Yes, human justice is skewed and imbalanced. But there is a Judge who is Holy and True. And His courtroom is not tainted by human faults and mistakes. His courtroom is in Heaven and it has all the drama of TV episode but on a far grander scale (Rev. 6:9-11). This heavenly courtroom is filled with martyrs who have given their lives for the “the Word of God and the testimony they kept”. They have come to the Judge to ask how long it will be before justice is served on their behalf. “How long?” they inquire of Him, “How long before You judge and avenge our blood?” Their words are jam-packed with emotion. In ancient law a plaintiff normally pleaded his own case. “How long?” is a question that has been asked of God before (Ps. 79:5; Is. 6:11; Jer. 47:6; Hab. 1:12; Zech. 1:12). In this verse the word “blood” in Greek is specifically used to represent life which has been taken by force (Mt. 23:30; Lk. 11:50-51; Rom. 3:15; Heb. 12:4; Rev. 6:10; 16:6). The word “judge” comes right out of a courtroom setting and involves reviewing the particulars in a case where punishment is a certain consequence after the case has been heard. The word “avenge” means “to take vengeance on, to punish at the hand of someone”. The martyrs had been put on trial by the enemies of God and were condemned to die. Now they wanted to know when God would act to condemn those who’d killed them.
Earthly judges can make mistakes. They can make the wrong call. They can be bought-off or choose to ignore the facts. But the Judge in the Heavenly courtroom is Holy and True (Rev. 6:10). He is holy, that is set apart from the common and mundane. The root of this word means “chaste and pure”. In Rev. 6:10 it particularly reflects the One who is worthy of reverence and veneration. He is true, a word which is more than an adjective or descriptive, it defines the concept of “true” to the corresponding thing. Passages where this word is used are describing those with sincere and upright hearts (Heb. 10:22) or specifically an upright or just judge as in Rev. 6:10; 15:13; 16:7 and 19:2. With these qualities there is no possibility that the Heavenly Judge will make an incorrect decision. The question is, when will He act?
I don’t know about you, but there have been many times in my life when I’ve wanted God to act immediately. I’ve been so outraged by injustice I want fire to swoop down from heaven and wipe the perpetrators of that injustice off the face of the earth! So, I certainly relate to this question, but God’s sense of timing is different from mine and He has delayed judgment before (Gen. 15:12-16; Mt. 23:29-36; Mk. 12:1-12). The Heavenly Judge tells them they must wait “a little while longer” before judgment is fulfilled. In the meantime they are given 2 assurances that judgment will come to pass in Rev. 6:11. First they are given a white robe in language that indicates it is given by God Himself, and secondly, they are told to rest “a little while longer”. This phrase though it does not name a specific amount of time (like 2 days, 3 weeks etc.), does indicate that the time of waiting is finite and that God will act in a manner that makes it not too long for them to bear.
Is there something in your life where you feel an injustice has been done to you because you have stood up for God’s way? Do you long for something or someone to vindicate you, prove your innocence or release you from blame which you did not deserve because you lived in a Christ honoring way? Life will not always go in our favor. In fact, like the martyrs we bring Truth to a hostile world (Mt. 5:10-12; 24:9-14). Suffering for the sake of Christ is being like Christ who suffered to the point of death (Phil. 2:5-8). You stand in good company as many believers before you, and even now, suffer for Christ’s sake (Rom. 8:16-18; Phil. 1:12-14. 27-30; 2 Tim. 1:8-12; 2:1-10; Js. 1:2-3, 12; 1 Pet. 1:3-9; 4:12-19). The Lord will be with you in your suffering and as many of these passages indicate, suffering will both refine and improve the merit of your faith. Waiting for God to act will require both patience and fortitude. But like the martyrs, we can be sure that God will act in His own time (Rev. 20:11-15) because our Judge is Holy and True.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 5/15/2016