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  "And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were 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, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season until their fellowservants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." Rev. 6:9-11.

   The certainty that the souls cried from under the altar, the place from which God's truth is dispensed, makes obvious that they were slain for their firmness in the Word of God, and that for their faithfulness they were given white robes -- they were accounted worthy of eternity.  That they were the martyrs of the preceding period, the period of the fourth seal, is clear from the fact that they were already dead when the fifth seal opened.

   Moreover, an altar denotes renewal of faith, reformation.  That is what it meant to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the instances they built their altars (Gen. 8:20; 12:8; 26:25; 35:14).  The souls' being under the altar, indicates that they sacrificed their lives for a cause similar to the cause of the martyrs during the Protestant Reformation.  And the question, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge?"  also the answer, "that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled," concretely prove that the persecution and martyrdom of the fourth seal were to overlap the fifth seal, and that the Judgment of the dead (the martyrs) was not to begin until after the persecution had ceased, but that then it would certainly begin.

    This historical sequence of events now brings us to the time of the next events, those disclosed in THE SYMBOLIZATION OF THE SIXTH SEAL.