“[…] I saw underneath the altar the souls of those slaughtered […]. A white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they had been.”
After the four horsemen account, this passage says there are “souls” shouting out for justice. (Rev. 6:10)
God’s Word explains that someone’s soul, or person, is in their blood. (Lev. 17:11)
The imagery of a person’s blood calling for justice is not new. (Gen. 4:10)
And Christians who died before Christ’s second coming were actually dead and not lingering in some sort of afterlife. (1 Thess. 4:15,16)
If the “souls” shouting out for justice are representative of Christians’ shed blood, in what sense are they given white robes?
This chapter begins by dynamically describing Christ’s coronation and subsequent catastrophic events on earth. (Rev. 6:2-8)
Between then and the ‘number of fellow slaves being filled,’ there was a moment in which dead Christians who were meant to rule with Christ in heaven were raised and each granted a white robe.
They have been resurrected to immortality and the white robes symbolize their righteous acts. (Rev. 3:5; 19:8)
They “rest” in the sense that they must patiently wait for God’s judgment day before being allowed to avenge their deaths. (Rev. 7:3,4; Rev. 17:14)
So while initially the word “souls” represents the shed blood of loyal Christians, halfway through the passage it is referring to their resurrected selves.
“Stop judging by the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Jews sought to kill Jesus because he miraculously cured a man on the sabbath. (John 5:8,9,15,16)
Their worship was based on a strict literal interpretation of Mosaic Law and rabbinic traditions.
It neglected the Law’s foundations: justice, mercy and faithfulness.(Prov. 21:3; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 23:23)
Judging with “righteous judgment” implies not believing everything we see or hear, and treating others fairly, regardless of their social status. (Is. 11:3,4)
If we are so concerned with proving we are right that we act recklessly toward others, we could become ritualistic in our form of worship, forgetting that the gist of God’s law is to love. (Matt. 22:37-40)
“[…] Will not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, while he is patient toward them?”
When we or someone we love is undergoing an unusual amount of suffering due to illness or persecution, we may wonder how God can be so patient. (2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 6:9,10)
He promises to remove all evil, pain and even death, but as we personally face trials, that relief can seem far off in the horizon. (Ps. 37:9; Rev. 21:4)
Jesus said we should pray tirelessly, like the widow who sought justice in his illustration.
But Jehovah is a much more speedy judge than the one who initially ignored the widow.
How can we be sure Jehovah isn’t ignoring us?
Jesus made it clear that we need to pray with an extraordinary amount of faith. (Luke 18:8)
Though we may not physically see the answer to our prayers, we can be sure Jehovah has already taken the necessary steps to ensure lasting justice to us both individually and globally. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The real question is, can we endure the wait?
“[…] Give as gifts of mercy the things that are from within, and look! everything about you will be clean.”
What are the things “from within?”
Jesus has been asked to dine with the Pharisees and has reprimanded them for outwardly appearing to be spiritual while hiding greediness and wickedness within. (Luke 11:39)
“The one who made the outside made also the inside, did he not?”
Jesus explains God’s justice and love, which we are capable of imitating, should be our main focus.
Then he further denounces their religious hypocrisy. (Luke 11:40,42,44)
So when Jesus says to give gifts from within, he appears to be alluding to sharing generously from a pure heart, with selfless motives.
The attitude with which we give stems, of course, from the way we choose to think. (Jer. 4:14)
At the end of the day, God is looking at whether or not our love is sincere. (1 Pet. 4:8,9)
“[…] If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”
Often we think of mercy as an accessory to justice. But really, justice is a means for God to express his mercy toward us.
Because of his mercy, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten son to earth to die for our sins. (Ro. 5:8-11)
Jesus thereby satisfied God’s law of ‘a life for a life,’ replacing Adam as our first father, and opened the way for us to reconcile with God. (De. 19:21; 1 Cor. 15:45)
God’s law was founded on mercy, so Jesus highlighted mercy as the underlying principle in the application of his law.
If we are motivated by a sincere desire to aid those who are at a spiritual or material disadvantage, our heavenly Father takes notice. (Prov. 19:17; 2 Cor. 4:1,2)
“Here is the man whose name is Sprout. […] He is the one who will build the temple of Jehovah, and he is the one who will assume the majesty. He will sit down on his throne and rule, and he will also be a priest on his throne […].”
In most forms of government, it makes more sense to have a separation of church and state.
Otherwise it becomes too easy for those who hold power to commit crass abuse.
But Bible prophecies point toward a Messiah who would rule both as king and high priest.
In the history of Israel, no leader ever carried out both functions.
The only person apt for such weighty duties is Christ. (Ge. 14:18; Ps. 110:1,4; Heb. 7:11-25)
Jesus is the only being who has the necessary experience, wisdom and power to reconcile us with God and rule in justice.
“Even if you offer me whole burnt offerings and gift offerings,
I will find no pleasure in them; […]
Let justice flow down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
~Amos 5:22, 24
We should not let our sacred service to God fall into a mechanical routine, as if we are doing him a favor through the sacrifices we offer him.
What God really looks for in us is heartfelt obedience. (Ps. 50:14)
False religion allows believers to continue on paths of cruelty and corruption, “absolving” sins through rites and rituals without ever addressing the root of problems. (Amos 2:6,7; 5:12)
Acceptable service to God is motivated by love of what is good.
We should try to reflect his sense of justice. (Amos 5:14,15)
“Also, what do you have against me, […]
Are you repaying me for something?
If you are repaying me,
I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”
It would be a mistake to try to judge God by our own imperfect standards when he is the ultimate judge of what is and is not righteous. (Is. 55:9)
Even when we do not understand why God lets us tolerate a painful situation, the wise course is to demonstrate patience and faith that God still does care for us and will eventually make all right. (1 Pet. 5:7; Rev. 21:5)
It would be shortsighted of us to draw away from God to follow a selfish course of sin, perhaps without ever repenting and eventually incurring his wrath.
On the other hand, if we remember he is not responsible for our suffering, we can rely on his strength to help us endure. (Job 34:10; Ps. 55:22)
“[…] Cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that is desolate, for your own sake, O Jehovah. […] Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God, for your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, the model he established put the sanctification/vindication of God’s name first and foremost. (Matt. 6:9)
Today, people still defame God’s name when they blame him for human suffering or when they mock God, his moral ways or his loyal servants.
Even the righteous prophet Daniel recognized that our personal salvation is secondary to Jehovah God’s glory and is only possible because of God’s divine mercy. (Dan. 9:18)
It is because of God’s name that the salvation of his loyal servants is guaranteed, for God cannot lie. (Tit. 1:2)
Taking a spiritual point of view on the relevance of God’s name and all it implies helps us maintain a patient, waiting attitude during trying times.
“At that time Daniel discreetly and cautiously spoke to Arioch the chief of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon.”
Daniel and his Jewish companions had been brought from Jerusalem to Babylon to be trained in the knowledge of the Chaldeans and used in the king’s service. (Da. 1:3-7)
Babylonian culture being very superstitious, the king asked his circle of conjurers to explain to him the meaning of a dream he had without telling any of them what the dream itself was. (Da. 2:1-3)
Because this was impossible for them, the king ordered the death of all the “wise men,” including that of Daniel and his friends, who until then, ignored what was going on.
Daniel used discretion and caution when requesting information from the guard who had been sent to kill them.
Daniel set a good example of why God’s people should show respect toward government officials even when we are being treated unjustly. (1 Pe. 2:23)
As a result, Daniel was given Jehovah’s blessing and everyone’s life was spared. (Da. 2:47-49)