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The Marvel of a Martyr's Prayer | Stephen Davey

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2024 12:00 am

The Marvel of a Martyr's Prayer | Stephen Davey

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 15, 2024 12:00 am

The world is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. In this gripping message, Stephen Davey unpacks the scene of persecuted martyrs in Revelation 6. Are they weeping? Do they remember what happened? Must they wait for their vindication? Discover the startling answers in this powerful message that will challenge your thinking about Heaven and ignite your hope in Christ.

Key Takeaway: Earth may be filled with suffering for the believer, but heaven is filled with rest and reward!

Want to learn more? Head over to Wisdom Online (https://www.wisdomonline.org) for additional resources and deeper exploration into the wisdom of Scripture.

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Even in his resurrected body, Jesus carried the scars of the crucifixion that led to his death. Jesus Christ has chosen to retain in his glorified body prominent, what?

Scars. Does that ruin heaven for him? Will that ruin heaven for him to remember how he died for us? Will it ruin heaven for us as we see him and recognize fully that it was our sin that scarred him? No, it will make heaven all that much sweeter. Remembering all that Jesus Christ did for you makes the salvation he offers all the sweeter.

There's a parallel between that and your own experience. Heaven is not a place where you forget all that happened to you here on earth. If you suffer for Christ here on earth, it makes the joy and celebration of heaven sweeter. As Stephen continues through his current series from the book of Revelation, he comes to a passage describing a group of martyrs in heaven. They remember all that's happened and they're talking to God about it. This message is called the marvel of a martyr's prayer. Now as the tribulation period opens, if you were with us in our last studies, four horsemen appeared one after another.

They perfectly paralleled Jesus Christ's warnings in Matthew 24. These horsemen sort of thunder their way across the planet, triggering global horrors which they represent. The white horse and its rider bring a counterfeit or a false peace which will ultimately set the stage for global deception.

This one world government and one world religion. The rider of the red horse then appears bringing global unrest and bloodshed. Next comes the black horse and its rider carries in his hand scales representing global famine. As bad as it gets, as horrific and devastating as all of this is, it will only get worse.

The fourth rider appears riding on a pale green horse and let's lose such pestilence that one fourth of the world's population dies. If you can imagine in the space of a year or two, several billion people die. If somebody wanted to make a fortune in the tribulation, all they'd need to do is build coffins. This all happens in the opening couple of years of the tribulation which parallel the warnings of Christ and his Mount Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 and 25. In fact, it all happens in the same sequence that Christ said it would happen. First, you have global deception and then you have global unrest. Then you have global famine overlapping with all of these and then global pestilence and death. There has never been a time when the results of all four horsemen have occurred in overlapping sequences of time. There has never been a time in world history when world madness like this has been experienced in this sequence and to this extent.

And this is just for starters. The four horsemen represent the first four periods of the tribulation as the first four seals are peeled off the scroll. The scroll unrolls a little further with the removal of each seal. And what it does, we catch these brief glimpses of the future unveiled. The future is revealed, hence the name of this book, Revelation.

This is the future revealed for us. Now there are three more seals to be opened as this coming madness only deepens and intensifies. So let's pick our study back up at Revelation chapter 6 where the fifth seal is about to be opened. Let's read what happens next in verse 9. When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they had maintained.

Now let me quickly ask and answer five or six questions. First, who are these people? Well, we're told they're martyrs. They've evidently died during the onset of the persecution in the tribulation. One author put it this way, The Lord in our day, by the power of the Holy Spirit on earth, bridles the passions of men. But let the presence and power of the Spirit be withdrawn even slightly and the world's enmity to Christ and those who are his shall burst out in fierce and bitter persecution even unto death.

In other words, hell will break loose, as it were, on the earth after the rapture of the church and the unregenerate nations of the world will unleash a bloodbath on anyone claiming the name of Christ. Now there are those who would say that these are the martyred ones from the entire church age. That's simply those martyred during the tribulation. The primary problem, and there are several, but I'll give you the primary one with that view, simply the fact is we'll see in a moment they are praying for justice to be brought against their tormentors who are alive on earth while they are praying. They are praying in heaven while their persecutors are alive on earth. See, these martyred ones parallel Christ's words in his Mount Olivet prediction that there will be martyrs during these opening birth pangs of this hour, a reference to the tribulation of Matthew 24 verses 8 to 10. In other words, the persecution Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 corresponds perfectly with the thing that brings these martyrs before the throne in Revelation chapter 6.

It intensifies beginning the first half of the tribulation and it escalates into the second half of the tribulation after the Antichrist is fully revealed in all his satanic hatred and power. These are the souls here in verse 9, the first group of believers executed for their faith. This is who they are. Next question is what exactly are they? It says they are souls. I saw beneath the altar the souls of those, and you sort of have this picture that they must be some sort of misty spirits floating around heaven. Well, the word translated souls can be translated simply lives. These are the lives of those who were slain. The same Greek word appears again in Revelation chapter 12 verse 11 in reference to the martyrs.

The text says who did not love their lives even when faced with death. So the fact that they are as well in addition to that given white robes certainly implies some sort of intermediate temporary body while they and all those who have already died in Christ await the resurrection and glorification of their former bodies. They've got to hang the robe on something.

They've got to have some kind of body. In fact, you remember the pulling back of the curtain on the place of torment and the place of paradise when Lazarus and the rich man died, Christ revealed what happened. Remember the rich man was in torment asking that Lazarus dip his what in water? His finger in water and touch his what? His tongue.

You have to have a body to have a finger and you have to have a body to have a mouth to have a tongue to taste water. So these martyrs have intermediate bodies as all who are with Christ now able to enjoy everything in its glorious state prior to the new heaven and new earth but they're given this special robe. You can't hang a robe on a mist. In fact, this robe signifies the fact that they have been given some kind of temporary body to receive their final resurrection body. Next question, just where are they? Now the verse tells us in verse 9 that they are beneath the altar. I thought when I read it, are they hiding?

Are they sort of scrunched altogether uncomfortably? It's helpful to understand that this word translated underneath as I study doesn't refer to space but to relationship. They are related to the altar. So then the next question would be, which altar? Well, the Greek noun used here for altar is always used in Revelation to refer to the golden altar of incense. Patterned after the altar of incense in the temple and tabernacle days. This is a perfect fit here.

Why? Because the prayers of God are often used as a metaphor of incense wafting its way up to the nostrils of God. The prayers of God's people are often in scripture symbolized by incense. John will write later in this revelation these words. And much incense was given to the angel so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God. Chapter 8 verses 3 and 4. Next question.

Why exactly were these people killed? Well, John leaves no doubt for us. He writes in verse 9 again. Look there. Because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they maintained.

That's why. They died because they would not recant of their faith. Their new found faith in Christ. They put their loyalty and love for Jesus Christ, spelled their doom, their end on earth. But their glory in heaven. Some of them would have perhaps accepted Christ and the gospel of Christ under threat of death, accepted him and down comes the blade.

Or the hangman's noose is let loose. Listen, what we are seeing around the world today is only a prelude for the persecution which will be unleashed in the tribulation. Today is a sign of things to come.

Well now we know who they are and what they are and where they are and why they are there. Now let's notice what they're saying. Verse 10. And they cried out with a loud voice saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, will you refrain from judging and avenging your blood on those who dwell upon the earth? Now that doesn't sound like a very spiritual prayer request to me, does it?

How long, O Lord, until you wreak vengeance on the planet? But this is what would be known as an imprecatory prayer imprecate. It means to call down calamity and judgment upon someone.

And if you read the book of Psalms, you've read many imprecatory prayers, haven't you? In Psalm 79, verse 10, David sings, Let there be known among the nations in our sight vengeance for the blood of your servants which has been shed. Later in Psalm 94, David prayed, O Lord God of vengeance, God of avenging acts, shine forth. Rise up as he looks forward to the judgment. O judge of the earth, render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O Lord? How long shall the wicked rejoice? They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. But God will destroy them and their evil.

The Lord our God will destroy them. Basically what you have are these martyrs asking the same question, offering an imprecatory prayer. When will you act, O Lord? Now notice upon what they expect God to act. They call him holy and true.

You are a God of holiness and truth and because of that we expect you to act. In other words, when will you bring your holy justice to bear and fulfill the truth promised in your word of the coming judgment when all things will be made right? Evidently these martyrs have read Paul's writings to the Thessalonians of that future day. Listen to what Paul wrote. For after all it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well. When the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction. The Thessalonians 1 6-9.

What's the issue? Is God just petty and vindictive? No, in persecuting Christians the world ultimately scorns Christ. The believer, by the way, is wise to warn people that they will be judged one day by Christ. This is the gospel that both warns and wins.

Now let me make a number of quick observations from this scene in heaven. In fact you need to get ready to rewrite perhaps your perspective of God's will and maybe even your perception of heaven. First, God not only knows about those who have suffered and died, he plans for even more to die through suffering. He said to these martyrs, there are still more fellow servants and brethren who will be killed like you have been killed. He knows about it.

It's part of his plan. The next observation that follows this is that it's evidently God's will for many to die peacefully in their faith but for millions to die for their faith. The belief that God, even today, wills everyone to die prosperous and healthy is not biblical. It sounds good, but it is not biblical. In fact, this was the question. This was sort of the longing of the hymn writer who penned, Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of Eve?

No, he didn't want that. He says, while others fought to win their prize and sailed through bloody seas, the will of God is for some relative peace, but for many today and in the future, real persecution and real pain, which also tells us nobody dies by accident. We're in his sovereign care. Now, the opening of this fifth seal, which reveals to me the marvel of this martyr's prayer, these martyr's prayers, also challenges the normal perspective of heaven and those who've gone to heaven. Let me give you two or three real quickly. I'll put them in the form of misconceptions. Misconception number one, being in heaven means we never ask questions. We know everything.

Not true. Only God knows everything without having to learn anything. We'll still have to learn, and the good news is we'll have eternity to do it.

It'll be one long remedial class for those of us who learn slowly, right? They didn't know the answer. They said, oh God, how long?

How long is it until you bring justice? They didn't know. Listen, being immortal is not the same thing as being omniscient. God is omniscient.

He knows all. We're not omniscient. We'll learn, and we'll learn, and we'll learn even more. However, just because we don't know everything, even when we're in heaven doesn't mean we've forgotten everything.

That's the other misconception I want to mention, or at least the second one. It's this, that being in heaven means we've forgotten what happened to us on earth. Oh, these martyrs remembered, and they were pretty worked up about it. They were praying for the wrath of a holy God to come because they died and their persecutors are alive. One author said, this particular text here that we're studying argues against the prevalent belief that to remember anything unpleasant would automatically strip us of happiness in heaven. Then he adds this very good insight. He says, heaven's joy is not dependent upon an erased memory, but a renewed mind.

Well said. For all of us, we will one day stand before Christ at the bima seat and do what? We'll give an account, which means we're going to what? We're going to remember, and probably with his help recall those things which were unprofitable and those things which were profitable for which we will be rewarded, 2 Corinthians 5 verse 10.

It sounds like we're going to do a lot of remembering. In fact, in John's letter here later on in Revelation 19, we're told that in the new heaven and earth, the clothing we wear will actually be reflecting the testimony of our deeds on earth that brought glory to God. No wonder Paul said, I am giving everything I have to press on to run this race to win the prize.

He writes in 1 Corinthians 9, 24. No, the joys of heaven will be that our minds will be renewed and reformed and perfected, we'll have a sinless perspective, and we will discover like never before the depths of God's grace. Heaven will not require some form of spiritual amnesia, and we all get a shot at the gate. We're inoculated against remembering anything. Listen, Jesus Christ has chosen to retain in his glorified body prominent what?

Scars. Does that ruin heaven for him? Will that ruin heaven for him to remember how he died for us? Will it ruin heaven for us as we see him and recognize fully that it was our sin that scarred him? No, it will make heaven all that much sweeter as we understand more fully the depth and glory of the forgiveness and grace of God. See, the plan of God for heaven is one that includes him reminding us of his grace forever.

By the way, this makes hell all that more horrible. They have their memory. That unrepentant man who died across the chasm from Lazarus and Abraham said, oh, would you please send somebody because I've got five what?

I've got five brothers he remembered, he knew. Adolf Eichmann will have his memories too, and he will not be leaping for joy. But for the redeemed, though we remember so much of our lives on earth, we will be granted the perfected perspective of heaven and choose not to dwell on sin and sorrow that diminish the joy of heaven. Frankly, it won't matter anyway, much of it, for our perspective will be much like Joseph who suffered greatly and then was honored greatly.

And his brothers came to him and he said, you know, it really doesn't matter. You meant it for evil, yes, and I, oh, it was suffering. But, oh, but God meant it for what?

For good. And that was the dominating emotion and feeling of Joseph. Number three, the third misconception, being in heaven means if we do have questions, we'll get immediate answers. And I find it fascinating that these martyrs are praying for God to act and they literally say, God says, wait.

That's so encouraging to me. He doesn't really give them an answer. In fact, he simply redirects their attention to the glory of heaven. And the coming judgment, he says, is effectively up to him and he's in control and in charge and he has everybody numbered who will die, as it were, a martyr's death.

They ask, God tells them to wait. And that response, by the way, is another misconception that in heaven there is no more time. God's answer to the martyrs here in verse 11 is for a little while longer.

You should rest for a little while. You could translate it a little time yet. Little chronos, a little time yet. You can't wait a little time to pass by for a little time to go or to elapse unless there is time. You say, but doesn't the Bible say and time shall be no more? No, a hymn writer said that and ruined a perfectly good hymn. Actually, the King James Version in chapter 10 verse 6, you may look there, writes, there should be time but no longer.

That seems to be the background of the misconception, to perfectly find translation as long as you understand the context. With context in mind, you can amplify that verse to read, there will be no longer time standing in the way of God's next act of judgment. That's what he's saying. He's not saying there's no more time. In fact, my translation takes that into account when it says there is now no longer any delay.

No time standing between this and that. Buddhism believes that eternity is without time and we're just in nothingness forever. Heaven is vastly different. The tree of life is going to yield fruit every month, the Bible says. How do you have a month without the passing of days and weeks and the calculation of time? You say, how can we have months, though, when we don't have the moon or sun? Oh, the Bible doesn't say that either. In the new heaven and earth, earth will be remade with all its qualities, cosmos as is, perfected, earth will be much, again, like the Garden of Eden. What the Bible does say in Revelation 24 as it refers to the new city of Jerusalem that many believe will hover over the old city, that city that is described by John, it says that in that city there is no need of sun or moon. The sun is shining out there right now, but we have no need of it because in here we have another source of light.

So in the new city it doesn't mean there won't be a sun recreated, it simply means they don't need it because of divine, resplendent, resident glory. But in this remade earth there will be seasons and months and events, all elements of time and we'll deal with it more later when we get over to chapter 21, hopefully before the rapture occurs. Let me say one more thing about time. One of the things that we see over and over again occurring in heaven is music. And music requires what?

Time. Meter and tempo and rests and retard. All of those are essential components to music and each of them are related to time. I remember in my eight years of piano lessons, this is one of the things I struggled with because I struggled with math and it's a formula. You have to know how many beats per measure and you have to know how quickly to play those quarter notes and those dotted eighth notes and sixteenth notes and when to rest and how many beats they get and you gotta put the formula together. And so because I struggled with time so much, my piano teacher back then, lessons were an hour.

That's a death sentence but they were an hour long. She would reach over and she would turn on the metronome, that instrument of great torture and she'd set the speed and I would have to play keeping time. I know from experience, you cannot have music without time, passing. For now, time is an enemy, isn't it?

Good things happen, you're on the phone with a long distance friend and time flies and then it barely moves when you're having a root canal. We get behind it, we miss it. In heaven, time will never work against us.

You will never ever run out of it. What are these martyrs who've been told to go and spend some time enjoying their rest? They do and they soon break into song but if we could interview them today, what would they have to say to us? I think they would certainly commend us to our God who is holy and true and generous and creative and gracious. The one who has prepared heaven for us all who believe in his son. I believe these martyrs would urge you to place your faith in the savior and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I also believe the martyrs would urge those of us who do believe to live on earth with this new heaven and new earth in mind. To run with great diligence and passion the race for the glory of God. I hope this time in God's word has encouraged and challenged you today.

Especially if you're suffering or experiencing hardship for the cause of Christ. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is the president of Wisdom International in Cary, North Carolina. If you'd like to listen to this message again, or if you know someone who would be encouraged by hearing it, you can go to our website which is wisdomonline.org and listen to it there. It's also available on our smartphone app which you'll find in the iTunes or the Google Play stores. The name of the app you're looking for is Wisdom International. In addition to being able to listen to it, we provide Stephen's manuscript if you'd like to read the message. Finally, we have the series available as a set of CDs if you prefer to have it that way. You can call us for information at 866-48-BIBLE. On our next broadcast, Stephen continues through this series here on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-15 00:08:59 / 2024-05-15 00:19:08 / 10

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