Revelation Part 3: The Martyrs

[PART 2]
     This is the third
lesson in a short series on the wonderful book of Revelation. The lessons in
this series are as follows: the dating, the timing, the martyrs, the
millennium, and the bride. All of these lessons will be for the purpose of
arguing the following: “The Revelation that was seen by John was written prior
to the destruction of Jerusalem and found its full fulfillment in the overthrow
of Judaism in AD70.” While this proposition may seem intimidating and, perhaps,
threatening to some, I encourage you to read the lessons with an open heart and
mind – trusting only in God and not man. As mentioned, our third lesson will be
on the vindication of the martyrs.
     The Importance of the Martyrs

     The fulfillment of the book of
Revelation is directly related to the destruction of Mystery Babylon. If one
can go about to determine the identity of that city, one can then find the
timeframe for when the events contained within the book could be fulfilled.
Some say that Babylon is symbolic for Rome, others Jerusalem, some America, and
there are those who say that it describes some religion that they disagree
with. From our proposition in the opening paragraph and from the previous
articles, I’ve stated that I believe Mystery Babylon to be Jerusalem.
      What does all of this have to do with the
martyrs? It is Babylon that was guilty of killing Jesus, murdering the
prophets, and guilty of the blood of the saints (Revelation 11:8; 17:6; 18:20).
If we can identify who it was that was guilty of the blood of the martyrs as
defined in scripture, then we have identified Babylon and, therefore, the
subject and timing of the book of Revelation.
     The Martyrs in the Teachings of Jesus

     The events leading up to and including
the Olivet Discourse contain one of Jesus’s main teachings on the identity of
the martyrs, their persecutors, and the city responsible for their blood. This
passage is found in Matthew 23, and we will quote the entirety of it below.
“Woe to you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn
the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our
fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those
who murdered the prophets. Fill up,
then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
Serpents, brood of vipers! How
can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes:
some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in
your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from
the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah
, son of Berechiah,
whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you,
all these things will come upon this generation.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and
stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children
together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not
willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall
see Me no more till you say, ‘BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’
” (Matthew 23:29-39).
          Just from reading this passage, who does
Jesus identify as the martyrs, their persecutors, and the city responsible for
their blood? The martyrs are all of the Old Testament righteous and the ones
that Jesus sent out to preach to His contemporary generation. The persecuting
force are the Jews who rejected those that were sent. The city that Jesus
identifies as the one who was guilty of all of the blood of all of the martyrs
all the way back to Abel was Jerusalem. She would be in judgement within that
generation, so that she could be punished and the martyrs could be vindicated.
     By just looking
at this passage alone, it is easy to see that Babylon (the one guilty of all
the blood shed upon the earth – Revelation 18:20) was none other than Jerusalem
in the generation of Jesus; however, we will present more information on this
from Jesus’ teachings as well as that of His “prophets, wise men, and scribes” –
the very ones killed for the name of the Lord. We now turn our attention to
Matthew 24. In verse three, the disciples asked when the destruction of
Jerusalem, the coming of the Lord, and the end of the age would be. In
describing the various things that would take place before that event, Jesus
said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you
will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). In Mark’s
account, He says, “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up
to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought
before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them” (Mark 13:9). As
you can tell, Jesus is telling the disciples that they would be the ones whom
the Jews would reject and put to death. Just as He did in Matthew 23, Jesus
says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till
all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34).
     From this short
study on Jesus’ teachings, we can know the following: 1. The first century
Christians as well as all of the martyrs back to able would receive vindication
within that generation. 2. The Jews would be destroyed for their rejection of Jesus.
3. This would all take place at the fall of Jerusalem – the city guilty of all
of the blood shed upon the earth. Having seen this, how can we ignore that
Babylon is Jerusalem?
     The Martyrs in the Epistles

     Now we turn to the epistles of those “prophets,
wise men, and scribes” that Jesus sent out and were rejected and killed by the
Jews. The possible authors we can look at are Luke, Paul, James, Peter, John,
and Jude. Each of these individuals documented or wrote about the persecution
of the Christians. A sample of each of these authors will show us that the
persecution was Jewish and the city to blame was Jerusalem.
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested
by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your
midst, as you yourselves also know – Him, being delivered by the determined
purpose and foreknowledge of God, you
have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death
” (Acts
2:22-23).
“For you, brethren, became
imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you
also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus
and their own prophets, and have persecuted us
; and they do not please God
and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they
may be saved, so as always to fill up
the measure of their sins;
but wrath
has come upon them to the uttermost
”(1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl
for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your
garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion
will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have
heaped up treasure in the last days.
Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by
fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord
of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have
fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist
you. Therefore be patient, brethren,
until the coming of the Lord
. See how the farmer waits for the precious
fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and
latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do
not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James
5:1-9).
“Beloved, do not think it strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing
happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that
you partake of Christ’s sufferings
, that when His glory is revealed, you
may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ,
blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on
your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief,
an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but
let him glorify God in this matter. For
the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins
with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God
?”
(1 Peter 4:12-17).
“For this is the message that you
heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was
of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because
his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if
the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we
love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever
hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life
abiding in him. By this we know love, because
He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren
” (1 John 3:11-16).
“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and
they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you,
beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our
Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last
time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit
(Jude 1:16-19).
     To summarize what
we read above consider the points below.

1. The Jews were guilty of killing Jesus. Though
they used the Romans, it was the Jews that took Jesus with their own hands and
killed Him.
2.      
Just as Jesus said that they would fill up the
cup of their sins, Paul says that they were in keeping them from preaching to
the Gentiles that they might be saved.
3.      
James says that the coming of the Lord and the
judgement of the persecutors was at hand. How could this be? Jesus said it
would be within that generation (Matthew 24:29-31, 34).
4.      
Peter said that the time of the judgement had
arrived. The Christians had gone through a difficult trial, but now it was
growing close to time for the persecutors to receive the same tribulation.
5.      
Just as Jesus had been persecuted, the first
century church would as well. They would also have to endure many false teachers.

     We see, then, that Babylon was Jerusalem.
Not only does this tell us of the timing
of the book of Revelation, but it also shows us the dating of the book. It is not at the end of the first century, as
many teach, but it must be before 70AD at the fall of Jerusalem. Let’s
move on now to Revelation.
     The
Martyrs in Revelation
 
     Having learned what we did from Jesus
and the New Testament writers, let’s apply this information to the book of
Revelation. Again, I will list passages for you to read and consider. This is a
large subject in Revelation, so I will only give a few.
“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 testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice,
saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our
blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to
each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow
servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed

[note: this is when the cup would be full! – DR]” (Revelation 6:9-11).
“And their dead bodies will lie in
the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation
11:8).
“…saying: “We give You thanks,
O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You
have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath
has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants
the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And
should destroy those who destroy the earth
.” Then the temple of God
was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And
there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation
11:17-19).
“So he carried me away in the
Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast [note:
the woman isn’t the beast. She sits on the beast.] which was full of names of
blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple
and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in
her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her
fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE
GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of
the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
And when I saw her,
I marveled with great amazement” (Revelation 17:3-6).
“And I heard another voice from
heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins,
and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and
God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you,
and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her [note: the cup
that Jesus said would be filled and that Paul said was being filled, was full
in this passage]” (Revelation 18:4-6).
“Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!” (Revelation
18:20).
“And in her was found the blood of
prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Revelation 18:24).
     As we have
before, let’s summarize this section.

1.The martyrs were told to wait just for a short
time. This fits with the introduction and the conclusion of the book where John
declared plainly that the things were soon to take place from his standpoint –
just as the kingdom was “at hand” according to Jesus and John the Baptist.
2.      
Jesus was crucified by the hand of the Jews in
Jerusalem. He said so Himself in Luke 13:33.
3.      
The vindication of the martyrs at the time of the
destruction of the city where Jesus was slain would be accompanied by the resurrection
and the rewarding of the prophets.
4.      
The woman was riding on the beast. This means
that she was using it to take her to and fro. The Jews used the Romans to
crucify Jesus and His apostles. When a batter hits a home-run, who gets credit –
the batter or the bat? When the Jews used the Romans to kill Jesus, who “got
credit” – the Jews or the Romans?
5.      
The catholic church wasn’t around to see any
prophets or crucify any apostles. The Romans did kill Christians, but it was
Jerusalem that was guilty of all of the blood of all of the martyrs according
to Jesus and His apostles. It is impossible for any nation in our future to persecute
any apostles or prophets since the prophetic office was closed at the fall of
Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:1-3).

     Conclusion

     Jesus,
the New Testament writers, and Revelation all rightly charged Old Covenant
Israel for crucifying Jesus and persecuting the church. In fact, on them was
placed the guilt of all of the blood of all of the martyrs all the way back to
creation. How then can Babylon (who was guilty of the same charges) be anyone
but Old Covenant Israel? It is for these reasons that Revelation must be
written before AD70, and was written concerning the overthrow of Judaism. Peter,
the apostle to the Jews who stayed in Jerusalem, said, “She who is in Babylon,
elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son” (1 Peter 5:13).

[PART 4]

2 Replies to “Revelation Part 3: The Martyrs

  1. The vindication of the martyrs is also depicted at the beginning of Revelation 20 as well, as can be seen from the following comparison:

    "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. 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?” 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." (Rev 6:9-11)

    "Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." (Rev 20:4)

    Chris W

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