Part 016 – Breaking of the fifth seal

The Book of REVELATION

 

A Study

Part 016

Breaking of the fifth seal – Revelation 6:9-11

All the seven seals on the scroll covers the complete seven years of the Tribulation

That seen when the first four seals of the seven sealed scroll had been broken (Rev.6:1-8), covers in an overall manner, the complete seven years of the Tribulation. Then the breaking of the next two seals (Rev.6:9-17) adds to the picture by presenting a summery view of that ultimately occurring because of that depicted by the breaking of the first four seals. The breaking of the fifth seal presents the matter from a heavenly perspective (Tribulation martyrs in heaven crying out), and the breaking of the sixth seal presents the matter from an earthly perspective (the ultimate and utter collapse of world government, along with its interrelated trade and commerce). When the seventh seal of the scroll (Rev.8:1) is broken, there emanates out of it seven trumpets and seven vial judgments. When we go into the details, we can see very clearly that, that which occurs when the seven trumpets are blown and the seven vials of wrath are poured out do not depict judgments occurring in addition to that previously seen, when the first six seals are broken. Rather, that which occurs when the seven trumpets are blown and the seven vials of wrath are poured out provides detailed information concerning that previously dealt with when the first six seals of the scroll were broken.

Breaking of the fifth seal, explained in all of ch.7 and parts of chs.11, 12 and 14

What we see when the fifth seal is broken (Rev.6:9-11) results from that previously brought to pass when the first four seals had been broken. Additional revelation providing commentary for that revealed when the fifth seal is broken is given in all of ch.7 and parts of chs.11, 12 and 14. Who are these “souls under the altar?” They cannot be believers belonging to the present dispensation, because the whole Church consisting of all the believers who ever existed on the earth from Pentecost to the rapture have been earlier removed from the earth. They all, including all the martyrs, stood before the Judgment Seat of Christ and they all were judged and rewarded in Rev.chs.1-4. Now, it is mentioned that, these “souls under the altar” had been “slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev.6:9). In the subsequent commentary, these individuals are described as “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues…” (Rev.7:9) and they are said to have “come out of the great tribulation…” (Rev.7:14), following Matt.24:15 and Dan.9:27. They were slain for their faith in the latter half of the Tribulation period, as a result of the events seen when the second, third and fourth seals were broken.

Breaking of the fifth seal – the commentary in Chapter seven

The commentary in Chapter seven does not begin with the “souls under the altar” but with a lengthy reference to the sealing of 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev.7:1-8).  Then the remainder of the chapter (Rev.7:9-17) deals with the results of their ministry. It can be clearly seen that these 144,000 will be the evangels who will carry God’s message to all the nations of the earth, during the last half of the Tribulation. Apart from these evangels there would not be “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues…” (Rev.7:9) who had been “slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev.6:9). How will these 144,000 Jews themselves be saved? How will they hear the message? If any of them would have been saved before the rapture, they would have been part of the Church and would have been removed with the rest of the believers.

Breaking of the fifth seal – commentary in chapter eleven

In chapter eleven we read about the ministry of two unnamed witnesses (Rev.11:3-12). These two witnesses make their appearance about the time when “the prince that shall come” makes his seven-year covenant with “many” in Israel. These two witnesses will bear a testimony to the Jewish people in and around Jerusalem throughout the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation. Nothing will be able to stop them until “they shall have finished their testimony” (Rev.11:5, 6). But after they finish their testimony, Antichrist will be allowed to slay them, something which will evidently occur at or about the time this man breaks his covenant with “many” in Israel and their bodies will be lying in the streets of Jerusalem for three and one-half days. After that, the Spirit of God will breathe life into their dead bodies and they will stand up on their feet and great fear will fall upon those who see them. God will then remove them from the earth, and their enemies will watch as “they ascend up to heaven in a cloud” (Rev.11:7-12). It is apparent that the ministry of these two witnesses will occur only during the first half of the tribulation; for the Jewish people will not be in and around Jerusalem during the last half. When “the prince of the covenant” breaks his covenant in the middle of the Tribulation, the Jewish people in Judea are told to flee for their lives. And those who do not escape to a specially prepared place in the desert will either be killed, driven throughout the nations of the earth, or sold as slaves to the Gentiles. Jerusalem and the Temple will then be destroyed, and Jerusalem will be “trodden down of the Gentiles” throughout the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Matt.24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24).

Breaking of the fifth seal – commentary in chapter twelve

In chapter twelve, three metaphors are used: (1) a woman, (2) a dragon and (3) a man-child. All three metaphors are clearly identified within the chapter. The woman can be identified with “Israel” several ways. One way would be through statements made about her fleeing into the wilderness (Rev.12: 6 and 14; compare with Matt.24:15-20 and Luke 21:20-24). And the dragon is specifically stated to be “Satan” (v.9). The man-child, which the woman brings forth near the middle of the Tribulation, can be identified with “the 144,000.” Many commentaries and studies try to identify the man-child with Christ. But looking into the context and the timing, this identification is not possible. Note Rev.12:17, where mention is made of a remnant of the woman’s seed, “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This remnant, specifically said to be a saved part of the Jewish nation, can only be identified with the man-child, whom Israel brought forth back in Rev.12:5. Then note the mention of a remnant in the previous chapter (Rev.11:13), after the completion of the ministry of the two witnesses. Now we can conclude that the ministry of the two witnesses resulted in the conversion of the 144,000. How else could they have heard the message? There is really no other way. The conversion and sealing of the 144,000 and their ministry to the nations of the earth during the last half of the Tribulation will possibly be the central purpose for the ministry of the two witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation. When the two witnesses would be finishing their ministry, the woman, Israel, would be full-term in her gestation period, giving birth to the man-child, the 144,000.