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LESSON 1 –REVELATION BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1: REVELATION BIBLE STUDY
BOOK OF REVELATION (BY R.E. HARLOW)
CHAPTER 1 REVELATION
Revelation is the last book of the Bible and a very important and exciting one. In Scripture God has graciously revealed Himself to all who will read it. We can learn that God created all things, that Christ died for all men, and that the Holy Spirit lives in all believers today. However, in Revelation God gives us even more, an exciting picture of His future plans. Think of God telling man what He is going to do! The Lord Jesus often did this when He was here with His disciples. These disciples were not only His servants, but He called them His friends. Because of this, He told them many things that would happen later, John 15.15. He gave them some details of His coming in Matthew 24, and the apostles were given more about this by the Holy Spirit in their writings--Paul in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Peter in his second letter. The Spirit had revealed a great deal about God's plans to the Old Testament prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, especially Isaiah and Daniel, also some more in the Psalms. But the book of Revelation ties all this together and adds much more. The apostle John wrote it and he often used language from the Old Testament without saying where it came from. Some other New Testament writers did the same but other times they quoted the original writer, David or Isaiah, by name, as in Romans 4.6; 10.20. But in Revelation John joined together the words from the prophets and from the Lord as part of what he was saying. For example, Christ will come with clouds, 1.7, as Daniel and the Lord had said, Daniel 7.13; Matthew 24.30; and all Gentiles will see Him and mourn as Zechariah had said, and John had quoted in his gospel, Zechariah 12.10; John 19.37. We will notice more examples as we read this book of Revelation. The one chosen to write this great book was the youngest of the twelve apostles. His father was Zebedee, his brother, James. All three, father and sons, were fishermen until the Lord Jesus called John and James with Peter to follow Him, Matthew 4.21. Later the Lord called these three and nine others, and named them apostles, Matthew 10.2. These three men, Peter, James, and John, had a special place close to the Lord, Luke 8.51; 9.28 and special work to do. But they had a lot to learn first. The Lord had called James and John the sons of thunder, Mark 3.17. They seemed very quick to call down judgment on others, Luke 9.49,54. These two brothers went to the Lord to ask Him for the highest place in His kingdom The Lord refused, Mark 10.35. Yet He still chose them for special work, Mark 13.3; 14.33. John knew that he had a place close to the Lord. Five times, he called himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, >John 13.23; 19.26; 20.2; 21.7, 21:20 He was one of the three chosen to see the glorified Lord on the mountain. He leaned on Jesus' breast when they ate together. He took care of Mary after the Lord had died, and he and Peter saw the empty grave and believed that Christ had risen from death. They were both important in the early church, Acts 1.13; 3.1; 8.14; Galatians 2.9, and suffered for the name of Christ, Acts 4.3,13,19. At the very beginning of this book, we see a wonderful verse. God the Holy Spirit promised a blessing to all who read or hear the book of Revelation and keep these things, 1.3. So we are part way into blessing already! But also at the end of the book, He warned of punishment to any who try to add or take away anything from it, 22.18-19. This tells us how serious God thinks it is to change words, and how important He considers Revelation. There are three main sections in Revelation:
1. The Present Age, chapters 1-3
2. The Great Tribulation, chapters 4-18
3. The Coming of Christ, chapters 19-22
To understand prophecy it is necessary to live a holy life. You cannot disobey God's laws and expect to understand His plans. The first half of the book of Daniel tells how he and his three friends obeyed God and suffered for it. The second part gives us God's great revelations about the future. The book of Revelation is the same in that the first three chapters, give us Christ's messages to seven churches, and the rest of the book tells us what God is going to do in this world. The study of prophecy should make us live holier lives, 1 John 3.3.
LESSON 1 - THE PRESENT AGE
READ: chapters 1-3
In the first part of Revelation, there are two sections:
1. JOHN AND HIS LORD, CHAPTER 1
Verse 1: This book is a revelation of Jesus Christ and His coming in glory. The disciples had wanted to know when the Lord would restore the kingdom. But He had told John and the other apostles that they were not to know the time of His coming again. The Father had put this in His own authority, Acts 1.7. This is not to say that Christ is less than God is, but the Lord Jesus always gave honour to His Father, John 8.29,49. So here, we find God revealing things to us and the order of the revelation of this book is:
Christ is revealed in all Scripture, Luke 24.27, but the word revelation (apocalypse, unveiling) is used of His return in glory, 1 Corinthians 1.7; 2 Thessalonians 1.7; 1 Peter 1.7,13; 4.13. The book of Revelation also reveals the glory of the Lord Jesus; He is mentioned 48 times in the book. When would these things take place? Verse 1 was written nearly 1,900 years ago and it says soon. But we must remember that a thousand years is with the Lord as one day, 2 Peter 3.8. Today we can surely hope that the Lord will soon return. God has decreed that the events of Revelation must come to pass. And God's word will never fail, so how soon it must be now! God often used angels to speak to His people. He revealed Moses His covenant with Israel by angels. He spoke to Hagar Abraham, Manoah and his wife, Elijah and others by an angel. Here we see angels are prominent again in Revelation; they are mentioned 62 times. In the last chapter, Jesus said that He had sent His angel to reveal these things through John to the churches 22.16. John saw and heard many strange and wonderful things in Revelation and we must look for the meaning. Many verses in the Bible are like this. For example, before He died, the Lord Jesus said that He would be "lifted up"; this meant that He would die on a cross, John 12.33-34. So in Revelation; everything has a meaning. Even though we do not understand it at first, the Lord is telling us something. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to understand.
Verse 2: John was a faithful witness and recorded in this book words God said to him about Jesus Christ. He also wrote what saw in visions. However, he was commanded not to write down some things that he heard, 10.4. Paul also was told not to write what he heard in the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12.3-4. God had special revelations for these men and they obeyed God by not writing them down.
Verse 3: First God gave John the wonderful promise of blessing for all who read the words of this prophecy. The promise is also to those who listen to someone else read it. But it is necessary to keep these words to get the promised blessing. It is possible for us read and then forget, James 1.23. Keeping God's Word means obey, Revelation 14.12, and we should remember that the time the Lord's coming is near, so let us read, listen to, and keep the Word.
In Matthew 5, the Lord Jesus on earth gave nine promises of blessing called the "Beatitudes.” In Revelation, from Heaven, He adds seven more: 1.3; 14.13; 16.15; 19.9; 20.6; 22.7,14. One of the interesting things about Revelation is the number different names used for God. The following list gives twelve different names and lists how often they appear in each chapter:
Names of God in Revelation
Lord God --10
Son of God--1
Son of Man--2
Lord Jesus Christ--1
THE WRITER AND HIS PRAYER, 1.4-8
Verse 4: John stated that he was the writer and that the message was for seven churches in the province of Asia in the old Roman Empire, now called Turkey. All 13 of Paul's letters begin in the same way and give first the writer's name; James, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude are the same. In all of these except James, the writers ask that God might give grace or mercy and peace to the readers. Here John asked for grace and peace from God and the seven Spirits, verse 4, and from Jesus Christ, verses 4-8; God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, see also 2 Corinthians 13.14. Grace comes from the God of all grace, 1 Peter 5.10, and is the basis for our salvation and justification, Romans 3.24; Ephesians 2.8. We also have peace from the God of peace, Romans 5.1, and His own peace to keep us, Philippians 4.7. God is the eternal One, He always was and always will be, Exodus 3.14; Deuteronomy 33.27. There is only one Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4.4, and the words the seven Spirits refer to the Holy Spirit in all His fullness, Isaiah 11.2. The Holy Spirit is mentioned ten times in Revelation 1 to 3, and nine times in the rest of the book. Here He is before the throne of God. The throne' of God is mentioned forty times in Revelation, only ten times in all the rest of the New Testament. This teaches us that God will still rule in the end.
Verse 5: John also prayed that grace and truth might be given to the churches from Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is described here as:
1. The faithful Witness, Isaiah 55.4; John 8.14. The Lord Jesus always told the truth, even when it meant that He would be put to death, Psalm 15.4; Matthew 26.64. We too should be faithful witnesses, Acts 1.8; Revelation 1.9; 6.9; 12.11.
2. The Firstborn from among the dead. Christ rose from death and some day all men will rise from death, John 5.29. Christ will be the supreme Man in the new world, Colossians 1.18. "First-born" does not mean the first in time, it means the first in position. Others were raised from death before Christ, 1 Kings 17.22; 2 Kings 4.35; Matthew 9.25; Luke 8.54; John 11.44, but He is the Head of all. This is His title at present.
In the past, the faithful Witness
In the present, Firstborn from death
In the future, Prince of all kings
These words tell us who He is, and the next words, what He has done for us.
1. He loves us. This has always been true, Jeremiah 31.3. He loved us before we were born, He surely loves us now and always will.
2. He has set us free from sin and cleansed us from all evil. Sin is like slavery, we are chained by sin and cannot free ourselves, only the Son can set us free, John 8.36. Sin is also like filth, we cannot wash it away, only the blood of Christ can make us clean, John 13.10; Hebrews 10.22.
3. He has made us to be a kingdom of priests. This is what God offered to all Israel, He wanted them to be a special people for Himself, Exodus 19.6, but they failed, and only the men of the tribe of Levi were allowed to serve as priests. But the Holy Spirit taught Peter that now all Christians born from above are priests. How are we priests? A priest in the Old Testament offered sacrifices and worshipped God. But today all Christians may and should worship God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 2.5,9. Christ is the King of kings and He is also our Great High Priest, Hebrews 1.8; 4.14.
In the past: He loved us and shed His blood.
In the present: He loves us and makes us worship as priests to God.
(It is important to know that Christ has made US priests; not other men to be priests for us.)
In the future: He will still love us when He appears as King of the world. We will give Him the glory and He will rule forever and ever.
Verse 7: So we see God and the Holy Spirit in verse 4 and the Son of God in verses 5 and 6. Two more verses tell us what Christ is ready to do, and who He is. We have read that the time is near, 1.3, and here He is already coming. He will come with clouds as Daniel prophesied, Daniel 7.13; Matthew 24.30. He went up to heaven first when only His disciples saw Him, but when He returns every person will see Him. Those who hate Him, those who reject Him, will suddenly see the Son of God coming back. John wrote that all men will mourn at that time, as Zechariah had prophesied, Zechariah 12.10. No wonder they are afraid! (Verse 7 is a good example of how John used words from Old and New Testament prophecy, and added more details as given to him by the Spirit of God.) We say Amen because we know that God will judge sinners and we want Christ to get the glory.
Verse 8: Now the Lord speaks and declares that He is the Alpha and Omega. These are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Christ is the Logos, the Word of God, and everything we know about God has come to us through Christ. The words of the Bible are made up of the different letters of the alphabet, so the title Alpha and Omega means that Christ is the complete revelation of all that God is. He is the exact representation of God's inner nature, Hebrews 1.3. Some Bibles add the word God in verse 8. In Revelation it is sometimes difficult to be sure who is speaking, God or the Son of God, because what is said is true either way.
In verse 4 God is described as the Eternal One who always was and always will be. He is the Lord who is, who was, and who is to come. In verse 8., the Son of God uses these same words about Himself. These words "is to come" say more than just that He always will exist in the future. We may say that God, as the coming One, is the Son of God. He came once, He is coming again.
The Lord also said He is the Almighty. The Almighty is the God of all power without any limit. Such power was needed to create the world, to redeem sinners, and to overcome God's enemies as in the book of Revelation. God is called the Almighty nine times in Revelation: 1.8; 4.8; 11.17; 15.3; 16.7,14; 19.6,15; 21.22; (only once in the rest of the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6.18).
John's vision of Christ, 1.9-20
This book is the revelation of Jesus Christ and Christ Himself is here revealed to John. The apostle described what he saw and heard.
1. John himself, verses 9-10
2. The Voice, verse 11
3. The Vision, verses 12-16
4. The Words, verses 17-20
1. The apostle John, verses 9-10
Verse 9: None of the apostles set himself up as a ruler over the Christians. Peter called himself an elder like those to whom he was writing, 1 Peter 5.1. John did the same, 2 John 1; 3 John 1. Here John called himself a brother writing to brothers. The Christians were having trouble because of persecution from the government and John shared in that too. The believers had Christ as their King and they were waiting with patience for Him to come. The little island of Pathos is in the sea near the city of Ephesus and John was sent there as a prisoner. His crime? He preached the Word of God and gave his testimony that he believed in Jesus Christ. When Joseph was unfairly cast into prison, God gave him a special ability to interpret dreams, Genesis 40. Daniel was a slave when he was used to explain the king's dream, Daniel 2. Here John was given this great revelation when he was a prisoner on Pathos. God has His own purposes in everything.
Verse 10: One Sunday he was filled with the Holy Spirit and heard a great voice from someone behind him. It was as loud as a trumpet. This word "great" is found 82 times in Revelation.
2. The Voice, verse 11
Verse 11: It was the voice of the Lord Jesus and He commanded John to write in a book everything which he was about to see. He was to send this book to the seven churches of Asia Minor, verse 4. These churches are now named.
3. The Vision, verses 12-16
Verse 12: John turned to see the Speaker. At first, he saw seven gold lamp stands. Moses made a gold lamp stand with seven lamps for the Holy Place in the tabernacle, Exodus 37.17,23. Solomon made ten lamp stands for the temple, 1 Kings 7.49. These were taken by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 52.19, and perhaps one of them was in the king's palace when the fingers wrote on the wall, Daniel 5.3,5. In a vision, Zechariah saw a lamp stand with seven lamps, Zechariah 4.2. Here the seven lamp stands are pictures of the seven churches, verse 20, and Christ is standing among them.
Verses 13-16: The One John saw made him think of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man. Daniel called the Messiah the Son of Man, Daniel 7.13. The Lord Jesus often called Himself Son of Man, and John had heard Him do so many times. Here John recorded nine things about the Lord Jesus.
2. The girdle around His chest was made of gold, which speaks of His deity. John the Baptist also had a girdle, made of leather, which he wore lower down, around his waist. Christ's breasts speak of His tender care for all God's children, even when He has to warn them.
3. His head and His hair were as white as wool, as white as snow. Here John used the same words that Daniel used to describe the Eternal God, Daniel 7.9. Christ is equally God.
4. His eyes were like a flame of fire. God can see everything and know everything. With the fire, He will judge whatever is not according to His holy will. In the letters to seven churches, He says seven times, "I know your works." The word fire is used 25 times in Revelation, mostly for God's judgment.
5. His feet were like fine bronze in a hot furnace. This too speaks of judgment because He is ready to judge and stamp out all that is opposed to God's will. God's throne was like fire in Daniel 7.9.
7. In His right hand, He held seven stars. His hands had been pierced with nails and still had the marks, Luke 24.39. The Son upholds all things, Hebrews 1.3, but here the stars stand for these seven churches, verse 20.
8. The sharp sword is a picture of the Word of God, Hebrews 4.12, which comes from the mouth of Christ, the Logos, the Alpha and Omega.
The Lord loved both Daniel and John and He gave them these visions of Himself, Daniel 10.5-6, 11, 19; Revelation 19.11-15. They described Him in the same way; they were both impressed with the brilliant light shining from His eyes and face, and with the thundering sound of His voice. Here are their visions of Christ:
VISIONS OF CHRIST
Down to the feet
Dipped in blood
Gold, on the waist
Gold, on His breast
Head and hair:
White as wool, as snow
Lamps of fire
Flame of fire
Flame of fire
And arms, bronze
Bronze, in a furnace
Like many people
Like many waters
Holding seven stars
Like the sun
Like a beryl
In Daniel 10, the Son of God was in conflict with wicked spirits, Daniel 10.13. In Revelation I He was ready to judge His people, and in Revelation 19 He defeated His enemies, verse 15. In the Song of Solomon, also the Bride describes her Beloved from head to foot, Song of Solomon 5.10-16. This is our vision as we think of His love to us. We should however remember that He must judge everything, which is not according to His will.
4. The Words, verses 17-20
Verse 17: The glorious visions of Christ had a great effect on Daniel and John, Daniel 10.8-9. Imagine John suddenly hearing a voice like a trumpet blast behind him saying I am the First and the Last. What you see write in a book. He turned and saw a Person who at once reminded him of the Lord Jesus. He wore a long white robe with a gold band around His breast. This Person had head and hair as white as wool or snow. His eyes looked like flames of fire, His face shone like the sun, His feet like brass. His voice sounded louder than a huge waterfall or the roaring sea. He held seven stars in one hand and there was a sharp sword in His mouth. His face shone so brightly that it was like looking into the sun at noon. No wonder that John fainted! John fell at the Lord's feet as if he had died. The Lord had been holding seven stars in His right hand, but now He laid His right hand on John and spoke to him words of comfort, no doubt more softly than in verse 15. The Lord Jesus often comforted people by touching them with His hands: Matthew 8.3, 15; 9.25, 29; 17.17; 19.15; 20.34. Mark 1.31; 6.5; 7.33; 8.22; 9.27; 10.13; Luke 4.40; 13.13; 22.51. And He allowed His disciples to touch Him, 1 John 1.1. The Son of God laid aside His glory when He became man and even little children were not afraid of Him, Mark 9.36; 10.16. John himself leaned on Jesus' breast, John 13.23. Why then was John now afraid? We have no idea of the glory of the Lord. It is not a word, which we can really understand. John was here suddenly faced with this glory and it made him terribly afraid. John had known and believed in Christ when He was here, but it was a terrifying sight to see Him in His glory. The apostle was overcome by the sight of the glory of the Son of God. No man can bear to see God in all His glory, Exodus 33.20; 1 Timothy 6.16, so the Son veiled most of His glory when He became Man. Now the Lord told John not to be afraid even though the Eternal God was speaking to him. He is the First and the Last; from eternity to eternity He is God, Psalm 90.2. Isaiah revealed God as the First and the Last, Isaiah 44.6; 48.12. This means He existed before anyone else, there is no other God, and no one will exist longer than He.
Verse 18: He was alive, but He had been dead. Now He was alive and would never die a second time. He is alive forever and ever and the keys of everything are in His control. He is in charge of death and the place where dead people are. He is the eternal, all-powerful Son of God. This is what the Lord told John.
Verse 19: Then He commanded John to write down the vision, they that are, and the things to come. This verse gives us an outline of the book of Revelation.
1. What John had seen, the vision of Christ, Chapter 1
2. The things that are, the conditions in the churches, Chapters 2-3
3. Future things, Chapters 4-22
Verse 20: We cannot understand all the pictures of Revelation, but times we can get help from the Old Testament. Here the Lord explained the meaning of two things that John had seen: The seven stars (verse 16) are the angels of the seven churches The seven lamp stands (verse 12) are the seven churches. Stars stand for angels in Job 38.7 and Isaiah 14.13...The stand gives light in a dark place and so the church gives light world of darkness, Matthew 5.14-16; Acts 13.47. The churches should shine like stars. Who are the angels of the churches? In chapters 2 and 3 see that there are seven messages to the seven angels’ churches, but Christ spoke directly to the people in the church. Some books teach that these angels are spirits and every church has a spirit being who looks after it. It is true that angels have been sent to take care of us, Hebrews 1.14; Acts 5.19; 8.26; 10.22; 12.7 angels watch the churches to see if people obey God's Word 1 Corinthians 11.10; Ephesians 3.10; 1 Peter 1.12; 1 Timothy 5.21. But the word angel also means messenger and is used that way seven times: Matthew 11.10; Mark 1.2; Luke 7.24, 27; 9.52; 2 Corinthians 12.7; James 2.25. Many people could not read in the days and the apostle Paul wanted his letters to be read and understood, Colossians 4.16. We may think of the messenger of the church as one who read letters to the church and wrote letters for the church, perhaps also taking them himself as there was no postal service. Today he would be called the secretary of the church.
TEST LESSON 1 - REVELATION 1
SECTION 1. MULTIPLE CHOICES
Read each question carefully; then, select the correct answer and mark it with a X.
1. God promised a blessing
(a) to all who own a copy of the book of Revelation; ............................
(b) to those who read it or listen to others reading it; ............................
(c) to those who add to it. ............................
br> 2. Verse 4 refers to
(a) seven angels called the Spirits of God; ............................
(b) the one and only Holy Spirit in all His fullness; ............................
(c) the seven fruits of the Spirit as in Isaiah 11.2. ............................
3. Which name of Christ teaches us that He is eternal?
(a) Son of Man; ............................
(b) Jesus Christ; ............................
(c) The First and the Last. ............................
4. Which verse gives us an outline of the book of Revelation?
(a) verse 2; ............................
(b) verse 11; ............................
(c) verse 19. ............................
5. Which vision of Christ shows the Lord holding seven stars?
(a) Daniel 10; ............................
(b) Revelation 1; ............................
(c) Revelation 19. ............................
TRUE (yes) or FALSE (no)
6. The word "Revelation" means unveiling and refers to Christ's coming in glory. TRUE ......... FALSE .............
7. John was commanded to write down everything that he saw and heard. TRUE ......... FALSE .............
8. Christ is the First-born, which means He has the first place. TRUE ......... FALSE .............
9. The Lord Jesus Christ has made us priests to God. TRUE ......... FALSE .............
10. John called himself a saint. TRUE ......... FALSE .............
Did you say your MEMORY VERSE? ................
Have you taken the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? ..................
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