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Good News Magazine
October 1952
Volume: Vol II, No. 10
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What Are the Souls Which John Saw Under the Altar?

   In Revelation 6:9-11 is a description of the fifth seal. When Jesus Christ, who is the Revelator (John is not the revelator) opened the seal, the apostle saw in heaven an altar under which were the souls of people who had been slain. They cried to God, asking Him how long it would be until He would judge the world. Many claim that these verses prove the "immortality of the soul." But do they?
   Remember, if one part of this description is literal, then it all must be literal. IF there are souls in heaven, then where would they be in heaven? Notice what John says. "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain." Where are the souls? UNDER THE ALTAR! This could not be literally true as those who teach the "immortality of the soul" admit. The entire description is actually symbolic.
   None of the seven seals could be literal pictures of conditions in heaven. John saw in vision a book or scroll bound with seven seals (ch. 5:1) which only Jesus was worthy to open. As each seal was removed, John saw in vision in heaven a picture of conditions described in the book which are to take place on the earth. The BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION, given by Jesus Himself, of the events described on the scroll under the seals, is found in Matthew 24. The description of the fifth seal is in Matthew 24:9-28. It is symbolic of the tribulation!
   Notice that the souls John saw were slain for the Word of God and for their testimony, an exact description of the tribulation! In Revelation 12:17, the word of God and the testimony are defined as the keeping of the commandments and belief in the gospel of the Kingdom, which is the message that Jesus testified. The souls which John saw were not immortal entities. The Bible definition for soul is a living, physical creature whether animal or man (Genesis 2:7). The apostle saw in vision the souls or bodies of the martyred saints who were in vision [a few words missing in PDF] God, just as Abel's blood cried oat to God although he was dead (Genesis 4:10).
   The tribulation came on the saints once, during the Middle Ages, and it will come again. The souls that were slain were told to "rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." These two martyrdoms are also mentioned in Revelation 12, verses 6 and 14.
   Those who died in the Middle Ages were symbolically given white robes to show that they possessed the righteousness of saints (Rev. 19:8). And righteousness is described in Psalm 119:172 as keeping the commandments the exact thing for which the devil persecutes the church. But why were the souls seen in vision under the altar in heaven, though they were actually buried on the earth? This altar, mentioned also in Revelation 8:3, is the heavenly counterpart of the altar of incense which was in the holy of holies (Hebrews 3:4). The altar of incense was an altar for prayer, of which incense was a symbol. The saints are pictured under the altar as a symbol of their prayers to God, which they offered when they yet lived, that He might judge the earth in righteousness and avenge them. The entire description is picturing the coming and final tribulation, which will befall the church and Israel within a few years.

Please Explain Matthew 10:28

   This verse reads: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
   The doctrine of the immortality or indestructibility of the soul is often based on this text, although Jesus plainly says that we should fear God who is able to DESTROY THE SOUL in hell or Gehenna fire. The soul is something that can be destroyed. Ezekiel 18:4 says the same thing: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," not live forever in torment. The soul can die. It can be destroyed because of sin, the transgression of the law (I John 3:4).
   But, what is the sod if man can't kill it?
   The word "soul" is used in numerous ways. It is a translation of the Greek word psuche and the Hebrew word nephesh, both of which mean, according to Strong's Concordance, a living, breathing creature, an animal life. appetite and similar derived connotations. Soul and NEVER mean an immortal part of man or animal but always the living breathing animal or man, also the life of a breathing being which is in the blood. In Leviticus 17:11 the word translated "life" comes from the same Hebrew word for "soul" and can be correctly translated: for the soul of the flesh is in the blood. Jesus gave his life (translated from the same Greek word meaning soul), a ransom for us (Mark 10:45) by pouring out his soul of life blood in payment for sin (Isa. 53:12). "Soul" can mean the living breathing animal or man and it can also mean the physical life of such creatures.
   Remember, God can destroy the physical body and the soul or life. Luke quotes Jesus as saying: "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell." (ch. 12:5.) God, who takes the present physical life from us at the first death, also has the power to resurrect us and, if we have been disobedient, to cast us into the lake of fire the second death from which there will be no hope of a resurrection from which we can never come to life again.
   Man can kill our bodies but he can do no more.
   We have already reckoned our lives dead upon baptism, The new life we now live is by the faith of Jesus Christ in us. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3.) Jesus brings out the great importance of the fact that the first or natural life (soul) of a Christian is already perished. There is nothing of that life which remains for men to kill. That is why Jesus declared that man can kill the body, but not the soul or life. We are figuratively dead already your physical way of life is crucified. But the life of Christ in us can't be touched by man; he cannot kill it because it is Christ's very own life. Although the original word for eternal life is from another Greek word, Jesus uses psuche soul or material life because Christ is living his life in our material bodies.

Is All Sea Life Good for Food?

   "There will be an oyster supper in the church basement. Proceeds to go for redecorating the church. Sponsored by the Willing Workers Class."
   How many times have you seen announcements such as this?
   People set up their own standards of edible and inedible sea life. Thus, some who would eat oysters, would shrink from an octopus if it were offered. Why? Because not all water life is fit for loud.
   Long before any man thought about whether all fish and sea life were fit for food, the Creator brought into being all kinds of life both in the rivers and seas. He created certain kinds fit for human food, and He created other sea life not to be eaten by us. In creating man, He knew what would be best for our well-being, and He revealed that information to us in the list of clean and unclean foods in the Bible.
   Yes, you have heard it said, "That is just one of those old laws Moses originated and tried to enforce." But, did you know there were clean and unclean meats before Moses was ever born? Turn in your Bible to Gen. 7:2. Here God commanded Noah a thousand years before the birth of Moses to take into the Ark seven of the clean and two of the unclean. Noah couldn't have known what was clean and what was unclean unless God told him! Nothing was said to Noah about fishes at that time, because the flood wouldn't have had any great destructive effect upon them.
   Now turn to Lev. 11:1 which says, "And the Eternal spake unto Moses and co Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel saying." This is what GOD said. Not Moses! Moses merely told it to the children of Israel who preserved this knowledge for us. (Acts 7:38) The ninth verse of Lev. 11 gives us the measuring stick for determining which sea creatures are fit for food and which are not. It's very plain. "Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat." Verse 10: "And all that have not fins and scales in the seas... they shall be an abomination unto you."
   It is repeated in Dew. 14:9, 10. This law is still binding upon us today. The nature of sea life has not changed.
   A dictionary or encyclopedia may help you determine what fish are clean. The following is a list of clean, edible fish: bass, bluefish, bonito, buffalo, carp, cod, drum, flounder, haddock, hake, halibut, mackerel, mullet, perch, pike, pollack, salmon, shad, smelt, sole, trout, tuna, weakfish, whitefish.
   Water life which is not to be eaten: crabs, lobsters, shrimp, oysters, octopus, snails, frogs, turtles and eels, swordfish, catfish, none of which have both fins and scales. In fact all water life is forbidden except fish, and only those fish having BOTH fins and scales are to be eaten.

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Good News MagazineOctober 1952Vol II, No. 10