Friday, December 23, 2011

Revelation Bible Study Lesson 1- Revelation 1:1-3

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (ESV)

Revelation of Jesus

Who is the source of this revelation?

Who or what is being revealed in this book?

Who receives the revelation?

The whole book of Revelation is revealing Jesus to John. It isn’t John’s revelations as though he made it up. The whole purpose of the book is to show us more of the glory of God in Jesus as He shows John what must soon take place. The revelation is given from God to Jesus to give to John. Of course, John writes it down for any who consider themselves the servants of Jesus. Jesus sent an angel to John to convey the message.

Why is all of this being mentioned at the beginning of the book?

 I think it is because the message of the book is complicated and without the assurance that it is from God, some people would reject it or possibly not even bother studying it.

Why do you think someone in John’s day might doubt that this revelation is about Jesus? See Matt 24:23-25.

 John was sure that this message was from God, that it is His word, the truth about Jesus. Remember that Jesus said in the last days, many would say Christ is here or there – don’t go looking.
At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. (Matt 24:23-25 NIV)
John had to make sure that this vision was really Jesus; otherwise people could quote Jesus’ words and claim that John was going off the deep end.
Why do you think many people do not study prophecy? See Matt 6:34

Many people think it doesn’t make sense to study prophecy. They believe it is not healthy or is unscriptural to try to see what is in the future and back up their opinion by quoting Matt 6:34.
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NASB)

This is not the case when we study prophecy. What we are doing is seeing what God has revealed to us and how that should affect our lives.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV)
This isn’t someone trying to make up what he thinks God has said. This is from God. Since it is from God, all scripture is useful for us to study (even genealogies) so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work. These have to be fundamental beliefs whenever we dig into any portion of Scripture.
What is the promise in these opening verses and how should that affect us?

 Prophecy is about one third of the Bible so we need to know how to study it, understand it, and glean from it the God’s truth. Included in the opening of the book of Revelation is a promise of blessing for reading, hearing, and taking it to heart. That means we need to do something with it. Prophecy is not for idle curiosity. It has a purpose and that is to encourage us to know more about God and His nature. We know that as we get to know Him better and better, our will becomes the same as His and the holy life He wants us to lead comes closer to a reality.

His Soon Return

Why should we believe His return is soon and that it is just as much a possibility today as it was believed to be 1,900 years ago?

One reason we are encouraged in our walk is that these events must soon take place. The time is near. When this was written 1,900 years ago, John believed that the time was near. The message to the churches was meant to correct problems and help them to live godly lives in light of Jesus’ soon appearing. There is no reason to believe that soon could mean today. The urgency is to prompt us to holiness as well.

If the time is near, why haven’t we seen these events fulfilled? See 2 Peter 3:3-10.

What does “soon” mean? Two Greek words are used. The first is en, which is a preposition meaning a fixed position in place, time, or state.[1] The second is tachos, which means a brief space (of time).[2] When prefixed by en¸ it means in haste. So what’s going on? A study of prophecy requires knowledge of God and His timing. 
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, "What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created."
They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. (2 Peter 3:3-9 NLT)
Even before John wrote down the words of Revelation, people were scoffing at the idea that Jesus would return at all. They pointed to nature and how it seems as if it has always existed, reasoning that things would go on as they always have. Sounds just like today with the theories of evolution, doesn’t it? But look at what Peter says to us. He reiterates that there was a flood and that there will be a fiery end. There are two reasons that it hasn’t happened sooner. The first is that God is an eternal being who doesn’t measure time or “soonness” with the same clock as we do. The second is that He is patient with mankind. He wants everyone to come to repentance and not to die without salvation. As we go through the book of Revelation, when we see disaster after disaster falling on mankind, we must not forget that God has given everyone an opportunity to repent and escape the disasters that will occur.

Regarding time, what do we need to learn from the following verses? Ps 39:5, James 4:13, 14

We need to remember just how short our lives are.
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and  my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely  all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Ps 39:5 ESV)
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14 NIV)
We really can’t compare our life span with God’s timing. Consider what James said. We like to think that we can plan our future and be secure in knowing how it will turn out. We lay up retirement accounts, IRAs, and even depend on social security. The truth is that God can change the situation in the world overnight. How long did it take for the communist empire to crash? I certainly didn’t think the political climate in the Soviet Union could change so quickly. Who thought that in six days Israel could win a war and gain control of Jerusalem for the first time in thousands of years? It works both ways. “Soon” in God’s timetable can be days or centuries in ours.

What is stopping Jesus Christ from returning today?

There is nothing stopping Jesus from coming back today. I know there are events that must first take place before He comes, but God can work out any details in a matter of minutes. There is also the possibility that the events we think must occur before He comes back are based on our misunderstanding of scripture. As we look through the book of Revelation, I hope to point out some of the various points of view that might not be the current popular position. 
Look up the following verses and explain what we should remember regarding Jesus’ return and the study of the Book of Revelation.

Acts 1:11

Matt 24:36

Matt 24:42

Matt 24:46

Phil 3:20

One thing is certain. Jesus will be returning and it will be soon. These are some facts that we need to remember as we study the book of Revelation. 
1.      They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11 NASU) Jesus will return just as he left – physically and in the clouds – and He will return to the Mount of Olives. See also Zech 14:4. 
2.      But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matt 24:36 RSV) No one knows when He will return. Don’t listen to those who set dates. 
3.      Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matt 24:42 NASB) Watch, we are commanded to expect him at anytime and to be ready.
4.      Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. (Matt 24:46 ESV) We need to be active in our Christian walk and service when He comes back. Our wait is not an idle wait. Our reward is to be blessed by God. 
5.      But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20 NIV) Our attitude of waiting should be with eagerness as the NIV states. If we have a problem with that, then we probably aren’t using the spiritual gifts that He has given us, or worse, we are in sin or not even saved. 
We must be patient and realize that it could be another 1,000 years before these “soon” events take place or they could be tomorrow. In the mean time, we must plan and work accordingly. We must share the urgency of His coming again with others to encourage them to live a holy life. We need to share the gospel with others; after He comes it will be much more difficult for people to come to Him and the circumstances of life will be much harsher than they are now.
May you be blessed and encouraged to draw closer to our Lord as we go through the book of Revelation. May you eagerly expect His soon return and be a shining lamp for others to see.

[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

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