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Week 19 Summary (9/17/23)

(Rev 8:1-13)

First of all, the rule to “interpret everything literally, if possible” misunderstands that Revelation is written in apocalyptic language. It is highly symbolic. To understand John’s visions as literal descriptions of the future is very misleading and confusing. We must be open to the possibility that the trumpet judgments actually represent calamities to befall kingdoms (mountains); a great star (a great leader); bitterness (polution of waters); darkening of sun, moon, stars (spiritual darkness) to be brought about by war(s) and their aftermath. This is what happened to the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. (Rome was the primary persecutor of God’s people in John’s time and for some time thereafter).

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

After the praises and singing by the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and the thousands of attending angels in chapter five, silence is the last thing we would expect. Imagine the sense of awe in heaven with total silence. For us, a few minutes of silence can be unnerving, much less 30 minutes! We get a clue of what was happening from Zephaniah 1:7: “Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near.” This was likely the calm before the storm. Judgment of the wicked (although limited initially) was about to begin.

The seven seals began with announcements of riders commissioned to bring calamities (6:1-8). The seven trumpets, by contrast, contain vivid descriptions of the calamities themselves. Trumpets throughout the Bible typically sound a warning, e.g., the trumpets that brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). The intensity of judgment has increased. Yet some things are still spared: most of the plagues fall on only a third of the region.

The first four trumpet plagues (7-12) strike the four major regions of creation: dry land, sea, fresh water, and sky. The first four bowls will affect the same four regions (16:1-9). The trumpet plagues strike one-third of the region, indicating a less intense judgment than the corresponding bowl judgments. In this way, the judgments in Revelation build up in intensity and increasingly focus on the Second Coming, until 19:11-20:15 is reached.

For the first trumpet, hail and fire (v. 7) are reminiscent of the seventh Egyptian plague in Exodus 9:23-24. As in the case of the Egyptian plagues, these judgments come from God against evildoers. They show that God is the true God, and they call people to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, like the Egyptians, people may harden themselves and not repent. After the fourth trumpet, an eagle appears, indicating that even more terrible judgments follow in the last three plagues. The three last trumpets are grouped together as three woes (see Amos 5:18). These plagues explicitly discriminate between the righteous and the wicked, as did the Egyptian plagues. This is a reminder that many of the events in the O.T. were types and shadows of events that would come later.

Remember that God’s judgment of evil began nearly 2000 years ago, when the resurrected Christ sat down at the right hand of the Father. Within the period of the early church, these visions were fulfilled both through natural calamities and through spiritual calamities afflicting the souls of the wicked. We briefly discussed the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. and the resultant Dark Ages (500-1500 A.D.).

Next week we’ll look at two more of the seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet isn’t blown until chapter 11.

The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets
Rev 9:1-21


Week 18 Summary (9/2/23)

(Rev 8:1-13)

To quote Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We’ll revisit this chapter on 9/17. Please read this chapter again. Think about it. Pray for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Come prepared to ask questions.

Week 17 Summary (8/27/23)

(Rev 7:1-17 Review)

And I heard the number of those who were sealed.

The 144,000 is a symbolic number describing the people of God from the O.T. (the Church’s Israel heritage). They, along with the “great multitude that no one can count” (7:9) make up the “servants of our God” (7:3). We see in Paul’s writings that the church is made up of Jews and Gentiles. There is only one way to attain salvation from sin — Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). There are a number of N.T. passages that make this clear:

For all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Rom 9:6);

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation” (Gal 6:15);

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph 2:14-18);

Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

What is unmistakably clear is that all New Testament believers, all who belong to Christ, all who have been clothed with Christ, are Abraham’s seed—not in the physical (ethnic) sense, but in a spiritual sense. The New Testament church is the true Israel, and all of its members are the true heirs of the promise made to Abraham.

The King himself offered the kingdom to the Jews of the first century, but they rejected it (Mat 12:22-28). “… to the Jew first and also the Greek.” (Rom 2:10). One day, when Jesus returns, He will establish His kingdom on earth and fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 51:3, “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Until then, Jesus is building His church (Mat 16:18) and using us for the glory of His name.

The Seventh Seal; the Golden Censer; first Four Trumpets
Rev 8:1-13

Week 16 Summary (8/20/23)

(Rev 7:1-17)  “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth …”  The announcement of the seventh seal is dramatically delayed while the saints receive assurance that God knows them and protects them in the midst of the calamities depicted in chapter 6. They are sealed from harm as in Ezekiel 9:4. The focus is on protection from spiritual harm, since it is clear in Revelation that they may suffer persecution and sometimes death for the sake of their faith (Rev 2:10, 13; 13:15). The interlude contains two complementary pictures: the vision of the 144,000 in vv. 1-8 and the vision of the great multitude in vv 9-17. These visions picture God’s protection of his people, but from two different perspectives. If 7:1-8 emphasizes the Israelite heritage of the New Testament people of God, then 9-17 emphasizes their international character. They are a great multitude … from every nation, tribe, people and language, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that all the peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Gen 12:3; 17:5).

The victors, the whole people of God, have come out of the great tribulation. Many identify the great tribulation with a final period of persecution shortly before the Second Coming. But tribulations for Christians occur throughout the church age, so that the whole age can be characterized as one of tribulation (2 Thes 1:5-6; 2 Tim 3:1, 12).

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

The victorious saints appear before God to enjoy his presence in blissful peace and comfort (vv. 15-17). At the heart of blessing is the presence of God and the Lamb, and their care for the saints. The picture here anticipates the final peace of Rev 21:1-4.

We’ll talk about this one again next week.
Pray for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Eph 1:17)
Rev 7:1-17

Week 15 Summary (8/13/23)

(Rev 6:9-17“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw … under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

Martyred saints cry out for justice, not because of selfish desires, but in tune with the justice of God’s throne. They desire to see God’s justice fully manifested and evil eliminated. Humanity consists of two groups; the people of God, whose citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and, in opposition to them, the rebellious inhabitants of the earth. Although the picture focuses specifically on martyrs, it applies to all faithful believers. Jesus calls on all his followers to surrender their life in order that they may gain eternal life.

They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 

With the opening of the sixth seal, all dwellers on earth and the cosmos itself experience God’s judgment. Verses 12-17 give the first of seven descriptions in Revelation of events associated with the Second Coming. The mention of seven types of people (6:15) suggests complete judgment, as does the announcement of “the great day of their wrath (6:17). Since this world is to be so thoroughly shaken, the saints must hope in God.

Read about the Interlude: Protection for the Saints
Rev 7:1-17

Week 14 Summary (8/6/23)

(Rev 6:1-8)   “I watched as the Lamb opened the first of seven seals.”  The first four seals: Christ uses evil forces to inflict trials on people throughout the church age for either purification or punishment.

After seeing the magnificence and sovereignty of God’s throne room in chapters 4-5, the visions now begin to look at the execution of God’s plan for final judgment. History unfolds as a series of judgments leading up to the appearing of Christ and the consummation of all things. In this passage we find first of three seven-part judgments (the trumpets (chaps 8-9) and the bowls (chap 16) are the other two). As each seal is opened, Christ the Lamb sets in motion events that will bring about the end of human history (i.e., Second Coming). The scroll is not completely opened until the seventh seal is broken (in 8:1). 

Often referred to as the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse,” the horses appear as the first four seals are opened. The horses represent God’s judgment of sin and rebellion. The white horse represents conquest; the red horse represents war; the black horse represents famine; and the pale horse represents death and Hades (the abode of the dead). These calamities characterize an indefinite period before the Second Coming.

They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill …”

A “fourth of the earth” would amount to two billion people based on current world population of eight billion. It’s important to remember that God is directing human history—even using his enemies (as in other parts of scripture) to accomplish his purposes. The four horses are similar to the four horses in Zechariah 1:8; 6:1-5.

Read about the opening of seals five and six
Rev 6:9-17

Week 13 Summary (7/30/23)

(Rev 5:1-14)  “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll …”  What is this scroll and why does it matter? This seven-sealed scroll represents the decrees of God concerning the unfolding of his plans for judgment and salvation that were established before the foundations of the world – set in motion by Christ’s death and resurrection.  

John saw a might angel proclaiming … “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth … could open the scroll or look inside it. So John wept and wept (apparently there was no hope for eternal life??). Then one of the elders said, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (see Gen 49:9-10) and the Rot of David, has triumphed. “He is able to open the scroll …”

Then John saw … a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne …” Christ, the slaughtered Lamb of God, is the only one worthy to mediate God’s plan. Christ as a slaughtered Lamb is the paradox of the Christian faith. The world (those who don’t believe in God) don’t understand how being crucified can be seen as victory (see 1 Cor 1:18-24). But we understand that Christ won the victory over Satan, death and destruction, by taking upon himself the punishment we deserved, and nailing it to the Cross.

You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation …”

Redemption through the Lamb extends not only to the tribes of Israel, but to every tribe, language, peoples, and nations. The unique status that was given to Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 now extends to all saints in all nations.

When Jesus took the scroll from the right hand of the Father, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb … along with “ten thousand times ten thousand” angels (v. 11 – that’s one hundred million!) and sang a new song: “You are worthy …!!!

Consider the glorious worship and praise that is going on in heaven because of what Christ has accomplished by his death and resurrection — and compare it to the worship in most church services today. Is there something we’re missing? Are we embarrassed to worship the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords the way he’s worshipped in heaven?

Read about the opening of the seven seals
Rev 6:1-16

Week 12 Summary (7/23/23)

(Rev 4: 1-11)  After this I looked and there before me was a door standing open   The next vision John saw was a door standing open in heaven. And a voice “like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this.” John saw the vision of the heavenly throne after he had heard the messages to the seven churches. “Throne” is the key word in Revelation. It’s shows up 14 times in this chapter; and 46 times in the entire book; and only 15 times in all the rest of the N.T.

Paul, too, was caught up to the “third heaven” (see 2 Cor. 12:2-4). The primary message here is that God is on the throne of the universe — and His will will be done!

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders … dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” The number twenty-four likely symbolizes the people of God (12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles).

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder. This is a symbolic indication that a “storm” (judgment) is coming.

“Twenty-four elders and four living creatures …”

These same four living creatures are also in Ezekiel 1:5 (with only minor differences). They likely represent the highest order of created beings on earth. They’re covered in eyes and watch over the world as God’s agents. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne (God the Father), the 24 elders fall down and worship as well.

We tend to think of the earth as the center of the universe. We sometimes operate as if everything revolves around us — our needs, our wants, our problems, our pain. But, in Revelation 4 and 5, we discover what is truly at the center of the universe; what everything and every one revolves around … and it ain’t us. (Marsha hates it when I say ain’t!)

Read about the Throne in Heaven
 Rev 5:1-14

Week 11 Summary (7/16/23)

(Rev 3:14-22)  To the angel of the church in Laodicea” The Lord is about to tell this church the painful truth about its spiritual condition. This is the only church that is offered absolutely no commendation from Jesus. This is particularly concerning considering that many theologians see this seventh church as representing the general condition of the church that Jesus will find on earth when he comes again. Take a look around. What’s this world coming to?!

In their own esteemed opinion, the Laodicean church considered themselves to be rich. Self-sufficient, self-satisfied, and self-reliant. Everything was just fine. But Christ told them that they didn’t realize that they’re actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked spiritually speaking. He counsels them to buy from him gold refined in the fire (pure truth), so they can become rich (rich spiritually; see Mat 5:3). Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” We all should seek heavenly treasures, “For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.” (Mat 6:19-21).

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus tells them, as he did all the churches, that he knows their deeds. He knows the good and the bad. He knows what needs to happen in their (and our) lives. He knows what he is preparing for them (and us) if they will “be earnest and repent.” When we invite Christ into our lives we can find victory and can become overcomers through the suffering we’re about to suffer while on earth (see John 16:33).

This passage pictures relationship with Christ as of infinitely greater value than all the material possessions the Laodiceans (or we) have.

Read about the Throne in Heaven
 Rev 4:1-11


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Week Ten Summary (7/9/23)

(Rev 3:7-13)  “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia ...” There is no rebuke for this church, as there was none for the church in Smyrna. They are working in tandem with Christ. Jesus told them, “I know your deeds …” as he said to most of the other churches. He knows that they have kept his word and have not denied his name — they have not compromised their faith as had several of the other churches. They, like Smyrna, have been slandered by the “synagogue of Satan.” It’s hard to minister effectively in a place where the leading citizens are working against you (in effect, doing Satan’s bidding). But we’re to persevere; to “endure patiently (v. 10).

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial …” —Rev 3:10

Jesus is coming soon! (v 11); no one knows when. He will come ” … like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Rev 3:3). Isaiah 60:22(b) gives this some clarity, “I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.” God has a perfect plan, which will determine who, when, where and how his will is carried out. Nearly 2000 years have passed since the resurrection of Christ. But Jesus is “holy and true” (Rev 3:7) so we can be sure that all is working according to his plan.

He tells them to “hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown” (Rev 3:11). We’re not to be “deceived by hollow and deceptive philosophies” (Col. 2:8). Jesus will write on us a new name; a name that will mark us as members of his family. Co-heirs with Jesus Christ!

Ask yourself, Am I walking through the doors that Jesus has opened for me to share the Gospel?

Read the Letter to Laodicea
 Rev 3:14-22

Week Nine Summary (7.2/23)

(Rev 3:1-6)  To the angel of the church in Sardis …” The only word of approval is in actuality a word of rebuke as Christ declared that they had a reputation for being alive and apparently were regarded by their contemporaries as an effective church.

I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God

Christ quickly stripped away their reputation of being alive by declaring, you are dead. Like the Pharisees, their outer appearance was a facade hiding their lack of life (cf. Matt. 23:27-28). Christ added, I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of My God. They were falling far short of fulfilling their obligations as believers.

They were exhorted to wake up from their spiritual slumber and to strengthen the few evidences of life they still had. He exhorted them to remember … obey … and repent. He warned them that if they did not heed this exhortation, He would come on them like a thief, that is, suddenly and unexpectedly.

While this church as a whole was dead or dying, Christ recognized a godly remnant in the Sardis church who had not soiled their clothes with sin. He promised that true believers will be dressed in white (cf. v. 18), symbolic of the righteousness of God, that their names will remain in the book of life, and that He will acknowledge them as His own before His Father and His angels.

The letter also concludes with the exhortation to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The letter to Sardis is a searching message to churches today that are full of activity and housed in beautiful buildings but are so often lacking in evidences of eternal life. Christ’s word today is to “remember,” “repent,” and “obey,” just as it was to the church in Sardis.

Read the Letter to Philadelphia
 Rev 3:1-7-14

Week Eight Summary (6.25/23)

(Rev 2:18-29)  To the angel of the church in Thyatira”  Though much was wrong in the church at Thyatira, believers there were commended for their love … faith … service, and perseverance. And the Thyatira Christians were doing more as time went on (in contrast to the Ephesus church which did less). But despite these evidences of Christian life and testimony, the church at Thyatira had serious problems.

Jesus’ major condemnation concerned that woman Jezebel, who claimed to be a prophetess and taught believers to take part in the sexual immorality that accompanied pagan religion and to eat food sacrificed to idols. What was acceptable to that local society was abhorred by Christ. Their departure from morality had gone on for some time (v. 21). The church in Thyatira may have first heard the gospel from Lydia, converted through Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:14-15). Interestingly now a woman, a self-claimed “prophetess,” was influencing the church. Her name “Jezebel” suggests that she was corrupting the Thyatira church much like Ahab’s wife Jezebel corrupted Israel (1 Kings 16:31-33). Christ promised sudden and immediate judgment, called her sin adultery and promised that all who followed her would suffer intensely.

The Lord found much to expose and condemn in this assembly. No amount of loving and sacrificial works can compensate for tolerance of evil.

But there were a few who had not compromised their faith, and on this godly remnant He imposed one simple instruction: “only hold on to what you have until I come.”

Read the Letter to Sardis
 Rev 3:1-6

Week Seven Summary (6.11.23)

(Rev 2:12-17)  To the angel of the church in Pergamum ...” Pegamum was located 25 miles north of Smyrna and was known chiefly for it’s religion. There were many temples honoring many gods, e.g., Zeus, Aphrodite, Asclepius (see image below). It possessed the oldest temple in Asia Minor devoted to emperor worship. The citizens of Pergamum were expected to profess, “Caesar is Lord” and participate in giving alms to the various gods.

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

Asclepius was the “god of medicine/healing” whose insignia was a serpent winding around a staff. Satan, of course, is also symbolized as a serpent (2 Cor 11:3). This, along with a temple dedicated to Caesar, may have been why it was said to be “where Satan has his throne.” The evil atmosphere of this city was adverse to any effective Christian life and testimony.

Jesus knew what they were going through (as He does with us). He commended the Pergamum church for remaining faithful to Him in the face of extreme persecution, even after His faithful witness, Antipas, had been martyred for not compromising his faith.

His rebuke of this church was that they were holding to false teaching by certain factions within the congregations, i.e., the teaching of Balaam, who counseled Balak (King of Moab) to entice the Israelites to compromise their faith by participating in idolatry and sexual immorality with Moabite women (see Num. 22-25). These factions promoted compromise with the local pagans by urging participation in immoral local customs in order to be accepted. Still others in the congregation held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans (another group condoning immoral practices). Compromising our faith or putting up with immoral teachings or lifestyles within Christian congregations should never be tolerated. Error will never be suppressed by compromising with it. Any church that is popular with the world is not the spiritually strong, separated church we’re called to be. Compromising and tolerating evil practices puts our place in the Kingdom of God at risk.

Read the Letter to Thyatira
 Rev 2:18-29

Week Six Summary (6.4.23)

(Rev 2:8-11) “To the angel of the church in Smyrna …”  Smyrna was a wealthy city 35 miles north of Ephesus. A seaport and a manufacturer of myrrh (a fragrant oil used in embalming; when crushed it emitted an pleasing perfume). The church in Smyrna was being “crushed” by persecution from Jews and Romans because they refused to compromise their faith by calling Caesar Lord. The Jews were jealous of the inroads being made by Christianity and were determined to turn the Roman authorities against them. The Jewish people had been accepted by the Romans as harmless. Yet these “Christians” were threatening the lordship of Caesar by worshipping another “King.”

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!

Even though they were suffering poverty and exclusion, they were being called to remain faithful through it all. In referring to Himself in v.8 as “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again,” Jesus encouraged them to remain faithful, even to the point of death (v. 10), and they would ultimately receive the crown of life (eternal life).

We, too, will suffer persecution in this life (see John 15:20). And we, too, must patiently endure whatever hardship comes our way. Jesus promises that “he who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death, i.e., the lake of fire (described in Rev. 20:14). Patient endurance is our watchword.

Read the Letter to Pergamum
 Rev 2:12-17

Week Five Summary (5.28.23)

(Rev 2:8-11)  “To the angel of the church in Smyrna …”  We sped through this letter due to Memorial Service. Will revisit this one next week.

Read (or re-read) the Letter to Smyrna with “ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” and to us individually.
Rev 2:8-11

Week Four Summary (5.21.23)

 (Rev 2:1-7)   To the angel of the church in Ephesus  This was the first of the seven letters Jesus Christ wrote (through John) to the churches in Asia Minor. As with most of these letters, he began with a commendation; followed by a rebuke; an exhortation; and a promise. The Ephesian church was working hard and persevering through persecution. They were not allowing false teachers to lead them astray. They had not grown weary of doing good work in Jesus’ name. They were just about perfect, judging by appearances. But then came the rebuke:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

The Apostle Paul had written to this church 35 years earlier, saying “I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints” (Eph. 1:15). He had closed that letter with “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Eph. 6:24). But, like many Christians today, they had allowed their faith to be compromised over time by the world around them — the “honeymoon” was over. They were diligently doing the right things but they weren’t doing them for the right reason. Their love for Christ and for each other had taken a back seat to activity (cf. Mary and Martha). They were “too busy” to maintain the warm attachment to Jesus they once knew.

These letters were written to specific first-century churches. But what Jesus had to say to them applies to all churches throughout time. Churches are made up of individuals. He says (in all the letters), “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Take some time to reread this letter as if it were written specifically to you; then be humble enough to examine your own life. If you need to make any changes, e.g., spending more time in prayer and studying God’s Word — Jesus is waiting to hear from you.

The church that loses its love will soon lose its light — no matter how doctrinally sound it may be.

Read the Letter to Smyrna
 Rev 2:8-11

Week Three Summary (5.7.23)

(Rev 1:9-20)  John wrote from the island of Patmos (60 miles off coast of modern-day Turkey) where he had been exiled by the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 95) for preaching and teaching the Word of God (1:9). Christ appeared to John in a cave at the top of the island. A Greek Orthodox church meets regularly in this location.

The glorified Jesus appeared to John in a vision and commanded him to write on a scroll what he saw and send it to seven specific churches in Asia Minor (v.11).

Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

In verses 19-20, Jesus gave John an outline of the book he wanted him to write: 1) What was (chap. 1); what is (chaps. 2-3); and what is to come (chaps. 4-22). The word “prophecy” is used seven times in Revelation. The mystery of the seven stars and seven golden lampstands was explained as being the angels (messengers) of the seven churches and the lampstands were the churches. The churches are lampstands because they are the dwelling places of the Spirit of God on earth. They are the keepers of the light of God’s truth and salvation in a lost world. Jesus, the Lord of the church, walks in the midst of her.

Read the Letter to Ephesus
Rev 2:1-7

Week Two Summary (4.30.23)

(Rev 1:1-8) This book (along with the entire Bible) is all about Jesus Christ. It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ (v.1); not of John. In Luke 24:27 Jesus spoke with two men on the road to Emmaus, “and, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Revelation is also called the Apocalypse. The word apocalypse (Gr. apokalypsis) simply means to unveil, uncover, or reveal. It’s not a scary word at all. God is love, and “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18).

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for us, is being revealed in all his power and glory! He is coming again soon (Rev 22:7-21) … as the Lion of Judah; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And “we will be with him forever” (1 Thes 4:17). “Soon” means that when God decides it’s time, it will happen quickly (see 1 Cor. 15:52).

“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”  —Rev 1:3

This blessing is the first of seven beatitudes found in the book. The number seven is prominent in Revelation. Seven in scripture typically connotes completion or perfection. You might say that Revelation is the perfect ending to a perfect story. We’ll be looking at a lot of sevens.

Re-read Revelation, Chapter 1
with intention to see what you may have missed the first time.

Week One Summary (4.23.23)

There are four main schools of thought regarding understanding the Book of Revelation:

  1. Preterist View: Think that fulfillment occurred at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
  2. Futurist View: Think that fulfillment will occur in a period of final crisis just before the Second Coming.
  3. Historicist View:  Think that Revelation offers a basically chronological outline of the course of church history from the first century until the Second Coming.
  4. Idealist View: Think that the scenes of Revelation depict principles of spiritual warfare, not specific events.

There are three primary beliefs about the Millennium (1000-year Kingdom of Christ):

  1. Pre-millennialism: The belief that there will be a literal 1000-year reign of Christ on earth following the Rapture of the Church, preceded by a literal seven-year period of tribulation. During this time many unbelievers will accept Christ, including the Jewish remnant.
  2. Post-millennialism: The possibility of a literal 1000-year reign on earth, albeit after Christianity has spread via evangelism and missionaries, “to the ends of the earth,” and the majority of people on earth have become believers in Christ.
  3. Amillennialism: The belief that there will be no literal 1000-year reign on earth. With the creation of the Church at Pentecost, Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies as well as the Old Testament covenants with Israel. In effect, the Church is the New Israel.

Read Revelation, Chapter 1
Watch Revelation 1-11 
Watch Revelation 12-22

Revelation Reading List

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Week One — Introduction to Bible Interpretation

We’ll be using Amir Tsarfati’s book, Revealing Revelation as a general guide for this study. You may disagree with his perspective, as his approach is the classic dispensational (pretribulation, premillennial) model. We’ll consider other perspectives as well, i.e., classic covenantal amillennialism, as well as post-millennialism. Of course, the Holy Bible will be our ultimate source. I highly recommend a translation that is easy to understand, e.g., New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), or the New Living Translation (NLT). The “Study Bible” versions of these translations are also excellent.

A careful reading of the Bible will convince anyone that this inspired classic forms a complete cycle. Genesis is the book of commencement – when it all began. Revelation is the book of consummation – how it all ends.”

Genesis—The commencement of Heaven and earth (1:1)
Revelation—The consumation of Heaven and earth (21:1)

Genesis—The entrance of sin and the curse (3:1-19)
Revelation—The end of sin and the curse (21:27; 22:3)

Genesis—The dawn of Satan and his activities (3:1-7)
Revelation—The doom of Satan and his activities (20:10)

Genesis—The tree of life is relinquished (2:9; 3:24)
Revelation—The tree of life is regained (22:2)

Genesis—Sorrow begins (3:16)
Revelation—Sorrow is banished (21:4)




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