Avenging of the Dead

In Revelation 6:9-11,John saw the "souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God." These souls cried out "How long, O Lord, holy and true until you judge and avenge our blood?" They were given white robes and told they "should rest for a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who should be killed as they were, was completed." Here is the promise of the judgment of the living and the dead when the martyrs of God would be avenged.

The judgment would only come when the number of the martyrs was completed (v. 11). The concept is that God had set a limit to those who would die, and a limit to the evil against His elect before judgment would come. Are we given any clues as to when this judgment would occur?

In Matthew 23, Jesus stood in the Temple and castigated the Jews saying they were the children of those who had killed the prophets, and that they would kill the messengers he would send them. He said that in so doing they would "fill up the measure of your fathers’ guilt." Jesus said that as a result of this persecution, judgment for all of the blood of all the martyrs all the way back to creation would come in his generation (v. 32-36), and that judgment would be focused in Jerusalem.

In Matthew 23, Jesus predicted the filling of the measure of suffering, in Revelation 6:9-11 we find the same. In Matthew 23, Jesus said Jerusalem had slain the prophets. In Revelation, "Babylon" had killed the prophets (16:6). (Only Jerusalem killed the Old Testament prophets, Luke 13:33. Rome, apostate Christianity, nor the Eastern European Common Market, et. al. ever killed a single Old Testament prophet. Yet Revelation is about the judgment against Babylon for killing the prophets.)

In Matthew, Jerusalem would kill the Lord, in Revelation it is the city "where the Lord was crucified" that is the focus of judgment (11:8). In Matthew 23, persecution against Jesus’ disciples would spring from the synagogue. In Revelation, persecution comes from the synagogue (3:9f). In Matthew, Jesus said judgment was coming in his generation. In Revelation, the martyrs were promised that judgment was coming in "a little while longer," and Jesus promised, "behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me"; "Surely, I come quickly" Revelation 22:12;20). (Jesus said he was surely coming quickly 2000 years ago. Yet the majority of believers today say he surely did not come quickly. Did Jesus not know what he was saying? Was he confused? Maybe it is the modern concept of his coming that is confused?)

Matthew and Revelation agree. Jesus gave the framework for the judgment/vindication of the martyrs-the fall of Jerusalem. He set the time for its occurrence-his generation. History verifies the fall of Jerusalem; dare we doubt that Jesus’ prediction of the judgment of the martyrs occurred as well?