We’re continuing our look at the eschatology of the New Testament (we started way back here). Last time we started The Revelation of John. We’re continuing that letter here.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar those who had been slaughtered on account of the word of G‑d and the witness they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, “Holy and true Master, how long will you wait before you pass judgment? How long before you require justice for our blood, which was shed by those who live on earth?” Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to rest a little longer, until their fellow servants and brothers and sisters — who were about to be killed as they were — were finished.
This passage should strike a chord with us. We’ve seen something about it before. In our second post in the Gospel section of this series, we saw how Jesus blasted the Religious Opposition of his day. He told them,
I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time — from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation (Matthew 23.34-36; NLT; emphasis added).
Jesus told the Religious Opposition of his day that they and their generation would be “held responsible for all the murder of all godly people of all time.” In the Revelation, John sees a vision of godly people wondering when their deaths will be avenged. The response is they must wait until the rest of the martyr’s are killed. Then they will all be avenged. But upon whom would the vengeance be sought? Jesus said that it would befall the people of his generation.
The same thing is found later on in the Revelation. In chapter 18, we have the “fall of Babylon.” In verses 20 and 24, it states,
Rejoice over her, heaven — you saints, apostles, and prophets — because G‑d has condemned her as she condemned you...the blood of prophets, of saints, and of all who have been slaughtered on the earth was found among you.
Here we see that “Babylon” has been condemned because in here was found “the blood of prophets, of saints, and of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Therefore, she was condemned.
If there’s any question, Jesus sealed the fate in Luke’s gospel. Jesus said, “It’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13.33; CEB).
There is little doubt. The Revelation of John is about the Jewish / Roman War. Being (at least) a prophet (and so much more), Jesus spoke to his generation that they will held accountable for the deaths of the prophets and saints that were sent to Jerusalem to warn her about changing her ways. If she refused, she would be “judged” and “condemned.” Again, being a Jewish apocalyptic prophet, Jesus saw this judgment and condemnation as an act of Yahweh upon Israel.
Click here for the next post in this series where we look at a couple of other passages from The Revelation.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC