"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."
A Vision of Heaven
Here we obtain a glimpse into Heaven. Those who have been faithful to God unto death, those who have been killed for the testimony that they had maintained, are in the very presence of Almighty God, and they are praying. What are they praying?
"How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
Praying for Justice
Throughout the world I have come across many people who are praying for peace. However, it is remarkable that the Scriptures reveal that the Martyrs in Heaven are praying for Justice. They are praying for God to judge the wicked and to avenge the blood of those martyred for their Faith.
How Does God Respond to Prayers for Justice?
How does our Lord respond to such prayers? Does He rebuke them? No! Each of them is given a white robe, signifying their right standing before Almighty God. They are told to be patient for a little while.
The way so many people talk and pray in churches today, you would think that the martyrs would be praying for blessings upon the communist tyrants and Muslim terrorists who are murdering the children of God: "Lord bless Hamas!", "Bless ISIS!", "Bless Mao Tse Tung!", "Bless Stalin!" and "Bless Nero!"
But No, that might be the way that many of us would imagine that the saints are praying. However, God's holy and infallible Word reveals that, in fact, the martyrs who are standing in the very presence of our Sovereign, Holy and Almighty God, are actually praying for justice!
What Are the Angels Singing?
The way all too many tele-evangelists speak, you would imagine that the angels in the presence of God would be singing "Love!, love!, love!" However, the Scriptures reveal that the angels around God's throne are singing, day and night, "Holy!, Holy!, Holy!"
Who is God?
Do we comprehend the Holiness of God?
What are Men?
Do we understand the depravity of man?
Right now churches are being destroyed, Christians are being crucified and beheaded by Muslim Jihadists in Syria and Iraq. How are we to respond in prayer?
Remember the Persecuted
We are commanded:
"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also."
Serving the Persecuted
For over 32 years I have been ministering to the Persecuted Church. This Mission has taken me to 34 countries, as far afield as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, The Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, and behind the Iron Curtain, during the dark days of communist oppression, to East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Albania.
The Scriptures teach us:
"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the Body of Christ and members individually."
1 Corinthians 12:26-27
Learning from the Persecuted
Throughout the persecuted churches I saw a steadfastness and a tenacity that puts so much of what passes for Christianity in Western countries, to shame. Christians who had endured decades in concentration camps, in slave labour in the Gulags, tortured for Christ. Believers who seemed to have backbones of steel, who would not bend or bow before the idols of communism. Christians who would continue to go to church despite the threats and bombings of Muslim Jihadists. Their prayer meetings were dynamic, praying the Psalms, praying Imprecatory prayers, prayers for Justice. Calling on God to intervene and bring their persecutors to repentance, or remove them.
Praying the Psalms
At first, such prayers seemed quite shocking to me. However, as I studied the Psalms, I saw many such Imprecatory prayers and appeals to God for Justice. 90 of the 150 Psalms include Imprecations, prayers invoking God's righteous judgement upon the wicked:
"Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; seek out his wickedness…"
"The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations have perished out of His land."
"Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; you will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that man who is of the earth may oppress no more."
"Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let Your wrathful anger take hold of them."
"…O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud."
Such prayers may be rare in the average Western church, however, amongst the persecuted churches, such Imprecatory prayers are far more common:
"Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! Let them flow away as waters which run continually… Let his arrows be as if cut in pieces… The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, so that men will say, 'Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is God who judges in the earth.'"
Praying Against the Enemies of God
The Scripture makes it clear that these prayers are not to be prayed for our own selfish motives, nor against our own personal enemies. Rather, such prayers are to be prayed in Christ, for His glory and against His enemies alone.
The Psalmist describes the targets of these imprecations as:
"No, in heart you work wickedness; You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth."
"Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness."
"They break in pieces Your people, O Lord… They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless."
"They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones."
"…You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man."
To these unrepentant enemies of God, the Psalmist declares: "God shall likewise destroy you forever…"
"But God will wound the head of His enemies… the one who still goes on in his trespasses."
The purpose of these prayers for Justice is declared:
"…Let them know that God rules…to the ends of the earth."
"To proclaim the power of God…"
"Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him."
"Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath."
Praying Against the Persecutors
Not only have I heard the crippled, maimed, widows and orphans praying for God to strike down the wicked and remove the persecutors of the church, I have seen how God has actually answered such prayers in recent history:
Neto of Angola
The initiator of the communist persecution in Angola was Agostinho Neto. Described as a "drunken psychotic, Marxist poet", Neto had been installed by Castro's Cuban troops as the first dictator of Angola. Neto boasted that "within 20 years, there will not be a Bible or a church left in Angola. I will have eradicated Christianity!" Yet despite the vicious waves of church burnings and massacres, it was not Christianity that was eradicated in Angola, but Agostinho Neto, who died in mysterious circumstances on an operating table in Moscow.
Machel of Mozambique
Samora Machel, the first dictator of Marxist Mozambique, pledged to destroy the church and turn Mozambique into "the first truly Marxist Leninist state in Africa." Machel pledged his soul to satan and ate human flesh in witchcraft ceremonies. Thousands of churches in Mozambique were closed, confiscated, nationalised, chained and padlocked, burned down, or boarded up. Missionaries were expelled. Evangelism was forbidden. Bibles were burned and tens-of-thousands of Christians, including many pastors and elders, where shipped off to concentration camps. Most were never seen again.
A month before his sudden death, Samora Machel cursed God publically and challenged him to prove his existence by striking him dead. On 19 October 1986, while several churches were specifically praying for God to stop the persecution in Mozambique, Machel's Soviet Tupelov aircraft crashed in a violent thunderstorm. Amidst the wreckage the Marxist plans for overthrowing the government of Malawi were discovered and published. Not only had God judged a blasphemer and a persecutor, but he also saved a country from persecution.
The Seven Year Jericho Prayer Focus on the Iron Curtain
The Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989, after a concerted seven-year Jericho Prayer March focus on praying for the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. The dramatic toppling of Marxist dictators and the overthrow and execution of Nicolai Ceaucescu, on Christmas day 1989, to cheers of "the anti-christ is dead!" was yet another series of answers to the fervent prayers of the long-suffering people of Romania.
"It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity."
Prayers to Fear
It is recorded in history that the wicked Mary, Queen of Scots, trembling and in tears, declared: "I am more afraid of John Knox's prayers than of an army of ten thousand!"
We Are at War
All the enemies of the Lord need to hear these Psalms. God's Kingdom is at war. The powers of evil will fall and God alone will rule forever.
"…In righteousness He judges and makes war… out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God…King of kings and Lord of lords."
However some will object and ask: What about Jesus' command to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us (Matthew 5:44)? Our Lord Jesus Christ is of course the loving and merciful Saviour who forgives sin; but the Scripture reveals that He is also the awesome Judge, who is coming in Judgement on those who disobey the Gospel.
The Lord will Judge the Wicked
"Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed."
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
Thy Kingdom Come
Our Lord Jesus Christ has power on earth to forgive sins, and He has power on earth to execute judgment upon His enemies. In the Scriptures we see both the vengeance and the love of God. As German Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther, pointed out, "when we pray: Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done" then "he must put all the opposition to this in one pile and say: curses, maledictions and disgrace upon every other name and every other kingdom. May they be ruined and torn apart and may all their schemes and wisdoms and plans run aground." To pray for the extension of God's Kingdom is to solicit the destruction of all other kingdoms in opposition to it.
Victory Over All Evil
"…The God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed… it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."
Advance and victory for the Church means defeat and retreat for the kingdom of darkness.
Seek First the Kingdom of God
There is a life and death struggle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan. Believers cannot exclude hatred for satan's kingdom from our love for God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom cannot come without satan's kingdom being destroyed. The Will of God cannot be done on earth without the destruction of evil. The Glory of God demands the eradication of evil.
Instead of being influenced by sickly sentimentalism which insists on the assumed, but really non-existent, rights of man – we should focus, instead, upon the rights of God and the responsibilities of man. Prayer is, in fact, spiritual warfare. One weapon is prayer for the conversion of spiritual enemies. Another is prayer for judgment on those who steadfastly refuse to Repent. We handicap the army of God when we refuse to use both of these great weapons that God has given us. It is at all times a part of the task of the people of God to oppose evil.
Persistent Prayer and Pressure for the Persecuted
As our Lord Jesus Christ, taught in Luke 18:1-5, even an unjust judge will do what is right, in response to persistent prayer and pressure. Publicity provides protection for the persecuted. We need to pray to God and we need to pressure those responsible for persecution and the enablers who will not see the light until they feel the heat. What we bind will be bound, what we loose will be loosed. By the power of prayer and persistent pressure we can see the powers of darkness limited, prison doors opened, and captives set free.
Teach Us to Pray
In Matthew 6, we see the prayer that the Lord taught the disciples to pray. In John 17, we read the prayer that the Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His atoning Sacrifice on the Cross. In Revelation 6, we read the Martyrs prayer.
Are you praying for the Martyrs?
Are you praying with the Martyrs, for justice?
Faithful to God
When the apostles Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin, they courageously responded:
"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard "
Praying for Boldness
In response to the threats of the Sanhedrin, Peter and John gathered with the other disciples and prayed for the boldness to continue to proclaim God's Word, despite the threats:
"Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your Word."
Courage to Proclaim God's Word Against All Opposition
The Scriptures record:
"And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness."
In the words of Peter and the apostles:
"…We ought to obey God rather than men."
Dr. Peter Hammond
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