"I Was In the Spirit ... and Heard" (continued)
John saw the souls of those who lived a life of self-sacrifice "under the altar," and the idea behind the symbolic language of the phrase, "under the altar," is that they subjected their whole "being" to the work of the Cross. In Revelation, the word "altar" is used many times, and it is always seen as being in the midst of he Throne. Remember, the "altars" of the tabernacle and the temple, in the Old Testament, were only the "patterns" [examples], of things in the heavens (Hebrews 9:23). So in Revelation 11:1, and 14:18, and 16:7, the word "altar" is speaking of the finished work of Christ upon the Cross; and in Revelation 8:3 and 9:13, the "golden altar" is speaking of the Throne Ministry of the One "Who is even at the Right Hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us," it is speaking of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thus, in Revelation 6:9, John saw the souls of those who lived a life of self-sacrifice "under the altar"; and in this instance, the word "under" implies subjection - it means that they subjected their whole "being" to the work of the Cross. They chose to hear what "the Spirit saith," they chose to "follow the Lamb" - they chose to follow the Lamb, Who bares the wounds of the Cross in His Glorified Body, they chose to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Revelation 14:4). And He said to all, "If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself - that is, disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interest, refuse and give up himself - and take up his cross daily, and follow Me [that is, cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example, in living and if need by in dying also]" (Luke 9:23).
John was "in the Spirit", and He saw that those "souls," like himself, were suffering because of the Word of God and because of the testimony of Jesus; he saw that they were crying: "How long, O Lord." - How long do we have to endure seeing the wickedness of the satanic forces prosper? "Then they were each given a long and lowing and festive white robe..." (Revelation 6:11). This is not the white robe of righteousness, for they received the robe of righteousness the day they were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; but they were given the festive robe of the feast, which means they were to feast on Christ and all that He is. And they were told that they "should rest yet for a little season." They were told to "rest" in the finished work of Christ. They were to "rest" in the fact that the Lamb, Who bears the wounds of the Cross in His glorified body, is standing in the midst of the Throne. Now, this "rest" does not imply inactivity, for the word "rest" speaks of God's rest: "And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made" (Genesis 2:1, 2). This points us to the New Testament where the work of God's new creation was completed in Christ when upon His Cross, the Lord Jesus Christ cried: "It is finished!"
So when God told them to take their "rest", He was telling them that they are now engaged in the Throne Ministry, they are now standing in the good of all that the Lamb had accomplished. Remember, John also saw the prayers of saints in the midst of the Throne, he saw those who prayed prayers that brought about God's End through His Way - the way of the Cross. He saw the prayers of those who laid down their lives, their self-interests, their self-preeminence, their self-centeredness; he saw the prayers of those who allowed the the work of the Cross in their lives. John saw the prayers of those who were his companions "in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience (perseverance and endurance) of Jesus Christ." "In the Spirit," John saw with the all-seeing eye of the Spirit that he was not alone; he saw all those who were, and are, alive to God, and to God's will. "In the Spirit" he comprehended that all those "souls" who had laid down their lives throughout the ages were fellow-partakers with him in that which he must endure in order to fulfill his course - to fulfill his portion in all the fullness of Christ. And he saw that both he, and they, were companions with those souls who had yet to fulfill their course.
(continued with # 28 - "If Anyone Has an Ear, Let Him Hear" - "Here is Wisdom")