When you hear about Revelation what do you think of? How does it make you feel?
There are so many depictions out in our current culture of what the end of the world/end times could look like. None of them paint a very happy picture, in fact many are quite scary.
I had a friend who is scared of being “left behind” when Jesus comes back because that would mean that her faith isn’t that strong. This is all based on the books and now movie based on one view of the end times. I want to assure you that what Left Behind and other apocalyptic depictions of scripture are from flawed interpretation of scripture. Revelation is also a book that we cannot take literally.
When Revelation was written it was during the time when the Roman government was persecuting Christians and early Christians had it very rough. This is why much of Revelation is written with symbols and codes that early Christians of the time would understand. So taking it literally can get quite confusing.
Think about the 💩 emoji. What does this mean? Some say it is chocolate frozen yogurt, or poo. These are two VERY different things! In the context we understand what it means, but think in the years to come people may not understand what it actually means or the nuances of using such an emoji or other emojis.
Read Rev. 1:9-11
Revelation starts off as a letter with John of Patmos writing to his fellow first century Christians who are being persecuted by the Roman government. This was a really rough time for these Christians, and John shared the vision that he’d been given by God with the seven churches.
This explains why much of Revelation is written in code or with references back to the Old Testament that first century Christians would understand.
Read Rev. 2:1-7
Have you ever felt like you were trying really hard to do something right, only to have your efforts ignored, or worse yet, declared not good enough?
How would it feel to be part of the church of Ephesus and hear the words in v. 1-3?
What do verses 4-6 tell us about some of the new churches in Asia at the time?
What do you make of the tree in v. 7? Does it seem familiar or similar to another biblical story? What might the author be indicating by making this connection?
In these two chapters John is sharing his vision of the throne room. There is a person (God) sitting on a golden throne with his heavenly court surrounding Him. He is hold a scroll in his right hand that has seven seals (pieces of wax). He was saying that there is only one person who can open the seals on the scroll. This person was a slain lamb representing Jesus.
Jesus came and he is making God’s word true and is with us. The scroll also contains a word of God’s justice and comfort for those who are persecuted. Justice will be brought to those who are against God.
In this part of Revelation, the seals are broken and God’s judgment/justice is reigning. People aren’t repenting though God is pouring out his justice through: the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls/cups.
Each of these 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls were opportunities for the people to repent, which they did not do. Sounds familiar right? This is a nod back the 7 plagues in Exodus.
All of God’s judgement is poured out on Babylon and it falls. This is reassuring for the early Christians because Babylon was code for Rome, and John was saying that Rome will be destroyed.
Here is the scene of an epic final battle between Jesus and all the evil of the world. Guess who wins? Jesus! Jesus conquerors all evil, and the story still continues!
Read Rev. 21:1-8
What part of the text stands out to you? Why?
For first century Christians, life was bleak. How might this have made them feel?
How does reading this challenge what you’ve maybe heard about this book and the end times?
What can we take away from revelation?
This is a story of Hope, God will make all right again, and always provides for us.
End point: Jesus Wins! Love Wins!
God is here with us even when we don’t feel like He is.