What will you be doing after your life on this earth separates you from your body, and what will it tell you about Jesus’ Coming?
Those who are killed for God’s word speak out:
Revelation 6:9 When [the Lamb] broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until [the number of] their fellow servants and their brothers [and sisters] who were to be killed even as they [had been,] was completed also.
As part of this riddle, I want us to consider just what the Lord meant when He had these told: “that they were to rest for a little while longer”. This is as much a puzzle as it is a riddle, because as we can see these were not really resting before they were told this and it would seem that they should not have been. Why do I say this?
Consider what Daniel was told:
Daniel 12:13 “But as for you, go [your way] to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise [again] for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” (NASB1995)
Daniel had not been killed for the Word of God, but many Old Testament and New Testament faithful had been when Jesus opened this seal before John 2000 years ago.
Daniel was to go his way until the end. He had been told how the history of mankind would end. In fact what he was told would be sealed for that end time:
Daniel 12:9 And he said, “Go [your way,] Daniel, for [these] words [will be] kept secret and sealed up until the end time. (NASB2020)
So what would Daniel do until this end? He was to go his way to the end then he would enter into rest and rise again at the resurrection.
Was this rest to be his position until the end? I don’t think so. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says:
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, we must fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short [of it.] (NASB2020)
So what is this rest? Perhaps Paul can shed some light on it?
2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (KJV)
Paul seems to place this rest for the Thessalonians from their tribulations, and therefore for us as well, at a specific future time. It is a future time promised for us as believers, same as the Hebrews writer’s message. This rest is a promise to come Paul says “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. Until this time we will not see this specific rest. Daniel’s messenger also implies this rest to come as being the end for which we labor. Rest according to these verses comes with resurrection.
So why did our Lord tell the martyrs or souls under the alter that they should rest a little while longer? In fact, they had not been resting as we are promised this rest upon our resurrection. They in fact are crying out and not in perfect rest. Have they been crying out ever since John saw them almost 2000 years ago at the very time of this vision to John? Many Jesus followers had been martyred by Rome, by this time.
This word for rest which Jesus used had different meanings when used in other places and even other Greek words were translated to mean “rest” in English. The word used to the Martyrs carried a meaning similar to remaining, which makes it different from what we think of as resting and trusting.
The rest for which we look, and which Daniel was promised; and which the Hebrews writer does not want us to miss is achieved in our blessedly hoped for resurrection at Our Lord’s coming. When we die we too will go our way until this hope is fulfilled. We will still pray and cry out to the Lord for justice until it does come. But as the Apostle Paul said: to be absent from the body is to be with Him.
we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:8-10 NASB1995
Our rest in Him will not fully come until He comes to bring life and judgment. According to what Paul says in these verses, we will even in death still want to be pleasing to Him. — “we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”
Our full rest will only come at the Resurrection when we are joined with our body and all of His promises are fulfilled in Him, when He comes with His mighty angels to inflict judgment on this world and reign over it. And we will only at that time reign over it with Him.
Abide in Him. Do not look for Rapture before this resurrection, which is the Scripturally appointed time for all the righteous to rise; otherwise, you may be disappointed.