TODAY’S READING: Revelation 6–11
The middle chapters of Revelation detail 21 plagues described in three sets: Seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. The plagues and judgments are terrible and awesome, and they serve to remind the reader and the world that the age of the cross (where Christ and His Christians turn the other cheek) will soon end and the age of the crown (where King Jesus rules with absolute power and authority) is coming to an end. G. D. Watson writes: “For six thousand years this world has been under the usurpation of the enemies of God, and with all the boasted civilizations, improvements, and education and the multiplied religions in the world, the human race has constantly degenerated and the humans grown more obdurate, proud, self-willed, until the race culminates in bowing down to Antichrist and worshiping the great beast in the place of God. This will be the climax to the history of sin and natural human character, and the time will then be perfectly ripe for the Son of God, as a Divine warrior, to return with omnipotent righteousness and with a sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth, in order that He might destroy His enemies and assume absolute command of the world which He has bought with His own blood.”
The central theme of the Bible is that the world Jesus bought with His own blood is organized and ornamented by ethnicity, by people groups of all colors and cultures. As human history crescendos, John looked into heaven and saw “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (7:9-10). John saw that in that day there will be no heat, nor hunger, just living fountains of water with every tear wiped from our eyes. To that great day we all groan and ask, “When?”
The answer to that question is as straightforward as it is difficult. Revelation 6:9–11 tells of the slain martyrs under the altar who have been killed for the Word of God and for their testimony. They cry with a loud voice: “How long?” The Divine response is: “Not yet. We must wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants who would be killed as they were is completed.”
All human history draws close to an end. With great relish we anticipate the day when representatives of all peoples of earth are gathered tearless around the throne. With great sobriety we realize that more martyrs must first plant their bloody seed in the ground, slain for the words of testimony about Jesus that come from their mouths. A good and sovereign God has decreed that suffering precedes glory. If our death or the death of my sons or my friends will hasten that day and “complete the number,” then Lord, let Your will be done soon that Your kingdom come quickly. If more martyrs are required to hasten that day, then what are we waiting for? Loving and selfless acts that hasten the dawn of endless peace and joy are not tragedies, they are joys.
 George D. Watson. God’s Eagles: Or, Complete Testing of the Saints. Salem, OR: Schmul Publishing Co. Inc, 1989. 187-8.