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Milepost 14: Seal 5: The Martyrs

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Milepost 14: Seal 5: The Martyrs

Primary References: Revelation 6:9-11, Revelation 7:9-17

he persecution of the tribulation's righteous starts when Jesus breaks the fifth seal, revealing bodiless souls under an altar in heaven. These martyrs were slain for the word of God (Jesus (John 1)) and their testimony. Their presence in heaven proves they can only be the souls of righteous people but they cannot be the church because the church received their new bodies when the rapture occurred in Revelation 4:1-2. These righteous can only be those who have died since the rapture and are, therefore, tribulation saints. Apparently, these saints rejected the first rider's demands, followed God, lived their lives according to God's commandments, and testified of Jesus. For this, they became the horseman's mortal enemies and received an earthly reward of death, probably by beheading (Revelation 20:4).

At first, John saw just their souls (no bodies). After their cries, he sees them receiving the reward of the righteous: white robes. Since their bodiless souls have no need of garments, their reception of the white robes implies their souls now reside in physical bodies and that sometime in these verses, they must have received their new perfect eternal bodies. After receiving their robes, these saints receive instructions to wait until the rest of the tribulation saints die and join them in heaven. Unlike the church, which had to wait for the rapture for their resurrection, God resurrects, transfigures, and gives the tribulation saints their white robe raiment rewards immediately following their deaths. At some point in the tribulation, probably the marriage supper, this immediate resurrection ends and afterwards, all the dead must wait until the final judgments at the great white throne.

The sheer quantity of tribulation martyrs shown in Revelation 7:9-17 is staggering. It is striking that John was able to estimate the population of 100 million angels but these saints are so numerous that he is seemingly unable to guess their numbers and claims no man can count them. Considering the church is not on earth and new believers are quickly martyred, how is it possible for there to be so many tribulation saints? Perhaps, they are the fruits of the two witnesses and God's servants (the un-raptured Jews), fear of God and His judgments, or repulsion over the antichrist's actions; however, it is evident that even in the midst of the great sins of the tribulation, God's grace is pleading with men to repent and return to Him