John is witnessing a worship service in Heaven, one that we are told is to come (Revelation 4:1). To this point, we have been informed of only a few attendees besides the Lamb himself. They include four living beings of varying makeups and 24 elders whose thrones encircled the throne of Christ (Revelation 4:4, 6).

At this point in the service, after a previously unbreakable scroll has been presented, the Lamb begins to break its seven seals. As he does so, horses of color and their riders are called to come forth, and each is given a specific task. It is within this context that we find today’s devotional text.

There are a few things we can learn from these passages. First, many people believe that the seven seals will be broken after Christ’s return. However, this is not the case. In this passage, along with others, we find that the earth is still inhabited—Christ’s second coming has yet to occur (see Revelation 6:4, 6, 8, 15-16). As each seal is broken, the respective rider is commanded to bring death, famine, and other natural disasters. In Revelation 6, we can only imagine the growing fear and anxiety as each of the first six seals is broken.

Second, we find a warning of what will happen to many other believers. The Lamb comforts those who have already been martyred for their faith, and he warns them that there will be more to come. Earlier, Christ warns the Church in Smyrna of their future fate (Revelation 2:8-11). However, what we read in Revelation 6 is a message of what shall come to pass at the end of days, and it is a message for believers throughout the world.

It is clear that the number of these souls under the altar continues to grow. We see and hear the evidence of such in our news reports. Furthermore, we know that there will be even more to come until the “full number…[have] joined [those under the altar]”. So, what should be our response?

Our responsibility is to remain faithful. Christ has exhorted his Church to take heart and have peace, for he has overcome the world (John 16:33). In other words, do not be anxious as the time comes and persecution increases. Additionally, we are told not to fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28). The blood of the Lamb safely secures our souls.

Finally, if we remain faithful and do not love our lives so as to shrink from death (fear dying for the love of our lives), then we too will triumph over the enemy (Revelation 12:11). We will have a glorious testimony before the throne of Christ as we recount all the things he has done. And, like the Church in Smyrna, we too will receive a crown of life.