What is the significance of the 5th seal in Revelation?

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The fifth seal is described in Revelation 5 verses 9-11: “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: And 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? 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 fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

This period represents the Reformation period, an era when the truth is vindicated in spite of the terrible persecutions which had swept away hundreds of thousands of innocent victims. Those martyrs are recognized for their true heroism and courage. In the symbolic prophecy, “white robes” are ascribed to them, robes of righteousness. Their faithfulness to truth is now recognized as being a great mark of allegiance to God. Just as the blood of innocent Abel was represented as crying from the ground in the book of Genesis, crying for vengeance, so here the blood of the martyrs who had died for their faith, is represented as crying out also for vengeance from the persecutors. The unjust death of those Christians demands vengeance.

It was the work of the Reformation leaders and the introduction of the printing press which made it possible to vindicate the multitudes who had gone down to horrible death during the Dark Ages.

At this point the truth was not entirely wiped out by the long period of persecution. Refugee groups fled back into the mountains and hid in the caves of earth to preserve the true doctrines of apostolic Christianity. Another book of Acts could be written concerning the heroism of those persecuted minority groups who sought to preserve the purity of the gospel during times of extreme persecution and tribulation.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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