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Revelation 6:9 ESV

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 witness they had borne.

Leviticus 4:7 ESV

And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

Is there an allusion in the above texts?

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  • Hi, it’s very likely - well spotted! There are numerous temple allusions in the heavenly throne room scene: the sea (brazen sea); the four beasts (temple motifs); the lamps (lamps); the altar (altar). In addition, there are also allusions to a throne room: the throne (throne); again, the amazing creatures guarding the throne (the animals lining the pathway up to the throne in some OT-era examples).
    – user36337
    Jan 13 at 20:10

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I would suggest that Rev 6:9 alludes to several OT texts with both verbal allusions and conceptual allusions. First, let me quote Rev 6:9, 10 -

9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?”

The reference to something at the base of the altar or beneath the altar is referenced a few times in the OT:

  • Lev 4:7 - The priest must then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting. And he is to pour out the rest of the bull’s blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
  • Lev 4:18 - The priest must then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting. And he is to pour out the rest of the bull’s blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
  • Lev 4:25 - The priest must then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting. And he is to pour out the rest of the bull’s blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
  • Lev 4:30 - Then the priest is to take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.
  • Lev 4:34 - Then the priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.

There are many more in places like Ex 29:12, Lev 8:15, 9:9, Deut 12:27, Eze 43:13, etc.

Then there is the "How long" allusions, all asking how long God will continue to appear to remain inactive in rescuing or judging wickedness such as:

  • Ps 94:3 - How long will the wicked, O LORD, how long will the wicked exult?
  • Ps 89:46 - How long, O LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath keep burning like fire?
  • Dan 8:13 - Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long until the fulfillment of the vision of the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host to be trampled?”

Then there is the cry for justice, particularly that of the blood:

  • Gen 4:10 - What have you done?” replied the LORD. “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

Note the totality of the picture painted by the text of Rev 6:9, 10 - how long, Sovereign Lord are you not judging our blood and avenging our martyrdom? It was the martyrs' blood that was symbolically pored out at the base of the altar.

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  • Brilliant! Do you feel that the seat of God’s glory in the Holy of Holies is enough of a link for the throne upon which God sits in Rev, or is the heavenly scene a temple/throne mashup? It would be nice if it were the latter… because the lesson is, then, that Kingship and Sacrifice all come together in the scene. The King/Judge (holding the sealed scroll) is co-worshipped with the Lion/Lamb in the temple/throne room. But does that puzzle piece fit like a glove?
    – user36337
    Jan 14 at 4:17
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    @AshleyRoberts - judging by the tabernacle furniture, the Book of Revelation naturally divides into two halves - everything before Rev 11:18 is in the Holy Place, and everything after Rev 11;19 is in the Most Holy Place. That places the seals (Rev 4-6) in the Holy Place. While the throne room scenes of Rev 4 & 5 appear in the Holy Place, there are plenty of appearances of God's throne in Rev 15 and onwards as well. This might be the subject of another question so I will not elaborate further.
    – Dottard
    Jan 14 at 9:04
  • Nice… so - there is a natural break in Rev @ ch 10, I’m convinced that the giving of the sealed and unsealed scrolls are critical in the structure- and hence the message. There is a chiasm that begins ch 10 and ends before the epilogue. But there is an interjection if Scroll 1’s judgement in Scroll 2.. it would be interesting to note if the Holy place language similarly interjects Scroll 2.. Other questions indeed, most exciting. Throughout my journey, Ive only accepted solutions to the puzzle that fit perfectly, cleanly. No shoving 🧩👍. This week’s answeres have advanced my understanding 😌.
    – user36337
    Jan 14 at 9:42
  • @AshleyRoberts - note that the word for judgement does not appear in the first half of Revelation except here (Rev 6:9, 10) were it is actually, "not judging".
    – Dottard
    Jan 14 at 10:14
  • thanks for that note I’ll do a follow up, my hunch (needs backing) is that while the actual word (of which yours I’m taking haha!) does not appear, the concept is everywhere.. but will need to sit 🍀. I will definitely bear in mind…
    – user36337
    Jan 14 at 15:52

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