In heaven John saw the people who had died because of their relationship with God. They had spoken the truth about Godís word and so their enemies had cruelly killed them.
These people had known the cruelty of this world, but now they were safe in heaven. God had prepared a special place for them under the shelter of his altar. The altar is the place from which the prayers of Godís people rise up to him (5:8; 8:3).
Although the bodies of these people were dead, their souls were very much alive in heaven. In fact, the word Ďsoulí means Ďlifeí.
John heard their prayers. They prayed to God as their master (Lord), to emphasise the fact that they are Godís servants. A master had the right and the responsibility to act against anyone who hurt his servants (Mark 12:1-9). They therefore urged God to issue his judgement, in order to punish the people who had killed them.
We may ask why they do not ask God to forgive the guilty people. God can forgive people; he even forgave Paul (then called Saul), who helped to carry out some of those murders (Acts 7:58; Acts 26:10; 1 Timothy 1:16). However, God does not forgive anyone who will not turn to him. When people choose to be Godís enemies, they accept responsibility for the murders of Godís people (Luke 11:49-51).
Against evil people, God will be a severe judge. He will destroy the evil systems and the evil powers that control this world. Of course Godís people pray to God to act soon (Psalm 13:1-2). Christians should pray that Christ will come soon, (22:20). However, God is patient, in order to give people the opportunity to turn to him (2 Peter 3:9).
In the meantime, God has not forgotten his servants who suffered so much for him. He gives them white clothes; the colour white is a word-picture for their right relationship with him (Revelation 7:14; Isaiah 1:18). However, God warns that more of Godís people must die yet. Until God acts as judge, people will continue their wicked acts against his servants.
Next part: The great earthquake (Revelation 6:12-14)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.