END TIME PROPHECY SERIES
BY PASTOR GREGORY BOWSER
LESSON 3 - THE FIFTH SEAL — THE MARTYRS OF THE TRIBULATION
INTRODUCTION: Last week we studied the first four Seal Judgments of the Tribulation after the rapture. This morning we’ll study the next seal — the fifth seal judgment. This judgment deals with the millions of souls of martyrs who are put to death for their faith during the Tribulation Period. Martyrs are an important part of history. God wanted them to be remembered for their great faith and willingness to die for it. They are worthy of great respect and honor. We ought to learn from their devotion and their sacrifice. Therefore, we will devote a lesson to them.
Read Rev. 6:9-11. Notice the phrases in verse 9, “Slain for the word of God.” This reminds us that loyalty to the Bible and its teachings is worth dying for. Many believers in early history died for believing and owning a Bible.
I. WHO ARE THESE MARTYRS? (Rev. 7:9, 13-15) In vs. 13 the question is asked, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes?” Who are they? Consider the answers.
1. They will come out of a battle — “Great tribulation.” Vs. 14 says, “These are they which came out of great tribulation.” They had battles in this 7-year period of tribulation. We are reminded by this seal that life is full of battles. We need to learn to make friends with the battle, because battles are part of God’s will. Philippians 1:29 says, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
2. They will be people totally devoted to God. (vs. 15). It says that they “serve [the Lord] day and night in his temple.” This is what suffering does for people. Suffering inspires devotion to God because it helps us realize what’s important in life. There’s no such thing as a great Christian who has not suffered.
3. They will be beheaded for their faith. (Rev. 20:4). What a horrifying end! But they didn’t get saved when they had a chance before the rapture. There’s a price to pay for “waiting” too long to live for God. Don’t put God off.
II. WHERE DID THESE MARTYRS COME FROM? (Rev. 7:3-4). Notice in vs. 4, “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God…” These 144,000 men were converts in Jerusalem by the two witnesses. Then these 144,000 will go all over the earth preaching the gospel to millions who will also get saved (vs. 6).
1. The 144,000 will be part of martyrs. They will be put to death first by the antichrist for their soulwinning.
2. Two witnesses sent from heaven will also be part of the martyrs. (Rev. 11:3-7). Vs. 7 says “the beast…shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” God will give power to His two witnesses. Many believe these two witnesses will be Moses and Elijah, because they appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Read Malachi 4:5-6).
3. Millions who will be converted all over the earth as the 144,000 Billy Graham Jews cover the earth preaching will be martyred with them.
4. 2/3 of the Jews in Jerusalem will be also killed by the antichrist. (Zech. 13:8-9; 14:2-3). The Anti-Christ shall set up his kingdom rule in Jerusalem where he will deceive the Jews.
a. He will make them believe that he is the prophesied Messiah. He will make a peace treaty with them, promising to rebuild their temple. This is the “covenant” talked about in Isaiah 28:18.
b. He will defile the temple by sitting in the Holy Place making himself to be God. (This defilement is called ‘the abomination of desolation’). It is spoken of in Daniel.
c. The Jews will eventually renounce him as a false Messiah. Then the Anti-christ will begin the slaughter of Jerusalem. Women shall be ravished, and the Jews will flee for their lives. Notice Zech. 13:9.
d. The Jews will be warned by God to escape when they see the Temple defiled. (Matthew 24:14-22). In vs. 15, the converted Jews are given an “advance warning” to escape Jerusalem when they “see the abomination of desolation. This is all part of a refining fire to prepare unbelieving Jews to accept Christ when he returns.
e. This slaughter will be the beginning of the 2nd half of the Tribulation. Matt. 24:21 says, “Then shall be great tribulation.” The last 3½ years are called the “Great Tribulation.” The first half is called “the tribulation.”
III. WHY WILL THESE MARTYRS BE KILLED? (Rev. 13:13-18). The first program the Anti-Christ will introduce will be the anti-poverty economic program known as “the mark of the beast. To receive the mark, you must declare allegiance to the kingdom, and to the Anti-christ by bowing before his image called “the image of the beast.” This requirement of allegiance is no doubt to flush out believers to be killed. Since believers won’t bow down to an image, this “test” will reveal who are the Christians. Many believe the Christians will be referred to as “haters” in order to justify killing them. They will be accused of hating the Antichrist who the world sees as a savior.
1. Because they will not worship the image of the beast, nor the antichrist, they will die. Vs. 15 says, “…and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Worshipping the image of the beast is a denial of Christ, and an acknowledging of the beast as God. Those who worship him will not be saved.
2. Because they will not take his mark, they suffer hunger. Vs. 16-17 says, “And he causeth all, both small and great…to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their forehead; And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark…” Refusal of this mark means nearly “starving.” This too will be a refining fire to bring people to a more perfect Christian life.
IV. WHAT WILL THE MARTYRS DO UNTIL THEIR DEATHS? (Daniel 11:32-35). Their deaths will not be meaningless sacrifices. They will honor God with their lives by instructing others in truth, and setting an example.
1. God will give them great understanding about what is happening. (vs. 33). There is comfort in knowing what is happening to you and to others. God gives understanding to those who know him and serve him.
2. God will help them in their hardships. (vs. 34). It says, “Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help.” Even when they are caught and killed, God will be with them. He will give them grace and comfort.
3. God will strengthen them to do mighty works. (vs. 32). And it says, “They shall do exploits.” “Exploits” means they will do great works. They will accomplish a lot for God while the devil is on the rampage. They will have underground churches and underground feeding programs, sharing their food with other Christians. This will give them a reason to keep going.
CONCLUSION: Having a purpose for living is very important to being happy while suffering. When you have a purpose, life has meaning. Christians may suffer a lot, but we have a meaningful life because we are aware that we are fulfilling a plan for God.
Copyright © 2014 Gregory Bowser. All Rights Reserved.*
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