Things to think about for lesson one.
- Who do you think the book of Revelation was written to?
- Why would God send this kind of information and comfort to the first century Christians?
- If the book of Revelation was relevant to the first century Christians, how could it be important to us today?
- What is the message of the book of Revelation to you?
- What are some examples of modern life in the U.S. that make it hard to put God first and be faithful?
- Can you think of some tribulation that Christians suffer today?
- Paul said he wanted to know Christ and the fellowship of his suffering. What did he mean by that? Do you want to know the fellowship of his suffering? Think about it.
- Caesar claimed to be sovereign in the first century. What false god claims sovereignty in the twenty-first century?
- Yeshua/Jesus said[i]Christians would be thrown to the wolves and killed; and hated by everyone simply because we bear his name. A lot of Christians today are hiding their relationship with Christ “in the closet”. The Gay community came “out of the closet”. How can the Christian community “come out of the closet” without giving the world a legitimate reason to hate us?
- Matthew 24 also records Yeshua as saying:
“Following these hard times
“Sun will fade out,
“Moon cloud over,
“Stars fall out of the sky,
“Cosmic powers tremble.
“Then the arrival of the Son of Man!
“It will fill the skies – no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven.[ii]And then pandemonium, everyone and his dog running for cover, slave or free. (they hid in the mountain covers and rocky dome, calling out to the mountains and rocks, “Refuge! Hide us from the One seated on the throne of the Lamb! The great Day of their wrath has come – who can stand it?”) At the same moment he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the winds, from pole to pole.” “…when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast. He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise – they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Master.[iii]”We are not all going to die but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts on the trumpet, and in the time that you can look up and blink your eyes- its over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed.”[iv] [v]
In Matthew 24 Yeshua said to take a lesson from the fig tree. When you see its buds, spring is on the way. When we see the things happening he told us about, we’’ know the time is at the door. No one knows the exact day and hour so we must watch and pray. And Paul said[vi], “But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re Sons of Light, Daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart.”
Think about that!
The record of God – the Bible – assures us that God has always involved men and women in his activities in the world; and he has always been involved in the world. He always takes the initiative, but he always involves his people (for example: Noah, Abraham, Gideon, Rehab, Ester, Peter, Paul, James, and John). He let us know the future through his revelation to John, and he will, and always has, involved us in the fulfillment of his prophesies.[vii]If we are going to be about our Father’s business, we must accept his will about what he is doing and going to do. Our first assignment as his ambassadors is to believe him. We can’t present him with our own agenda and we can’t measure his plans by human standards. When we “don’t see” how or why, we need to develop tunnel vision – so we can see the light at its end.[viii]
I have often thought the great theme of the book of Revelation got lost somewhere in the rhetoric about it. I am praying God will push the theme to the forefront as we do these studies. I hope you will join me.
To be continued
[i] Matthew 24
[ii] Revelation 6:12-17
[iii] I Thessalonians 4:15-18
[iv] I Corinthians 15:52
[v] Quotes from The Message Bible
[vi] I Thessalonians 4:5-8
[vii] Amos 3:7
[viii] Hebrews 12