The Mysteries of Revelation ...
Is it about the future? Is that future in the forseeable future?
"Ask youth which book of the Bible they would like to study and a most likely response woould be 'Revelation'. With so much modern emphasis placed on the 'end times', and prophesies about the future, youth are curious about the mysteries this book expounds."
We will be publishing an eleven lesson study on the last book of the Bible ... The Revelation of St. John, the Divine. The second lesson is below, following the introduction to the study. The second lesson is followed by Lesson One published three weeks ago. .
This study makes no effort to attach a present or future identity to any of the beings described in the book of Revelation. Rather it presents the story as John wrote it ... a struggle between the forces of those who followed God and the enemies of God and the ultimate outcome of the conflict.
Since Revelation is a complex book, chart 22.1 would be helpful to have displayed while discussing the events of the book. When displayed with large enough print for youth to read at a distance, it is most helpful in aiding youth to focus on this complex story.
Begin by pointing out that Revelations chapters one through three are mainly reproductions of letters sent by the author, John, to seven Christian churches existent in the first century A.D. In Revelations 3:14-22 John writes to the church of Laodicea, "You are lukewarm in your faith ... you say 'I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing'. You do not realize that you are poor, blind and naked. (2) John then continues by stating Jesus' call, "I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me". (3) Point out that it is clear that John writes this account of his vision not to just record it but for a purpose - to call people to Jesus, his Lord. Ask youth how many are ready to open their minds to the images to be portrayed and the meanings they have. Then ask how many are ready to open their hearts to Jesus, the source of the visions John experienced.
The study is broken into twelve lessons for the purpose of the ease of preparation in teaching as well as to help youth work through the complexity of this book. Chart 22.1 is organized by these twelve lessons.
Lessons One and Two can be found at: Old Lessons on Revelation
Lesson Five, follows lessoons three and four below
Below after the Lessons entitled "The Seven Seals" and "The Seven Trumpets" comes a fifth lesson entitled " The Woman in Childbirth and the Dragon". It tells of a bizarre vision the author of Revelation had and intoduces the reader to the actual conflict between the forces of evil and the angels of God.It has been included after Lesson Three and Lesson Four, should they need to be reviewed first. Otherwise scroll down to Lesson Five
Lesson Three : The Seven Seals ... Revelation Chapter 6
The lamb opens the scroll and John begins to see the things, which must happen. The first four seals describe four horsemen. Ask youth to close their eyes and imagine as you read below:
A white horse with a rider holding a bow walks by silently. He is followed by a red horse with a rider again riding by in silence. Off in the distance you hear someone call out " a quart of wheat for a day's pay but don't damage the olive oil and the wine". The statement is repeated, a little louder as a black horse appears. The rider and speaker is holding a pair of scales. Once he passes, a pale green horse appears. Its rider holds nothing but is identified as death.
Ask youth to keep their eyes shut and imagine where they ride off to.
Question - Do they ride together or apart? Do the horsemen break off into separate directions? Do they look at you as they pass by or are their eyes fixed straight ahead on their destinations?
Ask youth to open their eyes and share what they imagined. After sharing, offer the following explanation for the horsemen.
After the horsemen leave, the fifth seal is open and John hears "the martyrs" calling out for vengeance in heaven.
Question - What is a martyr?
Question - In Revelation 6:11 the martyrs are told to wait a little while longer for justice. Is this fair?
The sixth seal is opened and John reports:
"There was a violent earthquake and the sun became black like coarse black cloth and the moon turned completely red like blood. The stars fell down to earth ... the sky disappeared like a scroll being rolled up and every mountain and island were being moved from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the rulers and the military chiefs, the rich and the powerful "hid themselves in caves and under rocks on the mountains. Fall on us and hide us from the one who sits on the throne and from the anger of the lamb. The terrible day of their anger is here and who can stand up to it?"
Question - What do you think is happening during this sixth seal? What do you think God is trying to accomplish?
Advise youth that the seventh seal is about to be opened. After the description of events in the sixth seal, ask youth what they predict will happen in the seventh and last seal. Upon receiving responses record them, then advise that, according to Revelation, the seventh seal is not opened right away. Rather John has another vision. He sees 144,000 people who are "marked" by God with a seal in their foreheads. He then sees a much larger crowd, in white robes, calling out "Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne and from the lamb."
John hears an elder ask about the identity of these people. John says he does not know. The elder responds "They are the people who have come safely through the terrible persecution."
A promise is made to these people, "never again will they hunger or thirst, neither sun nor scorching heat will burn them ... the lamb ... will guide them to the streams".
Question - What do you think is happening during this sixth seal? What do you think God is trying to accomplish?Advise youth that the seventh seal is about to be opened. After the description of events in the sixth seal, ask youth what they predict will happen in the seventh and last seal. Upon receiving responses record them, then advise that, according to Revelation, the seventh seal is not opened right away. Rather John has another vision. He sees 144,000 people who are "marked" by God with a seal in their foreheads. He then sees a much larger crowd, in white robes, calling out, "Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne and from the lamb."
John hears an elder ask about the identity of these people. John says he does not know. The elder responds, "They are the people who have come safely through the terrible persecution."
A promise is made to these people, "never again will they hunger or thirst, neither sun nor scorching heat will burn them ... the lamb ... will guide them to the streams of life giving water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Question - Is there any significance to the number, 144,000, depicting the survivors ? Note that this figure is 12 times 12,000. There are twelve tribes of Israel.
Question - What persecution is John referring to in verse fourteen? Some scholars suggest he is referring to the persecution of Christians by the Romans, which was quite evident at the time that he wrote Revelation.
Question - What is the seal in the believer's forehead? Note that Revelation does not reveal its nature. What is clear is that God knows what is in the heart of everyone and he certainly does not need a physical seal to identify who is a believer.
Now review what youth thought the seventh seal would be and turn to Revelation 8:1. The seventh seal is opened and there was silence in heaven for a half an hour.
Question - What is happening? After all of the tumult of the sixth seal why does the seventh and final seal bring silence? Some suggest that it is a moment for inhabitants in heaven to focus on the prayers of those believers still residing on earth. Others suggest the silence is a pause to prepare for something yet to come.
Lesson Four: The Seven Trumpets
After the half hour of silence in heaven an angel offers incense at the altar of God then throws the incense upon the earth. Seven angels appear and blow seven trumpets. The first six trumpets are blown in the following order:
1. Hail, fire, mixed with blood pours down upon the earth. One third of the earth is burned up.
2. A mountain of fire is thrown into the sea. One third of the sea evaporates.
3. A star falls from the sky to the sea. One third of the water turns bitter.
4. One third of the light from the sun, moon and stars is lost.
5. Locusts emerge for five months. They can harm all the people of the earth except for those who have God's seal on their foreheads. These locusts are vividly described in Revelation 8: 7-11.
6. Two hundred million soldiers appear with the purpose of killing one third of mankind.
Question ... After all of these terrible things happen, what do you think would be the reaction of the people of the world?
Revelation 9: 20-21 tells us, "they did not stop worshipping demons nor the idols of gold, silver bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see, hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic, their sexual immorality or their stealing."
Take time to note the difference in reaction to the sixth seal, "they called out to the mountains... 'Fall on us and hide us ... the terrible day of anger is here' " and the reaction to the trumpets which is one of continuing existent, evil ways.
Ask youth what they think God will do next when the seventh and final trumpet is blown. After recording the answers, point out that before the trumpet blows God gives the inhabitants of earth another chance.
In Revelation chapter eleven two witnesses appear in Jerusalem. They are individuals who preach about God's love and for forgiveness and the need for the people of earth to change. Their preaching lasts for three and one half years. They are then killed and the people of the earth rejoice - they did not like the call of the witnesses that they respond to their conscience.
The witnesses are dead for three and one half days. Then God raises them from the dead. The people on earth are terrified. The witnesses are taken up into heaven and immediately a violent earthquake takes place in Jerusalem. One tenth of the city is destroyed. Now the seventh angel blows his trumpet.
Upon hearing the trumpet John hears voices in heaven calling out, "Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was
Question (rhetorical)- Shouldn't this book end here? Isn't this the time to avenge the martyrs, which was promised in Revelation chapter six? God even gives people another chance by sending two witnesses. Isn't this enough?
Lesson five: The Woman in Childbirth and the Dragon from Revelation Chapter 12
Lesson five: The Woman in Childbirth and the Dragon from Revelation Chapter 12
A "great and mysterious" sight appears. John envisions a woman about to give birth and suddenly a red dragon appears standing in front of the woman. Revelation 12:4 states that the dragon was ready to eat the child as soon as it was born. The child was born and suddenly snatched away from the dragon and taken to God's throne. The woman flees to the desert and remains there for three and a half years.(Rev 12:3-6)
Question - Who is this woman? Some scholars believe she is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Others say she represents the Jewish people.
Who is the child? Some say he is Jesus. Others say he represents the Christians, arguing that the Jewish faith, in reality, gives birth to the Christian faith.
In Revelation 12:7 we read that the woman flees safely to the desert and a war breaks out in heaven. Michael and his angels fight the dragon and his angels. The dragon and his followers are defeated.
Question - Who is the dragon? In Revelation 12:9 we read,
"the huge dragon was thrown out - that ancient serpent named the devil or Satan, that deceived the whole world."
The reference to the ancient serpent identifies the dragon as being the tempter, the opponent of God from the beginning of history. At the end of the battle we read in verses ten and eleven that a loud voice shouts out from heaven and claims victory over the dragon. It identifies the means of this victory, which did not come by overpowering the opponent. Rather victory comes,
"by the blood of the lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed and they were willing to give up their lives and die," .
Do you have some thoughts to share in regards to our study of Revelation? Please share your thoughts by writing to us at Timferguson@christianyouthgroup.org
Would you like access to all twelve lessons on Revelation? These lessons are found in chapter 22 of the book, Not the Same Old, Done-it before Youth Meetings". The chart referenced in lesson one can be found on page 185. See below.
| Activity Guide for Youth Workers
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