Revelation 6:9-11 con’t
…how long before you will judge and avenge our blood… .
There is a “cost to discipleship,” as Bonhoeffer reminds us in his book by that name.
Photo above from Open Doors. Women from a Christian village in Cameroon recover after having their ears chopped off by members of Boko Haram.
III. The faithful church must bear witness during turbulent times.
“The Word of God” is the Greek word logos tou Theou indicating the content of the witness these martyrs had. Remember that John in his Gospel used logos in the first chapter to refer to Jesus.
In our day it costs to remain faithful to God’s Word. However, we must witness to God’s image in man. We must defend the Biblical teaching on marriage, which is between a biologically-born-male and a biologically-born-female because marriage is the symbol of the union between Christ and His church! There is no distinction in Scripture between sex and gender! Genesis 1 makes this clear —
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (emphasis mine.)
“Witness” is the Greek word martyrion from which we derive the English word martyr.
“Had borne” is imperfect tense indicating that this testimony was one that was maintained over a long period of time.
I have already referred in previous posts to African Bishops crying out against “ideological colonization.” (I will place the link to the full article in the notes below.)
We therefore implore you [the West] to end the filthy campaigns that promote a civilization of death on our continent. …contraceptives, sex education programs fabricated elsewhere, purely technical and deprived of moral content, so-called “safe abortions,” have become commodities that are more accessible to Africans than the way of delivering integral development, of which we have such a vital need.
It can no longer be denied that under the euphemism of “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” such programs are plainly imposed as a condition for development assistance.
Such is also the case of the so-called “gender perspective,” according to which motherhood, the filial and nuptial identity of the human being and the family based on marriage between a man and a woman would be “discriminatory stereotypes.” No! Women and men in Africa are not mere individuals, autonomous from their parents, spouses, children… .
These political and economic pressures have but one objective: the drastic control and reduction of the African population, the planned destruction of marriage and the family. We Africans must categorically say No to this plan, which is killing our continent. (see Fitzgerald below; emphasis mine.)
The African Church is increasingly persecuted partly because they will not give up the Biblical Teaching on the family! You might think, well, that’s over there. How long until Biblical Teaching on gender and the family will be classified as Federal Hate Crimes! (It is currently being considered in Switzerland.) If it becomes law here in America, we will see who is faithful.
IV. This prayer for vengeance is consistent with Christ’s teaching about “loving our enemies.”
10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Earth-dwellers is a technical term for those who are at home on the earth and who have no desire for anything more. They stand opposed to God and his will for the earth. The idea of avenging blood is based upon Gen. 4:10. The martyrs are crying out for righteous vengeance. It will not be denied, even if it is postponed!
I have heard on two occasions preachers in the heat of anger call down imprecations upon their personal enemies. One said, “If my enemy opposes me, I pray he has a heart attack.” I do not believe this is justified by Scripture.
The Imprecatory Psalms must be adjusted in application to people today according to redemptive history. Jesus said any thought of holy war is to be waged through evangelism and discipleship. (see Matthew 28:16-20.)
Tremper Longman issues this caveat about using the imprecatory psalms today —
…The imprecations are not just expressions of anger; they allow us to turn our anger over to God for him to act as he sees fit. These prayers do not ask God for the resources and opportunity to take vengeance on our enemies; they ask God to do so and acknowledge his freedom to act or not act as he sees fit. In this way, the imprecations conform to the advice that Paul gives to his readers: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17–19; Firth, 2005). (see Longman below; emphasis mine.)
If we pray the imprecations of God’s word, they must be directed against the evil one and his minions behind the scenes pulling the strings of evil people in our world. (see II Corinthians 10:4-5; and Ephesians 6:10-20.) I like the old KJV — “leave room for the wrath of God.”
The Greek word for Lord is despotes from which we get our word despot. It means “sovereign Lord.” It was a title of the Caesars. Here it is applied to the Lord of glory.
Next time we will look into Rev. 6:12-17.
Alexander, J. A. (1850). Commentary on the Psalms. Riverside, CA: E4 Group. Kindle Edition.
Altar of Souls, The. (2011). Accessed 3 February 2020 from http://www.messianicjudaism.me/yinon/2011/07/28/the-altar-of-souls/
Fitzgerald, R. (2015). “African Bishops Sick of West’s ‘Ideological Colonization’”. Accessed 8 February 2020 from https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/african-bishops-sick-of-wests-ideological-colonization
Hendricks, S. (2016).”‘God is dead’: What Nietzsche really meant.” Accessed 8 February 2020 from https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/what-nietzsche-really-meant-by-god-is-dead
Longman, T. (2014). Psalms: 15-16 (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Schaff, P. (1910). History of the Christian Church. accessed 8 February 2020 from https://ccel.org/s/schaff/history/About.htm
StudyLight. (2020). Accessed 4 February 2020 from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/4969.html
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