Friday, December 31, 2010

Revelations 6 (Part VI) The Souls Under the Alter

By Odon Bulamba (Friday 20th May 2005)


Revelation 6: 9-11
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given;
they cried out with a loud voice, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?
They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.

During the fifth seal, something strange happened, because it’s almost impossible to explain how John could see the altar in heaven. It wasn’t at its normal place in the temple and John knew that very well. According to the Jewish, there were three types of altars and in this passage the Bible doesn’t specify which one it is.

1. The first altar in the temple was to burn offerings or sacrifices so that God could be glorified. In Exodus 27:1, it was not big enough for all the souls to go under. Many pastors today interpret this verse as souls being sacrificed and crying to God for help. We know that sacrifices would go on the altar to be consumed but here the souls were not on but under it. So, did God accept sacrifices under the altar too? These people have already finished their journey and they are not sacrificed again. They’ve done what they were supposed to do and their role is finished so they went under the altar knowing it’s the only place they can hide and be completely safe from sin. They know every time they sin, the altar has the role of receiving a sacrifice of forgiveness and they know every time blood is on the altar, God will forgive their sin so they can be sinless. When we reach chapter 20, we’ll talk more in depth about the altar, on it, under it and its four sides.

2. The altar of incense, Exodus 30. It’s different from the first one: smaller, with a different shape and made of different materials.


At that time people knew the difference between the two altars and their purposes. But today, the church is really mixed up between politics, normal life and religion. Sometimes it’s hard for us to separate our normal life and God’s will, it has made us Christians neither hot nor cold.

Romans 12:1 tells us it’s better to offer our body, soul and heart to God so that God can continue to protect us. If we offer only our soul to God and keep aside our heart and body, Satan will continue to fight us.

It will be like someone who offers incense to God so that God can smell the good smell and forget to offer his body as a sacrifice to become sinless.

People wonder how they can offer their body, or their heart or their soul to God. If I do so, what shall I remain with or what shall I keep for myself? The best thing to do is to remember your life (body, soul, heart) doesn’t belong to you but to someone else: be careful to use it wisely.

It’s easy to tell someone you love; I give you my life, my heart, but what about this answer: “If you give me your heart, let me keep it and you go without it’? “If you give me your life, I’ll block your nose or mouth because they belong to me and don’t move anymore.” Not easy, even if you agree, after 2 seconds, your body will push you to breathe again. So, you can’t give your body or your life to someone else.

That’s why in the Garden, when Adam made that mistake; God asked him where he was. He wasn’t under the altar, he was in the Garden and this is where he hid. He did so because he knew he had sinned but God told him although he had sinned, this life didn’t belong to him and he needed to wake up and repent. Instead of repenting he justified himself: “The wife you gave me pushed me to eat the fruit”. I don’t think Eve was strong enough to push Adam to put the fruit in his mouth. It was Adam’s will to eat the fruit.

Similarly, remember our body can refuse to be destroyed, to be pushed to sin. We must stop that sin. We can refuse to do Satan’s will. If not, we will be seriously persecuted. We usually pray for people who are persecuted under the sun but there is another type of persecution. The church of God in some countries goes through the physical persecution but here in the seal, they go through the spiritual persecution and they cry to God day after day. When these Christians pray, they bring a big basket of problems: “God, I really want to be strong in prayer but I’m weak every time, I want to fast but I can’t … I want to do this and that but I’m unable to. Lord, till when? When will this finish?”

God looks at you and asks you to wait a little bit, He tells you when the time is right He’ll intervene. The Bible is talking here about our internal life and we are the first person to persecute it. How? Satan brings a temptation, he just suggests and it’s up to you and me to decide as responsible people. Satan gives me an idea and it’s up to me to act on it. Satan can never take your hand and make you sin, unless someone is pushed by evil spirits, when evil spirits lead someone and he/she doesn’t know what they’re doing, otherwise, God gives us the privilege to decide.

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