“The Promise of Vindication”
The Lamb breaks the next two seals as God’s Judgment is being poured out to the world. Witnesses now include the martyrs, those of faith who have fallen by persecution and unjust death. They are crying out to God, whom they feel is taking too long. But, God is patient and allows His perfect timing to unfold even when we are impatient and do not fully understand His grace and love or how He judges. This passage shows a time of anticipation turning to a climax, and excitement replacing the waiting; all in the universe are in awe. God again shows His faithfulness to those who have been faithful to Him, as He finally avenges those who are just, who have suffered. Imagine all those who have wronged you, who have been evil and cruel, finally getting their just reward. How sweet it is to see God’s judgment, yet how fearful it is to know it is here. In the meantime, God asks us to wait and trust in Him and His perfect timing. He clothes us with His grace and faithfulness. We can trust Him even when we have been wronged, persecuted, and even if we lose our lives.
The climatic wonders of judgment imagery astound our senses and imagination as God reveals to us His sovereignty and power. All that was there disappears and reforms, and all who are there hide in fear and awe, crying to die rather than face what is happening. All this is in a context and magnitude we have yet to comprehend. These are such reassuring words to those who are oppressed and/or trust God, but such fearful words to those who are self-reliant and/or complacent.
The Fifth Seal of God’s Sovereign will is opened, witnessed by those who have received injustice and are awaiting their revenge. This is not the kind of revenge that the world seeks as in the settling of scores, nor is it the selfish desires that we see in the world. Rather, it is the desire to see God’s pure, true justice, His comforting law restored and applied, and a “can’t wait for it” attitude for His holiness to be revealed.
Notice that as each seal is broken, a dramatic, picturesque scene opens, leading to the climax of His Second Coming in the following chapters. There are two main schools of thought in this chapter, as the horsemen and astronomic phenomena are symbols of judgment and not necessarily literal beings and events. First, the horseman is symbolic for Christ as He fulfills the judgment as the context suggests in the following chapters; secondly, the horsemen are angels as the passage states, or symbols for judgment. Now, you can see how this is a subject for debate. The issue is not who or what they are; rather, it is what they are doing. They are pouring out God’s judgment as this passage is now attesting to (Matt. 24:6-8).