OVERVIEW OF REVELATION
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In recent times it has become fashionable to view the Bible as a book containing secret codes and secret knowledge. Books like the Davinci Codes and certain TV documentaries have popularized this idea. Nothing in the Bible itself supports this view. In fact Paul, one of Jesus' Apostles, wrote on several occasions that Christian believers should avoid such views because they come from secular and pagan sources. Instead, the Bible should be viewed as what it claims to be, a message from an all powerful spiritual being (God) to the beings whom he created (human beings).
The book of Revelation has been viewed, even by some Christians, as a book of secret codes and hidden knowledge. They look at every detail of the writer's descriptions and try to find some secret reference to present or future earthly event. It is important, however, to come to an understanding of the book of Revelation by stepping back and looking at the whole picture without being overly concerned with details. One should also understand that the book is describing spiritual principles and events. The scenes described in the book of Revelation alternate between heaven and earth, but God's purpose is to depict a spiritual battle and its outcome in victory for his son Jesus and his faithful followers.
Do not lock yourself into the idea that the Book of Revelation is describing a series of chronological events. Keep your mind open to the possibility that these events overlap from a chronological perspective, or even that the same period of time is described over and over again from a different perspective. (Example: the movie "Vantage Point" 2008)
I have developed a study guide to assist you in getting a good overview of each section of the book. Read each section of the book and use the study questions and comments to help direct your thoughts.
Revelation Chapter 1: Introduction
Read John's vision, then close your eyes and picture the vision in your mind.
What clues are given to help us identify the person in this vision?
Who is he?
The words of the person speaking in the vision identify the meaning of some of the symbols described in the vision.
What are the seven stars?
What are the seven lampstands?
Where is the person in the vision located?
What do you think is the spiritual meaning of this vision?
Is this section describing things on earth or in heaven?
What period of time in the earth's history do you think this vision is depicting?
Summarize this section in one sentence.
Revelation Chapters 2 and 3: The letters to the seven churches.
What picture or description from chapter one is included in each letter?
Name one positive thing that is said about each church.
Name one negative thing that is said about each church.
What reward is offered to each church?
Who is speaking in this section?
Do any of these warnings or compliments apply to our modern age and culture? Which ones?
Do any of these warnings or compliments apply to you as you live out your life?
Is this section describing things on earth or in heaven?
Revelation Chapters 4 and 5: The Throne Room
Read through chapter 4, then read Ezekiel chapters 1 and 2.
John says he heard "the first voice like a trumpet" speaking to him. To whom is he referring? (See chapter one)
Where do these events take place, earth or heaven?
Who is the one sitting on the throne?
Who is the central figure in chapter 4?
To whom is the praise addressed in verse 11?
Read chapter 5.
Who is the central figure in this chapter?
What hints are given as to his identity?
Does the description give any hints as to what the scroll symbolizes?
To whom is the praise addressed in verse 12?
To whom is the praise addressed in verse 13?
What period of time in human history do you think this vision is depicting?
HINT: Revelation 5:9 describes in the past tense certain events that are also described in the gospels (Luke chapters 23-24 and others).
HINT: Revelation 6 describes events in human history which seem to occur after the events in Revelation chapters 4 and 5.
Revelation Chapter 6: The seven seals of the scroll.
Verses 1-8, the first four seals.
Where do these events take place, heaven or earth?
Use one word to describe what each horseman symbolizes.
Name some periods of earth's history that fit the conditions described under the four horsemen.
Verses 9-11, the fifth seal.
Based on the wording of these verses, who specifically are the people described here?
What happens to them?
What do you think is the meaning of the white robes given to them?
Verses 12-17, the sixth seal.
Make a list of the events that happen when the sixth seal is opened.
What do these events sound like to you?
What do you think is described by the phrase, "the great day of their wrath has come"?
Do you think these are past, present, or future events?
Revelation Chapter 7: God's Protection
Contrast the people described at the end of chapter 6 with the people described in this chapter.
Write down a list of clues from the descriptions that might help you identify each group of people.
Based on your investigation, Who do you thing these people are?
Who are the people described under the fifth seal (chapter 6)?
Who are the 144,000?
Who are the great multitude?
Do you think it is possible that the 144,000 and the great multitude both symbolically represent the same group of people?
Revelation Chapter 8-9: Two groups of people
Do the events described here remind you of some other events described in the Bible?
Read Exodus chapters 7 through 10. Write down some similarities between the plagues described in Exodus and the plagues described in Revelation.
Perhaps the best way to understand chapters 8 and 9 is in the context of the two groups of people who are described in chapters 6 and 7.
In chapters 8 and 9, find and write down the phrases and sentences that describe the two groups of people described in chapters 6 and 7.
How would you describe the condition of each group in chapters 8 and 9?
Revelation Chapter 10: The Angel and the Scroll
Read Revelation 10 and then read Ezekiel 2:8 - 3:11
What was God preparing Ezekiel to do?
Based on the language in Revelation 10, do you think God considered John to be a prophet?
Specifically, what evidence leads you to your conclusion?
For what was God preparing John?
What do you think is the relationship between eating the scroll and speaking the word of God to the people?
It seems like chapter 10 is possibly an interlude, a break in the narrative, between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets.
What do you think was God's purpose for giving John the vision in chapter 10?
Revelation 11: The Two Witnesses
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