Revelation 6:9-11 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
The picture we are given here is of the believers who were sacrificed in service to Jesus. Notice these believers were under the altar. The altar was the place in the Jewish Temple where the animals were sacrificed for the sins of the people. These believers were living among people hostile to Jesus Christ. They did not shrink back, but proclaimed Jesus Christ as they sought to seek and save the lost. These Christians sacrificed their lives to help people be saved from the penalty and power of sin. Are you willing to die proclaiming the gospel among hostile people?
The believers who were sacrificed did not take revenge, but waited upon the Lord to bring the people hostile to Jesus to justice (Romans 12:18-21 note: the Romans passage refers to individual believers, not the government who is to protect people from the wrong-doer by meting out God’s wrath – Romans 13:4). Those slain because of their faith in Jesus did not know when God would judge the persecutors and cried out the familiar, “How long, O Lord?” The Lord was not going to take vengeance until the full number of martyrs was reached. God knows how many will sacrifice their lives for the gospel. Please note that the martyrs were conscious after their bodies were slain. When we die physically our soul and spirit live on in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
We are to be willing to lose our lives for Jesus’ sake in the full knowledge that when we lose our lives, we gain them (Matthew 16:24-25). We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). When our bodies die, we live on (John 11:25-26). Let’s live as the most powerful people on earth that we are! Let’s continue to sacrifice our lives in order that as many people as possible can be saved from their sins by believing the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9).