After 2300 Days
Revelation 6:10, 11
r06e

Note 6:10
Souls cry out, How long?

    "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?" (Rev. 6:10)

   Let's begin to look at what this verse is saying. Later we will pull it all together for a consistent picture in harmony with the pattern of the larger context. How could the dead souls cry out? The cry could be symbolic. For example, in Psalm 19, the heavens speak symbolically ps01901-4 and are understood in every language without translation! Let's look at an example of blood that talked. Maybe you remember it: "And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." (Gen. 4:9, 10).

How dead souls cry
   The souls under the altar are speaking in the same way. Next notice that they cry "with a loud voice." The "loud voice" appears again in 14:7, 1407d. We may understand from this that many people are able to hear as when a strong message is preached. Their prayer would not need to be loud for God to hear.
   They are asking "how long?"  This question appears elsewhere in the scriptures more than once, but we can identify a specific occurrence by comparing the situation of the souls here with the situation in the text I believe to be our key for understanding this verse. Notice that here they are expecting judgment and vengeance on those who killed them. Now the other text:

   "And it [the little horn from one of the four winds] waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host. . . . Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said to that certain . . . who spoke, How long . . . the vision . . . the daily . . . and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said to me, Until two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (Dan. 8:10, 11, 13, 14, with ellipsis points where I have omitted words from 13 and 14 which were supplied by translators)
   This passage says that the cleansing (or vindication) of the sanctuary would resolve the trampling problem experienced by the host (God's people) and by the sanctuary (Christ's ministry). Also it would happen after 2300 prophetic days. Jewish tradition recognizes Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement when the sanctuary was cleansed (Lev. 16), as a time of judgment, and Lev. 23:27-30 le2327 agrees.

How long is 2300 days?
   The 2300 days would be either symbolic or literal time. From the context, the days cannot be literal. Here's why. "2300 days" is the response to the question, "How long, the vision...?" in Dan. 8:13. So how long was the time described by the vision? It began with a ram (Dan. 8:1-3), later identified as the empire of the Medes and Persians (8:20). The ram was standing, meaning it was in power. The kingdom that followed was Greece (8:21) which was followed in turn by the horn power. The horn power doesn't stop trampling until destroyed without human hand (8:23-25). This will be after the end of Rome, the kingdom of the split-up following Greece. Thus the time span could not be a literal 2300 days which is somewhat more than six years. Twice the Bible identifies a day as symbolizing a literal year. (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6). See the Dan.8:14 note. (verses in green indicate a link nearby)

Clues from Daniel
   I'm suggesting that the "How long" cry of the souls under the altar is the same "How long" which was the concern of the holy ones described by Daniel. There, one holy one (apparently an angel) asks, "How long . . . the vision?" involving the trampling. The other holy one answers that after 2300 days, the sanctuary would be cleansed. If we knew when that period began, we could calculate when it would end. So when would the 2300 years begin? Daniel's great concern was the fulfillment of the prophecy to return to Jerusalem after the captivity (Dan. 9). Jeremiah had prophesied that it would be 70 years. I expect Daniel was wondering whether the vision of the 2300 days meant that the promise was to be delayed for 2300 years. In response to his prayer pleading for his unfaithful people, Gabriel explained more. The significant reference point is described in Dan. 9:24, 25.
   "Seventy weeks are determined [literally, "cut off"] upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. . . ."
    The passage goes on to account for all of the 70 weeks of years of probation for the Jewish people as a nation. We may see those years as cut off from the longer time Daniel was distressed about.
    Because Gabriel has returned in that chapter to explain the sanctuary vision (Dan. 9:21-23) which Daniel had been left wondering about (8:26, 27) we conclude that the two periods began at the same time, the 70 weeks (490 symbolic days) of Daniel 9 being cut off from the 2300 symbolic days. The time of the command for Jerusalem's restoration [in government] as well as its rebuilding was 457 B.C. (Dan. 9:24, 25; Ezra 7:7, 12, 13). 2300 literal years brings us to 1844. (If you do the math, remember that B.C. years are named for their chronological end point. On a number line, the starting point would have been somewhere in the 456th space.)
    The two chapters in Daniel describe the same 2300 days. In Daniel 9 we see the part of it allotted to the Jews as a nation.

In summary
   Gabriel was saying that (1) the probation of Daniel's people as a nation would not be 70 years, but 70 weeks of years, (2) that this new probation period would begin when his people would go back to restore Jerusalem, and would end shortly after the death of the Messiah, and (3) the 70 weeks (490 literal years) would be cut off as part of the longer 2300 year period. It is interesting that when the judgment which begins when the 2300 years ends, all of human probation will close. The comparison of time spans involves three probationary periods.
   I have sketched a picture here that is a conclusion of considerable study. You may not have had opportunity to verify (or challenge) what I have learned. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit provides more than one clue for important truth. Here we have looked at two passages and have mentioned Rev. 14. We find more evidence in chapters 10 and 11. I'll explain a little more history in the following section.
.
    "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. 6:10, 11)

Note 6:11a
So what happens after 2300 days?

   Above we learned that the sanctuary would be cleansed (or restored) after 2300 prophetic days (Dan. 8:14). We showed that a "day" in the prophecy represents a literal year. Counting 2300 years after the decree that interested Daniel the one marking the restoration of Jerusalem brings us to 1844. If this is unclear to you, please review that study, v10 (above).
   If we compare Rev. 10:4-7 with Dan. 12:7-9, we see that the "time of the end" in Dan. 12:4 describes an increase in the knowledge of Daniel's prophecies. The increase is by going to and fro (in the Scriptures). The end of the "days" da1213 would extend beyond that. In Rev. 10:6, we find the same man in linen which Daniel saw. He had commanded that the prophecy would be sealed until the time of the end. In Revelation 10, He declares that time would be no longer. This is the end point of that prophecy. The book is now unsealed. Study the passages to see the relationships of time prophecies. This end was the end of the 2300 days. The seventh angel ushers in the final climax when God takes over (Rev. 11:15). The "time no longer," however is before that because the seventh angel in chapter 10 only begins to sound (10:7).
   This is the time of John's experience of eating the sweet book that turned bitter (10:8-11) chap10. The "book" would be prophecies of Daniel. Let's look back at our verse and continue into verse 11.
   "And they [the souls] 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. . . ." (Rev. 6:10, 11)
   Around the beginning of the 1800s, the Bible societies were started. God's book had become widely available and people were studying the prophecies. In the 1840s, William Miller in the Northeastern US and Joseph Wolfe and others elsewhere in the world were preaching that the world was about to end. Miller figured that Jesus would come in fiery judgment to destroy the wicked in 1843. Then a calculation error was discovered and the date was reset to 1844. Someone else calculated it time to be on the Day of Atonement according to the older Jewish calendar. This was October 22 that year. As you know, Jesus did not return. It was indeed a bitter experience like John's eating the little book r10n.

The movement pictured in our passage
   The interesting point for our discussion of the souls under the altar is that their "loud cry" v10 was for two things: judgment re1407d and punishment of the wicked 2th0107f. They were given two answers:  white robes of acquittal as the judgment time had indeed arrived, and unexpected delay. It was not time for vengeance which they thought would also come in 1844.
   By comparison, the advent message of the 1840s had two main points: the time of judgment represented by the cleansing of the sanctuary, and the purification of the earth by fire, vengeance on the wicked, thought to be the cleansing part. As represented by the souls under the altar, they were right about judgment and wrong about punishment of the wicked. This was the great disappointment of 1844.
   Not until a little later did those who searched the scriptures discover that the sanctuary to be cleansed was in heaven he08 and that the judgment would continue until the end of probation when Jesus will return. The Scriptures do not give a specific time for this event. mt2513. It is significant that the message to the church of Sardis foresaw this time of receiving white robes. 0305.
   Thank you for your patience. This is God's precious truth, understood by Seventh-day Adventists. To decide if it is truth for you, I appeal to you to search the Scriptures and pray earnestly. The connection between the judgment time and the souls under the altar comes only from my personal study.
   I have heard what others preach about the book of Revelation. Anyone can pick a topic and even give a good-sounding interpretation for a verse. But when it comes to other details of the prophecy, they have few explanations because the other points just don't fit into the imagined picture. To help us come to accurate conclusions, the Holy Spirit has, through the prophets, told the same story over and over in different symbols, bringing out different aspects of truth. By prayer and study, we refine and gain better understanding of the whole picture. It's well to be on our guard when we hear something new, but being different does not make an idea wrong. The Holy Spirit has given us the Scriptures to test truth is0820; 1jo0401).
   Please pray for understanding and humility before God. In praying to His Father, Jesus said, "Thy word is truth." (John 17:17). My own word, except as reflecting what the Bible says, is not truth, nor is anyone else's word. Human teachers can only clarify the Scriptures and bring glory to their divine Author! What an awesome privilege you and I have. God has promised peace nu0624f.
   And on vengeance, see ps05810.

   Some have taught that Christ went directly into the most holy place when He ascended after the cross, thus implying that nothing happened in the sanctuary in heaven after 2300 years. We discussed the topic earlier, re0308c.

6:11b
Why did the souls have to wait?

    "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. 6:10, 11)

   Most translations add words not in the original text which hide the real meaning. The Greek word for "fulfill" here is pleroo. It also means "to complete" and "to perfect." Thus, at the time the souls cried out, the brethren who had not yet been persecuted were those who had not died, as had the souls under the altar. They were living awaiting Jesus' return. We have here the same two groups as are seen in chapter 7, the 144,000 and the great multitude 0713. I see them also as the two groups described by Paul in telling the Thessalonian believers about the coming of Christ.
   "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:16, 17)
   The righteous living at the time Jesus returns in the clouds will have passed through the time of trouble (Dan. 12:1; Isa. 26:20). They will be saved from the fury of the evil one ps09107. For that they will have received a special preparation in harmony with their commitment.
   "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." (Rev. 7:1-4)

Spiritual Israel
   We see here spiritual Israel. In other words, the tribes of the end-time Israel which, in symbol, have crossed the Jordan and entered the promised land represent God's remnant people who pass through the time of trouble when the winds of strife blow. They are protected because they have been sealed, 1401b .
   Also see on chapter 7 - 0700 about the 144,000 and about the brethren the souls had to wait for. 0702b, 1910
   In chapter 19 we find the that the wife of Christ had been empowered to clothe herself in a white linen robe representing the righteous acts of the saints. Because the multitude in the passage are praising God for the wife, we conclude that she represents the 144,000, the end-time spiritual Israel. These are the "brethren" and "fellow servants" who the souls under the altar were waiting for 1907.

The text says the brethren of the future would be killed
   At first, this seemed a little strange to me. Gabriel told Daniel that the the sons of his people (of the end time) would be saved out of the time of trouble da1201c. If they are this group, how are they "killed"? Jesus helps us in His condemnation of the wicked Jews who were guilty because of their motives 1605th, 2004li. Of course we may expect some to be be killed for their faith, too.

The souls continue crying
    The story of the souls under the altar reflects the experience of living people who thought they had the answer to two questions on the minds of the reformers of the early 1800s (above). One was How long until the sanctuary will be cleansed?, and the other, Isn't it time for Judgment? (as announced by the first of the three angels of chapter 14 1406b). We also recognize that a "great tribulation," although brief, will be experienced by the 144,000 1317c. As the righteous die day by day, they become part of the souls under the altar. We will see that the first angel's message will continue to be sounded as it is joined by appeals of the other two angels and that the three proclamations finally swell into the loud cry of chapter 18 1406btl.
    Back to the double question of the souls: Isn't it time for judgment? and Isn't it time for vengeance for our blood? They got their answer about judgment. It had begun as expected (above). But for vengeance, they were told they had to wait others yet had to suffer. More time must pass before the souls sleping under the altar would be raised to immortality and all the wrongs would be dealt with. Those who live to the time of Jesus' return will experience intense oppression 1317c and will know that the time has come for God to destroy those who have insisted on the way of the wicked. Just as the first angel continues his message to the end, the symbolic crying of the righteous dead will echo the call of their living brothers and sisters who experience this period.

6:11c
Judgment

   The message to the souls under the altar was that the judgment was only beginning. The dead could be judged because their time for making decisions had ended. But Jesus would not come with rewards for righteous and wicked until the end of the judgment when those then living would be translated.
   The sleeping saints represented by the souls under the altar will not be rewarded by Jesus' coming before those who were living at that time are. (This is confirmed in Heb. 11:39, 40; 1 Thess. 4:16).

Two groups taken to heaven at Jesus' coming seen in two other symbol sets

Righteous dead
Righteous living
The great multitude The 144,000
The souls under the altar Their brethren who would be perfected

For a more complete view of these relationships,
see the chart with the chapter 7 commentary

    As a reference, it will be helpful to show the passages representing the judgments of the various classes as pictured in Revelation.

Judgment of the Different Classes

Class Judgment Character
Seen/confirmed
Righteous who are dead when Christ comes 6:9 (souls) 0609 7:9+ (multitude)
Righteous living when Christ comes 7:1-8 (144,000) 14:1-5 (on Zion)
Wicked dead during the 1000 yrs. 20:4 (while righteous
reign with Christ)
20:7-9a (as wicked surround the city)
Wicked resurrected after 1000 yrs. 20:11-15 (around
the white throne)
Wicked, now alive, will see their own guilt

    This picture is a simplification. The wicked living when Christ comes are slain with the sword from the mouth of the one on the white horse. They become part of "the rest of the dead" joining the wicked who had died throughout history. Those among them who had claimed to be righteous were judged first in the preadvent judgment. They are judged again in 20:4 with all the wicked as the righteous join Christ. Then they are raised to life, surround the city, and are judged again around the white throne. This time, they, along with the wicked angels and Satan will understand the justice of God. This will be explained better as we study chapter 20.

Previous
Next
Chapter 6 home
Revelation home
Commentary home
Contact