Because these martyrs contribute to the required number that must be killed. Once the remaining number of martyrs have come in, the Lord will arise and take vengeance for their spilled blood.
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Psalm 47:5
When the Lord returns, he first carries out judgment on the heavenly powers, before he actually returns to earth.
For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. Micah 1:3
Why does there have to be a certain number?
Simply because there is a certain number of His enemies that must be judged. In Isaiah 34 we read of this judgment.
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven ... (Isaiah 34:4-5 KJV)
Here the context is the Second Coming. The reference to the vine and fig tree is a reference to the Church. So to speak of a leaf falling from the vine or a fig from the fig tree is to speak of one of the saints falling in martyrdom. To speak of the host of heaven falling down is to speak of the fall of one of the heavenly powers, wicked rulers in high places. Psalm 82 mentions this when it depicts the Lord pronouncing judgment on the gods.
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. (Psalms 82:7-8 KJV)
So Isaiah is talking about the coming judgment of demonic powers of the air, [stars or hosts of heaven] comparing it to the martyrdom of the saints. There is a correlation between the two, then the number of saints has to equal or better the number of 'stars' for the judgement to be complete. Which means that there is a set number that must be reached.
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