Revelation 6:11 “Then each of them was given a white robe and they were told to wait a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed…was complete.”

Observation: John had been commanded to watch what happened as the first four seals on God’s scroll had been opened, each in its turn. Now the fifth seal was opened, and John saw something truly astonishing. Beneath the altar were the souls of all martyrs ever slain for their testimony of Christ. They cried out, asking how long it would be before He avenged their spilt blood. To this impassioned question came the sobering reply that it would happen “when the number of their fellow servants and brothers to be killed…was complete.”

Application: How shall we who have not yet experienced martyrdom for Christ view this passage? Am I simply called to be “a good Christian”, foreswearing such obvious sins as adultery, lies, murder and the like, or might God have something more in mind? Am I a bit like the cartoon bear with a target painted on its chest that tries hopefully to direct the hunter’s attention to another bear nearby?

What is it that ought to distinguish me from those whose hearts remain far from God? After all, except for that pesky notion about having no other gods before Him, couldn’t the remaining commandments be about as well-kept by a pagan as by a devout Hebrew? (We’ll overlook for now the inconvenient fact that without Christ none can keep the spirit of the Law.)

From today’s verse it is apparent that there is an appointed, pre-determined number of believers who must give their lives in testimony to God in the course of which onlookers will be convicted of sin. Until then, God will not roll out the last parts of His end-time scenario. Is it possible that God’s end game is delayed while waiting for some among us to become hot-hearted pursuers of Christ? Have my personal lukewarmness, my own self-protectiveness, somehow slowed God’s timeline?

Not so! His sovereignty is not subject to my fickle flesh. On the other hand, I am certain that He occupies the high balcony overlooking my life, longing for such a resounding “yes!” from me that I might be counted worthy for my soul to join those of history’s martyred saints in that holiest of places ‘neath the altar. What silly goals am I pursuing, what earthly mindsets still prevent my wholehearted devotion to Him? I wonder what He might do through me if I were wholly sold out to Him.

Prayer: Lord, You have reserved places of highest honor for those who devote themselves to You with not the slightest reservation. Show me my heart in this matter today, Lord. Show me where I am on Your “devotedness” scale.