By Nathan Jones
The persecution of believers in Christ during the upcoming 7-year Tribulation will be incredible. Revelation 6:9-11 describes the plight of that era of believers:
"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?' Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed."
Revelation 7:9-17 elaborates:
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!"
Then one of the elders asked me, 'These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?' I answered, 'Sir, you know.'
And he said, 'These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, 'they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'"
We can derive from these passages that the result of the opening of the fifth seal judgment is the mass persecution of those who have come to know Jesus as Savior during the Tribulation. The scope of this persecution is global, effecting believers in every nation. The intensity of the persecution falls nothing shorter than the mass slaughter of "multitudes that no one could count."
Why this mass slaughter of believers in Christ?
Firstly, since the fifth seal follows the Antichrist's leading the globe into world war resulting in billions dead, killer diseases and mass starvation; it would appear on the surface that the Tribulation Saints are made the scapegoats for the chaos.
Secondly, Revelation 20:4 tell the reader that people will be persecuted and killed for not accepting the Antichrist's loyalty mark on either their forehead or right hand. "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." These Tribulation Saints will refuse to worship the Antichrist and pledge allegiance to him. For such a betrayal, the Antichrist will have them hunted down and killed.
Thirdly, and the real look at the spiritual battle that goes on behind the activities of man, believers in Christ are persecuted for their faith in the true King of Kings – Jesus Christ. As Jesus stated in John 15:20a, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." Satan's hatred of God spills over onto all those who love and are loyal to Him.
Is the cost worth it?
Despite the great suffering this era of believers will endure, the Bible records that their eternal rewards for making a stand for their Messiah makes the persecution worth enduring. The martyrs get to stand before the throne of God and be the servants of the Almighty forever and ever. They are promised the impenetrable protection that only God can provide. They will receive joy in place of their sorry, and peace and contentment in the place of their sufferings. They will join the multitudes of believers from the Old Testament era, Church Age and one day the Millennial Kingdom in eternal life and love with their Creator and King.
Will their suffering be worth it? Their praises proclaim it is!
What will the Tribulation persecution look like?
In the next post, we will look at a shadow of the persecution against Christians that is to come.