is no more the case with Law than it is with pronouns. Was the Law of gravity abolished? the Laws of Thermodynamics? the Law of Christ? the Law of the Harvest? the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ? the Law of Sin and Death? Similarly, in Scripture, each time the word “save(d)” or “salvation” is used does not refer to regeneration (Everlasting Salvation); it can refer to sanctification, or it can refer to any deliverance or rescue from any mundane situtation. Likewise, each time that the word “stranger” appears does not refer to the same type of stranger. All such words have to be understood according to immediate context, and overall harmony with Scripture, since God will not contradict Himself, lie, make a mistake, change His Mind, etc.]

So, in our main passage in Revelation 6, what is it that is under the Altar...? —martyred saints.

But again, why are they under the Altar...? Furthermore, what is it that was normally under the Altar...?

The Old Testament was NOT abolished and it gives insight concerning — and the only proper interpretation of the New. This is not referring to what is falsely called the “altar” in modern Christian or Catholic Churches (the Communion Table is NOT an “altar”, neither is a kneeling rail below and in front of the pulpit, where people can kneel and pray and seek counsel of the elders during the “invitation” [falsely called an “altar call”] after a sermon). The Altar is the place where sacrifices were offered — burned. That which was below the Altar were ashes...!

Below is a selection from my poem, Visions of the Apocalypse (to be published in my third volume of poetic works, Divine Visions & Incisions, which is about 70% completed):

9Then open’d he seal number five,
saw I then martyr’d souls—alive!
for Word of God, the Truth were kill’d,
like ash under God’s Altar fill’d.

10Then cried they out with desp’rate voice—
‘Lo, we were given wicked choice!
denied Thee not, now Lord arise,
how long wilt not avenge our cries?’

11To them were given robes pure white,
‘Rest now awhile, enjoy respite;
for more martyrs, your kinsmen dear,
shall fill My Altar, as you here’.

[I also had written a different version of this chapter in my second volume, Sober & Sacred Reflections (2020), 262pp., 18.00 + P&H.  The first volume is: Bittersweet Impressions & Inspirations (2019), original poems & few short stories, 310pp., pb., 6x9, 20.00 + P&H. Both contain many entire chapters of Scripture set to meter / rhyme taking into consideration both proper translation and insightful interpretation; they also contain poems of nature, inspiration, hope & heartache, with insights into theology, philosophy, psychology, science, and more.  P&H for any titles mentioned herein is 10% (6.00 minimum P&H) within the U.S.]

So, what does it mean when Scripture speaks of Saints who are under the Altar...? It means that they are martyrs; that they were sacrificed ; symbolically, reduced to ashes (and indeed, many were burned to death, as during the Reformation). Understand: God decreed and commanded that whatever touched the Altar (or anything else that was sanctified unto God as Holy) was to be treated as holy, that is, devoted / dedicated to God! This is why vows unto God, especially in Yahweh’s Name, are irrevocable (which is why Jephthah’s foolish (not merely “rash”) vow had to be carried out). This is why there were not commoners, carelessly stumbling about the Altar: for if they tripped or bumped into it, they would have to be put to death (as Uzzah later discovered when he put his hand out, attempting to keep the Ark from tipping off the ox cart — on which it should not have been being carried — when the oxen stumbled or the cart hit a bump or pothole*).

[* The word “displeased” in II Samuel 6:8 is a mistranslation; and should be grieved. David was under no delusion that God existed “to please” David. David was grieve in his soul, that in his joy and haste to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to where it belonged with the Tabernacle (where it had not been for many decades — longer than David had been alive), he failed to inquire of the Lord HOW it was to be done; and because David had been so careless, Uzzah had died.]

This is why all the furniture and utensils of the Tabernacle were not carried by commoners, and the furniture was even carried on poles, so that even the Levites or Priests did not touch that which was holy. This is why the Philistines who captured the Ark of the Covenant were struck with boils or tumors, and why Israelites of one village, who looked in the Ark, were struck dead (though the number that were struck dead is a corruption of the text). This is why Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, were struck dead while “offering strange fire” (performing their duties while drunk).

[* I Samuel 6:19. Bethshemesh. Certainly 50,070 men did not look into the Ark. Furthermore, the village did not even have that population. This is either a rare corruption of the text / copiest error, or it is a mistranslation and there is more information that is left out. It could be possible that word spread from village to village and a massive crowd followed to where the ox eventually stopped, at Bethshemesh; then the men of the massive crowd had the bright idea to open the Ark and look inside it; general concensus was taken, and the majority agreed; God then weighed in on the matter and smote 50,070 “IN” Bethshemesh (not that they were “OF” Bethshemesh); and it is a misunderstanding that those who were smote looked into it; but rarely would God Judge those not complicit; so those whom He slew were those who agreed, “—yeah, somebody open it up and see what is in it”.  For far more on this and many other “seeming” inconsistencies or contradictions, see my Which Bible ...?: Understanding the ONLY Valid Method of Interpretation and Many Difficulties Explained, 510pp., pb., 27.50 + P&H.]

The ashes of one special sacrifice, the Red Heifer, were actually saved for special cases of purification. The rest of the ashes of other sacrifices were removed by the Priests. The ashes were not treated as dung or mere waste, but were transported by the priests “to a clean place”. The Altar was holy, the fire and smoke and ashes were holy. There is nothing superstitious or mystical about this. It is a simple matter of God’s Decrees as demonstrative of His Holiness and Purity. Holiness infers “separation”, not only from that which is vile and cursed, but also from that which is merely common.

[Imagine a beautiful white wedding dress. Have you ever seen any respectable bride wearing it while playing football in the mud...? or wearing it while cleaning the house? It is set apart for one purpose and it is holy, in that sense. Any respectable person, if he had just been mucking out the horse stables, and was sweaty and covered with mud and manure, maybe surrounded by flies, and covered in stench, would never go near a bride dressed in her white wedding gown (or the groom in his tuxedo; but that is not the point I am making). It is a matter of respect of purity (“in theory” — but how many brides are actually pure, nowadays? it is probably a statistical rarity) and also a recognition of one’s own vileness. THIS (in a limited, mundane sense) is why Peter, upon recognizing that Jesus was the Son of God, declared, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). THIS is understanding of holiness and also of sin. This is why God forbade His true people to defile themselves with anything that He forbade (other peoples, eating unclean animals, approaching a dead body, any form of perversion, including homoperversion, etc.) —for when they do so they make themselves abominable and God will have nothing to do with them. Their foulness and uncleanness are demonstrative of the uncleanness of their sin and their stubbornness and rebellion (which Scripture says, are as the sins of witchcraft and idolatry). It is not that Jesus could have been defiled by Peter’s sinfulness, as a wedding dress could be defiled by someone in muddy, filthy clothes. It is not as if God could be defiled by our uncleanness, for He is Immutable and Omnipotent. The issue is that God is also Holy and Just and Righteous, and His Very Nature forbids such fellowship; and thus, fellowship is broken when one rebels, sins, or defiles himself (knowingly or unknowingly). God then rejects such who are defiled — and in reality, those who are so defiled actually rejected God by defiling themselves. By committing such sins they reject God; and knowing God will reject them if they defile themselves, it shows how little they value or respect or obey God, as they deem the object of their defilement, their sin, to be of greater value than God Himself.

This is why Achan and his entire family, and all of his livestock were stoned to death and then they and everything that they owned was burned by fire. Jericho was the firstfruits of battles at the beginning of the Conquest. The entire city and all that it contained was dedicated / cursed — doomed to God. This was clearly commanded and all knew it. Achan was overcome with greed and stole what was God’s, what was dedicated as holy — all of which was supposed to be burned with fire — and therefore, he doomed himself and his whole house. Maybe other family members also handled the stolen booty. It was hid in the floor in the midst of their tent, so at the very least it is most probable that all in the family knew of it. None of them beseeched Achan to confess to Moses what he had done, so they were all accomplices after the fact. Because there was “sin in the camp”, and because, it would seem, Joshua and the High Priest had not first consulted God, 36 Israelite men died in the next battle against the city of Ai. It was then that the elders sought the Lord; and it was then that God revealed the sin in the camp. Those who still think that it was “unfair” for Jephthah’s daughter or Achan’s family to be put to death show that their minds are not holy and that they have a god-complex and think themselves holier than God. They ought to demonstrate the godly resolve of Jephthah’s daughter and repent of their sin and rebellion against God. Our minds and wills are to conform to God’s Mind and Will. Those who do not understand (or resist) this, demonstrate that they do not know God, but merely entertain a superstition.]

If any of the elect of God’s people truly suffer for righteousness’ sake, and for the Testimony / Faith of Christ Jesus, as Jesus said, the world does not hate them, but they hate Christ, their Master. An offense against a slave is not againt the slave, but against the master. An offense against a man’s wife or children is not against the wife or children, but against the husband or father. Those who are self-centered, selfish, and think of themselves more highly than they ought, who do not realize their actual status, and who falsely imagine that they are their own person and independent, are under Strong Delusion. Tell me, if you are a slave of a King — the king’s property — or the wife or child of a King, if someone injures or offends you, it is an offense to the King himself and the retribution will be magnificently greater. If you are just a common serf, a common dirty-faced child or independent woman, if you are injured or offended by someone, if you are your own person, the injury or offense is nearly a “non-issue”. Arrogant, ignorant, sinful man gives up far more than he realizes, when he imagines himself, and lives as if he is his own person. Such a haughty, dishonorable person is often disowned and cast out.

As the elect of God’s people share in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, so also they share in His Holiness, and their suffering and martyrdom (the saints, “ashes” under the Altar” of burnt offerings) for Him is Holy.

“As it is written, For Thy Sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Romans 8:36)

Such things do not happen apart from God’s determination, even as Christ was not offered up “by chance”.

“He that spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

“10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong his days, and the Pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His Hand. 11He shall see of the travail of His Soul, and shall be satisfied: by His Knowledge shall My Righteous Servant justify many;* for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53)

[* Again, not “all”. Again, Christians need to realize that THEY are NOT God. GOD is God. It is their duty to conform to Him, not think that they know better or are more holy that God. The solution is NOT to focus on the upsetting things, but focus on GOD. Peter’s mistake was focusing on the wind and the waves — rather than focusing on the One who controlled them! The duty of the elect child of God is NOT to focus on the poor hapless “vessels of wrath” but be thankful that he is not a vessel of wrath himself...! Focusing on unpleasant thoughts that are the result of God’s Decrees is to open yourself up to temptation to then accuse God of being unholy, unjust, not good. It is the duty of honorable slaves, sons, and wives to trust their master, father, and husband — not think that they know better. Again, “Christians” who have a “god-complex” think that they would be a “better God” than God is — and that is blasphemy.]

However, Scripture also informs us,

“And if [since we, the elect of God’s people are His] children, then [we are also] heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together [with Him].” (Romans 8:17)

Thus, Scripture says,

“He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His Sight.” (Psalm 72:14)

[This is a mistranslation. The Hebrew word rendered “redeem” should be avenge. It is #1350 gaw-ahl, “to be the next of kin”, that is, play the part of not only Kinsman Redeemer but also Blood Avenger. If in this verse their soul was “redeemed” (delivered) from deceit and violence, their blood would not have been spilt. The meaning is, their blood shall be avenged, because it is precious in His Sight.]

“Precious in the Sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 115:16)

Note also the dual meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words for “dedicated / devoted” which also mean “cursed / doomed”. It is a matter of perspective. Something may be dedicated to God, such as the city of Jericho — but from Jericho’s perspective, from the perspective of the one to be sacrificed, it is doomed.

[It takes time for you to read, it takes 10-20 hours of dedication to write / refine and post for free,  The laborer is worthy of his hire, and ministers too.  If quoting or using in a sermon or writing, please give credit and don’t pass off as as your own ideas what are not.  Give honor to whom honor is due.]