Revelation - Complete Bible Study by Anne O'Brien

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Anne o’Brien

Revelation BIBLE STUDY

A Bible Study on Revelation. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it

difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.

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REVELATION Introduction The Book of Revelation has been called ‘a history in advance’. It is a Book which unfolds what is to come. It is written in literal and figurative language and is both illustrative and factual. It begins with Jesus Christ ascended on his throne at the right hand of God; it continues with personal and national, spiritual and real, battles; and it ends with a final judgment and glory for God’s people in his presence for eternity. It is written in such a way that it applies to all people throughout the ages. But it is not written in chronological order. That fact, and the amount of symbolism in the Book, make it very difficult to interpret precisely; this results in many different opinions about the meaning. I am no scholar!! I will simply look for what God is saying to us as we study it – and hopefully we will find enlightenment and encouragement as we study it. Chapter 1 (You may want to use a pen to jot down the answers) Read the chapter and consider the following questions: WHO? Who is revealing the message? Who is it to? And who is receiving it? See verses 1-3

Who will John give the message to? See verse 11 WHERE?

Where was John at the time? (Note: He was in exile because he was a witness of Jesus) See verses 9&10

WHAT?

What was John asked to do? See verse 11

WHY?

Why do you think God chose John and asked him to do this?

HOW?

How did God reveal the Revelation to John? See the following verses in the chapter.

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WHEN?

When would the vision apply? See verse 19.

So, the Revelation was given to John in a vision, for the Seven Churches, both for ‘now’ and ‘later’. But there were more than 7 churches. Why did God specify seven? In the Bible the number 7 is very significant. For example, the number 7 is mentioned about 450 times, but the number 4 only a few times and the number 6 not at all. This is because the number 7 is the number of perfection and completion. So, these 7 churches symbolise the whole, complete church of God. Therefore, these letters which follow are for the whole church, both then and throughout history, and now. Re-read verses 12-20: John saw this amazing vision of Jesus, dressed in pure white, and portrayed as blazing and shining – surrounded by 7 lampstands and holding 7 stars in his hand, and coming from His mouth was a double-edged sword. It was an image full of meaning – and knocked John out!! (v17) Jesus identified himself: the first and the last, eternal and very much alive, holding the keys of death and Hades (he will be the final judge). In the following verses, Jesus explains the meaning of the vision. What did the seven lampstands represent?

What did the seven stars represent?

Note: The ‘angels of the seven churches could refer to God’s ministering angels, but the word can also mean God’s people who do the work of the church – having the same function as angels – ministering and telling God’s message. The symbology in the lampstands and stars is wonderful – Jesus is in the midst of his church and he holds us in his hand. So, although Revelation will go on to explain difficult days ahead, we need not fear because Jesus is amongst us. Jesus said to John, “Do not fear”. And he would say the same to us. We are in God’s hands and the events that will unfold (maybe even this Covid virus is part of them?) will be in God’s control … and we are in his hands. Although there will be a prolonged battle with Satan, Jesus has already won the victory by his death and resurrection – “I have the keys to death”. We are not to fear Satan or death. Jesus is in charge! Some questions to consider, in the light of this chapter: Did you learn anything new about Jesus?

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How do you view ‘church’ in view of John’s vision?

How should we respond to this chapter?

Jesus said he walks amongst us – so he is with us – but we are not always aware of this. Personally, it has made me realise how important it is to be ‘in the Spirit’, and to know that we are in God’s presence, not just on the Lord’s Day but at all times.

The Seven Churches of Revelation

EPHESUS

Read Revelation chapter 2, verses 1-7 In verse 1 we are reminded that it is the risen, glorified Jesus himself who is speaking to his church. And he not only holds his people in his hand, but he walks among them. (See also ch 1v20) And not only is Jesus described in terms of gold and light (ch 1v12-15), but so is his church! We are golden lampstands – precious in his sight – but we have a function, which is to shine his light in this dark world. In verses 2 & 3 we see that Jesus sees and knows all that we do. The Christians represented by the Ephesian church are commended for: · Good works – kindness, lending a helping hand or a listening ear, caring and praying for people. Jesus knows. · Hard work – the occasions when we give our all, when we do the jobs no-one else wants to do, when we give up our time to serve, when we sacrifice what we wanted to do for what He wants us to do. Jesus knows. · Perseverance (v2&3) and patience – the times when we just keep on keeping on. If you feel that life is a bit of a slog, be encouraged that Jesus sees and knows and commends you in your perseverance. · Rejection of evil influences (v6) – God is pleased when we correctly discern what is right and wrong. He sees when we make a stand for our beliefs. He sees because he is there walking amongst us. · And He sees that, despite hardships and difficulties and disappointments (and there have been many during this difficult year of Covid!!), we have not given up, we have not grown weary to the point of throwing in the towel. Jesus wants us to realise that he knows, he sees, he is with us, and he cares. In the light of this, consider those things that you have been finding hard – and know that God is pleased with you for persevering and continuing to worship him. 4


In verses 4&5 we see there is a “BUT”. We need to remember that these words of judgment are not to just one church or one group of Christians, or even for everyone, but to anyone with an Ephesus spirit. It’s a case of “if the cap fits, wear it”. Or as Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, then let him hear.” The failing of the people who are represented by the Ephesian church is that they have lost their first love. They are people who are still going through all the motions of Christian life, but they have forgotten the most important thing: Love for God and love for one another. Our “first love” is the love that first drew us to Jesus, the love which formed the basis of our relationship with him, the love on which everything else should be built. If you take away the foundation what are you left with? Jesus sees and knows whether our good deeds are motivated by our love, or whether they have become a mere ritual, a desire to please, something we feel we have to do but don’t really want to. How easy is it to replace relationship with work? We are all prone to this at times, but my prayer is that the Lord will make us aware if we are doing this. We can all fall into the trap of being defined by what we do, and not by our relationship with Christ. In verse 7 Jesus reminds us that we need to hear these words. There is a serious consequence for not listening! (v5) I do not believe that this means that Jesus will take away our salvation, however, because these words are spoken to the church – but they serve to make us realise how serious Jesus views the need for relationship and love to be the basis of all that we do. If the church is no longer a lampstick reflecting the light of Jesus, then it is just a useless empty vessel. In verse 7 there is a promise to all who are victorious in their walk with God. “To the one who is victorious I will give to eat from the tree of life that is in Paradise.” God’s covenant with Adam and Eve was that mankind could eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life. In other words, they would have eternal life and live in the presence of God (who we are told walked in the garden with them). But, disobedience would break the terms of the covenant. And, as we know, Satan in the guise of a serpent tempted them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Access to the tree of life and the garden was barred, and death and decay entered the world. And don’t we know it!! Praise God, that was not the end of the story. Jesus (referred to as the second Adam) came to restore the covenant of life, by dying a death which wiped out our sin – which is the only barrier to a relationship with God. And so, Jesus is reminding his church who are victorious, that we will eat of the tree of life in Paradise, in a new life which will be a restoration of all things as they were meant to be. In the words of John Milton – Paradise regained. Summary: Keep on doing good to others, keep on loving God, and be blessed!

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The Seven churches of Revelation

SMYRNA

It is said that the name Smyrna is derived from the word myrrh, (in Greek both are Smurna), a bitter-sweet substance which was mentioned both at the birth of Jesus and at his death. The oil derived from myrrh was used for anointing and embalming, and it was also used as a mild analgaesic. It tasted bitter but its perfume was sweet. Smyrna in Revelation represents the persecuted church – then and now – Christians whose walk with Jesus is both sweet and bitter as they suffer for His Name’s sake. And there are millions in this position today, just as there were in the early church. Every day, 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith. Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked. And every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly. (Open Doors report 2020) Read chapter 2 verse 8: At the beginning of each letter Jesus introduces himself in a significant way. Here, he declares that he is the First and the Last, who died and came alive again. Read the following verses and make notes to learn more: knowing about the One in whom we put our hope will give us more confidence in him. Matthew 13v35

Matthew 25v34

John 17v24

Ephesians 1v4

Colossians 1v15

1 Peter 1v20

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When speaking to the Smyrna church, and to us, Jesus didn’t say I was the first and will be the last. He said I AM. He had no beginning and will have no end because he is eternal. The encouragement is that he will be there at our end, because he qualifies his statement by reminding the church that he is a risen Christ. And because he is eternal, we too can know eternal life when we trust in him. Read chapter 2 verses 9 & 10a: As with the Ephesian church (v1-7) Jesus once again states what he knows about the church he is addressing. These are the things he sees and knows: · I know your afflictions and your poverty. Attacks and poverty are common to all persecuted Christians - who get side-lined for jobs, who are stood last in the queue for emergency aid, who cannot get promotion at work and who have no rights if they refuse to give up their allegiance to Jesus. Persecution and poverty go hand in hand as world governments and religions reject Christians. But Jesus is walking amongst our brothers and sisters (Ch. 1v13) – he sees and he knows, he is there to help and comfort. · “And yet you are rich”. This may sound odd to our ears. But of course Jesus means that although materially poor, they are spiritually rich. The greater our need, the more opportunity we have to experience the comfort, strength and help that Jesus gives us. · He knows they have been slandered and wrongfully accused. An excerpt from Barnabas Fund says: At this present time there are 24 Christians in Pakistan accused of “blasphemy”, 8 of them have been sentenced to death, all as a result of false accusations. Slander is a common form of persecution. In verse 9 “the synagogue of Satan” refers to religious people who are anti-Christ. Nothing changes! This verse shows us that when people attack Christians they are also attacking Jesus Christ. He will know and feel it just as much as they do, Jesus identifies with the persecuted church and suffers with them. And like Paul, they are able to say we “know Him in his suffering”. Read verse 10b & 11: The rewards · Those who overcome and are faithful will receive the crown of life. This is not a royal crown but a victor’s crown. The Greek word used is ‘stephanos’ – the victory wreath presented to the winner of a marathon or race. In the Christian walk, everyone who stays in the race will receive their crown. For sticking with it, for persevering through thick and thin, for keeping on to the end, whatever our battles have been. · For those who serve Christ to the end the promise is that they need have no fear regarding the ‘second death’, i.e. the final judgment (as mentioned in Rev. 20 from verse 11), the final day of reckoning. · The flip side of judgment is of course eternal life and reward for all who overcome. And Jesus, the First and the Last, promises to be with us now and throughout eternity. It costs to be a committed Christian. In many places it costs a lot more than others. We have a Christian duty to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and to help them where we can . I pray that we will remember that even when we are suffering, we can at the same time be rich, in spiritual terms. “He who has ears to hear – let he or she hear.” (v11) 7


The Seven churches in Revelation

PERGAMUM

Read Revelation chapter 2 verses 12-17 As mentioned before, the Seven Churches are characteristic of different types of Christian gatherings. And often there is a clue in their name, which is meaningful. Pergamum was a centre of learning – it apparently had a huge library of 200,000 volumes; and it was also the place where parchment was invented and produced (the word parchment comes from the place name, Pergamum). And so, the Word of God was written on Pergamum parchment and distributed throughout the Roman Empire. ABOUT JESUS: Read verse 12 Jesus goes on to introduce himself as the One who has The Word, the two-edged sword. Look up the following references to get a better picture of what this means for us. Ephesians 6v17

Hebrews 4v12

Revelation 1v16

Revelation 2v12 & 16

Revelation 19v11-16 (esp 15)

The sword is obviously a metaphor for the Words of God. Just as the sword has serious impact, so too does the Word of God. This introduction is emphasising the sheer importance and power of Jesus as the One who is not just walking amongst the churches, but as the One who is also actively engaged in speaking to the churches, and doing battle for the churches. But the sword is two-edged – it can cut both ways. The Words of Jesus can speak of judgment and mercy, Law and Grace, meekness and majesty, works and faith, death and life. It can bring life, but may also bring judgment. With the sword we can conquer, without it we may die. Read verse 13: Once again we are assured that Jesus knows “where we live” – he knows 8


and sees our circumstances, and he wants to speak into our individual situations. Because these words to the seven churches are not just set in history, and are symbolic of Christians everywhere, they are still speaking into our lives today. Jesus sees our faithfulness, despite our circumstances. Note: Antipas was martyred for his faith, in Pergamum. THE CHURCH AT PERGAMUM Satan’s Throne – · Often in the Bible, the throne of Satan is centred in the big cities. Abel was praised for his sacrifice, whilst (after murdering Abel), Cain went off and built a city (Genesis 4v17). · Noah’s great grandson Nimrod went and built the cities of Babylon and Nineveh (a thorn in the side of Israel). · Lot chose Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13v12) – say no more! And Pergamum itself was a large city, proud of its knowledge and wisdom! The concentration of temptation is far greater and more available in the city that it is in the countryside. But we need to be careful, because the new “cities” are more likely to be digital ones, we must be careful to not let the media influence our thinking more than God’s Word. So, the church at Pergamum were faithful, but what were there shortcomings? Read verses 14-16: There were three shortcomings. 1) The teaching of Balaam The whole story is found in Numbers chapters 22 and 24. To cut a long story short, the prophet Balaam was hired for money to curse Israel. God intervened by using Balaam’s donkey and an angel to prevent this. And Balaam found that he was unable to curse Israel, so he eventually blessed them. Look up Numbers 22v31. What was the angel holding?

What is the significance, in the light of this study?

2) Balak: Balam’s plan was foiled when the Angel stopped a false prophesy, but the enemy, King Balak of Moab, found another way of bringing Israel low (see Numbers 31v16) by enticing the men of Israel to commit sexual immorality with the Midianite women. The Israelites had the outward appearance of holiness, but their worship was not pure. They had compromised – and this was the charge against Pergamum. 3) The Nicolaitans: Apparently, they ate things offered to idols. Once again, an example of compromising their faith, possibly to win favour. THE REWARD to those who overcome · Hidden Manna – another symbol pointing to Jesus, the Word of God who is to us the Bread of Life. But why does the Bible say “hidden”? Probably it won’t be revealed until we get to Heaven, but my guess is that it might be a part of the great banquet, that will the reward of all who overcome. For a parable of this read Luke 14v15-24 9


· A white stone with a new name written on it – apparently in Bible times, a white stone with your name on was used as an invitation to a party or a feast. So, once again this could be referring to the banqueting table of heaven. See also Revelation 19v7-9 What can we learn from the advice to this church? · God’s Word is living and sharp, it is not just printing in an old book! · He sees our faithfulness · He also sees when we compromise our faith · He promises a great banquet in Heaven to those who overcome.

The Seven churches in Revelation

THYATIRA

Read Revelation chapter 2 verses 18-28 Thyatira was famous for its cloth dyeing. They could produce the best royal purple dye that was completely colour-fast. It did not fade like other dyes. (Background: Lydia, who lived in Thyatira, is mentioned in Acts 16v11-15 and was part of the early church there.) Purple was for royal robes. The dye made in Thyatira was colour-fast. The theme of the message for this church is that they hold fast to the teachings in the Scriptures and do not compromise – they must hold fast. Read Ch. 2v18 In each of the letters Jesus reveals a bit more of himself. What two things does Jesus reveal about himself? 1.

2.

Some of these things are difficult to picture. The thought behind the blazing eyes is that they can penetrate and discern even our inner thoughts. If the word ‘laser’ had been invented John might have described them like that. Jesus’ feet of bronze are shining and pure because He is in Heaven, but bronze in the Bible speaks of humanity, so they remind us that Jesus trod where we tread. He sees and he knows. His shining feet are our example. Read Ch. 2v19: Once again Jesus lists the things that please him. See if you can list the 6 positive things in this verse:

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1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

When we are compassionate, when we encourage one another, when we reach out to the lost – it pleases Jesus, he sees and he knows. More often than not, other people do not see all the things that are done behind the scenes in a church family. More often than not, those people who work for God (and I mean everyone – not just the ministers) seldom receive thanks. But Jesus sees, and Jesus knows, and Jesus acknowledges and affirms you. Read verses 20-25: The church at Thyatira was tolerating some awful things, personified in Jezebel, who was responsible for Israel’s downfall. Background reading: 1 Kings 16v29-22; 21v11-16; 21v25-26 Jezebel committed physical adultery and spiritual adultery. She lied, murdered and stole. She persuaded the Israelites to worship her gods, which resulted in child sacrifice and idolatry. The theme of our modern society is tolerance and choice. Sounds good on the surface – but … it could be hiding one of Satan’s lies (mentioned in verse 24). You see, when we are tolerant of everything, it means we allow things to happen that are against God’s Word. (Abortion, Sexual deviation, Euthanasia etc.) First, society tolerates and then accepts things as normal, and very soon afterwards, churches follow. Where do we draw the line between tolerance and merely ‘turning a blind eye’? Jesus wants us to accept and love people for who they are, but that soes not mean accepting all that they do as right. 11


In this church, which I believe is very representative of today’s church, what does Jesus have to say to us? (Verse 25)

The theme of being true and fast (in the original meaning) – like the purple dye - runs through this message. Hold fast, stay true, don’t compromise. The thing about the purple dye was this: the more it was in the sunlight the more colour-fast it became. The more time we spend in the Light, the more we will show our true colours to the world. Read verses 26-29: What two things are promised to those who ‘hold fast’? 1.

2.

2 Tim 2v12: Authority - If we endure with Him we shall also reign with Him. The Morning Star: In many places in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the star, or Morning Star. See the following: Numbers 24v17; Malachi 4v2; 2 Peter 1v19; Revelation 22v16 One day we will see Jesus in person, in all his glory – for eternity. We only have a foretaste now and that is great, but to be in the light of the Morning Star with no fear of darkness or evil, will be beyond words!

The Seven Churches in Revelation

SARDIS

As with all the seven churches there is a clue to the message within the name. You may have heard of the saying, “As rich as Croesus” to describe a very wealthy person. Well, Croesus lived in the area known as Sardis in around 600 B.C. – an area where gold was found in plenty. Consequently, Croesus was secure in the strength of his kingdom and his wealth; and boasted that he was beyond any disaster. He became complacent, and ultimately was taken unawares by the Persian Invasion which ended his reign and his life. The moral from this is that we should not be self-satisfied or complacent. Our trust must be in God alone. Read Revelation chapter 3 verses 1-6 Verse 1a: Once again we get a description of Jesus and once again, we see the number seven – the number of perfect wholeness. 12


7 churches – representative of the One church of Jesus Christ 7 stars – representative of the complete angelic host 7 spirits – we know from Scripture that there is only one Holy Spirit, some say the number seven represents the seven-fold work of the Holy Spirit. But it could also be reiterating that the Holy Spirit is one complete and perfect Spirit. Think about these “sevens” in this verse: What do they tell you about the authority of Jesus? And who does he have authority over?

Verse 1b: What is the reputation of the church symbolised by Sardis?

And what is the true state of affairs?

The church, as many today, was busy doing a lot of stuff – and they had a good reputation, but all was not well. One of the things we learnt at school that distinguishes a living entity, is that it should be able to bear fruit. Therefore, what would be a good definition of a church that is alive?

Sometimes, we can be doing all the right things, like meeting together and helping one another. But if we, as a church, are not helping people to come to the place where they find salvation, we are not bearing fruit. If not actually dead, we may be dormant! Verses 2&3: The Good News is … Jesus gives us the opportunity to put things right! What 5 things does Jesus tell us that we should do (if we recognise ourselves in this church)?

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3.

4.

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Jesus had praised them for their activity, but says here that it was incomplete. Deeds are not enough unless our faith is thriving and driving our actions. King Croesus was caught unawares and lost everything because he became complacent. Jesus says to us, “Wake up” – we don’t know when Jesus is coming again – but we must be ready. Verses 4&5: Those who did not compromise “Those who have not soiled their clothes” are those who do not compromise with the world. They are the ones who are found to be worthy to wear the robes of white: the robes of righteousness (Rev 19v8). They are the ones who are faithful to the end and have maintained their Christian witness. What two things are they/we promised as their/our reward? 1.

2.

Being a Christian is not always easy. But, be assured that Jesus sees what you are doing and is acknowledging it in Heaven. While we are here on earth, we are only too conscious of the fact that we often struggle with the “filthy rags” of our humanity – but one day we will be free to wear the white robes of righteousness. And when will we be given these robes? At the Wedding Feast of the Lamb – that great occasion in Heaven when the Lord Jesus Christ receives his church. 14


Does the second part of verse 5 suggest that God may blot out a name from his Book of Life? In the context of all Scripture, I do not believe so. Exodus chapter 32 tells us about the occasion when God told Moses he would never blot out his name from the Book of Life. Luke chapter 15 tells us how the Father waited and looked for his errant son every day until he returned. Once a son always a son – or daughter! 2 Timothy 2v13 When we are faithless, He remains faithful. The point is – our salvation is secure. This verse is talking about our reward. However, we do need to be sure of our salvation, as it is possible to attend a church, sing all the songs etc. but never really repent of our old life and be born again as a new child, in the family of Jesus. This is the only way we can be sure that our name will be in the Book of Life for eternity.

The Seven churches in Revelation

PHILADELPHIA

The word philadelphia means brotherly love. They were a small, faithful and loving congregation. From the little description we have, we can surmise that God doesn’t gauge the spiritual life of a church by the size of the building or the number of people in the congregation. He looks at people in the church individually – and how they work together. Read chapter 3 verses 7-13 Verse 7 What two things does Jesus tell us abut himself in verse 7?

Jesus, by saying he is HOLY, is using the name applied to God in the Old Testament. Jesus is saying he is God. Jesus also embodies truth and said of himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life – no man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14v6) When Jesus said he holds the key, it signifies access – he is the Way. Jesus is the only way to God. Although the verse mentions David’s house (the Temple and the Jewish nation) it also gives us, as gentiles, access to the Heavenly Temple. We will look at the Heavenly Temple in a later study. If Jesus has opened the door of heaven to you, nothing or no-one can shut it. Our destiny is protected in this promise. Verses 8&9 Once again, we see Jesus saying, I know your deeds. We might feel un-noticed or insignificant, but God sees and knows our heart and what we do. 15


What does Jesus know about us? (verse 8)

There is no word of criticism for this church that are weak. Weakness is not a sin. God does not judge us by how much we can do or how strong we are. In fact, he often chooses the weakest person to serve him. So, know that God sees you for yourself … he doesn’t compare you with others. He just wants you to do the best you can. In these verses, (8&9) what 2 things does Jesus promise to the church at Philadelphia?

We come back to the ‘open door’ theme. They have the promise of a destiny in Heaven. The Judaizers (referred to as the synagogue of Satan) were constantly perverting the message of Christ by adding works to faith. Jesus – the truth – called this a lie. No-one can ever do enough or be good enough to enter Heaven. That is why we are saved by faith alone, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Read verses 10 To each church Jesus promises a reward in heaven. But what is the special promise that Jesus has for the people represented by this church (in verse 10)

From the description we infer that ‘the trial which will come on the whole world’ is in fact the Tribulation, which will be at the beginning of the End Times. Once upon a time it would have seemed impossible for trials to affect the whole world simultaneously, but since Covid we know different! (Extra information in Rev. 6v10; 8v13; 12v12; 9v6) Read verses 11&12 Here we read of what is promised to them in Heaven if they are victorious – holding fast – overcoming obstacles to their faith. What are the two promises?

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Philadelphia was a very grand place, with marvellous tall buildings. You can still see the remains of many if you look it up on the internet. Significantly, there are several very tall strong pillars that are still standing. Amazing in once sense, and yet, a reminder that nothing on earth is everlasting. Pillars are fundamental to the strength of the building. And what does God promise the weak Philadelphian church? They would be pillars in Heaven! Pillars bearing the name of The Lord God and of Jesus Christ! Christians who are the weakest (in their own strength) are to be made the strongest in eternity! (Read 2 Cor. 12v10 – admitting our weakness helps us find God’s strength).

The Seven Churches of Revelation

LAODICEA

Read Chapter 3 verses 14-22 Once again, it is worth explaining something about the City of Laodicea – because it gives meaning to the words that Jesus has to say to the Christians in that place. Laodicea was a wealthy place, having made its riches by selling black wool and eye salve. The city’s one problem was its water supply. It didn’t have one of its own, and consequently water was piped in from the nearest towns: water from hot springs in Hierapolis, and icecold water from the hill lakes in Colossae. It all sounds good, but when the two sources of water were mixed for use, it had the effect of making people feel nauseous. Read verse 14 What is the Name of Jesus here, and two of his characteristics?

When we say ‘amen’ we are agreeing with the truth of what has been said. Jesus is the ultimate truth. Everything he says is authentic, sure and certain. So, his characteristics of faithfulness and truth are derived from his name – who he is. Jesus also tells us that he is the 17


ruler of creation – the King James version says ‘author’. He is both author (the source) and ruler (the sustainer). So, to a church town that had a poor source of water, Jesus is saying, “I am the source. I am pure and trustworthy. I can supply your needs.” Jesus still says this to us today: I am the source of all that is good – I can supply your needs. Read verses 15 and 16 As usual, Jesus used a situation they could identify with to make his point. These verses can sound really harsh, until you realise the parallel that Jesus is drawing a parallel with the water supply. They were neither hot and on fire for God, like the springs – or cold and refreshing like the mountain fresh water. In fact, they were unpalatable. They were neither for or against – just apathetic, nominal Christians. Please note: They were still Christians and Jesus still loved them – he loved them enough to give them some advice and encouragement , and discipline. To be good disciples we need discipline (the clue is in the word!) Read verse 17: They had become complacent. What does Jesus accuse them of, and what were they blind to?

They were suffering from complacency and didn’t realise what they had come to. It is much harder to be spiritually rich when you are physically rich. When Jesus was on earth, he had plenty to say about this. Read: Matthew 19v24; Mark 10v17-23; Matthew 6v19-21; Matthew 6v33 The love of money is the root of evil – if you have money, make sure you are using it for good! Read verses 18 and 19 In his love and compassion, Jesus gives them another chance. They, and us, can exchange our earthly riches for spiritual gold. They, and us, can cast off our shameful clothes and be clothed in white (for purity). Jesus reminds them of his love, but what did they (do we) need to do to please him?

Read verse 20 One of the most well-known verses in the Bible, often used with non-Christians, is actually aimed at the Christians in the Laodicean church. It applies to everyone who has left Jesus outside the door of their heart, to those who are not wholeheartedly committed to him, to those who are self-reliant and complacent, to those who just want an easy life. Jesus, the great Amen, the Creator and Ruler of all – humbly knocks on the door of our hearts. The onus is always on us to open our hearts to Jesus. 18


Read verses 21-22 And the reward? We will sit in a place of authority with Jesus in Heaven. When we ask Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart, he will invite us to sit with him, on his throne, in Heaven. The last phrase reminds us to really hear what Jesus is saying, to all the churches, and to us as individuals.

The Throne and The Lamb (Part 1)

Revelation Chapter 4

Read verses 1 and 2: In John’s vision, he was no longer seeing things connected to the churches on earth; he begins to write about those things which are, and will be, happening in Heaven. By the Holy Spirit, he was able to witness things seen by only a few others. Who were they? What did they see? Isaiah 6v1-7

Ezekiel 1v1 (& end chapters)

Daniel 7v13&14

2 Corinthians 12v1-4

In Rev 4v2, what did John see?

How do you describe the indescribable? How can you define a rainbow, a beautiful sunset, a large perfectly cut diamond? They all have colours and lights that are moving and changing and reflecting other things – but they all pale into insignificance compared with the glory of heaven. John only had his earthly language to try and describe heavenly things, things not only difficult to describe, but also difficult to understand! Read verses 3-6: Flashes of lightning, peals of thunder The central and most important feature of Heaven is the Lord’s Throne, encircled by a rainbow – and the Lord has the appearance of precious stones – his glory so bright that John could not see his face. 19


Why is the Throne so important?

The Throne: It is the seat of the Godhead; the heart of God’s Kingship and Sovereignty; the place where his glory and majesty are proclaimed; the place of both judgment and mercy; the most holy place. The twenty-four elders – Who were/are they? The Greek word for “crown” is stephanos – which is a crown given to a victor. So, these elders represent victorious Christians. But in the Bible 12 is the number that represents totality. So, the 24 is most likely 2X12 – which makes it easier to interpret. This would represent: a) The twelve tribes of Israel = all Jews who are made righteous by faith b) The twelve apostles = all Christians who are made righteous by faith That is, the 24 elders represent all of God’s redeemed people who have earned their crown in Heaven. Read Ephesians 2v6 – What is promised to us?

Is that not amazing! Also, in Rev 4 verses 5&6, what else does John see and what is symbolised?

The light of the Holy Spirit is also in the throne room just as the 7 branched candlestick was before the altar in the Tabernacle; and he also saw the glass/water which represents our need to be washed clean and pure before the throne. Read verses 6b-8 – The Four Living Creatures This is where it gets difficult!! John is describing something spiritual, never seen before, in the limited way he can. This is what we can surmise from his account: An Angelic presence – these are spirit beings, and they are similar to the seraphim mentioned by Isaiah (in Isaiah chapter 6v2&3). They are also similar to the cherubim seen by Ezekiel. They are not all the same. Always near to the Throne – In the Tabernacle there were cherubim above the Ark of the Covenant where God dwelt – this was a picture of the reality of Heaven. Covered in eyes – front, back, all round – literally all over, symbolising the fact that they can 20


see all things everywhere; and nothing escapes them. They are like God’s eyes on the world – ever seeing. Having six wings – There are no insects on earth that have 6 wings (although some dragonflies have a vestigial third pair). These angelic beings that John observed moving quickly in any direction at the command of the Lord. They are involved as worshippers before the throne, but also as guardians, messengers and soldiers. They had four different heads – What were they (verse 7) and what do you think they represent? All ideas are relevant. 1.

2.

3.

4.

My favoured interpretation is that they reflect God’s covenant with Noah, where God says, “I will establish my covenant with you and … the birds, the livestock and the wild animals.” So that mankind is represented by the face of the man; the birds by the eagle; the livestock by the ox; and the wild animals by the lion. In other words, God’s covenant with his created world is ever before the throne. Read verses 8b -11 What are the angelic beings and the twenty-four elders doing? Notice – the tense changes. John described how they looked (past tense), but goes on to use the present tense, “Day and night they never stop praying”. What is the song that they are singing eternally in Heaven?

As well as praising, what else were they doing?

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Represented by these angelic beings, all of creation is continually worshipping God. Represented by the 24 elders, all of God’s redeemed people are continually praising God in Heaven. When we sing our songs of praise, how often do we realise that we are joining with the angels and the saints who have gone before us, in the very Throne Room of our Sovereign Lord? Returning to the analogy with the Tabernacle, we are told that our worship arises like a fragrant offering – which is pleasing to the Lord. It brings us as near to the Throne Room as we will get this side of Glory. But one day, we will see Him face to face and enjoy being in His presence for ever.

The Scroll and The Lamb

Chapter 5

The description here builds on the scene of chapter 4, which you could say is a backdrop to the events about to unfold. Read verses 1 and 2: The scroll This was one scroll with seven seals, seven scrolls in one – which symbolises its perfect, and Godly, content – held by the right hand of God, “Him who sat on the Throne”. In this dramatic scene the stage is set, and the time has come for God to hand over the most important document in history – the unfolding of future judgment and justice. But who is worthy to open the scroll? That was the question proclaimed by the Angel. And then – a dramatic pause in Heaven. Read verses 3-5: Who will open the Scroll? The fact of John’s profuse weeping denotes the absolute importance of the scroll being opened. This is a momentous occasion in Heaven, because it will usher in the end of all time; culminating in the establishment of God’s Kingdom. It is like a third and final testament. The Old Testament: Ratified by Sacrifices and Laws The New Testament: Ratified by the Blood of Jesus, and by God’s Grace The Final Testament: Ratified by the only One who has conquered death and Satan – Jesus Christ, the only One who has the authority to judge mankind. Verse 5 suggests that John has been given a glance of what happened when Jesus arrived in Heaven, victorious, having conquered death. What are the two names given to Jesus by the Elder in Heaven? 1.

2.

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These are titles from the Old Testament, denoting the eternal nature of Jesus and his purpose from the beginning of time. Only Jesus is qualified to open the scroll with the seven seals. Read verse 6: The description of Jesus (a visual metaphor) The Elder saw the Lion of Judah, but what did John see?

Revelation refers to Jesus many times as ‘the lamb that was slain’. And so, we have this amazing paradox: Jesus the Lion, was also the Lamb – both majestic and conquering, and weak and submissive. Heaven never forgets what it cost Jesus to become the conqueror - and nor should we. But, although the Lamb looked as though it had been killed it was standing and very much alive, reflecting the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. Still in verse 6, where was Jesus standing?

And what did he have 7 of?

In Scripture, wherever horns are mentioned, they symbolise power – 7 horns represent total and complete power. And the seven eyes represent the fact that Jesus is all-seeing and allknowing, having all knowledge and wisdom: omniscient. John saw these as representing the work of the Holy Spirit. Read verses 8 and 9: Jesus takes the scroll The Elders were so relieved that Jesus had taken the scroll that they fell down in worship. What 2 things were the Elders holding? 1.

2.

They hadn’t taken instruments with them to Heaven, so there must be some there, waiting for us to play in the greatest praise session ever! The golden bowls (symbolic of a golden 23


altar) full of incense were the prayers of God’s people. This amazing and symbolic picture shows us the value of our prayer and praise to Almighty God. Our sincere prayer is always accepted as a sweet-smelling incense, just as the Tabernacle sacrifices were. (Read Exodus 30v1-8). King David understood this truth when he wrote the words in Psalm 141v1&2. Our prayers, as well as our praises, are precious to God. Read verses 9 and 10: A New Song In chapter 4 we saw how the elders were singing praises of worship to the Lord God on His Throne (4v10). But now we see them singing a new song – a song about the worthiness of Jesus Christ. What had Jesus done that qualified him for such worship, and who did Jesus pay the price die for (redeem)? (v9)

And what 2 things are the outcome for those who believe? (v10) 1.

2.

Read verses 11-14: Millions of Angels The numbers in verse 11 tell us that there were billions of angels if you do the sums! There are as many angels as there are people who have ever lived on the earth – enough for one each! I think angels are much more aware of us than we are of them. But where were they and what were they doing? (v12)

So, we have the elders and four living creatures worshipping God. We then see them focussing worship on Jesus. And now we see them joined by millions of angels – can you begin to imagine it? But there is more. Who, or what, all join in this amazing worship? (v13)

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We only get a tiny foretaste of true worship on earth. But, one day we will be there, joining with all creation, praising God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Seven Seals

Revelation chapters 6 and 7 Figurative language and symbolism When figurative language is used, we cannot take it literally, but we have to think about what it really means. We use figurative language all the time without realising it. For example: ‘You are a couch potato’; ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’; ‘He has a heart of stone’; ‘You are my sunshine’. But we do not take those things literally – we are not talking about potatoes, cats and dogs, stones or sunshine – we are talking about laziness, heavy rain, cold-heartedness and joy. Therefore: What John sees is representative of the message in the seals. These seals and further revelations are similar to the layers of an onion. You can reveal it one layer at a time, or you can get glimpses of the whole thing if you slice through the middle. The unfolding of Revelation is a bit like both. The First Seal – Read 6v1&2 What did John see?

This picture conveys the meaning of religious deception. The white horse represents war. The rider, with bow and crown, was bent on conquest. White gives the impression of goodness, but further chapters reveal that this is part of the deception by the Antichrist. (Read also - Matt 24v4&5) The Second Seal – Read 6v3&4 What did John see?

This picture conveys the intent of war, red symbolising bloodshed, the large sword denoting his command. It speaks of discord, strife and battles (caused by the Antichrist) between people on the earth. (Read also - Matt 24v6-7a) The Third Seal – Read 6v5&6 What did John see?

This picture conveys the thought of worldwide famine. Black speaks of evil. The scales speak of the little food that can be got for a days wage. (Read also - Matt 24v7) 25


The Fourth Seal – Read verses 7&8 What did John see?

The pale (sickly) horse signifies death from disease. If the Covid virus seems Biblical in its effects, we shouldn’t be surprised! It’s another tool of the enemy. These first four seals show that a quarter of the people on earth will perish from war, famine, and disease in the End Times. (Also spoken of by Jesus in Matt 24v7) (These four horses in the first four seals are sometimes referred to by modern writers as the ‘four horses of the apocalypse.) The Fifth Seal – Read 6v9-11 What did John see?

This seal shows us a picture of those who were Martyred for their faith. This would include those who have been persecuted throughout history and those yet to endure this fate. (Read also – Matt 24v9-13) The Sixth Seal – Read 6v12-17 In v12-14, what did John see?

These tumultuous events on our planet will be expanded in further detail as the prophecies continue. Suffice to say that many things will be out of kilter in the natural world – things that will affect rich and poor, slave and free. Covid 19 is a mere taster of these catastrophes – but should make us realise that they will one day happen. Like the plagues in Egypt in the time of Moses, eventually people will be convinced that God is real, and they will recognise the day of his wrath. The Seventh Seal – chapter 8v1&2 What did John see?

Silence. All the singing and praising that we read about in chapters 4&5 was suspended. Was it the effects of hearing the first 6 prophecies? They certainly stunned me into silence – and sorrow. And then, this seventh seal was not a prophecy in itself but it contained 7 more prophecies in the form of angels with trumpets – we will look at those in the next study. 26


BUT …. A very important ‘but’ … Read chapter 7 What did God say? Verse 3

We, as God’s people will be sealed (as with a signet ring, we will bear his Name – just as the blood of the Lamb protected the Israelites from the tenth plague, so too, the blood of Jesus will protect us from the wrath of God on the earth.) This precious chapter shows us that God is in control and He has you and me in mind. Whether we believe that the Tribulation is exactly seven years, has started or is yet to come, is before or after the Rapture of Christians (and all these seem to be valid views) – the important thing is this: God has made us promises in chapter 7 that bring us hope, salvation, justice, and a promise of eternal bliss. Verses 1-8: Righteous faith-filled Jews These are not Jehovah’s Witnesses! And the number is very likely figurative. Twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes, denoting the complete and perfect number of all who have been made right with God, a) Before the death of Jesus: Abraham was a man of faith and it was credited to him as righteousness. So it was with all faithful Old Testament Jews who would have access to heaven after Jesus shed his blood. b) After the death of Jesus: All Jews who have accepted Jesus as Messiah and Saviour are included in this perfect amount. See what Paul has to say about the Jews in Romans 11v26 Verses 9-17: Millions of Christians worldwide All those who know salvation through the blood of Jesus will also be there – joining the throng of those praising the Lord. Those who persevere through persecution and tribulation will be wearing robes of white and will serve the Lord day and night. Praise God that John was shown this picture of praise and glory and deliverance. It is so encouraging for us. As Christians, we know our destiny is safe and secure. But, of course, it reminds us to keep telling people about Jesus so that they can also choose to follow Him – before it is too late.

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The Seven Trumpets

Tribulation

You will notice that each of the judgments are given to the angels to proclaim by God. I must stress it is God who is in control of what happens, and how much Satan can do. I repeat this because we, as Christians, should not be fearful. Our destiny is in God’s hands and as long as we are saved by the Blood of Jesus, He will be merciful to us – because we are part of the great number of the redeemed. Some schools of thought say that we will be raptured before the Tribulation anyway. But whatever stance you take regarding the chronology, those who reject God would do well to heed these warnings.

The first angelic Trumpet

Read 8v6&7 What did John see?

What was the result?

The second angelic Trumpet Read 8v8&9 What did John see?

What was the result?

The third angelic Trumpet

Read v10&11 What did John see?

What was the result?

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The fourth angelic Trumpet Read 8v12 What did John see?

What was the result?

The fifth angelic Trumpet

Read 9v1-12 The fifth angel saw evil released from the Abyss, in the form of locusts. Read verse 4: Christians and Jews, (those who bear the seal of God on their foreheads) can be encouraged by this promise of protection. What name was given to the angel of the Abyss in verse 11?

The sixth angelic Trumpet

Read 9v13-21 This angel released yet more plagues – fire, smoke and sulphur. Why did the plagues continue? See verses 20&21

The seventh angelic Trumpet

Read 11v15-19 This last trumpet declares God’s victory and introduces the seven bowls. The final battle has not yet been fought, but we are assured of God’s victory. I love the way in which God has given us these glimpses of his presence and assurance and purpose throughout these difficult chapters. It just keeps reminding us that He is for us and not against us. It reminds us that He has us in mind. And although the judgments seem drastic and awful to read, the purpose of them is to turn people to God so that they will escape the final judgment.

The Three Woes The three woes are included within the last three trumpets and there is more detail on these in chapters 9-11. Remember my analogy of an onion. These are like the next layer of prophecy which is being revealed. They are called woes because they are about the worst of times. 29


The First Woe – Revelation 9v1-11 This is part of the Angel’s message in the Fifth Trumpet. Satan will release a horde of satanic creatures from the Abyss. It’s not possible to know for sure whether these are actual locusts, other creatures or armies – but one thing is sure. They will torment people for 5 months (9v10) and they will be in agony (v5&6). Note this: They were told not to harm earth’s vegetation, and they were told only to harm those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. In other words, the Devil’s power was limited by God. God is always in control. The Second Woe – Revelation 9v13-21 Four of Satan’s fallen angels will be released and they will be sent out to kill a third of the population, accompanied by ‘troops’ (v16) – we don’t know if these troops represent actual world armies of whether they are angelic troops. This sounds awful, but God will have them restrained (v14 ‘Release them’) until that time at the end of the Tribulation period. God’s sole purpose in waiting so long, but eventually allowing this, is to give mankind a last chance to repent (v20). You can almost picture God’s woe over this dreadful scene. The Third Woe – Revelation 11v18 The third woe is within the seventh trumpet, which contains the seven bowls (chapter16). For this revelation we are back in The Throne Room of God. The scene is set for the Final Day of Judgment and all heaven praises God for His righteous judgment. This will be a joy for those who have the seal of God, but a terrible woe for those who have the mark of the beast. This will be the scene at the end of the ‘seven bowls’ revelation. So, the Seventh Trumpet will unfold the Seven Bowls of God’s wrath (all of which are probably part of the third woe). But before this, there are other prophecies concerning: · The two witnesses – Chapter 11 · The woman and the dragon – chapter12 · The two beasts- chapter13 We will deal with these in the next study.

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Revelation chapters 14-18:

The Seven Angels and the Fall of Babylon CHAPTER 14 This part of Revelation is not in chronological order but, every so often, throughout John’s revelation, the description of the End Times is punctuated with pictures of celebration in Heaven. These are snippets of encouragement for us, amidst the doom and gloom of judgments. Briefly, what did John see and hear (verses 1-5)

Here we have a reminder that all God’s people (represented by the 144,000) are safe and singing the song of celebration and victory. Why did John refer to them as virgins. I believe this is symbolic of those Christians who are ready and waiting for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Read Matthew 25v1-13 about the wise and foolish virgins.) Read 14v6-13 – Three angels The first angel (v6&7) gives every person one last chance to turn to Christ The second angel (v8) announced the fall of Babylon (refer to notes: ch. 17) The third angel (v9-13) people will have the choice of who they worship. They will either have the mark of the Beast (v9), or the Seal of God, depending on their choice. Verses 12-13 have words of advice for Christians. Read 14v14-20 – The harvest In verses 14-16 we see Jesus – “one like a son of man” using a sickle, reaping the harvest. But verses 17-20 describe a different sort of harvest. Another angel came – the one who had charge of the fire – and asked Jesus to harvest the earth of its wickedness. So, chapter 14 is an encouragement to Christians, but a warning to those who do not yet believe. They must make a choice and accept the judgment.

CHAPTER 15 Chapter 15 is an introduction to chapter 16 and the seven angels carrying seven bowls of wrath. Once again, in verses 3&4, John gives us a glimpse of the worship in Heaven. But he also takes us to the tabernacle of judgment law (v5). Here, the angels were each given a golden bowl of God’s wrath. CHAPTER 16 – The seven bowls of God’s wrath. This is the third and final seven-part series of God’s judgments, following on from the Scrolls and the Trumpets. 31


What did the 1st angel bring (v2)?

What did the 2nd angel bring (v3)?

What did the 3rd angel bring (v4)?

What did the 4th angel bring (v8&9)?

What did the 5th angel bring (v10&11)?

What did the 6th angel bring? (v12-16)?

What did the 7th angel bring (v17-21)?

What is significant about the last sentence? Still the wicked would not repent! At this point, earth has been irretrievably ruined – which leaves one final thing for God to deal with before the Second Coming and the Restoration – the source of the evil.

CHAPTER 17 – BABYLON Read chapter 17 – The Prostitute and the Beast The lady of Babylon is described as the Prostitute on the Beast. Prostitution, in the Bible, symbolises the worship of other gods and idols. Babylon represents a political or quasi religious system which follows the Antichrist and opposes God. The prostitute is, for a 32


time, at the head. It could be a universal religion, a political world power, or (these days) an online influencer. If we consider Nebuchadnezzars vision, in Daniel chapter 2, it could be a derivation of the Roman Empire in some form. Christians will recognise it when it comes. It will be a regime that persecutes and kills Christians (verse 6). There will be 10 kings/nations who will wage war against Jesus at Armageddon (v12-14) – But Jesus will be victorious! The last few verses suggest that the political system of the time will turn on the “Prostitute” and destroy her. CHAPTER 18 – Babylon In the Bible it is common for a capital city to stand for a particular culture, government or religion (in the way that Zion or Jerusalem do). Many times in Israel’s history, Babylon (in a general sense) had represented opposition to God. It must be of great significance, because it is mentioned 262 times in the Bible. For example: It began at The Tower of Babel: Abraham was called out of that area: The areas around there consistently invaded Israel: It became a worldwide power in the fifth century before Christ: The Jews were exiled there as a punishment. Babylon is mentioned in Old Testament prophecy about the last Times. Is it conceivable that Babylon could be reborn in the Internet as a power to influence people? Read verses 1-3: An angel proclaims the destruction of Babylon. What will Babylon become?

Read verses 4-8: Get out while you can! This is a bit like Lot’s warning to flee the city of Sodom. Don’t find yourself getting sucked in by new ideas and ways of thinking, or even sites on the Internet. This is God’s warning of judgment. All can be saved if they turn their back on what is evil. Read verses 9-21: Those who will grieve · There will be economic doom (see verse 11) · There will be a loss of luxury goods (see verse 17) · There will be a loss of trade and travel (see verses 17-19) But Heaven will rejoice – verse 20. Read verses 21-24 The judgment was complete and final. Why? The answer is in verse 24. God will avenge the persecution and murder of all His people. Everything has been dealt with during the time of tribulation. It only remains for God to deal with The False Prophet and the Antichrist, which we will look at in the next chapter – as we lead into the glorious finale of this amazing revelation! Between the sounding of the sixth and seven trumpets, we are given details of further events which will happen. As the Book of Revelation is not necessarily written in chronological order, we cannot be sure of the timing of these events – except to say that they are likely to be near the end, before the final judgments in the seven bowls are given. There is no limitation on time or space in Heaven as there is on earth. 33


Revelation chapter 11

The Two Witnesses Verses 1&2 What is John asked to measure?

In that time, only those who had a legal right to something (fields/buildings) were allowed to measure it. So, this action can be seen as symbolic of God taking back possession of the Temple in Jerusalem. The rest of the action in this chapter is also taking place in Jerusalem. Verses 3-6 Who is appointed, and what will they wear?

These two witnesses for The Lord will have supernatural powers. How are they described in verse 4?

Olive trees produce the oil for the lampstands, and lampstands symbolise the presence of the light of God. The witness are God’s representatives. (More information can be found in Zechariah chapter 4) 42 months equals 1,260 days which is three and a half years – which equates to (probably) the second half of the seven years of Tribulation. And these men will have the power to repel anyone who comes against them; and they will be able to send draughts and plagues. They will be supernaturally human. Read verses 7-10 Who will attack and kill them?

(This Beast will also appear in chapter 13.) The Beast appears to deliver a major victory and the world will rejoice (v10). Verse 9 might have seemed impossible even a generation ago, but it is entirely possible in our modern tech age for all people to view at once. Those who join in this spectacle will be in for a surprise! Read verses 11-14 What miracle will occur (verse 11)?

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The witnesses will ascend to Heaven in a cloud in the same manner as Jesus. Again, the world will look on. What catastrophe will happen in Jerusalem (verse 13)?

Apparently, Israel does have small earthquakes and occasional large ones. Verse 14 tells us that the fearful reactions of the people will show that they accept that God has moved. (This chapter described the Second Woe mentioned in chapter 9v12.) NOTE: The beast, The dragon, The serpent, The False Prophet, The Antichrist Although Revelation gets even more confusing because of all these different names and descriptions, they are all forms of, and representations of, Satan. Many of their descriptions are similar: coloured red (symbolising evil), head with horns (symbolising power), and a large tail (of destruction). To use modern language, Satan can ‘morph’ into different beings to carry out his evil intent. He is the Master of Deception. Christians should not be deceived, because the Scriptures give us this revelation. The Holy Spirit within us will help us to discern the true from the false.

Chapter 12 – The Woman and The Dragon Read verses 1-6 – Looking back What was around the Woman’s head (v1)?

The number 12 most likely refers to Israel, representing the twelve tribes. God often referred to Israel in the Old Testament as a woman. In the New Testament, God’s church is also symbolised as a woman – God’s bride. New Testament Christians have been ‘grafted in’ to Israel – meaning we are all part of God’s people. The child who was born (v6) is Jesus: born out of Israel, and who will one day rule the nations. From the moment Jesus was conceived Satan tried to end his life (notably using Herod to kill all boys under the ago of 2 years old). Verse 4 is a literary description of Satan’s intent. Read Verses 7-9 – Looking further back This part is possibly pre-creation of the Human Race. What happened in Heaven (v7)?

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Who was The Dragon?

Satan made a bid for power but was overcome by the Archangel Michael. Satan was cast out of heaven with his ‘followers’, represented by “a third of the stars” (v4 and v9). From that moment on, Satan started to build his kingdom on earth by accusation, deception and destruction. (Hence his names: The Accuser, The Deceiver, and the Destroyer.) In his first appearance, he was to deceive Eve, accuse Adam and destroy their paradise. We don’t need Revelation to tell us what Satan is capable of doing. Read verses 10-17: Continuing through History What do verses 10-12 represent?

This is the song of all those who have triumphed over Satan. Satan’s plan. First – attack Jesus Christ. Second – attack his followers. Verses 6,13 and 14 show us how much protection was given to Mary so that her baby would not be harmed. Mary’s protection so enraged the Devil that he was to spend the rest of his time persecuting her offspring, i.e. those who follow Jesus (v17). But, they were ultimately victorious, as we read in verses 10-12! Why are things getting worse the longer time goes on? It is because: · Satan knows his time is running out · Christ will soon establish his Kingdom on earth · Christ’s followers are standing strong · God is protecting his own with a seal · We have the hope of Heaven

Chapter 13 – The Beasts from the Sea Although described as beasts, the figures in this chapter are two powerful, evil men who will arise. The two beasts of this chapter are in fact, not beasts at all – but are symbolic of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Read verses 1-10: The Beast from the Sea – The false Prophet On the shore stood a Dragon who had given authority to The Beast (v4) What was significant about this beast (v1)?

The ten horns represent the extent of its power. The seven heads represent the different guises he can adopt. The ten crowns may represent the nations who are on his side – all blasphemous, and all anti-Christ. And remember, although John saw a beast, it is representative of a man or nations who are opposed to Christ – and empowered by Satan to cause havoc on the earth. 36


Who will worship the Beast (v8)?

Who will not (v8)?

Praise God our names are written in the Lambs Book of Life. Everlasting, eternal life is our destiny. Read verses 11-18: The Beast from the earth. The Antichrist This beast was a master of deception (v11), and - had great authority (v12). It was able to perform great signs and deceived all (v14). An image was raised to honour the first beast – but any who refuse to bow the knee will be killed. The Outcome What will the people be forced to have (16&17)?

But what do Jews have (see Deut. 11v16-21)?

And what will Christians have (see Rev 7v3)?

Interestingly, the word used for the mark of the beast (charagma) is a brand (like a cattle brand). But the word used for the seal of God is sphragis, which is like the seal on a signet ring – a seal of authority and ownership. God will look after all his people. Further reading: Ephesians 1v13 and 4v30; 2 Corinthians 1v22. These verses bring us assurance that God will be with us. Verse 18: The Number of the Beast At this point in time, it is futile to try and work this out. But when the time arrives there will be those with the insight of the Holy Spirit who will be able to identify the Antichrist and warn people. My only observation is this. I would guess a perfect number to be 777 (the number of completeness and perfection – a 7 for each part of the Trinity). But the Antichrist will fall short on every count. 666 – so near and yet so far! 37


Revelation Chapters 21 and 22

The Glory of Heaven

Read chapter 21: A new beginning In verse 1, what will happen to the earth as we know it, and what will be missing?

There will be a “fresh page”, prepared for the perfection of Heaven on Earth. In verse 2, what is the description of the body of God’s people who have been redeemed? The New ………………………………… and a ……………. dressed for her husband. · · · ·

In Old Testament times, God’s presence was in the Holiest place in the Tabernacle In New Testament times, God was present when Jesus walked the earth Now, God’s the Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us But in the New Jerusalem, verse 3 tells us that God himself will be with us, and we will know him as did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. All things will be made new. (Some say a restoration, but verses 1 & 5 definitely say ‘new’.)

In verse 4, what does it say we will no longer experience?

This will be explained in chapter 22. Verses 5-7 emphasise the newness of all things. There will be no water on the new earth because the Lord God will be the source of all we need. God was there at the beginning of time as we know it, and He will be there at the end – Alpha and Omega. The beauty of the New Jerusalem is described in the following verses. Read verses 9-14: The Bride of Christ, the Holy City John revisits this part of the vision in order to try and describe the beauty of what he was seeing. It shone like transparent jewels reflected in gold. Symbolically it had twelve gates on which were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (v12). And it had twelve foundation stones, on which were written the names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. John expands on this description in verses 18-21. Read verses 15-17: The size of the City Why was this important? Firstly, in ancient law, only the person who owned the land could measure it, so is declared ownership. Secondly, it is staggering how big it is. If you do the maths (use a calculator, as I did!), you will find the total area is nearly 2600 million square kilometres. When you think, the surface area of the earth is around 500 million square kilometres, you will see just how big heaven will be! There is room for all who will follow Jesus.

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What things will not be in the Heavenly Jerusalem? 21v4:

21v22:

21v23:

21v25:

21v27:

Chapter 22: No more curse Read verses 1-5: The first few verses take us back to the Garden of Eden, in the times before rainfall, when God watered the earth with the morning dew. (In fact the earth had had no rain until Noah was asked to build the Ark.) In the New Jerusalem there will be the river of the water of life which will water the trees which bring healing to the nations. What is being symbolised here? In Genesis 5v16-19 we read how, as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God put a curse on them both, which meant that they would have to work and suffer pain – something they had not experienced before. That curse had never been lifted. But, in the New Jerusalem, there will be no curse – only the trees bringing healing to the nations. The removal of the curse is why things can return to the way they were originally planned by God. Let me make it clear, we are not under a curse from God - because we have been forgiven and restored – but the world is still under the curse, and we still live in the world, and therefore still experience its effects. Praise God we have an amazing future to look forward to! Read verses 6-11 There is a little aside here. A reminder, “Look, I am coming soon”. John wants to make clear that this is his testimony of true things that were revealed to him by the Angel. Note: in verse 8, John wanted to worship the Angel, but it was made very clear that this would not be the correct thing to do. Verses 10-11, put simply, mean that everyone should be alerted to the 39


words of Revelation – and then the choice is up to them! Read verses 12-21: Verse 18 warns us not to add or detract from the words in this prophecy. It is not a message everyone will want to hear or receive. We cannot escape the judgment by denying its truth, or by changing what has been written. Verse 19 is a caution to anyone who would do that – they will miss out on their eternal rest. Jesus, The First and The Last, is coming soon. It was Jesus who was creator of the perfect earth at the beginning of time. It was Jesus who died to pay for our forgiveness. It is Jesus who will defeat Satan at Armageddon, and it is Jesus who gives us this invitation to “Come”. Jesus says to us, “Come” and he wants us to respond (see v 17&20), “Come, Lord Jesus). Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bid’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God I come, I come. Jesus, calling us to come, touches our hearts. Unsurprisingly then, that the singing of this song, at the Billy Graham Crusades, brought millions to respond to the message of the Gospel of God’s love and saving plan. And the Book of Revelation ends with a final reminder of God’s grace.

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The Estuary Elim Group of Churches are three Essex based Elim Pentecostal Churches in Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend on Sea with a shared Leadership team. We are a group of people responding to the love of God and the life changing message of Jesus Christ. Our services are lively with contemporary music, worship and preaching and teaching relevant to the 21st Century. To find out more about us visit www.estuaryelim.church Whether you are new to church, someone with questions or a committed Christian, we want to serve you and help you discover and fulfil God’s purpose for your life. If you would like an opportunity to email or talk to one of the team email your contact details to info@estuaryelim.co.uk The Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend Elim Pentecostal Churches are branches of The Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance (Registered Charity No. 251549)

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