Study Notes for Week 13

November 12 – Revelation 8:1 – 10:11

As the seventh seal is opened, we do not have a resumption of the woes given in chapter six, but silence, when the saints of God offer their prayers to God (8:1-5). The first four trumpets announce the intensification of the devastation coming on the earth; while not total it does strike fully a third of nature. It makes humankind’s existence most fragile (8:6-13). The fifth angel’s trumpet blast sends a bright star down to earth to open the bottomless pit to release a terrible horde of destructive locusts, so horrible that people long for death (9:1-11). People feel their helplessness. This is worse than natural catastrophes. The sixth angel’s trumpet blast releases a terrible army of 200,000,000, whose horses breathed out fire, smoke, and sulfur and killed fully 1/3 of humanity (9:12-19), but unfortunately the rest of humanity did not repent. Chapter 10 interjects a break in the blowing of the trumpets, depicts seven thunders which were recorded and sealed up in a little scroll that John was to take and eat (like Jeremiah of old). The angel tasked to do this signals hope for he’s wrapped in a cloud, sign of God’s presence, as is the rainbow. The scroll was sweet to the taste but bitter in his stomach. The prophet is renewed in his task to sustain God’s people.

November 13 – Revelation 11:1 – 13:18

In chapter 11, we sense the power of God’s witnesses who function like Moses and Elijah, after which the beast makes war and destroys people of the city, but they are left unburied. The two witnesses ascend to heaven, but a great earthquake destroys a tenth of the city and the seventh angel calls forth thanksgiving to God for His victory. God’s temple is opened and the covenant made manifest–“I will be your God.” The seventh “Woe” is not recorded. (11:14)

Note: helpful for understanding the frequent reference to “three and a half years; 1260 days; 42 months; or three and a half days,” is what happened between 168 – 165 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes, a Seleucid ruler overtook Jerusalem and desecrated the temple with pagan sacrifices. He was eventually overthrown by the Maccabees and Jerusalm restored. These references in Revelation thus suggest the current suffering is like that terrible time, but its length is limited. Thus, endure!

With chapter 12, we have the beginning of the 4th Vision, which stretches through 14:20. It opens with the woman, representing God’s people, giving birth to the Messiah who is destined to rule all nations (Ps. 2:7-9), but He is caught up to God and His throne. The devil (great red dragon) and his cohorts (the stars swept down from heaven) want to destroy Him, but God shelters Him. War breaks out in heaven; Michael and his angels defeat the dragon. The ultimate outcome is determined. God has won! Since the devil got cast down, he has pursued the women (=God’s people, the church). The woman has fled to the wilderness, where she is nourished. The dragon won’t give up chasing her. Chapter 13:1-10 depicts how the devil enlisted the power of Rome as a beast to torment the people of God. Many people deify this pagan government and bow before its influence. The saints are called to endure (v. 10). Vv. 11-18 most likely depict the Roman empire’s demonic manifestation in Asia Minor where emperor worship was especially virulent. From his ministry, John would have been keenly aware of this.

November 14 – Revelation 14:1 – 16:21

As you read chapter 14, look for these things: the victory coming to the people of God (vv. 1-5; 13-16) [the harvest is a symbol of the Lord gathering in His people]; the call to repentance (vv. 6-7,12); the defeat and judgment on the false god of Rome [Babylon], 8-11) and the judgment that is at hand (14-21). The fifth vision (15:1-16:21) depicts the seven bowls of God’s wrath being poured out on rebellious humanity. Note how this impending judgment is being done in the service of God’s mercy. As terrible and horrendous as the judgment is, it is just (16:40, great and amazing (15:1,3), be-cause it signals the victory God is giving His people.

November 15 – Revelation 17:1 – 19:10

This sixth vision portrays the judgment that is coming on Babylon. Her signs of power, luxury and success do not portent greatness but decay and decadence. They have been used to deceive people into thinking that she is god. She is not, and destruction is assured, coming right from within her. God alone remains the Lord, and judgment will be swift and total. She’ll sink like a millstone into the sea, never to rise. It’s time for the people of God to celebrate, for it’s the marriage supper of the Lamb!

November 16 – Revelation 19:11 – 22:21

This section presents the judgment and destruction of Christ’s opponents in the opposite order they first appeared: Babylon (ch. 17,18), first and second beast (19:11-21), the dragon (20:1-10). When the last enemy, death, has been destroyed (10:11-15), then the new world of God appears where God’s people enjoy the endless victory He has achieved for them (21:1 -20:5). The Revelation concludes with the Lord’s promise, “I am coming soon,” and the blessing coming to those who heed the words of this revelation. May we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”