A Question I Was Asked:

Please Explain Revelation 6:9-10 in the Light of Psalm 6:5 and Ecclesiastes 9:10

In Revelations 6:9,10 it is said that the souls of those slain for the Word of God cry out for justice but in Psalms 6:5 and in Ecclesiastes 9:10, we see that it is not possible to do so.

Did the resurrection of Jesus change it? Does it have anything to do with Ephesians 4:8, which I do not understand either?

Kindly explain.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let's look at these Scriptures.

First of all, as I always say, check the context! Context - context - context. Always consider the surrounding verses of any set of Scriptures which are causing one confusion. Also, don't just assume that verses drawn from different parts of the Bible are necessarily concerned with the same event, occurrence or circumstance. Do your Bible research! Let us commence with Revelation 6:

1. Revelation 6:9-11:

9. 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. 10. 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?" 11. Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9-11).

Revelation 6 starts off with the four horsemen and the six seals. This is Section Two of the seven parallel sections of Revelation (Rev.4:1-7:17). Here we have The Vision of Heaven and of the Seals (Rev.4:1-7:17): the overall message in this section is: The Church Will Be Triumphant - we Christians will win in the end!

Here we have the first mention of the 144,000, a symbolic number for the saved. This section of Revelation closes in chapter seven, of course, with the return of Christ, but since the theme here is the Church triumphant, the focus is almost entirely on the saved. Amid the suffering of the four horsemen, and war, drought, famine and poverty are represented by the horses, the Church of God on Earth still thrives and is ultimately triumphant; but in Heaven, the souls of the saints are longing for the resurrection of body and soul and to be united with other believers but they are told of another persecution to come when others will be martyred and they must wait for that time before God avenges His anger on those who have sought to destroy the Church. So the setting here is in Heaven and it could refer to any time between the First and Second Comings of our Lord. We all accept, of course, that many, many thousands of Christians are already in Heaven; here we see them longing for the 'restoration of all things.'

2. Psalms 6:5 :

This is a Psalm of David, as is clear when we look at all of it. Let's do that:

1. Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 3. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? 4. Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? 6. I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. 8. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. 9. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

This was written at a time of great sorrow, persecution, and finally, deep repentance for David. He finally had confidence that God had heard him (verse 9), and that his repentance was accepted.

I am not totally sure as to why my questioner picks out verse 6 in this Psalm, apparently suggesting that it might contradict Revelation 6:9-10. That section of Revelation is clearly set in Heaven whilst David is on Earth having deeply repented in a time of great distress.

3. Ecclesiastes 9:10:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Okay. Ecclesiastes mostly addresses life on Earth without God; it clearly shows all of us that life can be pretty pointless without God being in our lives. Look at the first nine verses in this chapter:

1. So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2. All share a common destiny - the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. 3. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4. Anyone who is among the living has hope - even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! 5. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. 6. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. 7. Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun - all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:1-9).

In short, death comes to all, good and bad alike, but it is good to be happy and to enjoy life, to make the best of what the Lord has allowed us to have: this is the time to enjoy life, we can no longer accomplish anything when we are in the grave. The message here is: this is the time for us all to come to know God and to come into a relationship with Him! Yet if a relationship with God is lacking, nevertheless, at least be happy, enjoy life and do good to others.

My questioner seems to suggest that what these verses say about the grave contradicts Revelation 6:9-10, but that is not so; the setting is different, the context is different. If we have not used this life to come into a relationship with God (that is, if He has revealed Himself to us), than that opportunity will have passed when we are in the grave. Revelation 6:9-10, on the other hand, considers the souls of those who are already saved who are in Heaven awaiting the resurrection.

4. Ephesians 4:8

Finally, let us look at the Ephesians Scripture, but I find it is impossible to do that without picking up the entire context of that verse, so we will look at the first eight verses of Ephesians 4:

1. As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6. one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people." (Ephesians 4:1-8).

So in Ephesians 4, Paul the Apostle is plainly addressing Christian believers; there is nothing general here, this is specific to the Christian believer. Read those words again very carefully. "When He ascended on high..." refers to the resurrection, that was the start of the Church, it necessitated giving "Gifts" to His people, the Church; In a sense that is when He took many of us "captives," for the remainder of our time upon Earth we become 'captives' to Christ, and 'servants' to our fellow Christians.

I am asked if the resurrection of Christ changed things - most certainly it did, without the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord there is no Christianity.

Robin A. Brace. October 5th, 2017.