Worship on the Lord’s Day
Students & Colleges Sunday 10:00 am 15 October 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia Vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
Elder: Heather Tansem
We gather to worship God
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.
Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship
Call to Worship
L: Into this world we are born,
P: Into the beauty and sorrow of everyday life.
L: Into this day we awake,
P: Into possibility and the unknown.
L: Into this church we are welcomed,
P: Into God’s grace and each other’s truth.
L: So let us worship our God this day,
P: we who are called and loved.
Opening praise: This is amazing grace
Prayers of approach and confession
God of all time and space, You have called people to meet you over the centuries, in many different places, in many ways.
We praise you for welcoming us, receiving us as we are.
You hear our prayers and claim us as your own.
In this hour of worship, send your Spirit upon us. to revive our faith and guide our footsteps in the way of Jesus Christ, your Son, and our Saviour.
God of all life and each life, you know all about us, our deepest concerns, and our fondest hopes.
We confess we are often anxious to see results.
We lose patience when we cannot see progress.
We blame others rather than seek solutions.
Forgive us. Help us claim your peace when our hearts are anxious.
Response: I waited, I waited on you, Lord
Assurance of God’s grace
While it is true, we have all sinned, it is a greater truth that we are forgiven through God’s love in Jesus Christ. Our prayers are heard. Please be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another. Amen.
Music Offering: Linda Farah-Basford
We listen for the voice of God
Response: Open our eyes, Lord (445)
Story: Good morning everyone. How are you all doing?
I’ve got a little question for you… Do any of you have any friends?
Yeah how many? …
Wow that’s a lot of friends
I bet you make lots of friends. I bet everybody wants to be friends with you.
What about me could we be friends?
Okay since we’re all friends let me tell you about something I’ve been thinking about.
Last night I was thinking about all of my favourite foods. And I was thinking, Hey – I love tuna fish and I also like love choalate ice cream. So why not mix the two together and have tuna-cream. ???
Anyway I couldn’t try it because I didn’t have any ice cream but then, this morning, before I came here, I thought of some stuff that I do have so I think I’m going to try it.
(Bring out the mustard and Mars Bar)
I love Mars bars. And I love mustard.
(Put them together)
But I’m not sure if I should eat them together. But since we’re friends maybe I should ask you? Should I put them together?
You’re saying yes. OK, here we go …
That’s not good. You are questionable friends!
Maybe I should choose my friends more carefully next time!
In the Bible (in Proverbs 12:26) it says, “The good friends give good advice to each other, but bad friends lead them astray.”
This week when you go home, I want you all to remember something. Good friends will never ask you to do anything you already know is bad. Can you remember that?
Okay, let’s pray…
Prayer: God, help us to choose the good. Help us to help others. And help us to always be there for each other. And now we pray the prayer you taught us to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer (535)
Song: Love divine, all loves excelling (371)
Scripture reading: Revelation 21:3-4
Response: Glory be to the Father, and to …
Message: Bible Basics: Revelation (note the extensive footnotes)
When I was young, the book of Revelation was widely considered a mix between a horror movie and a soon-to-come-true prediction of the end of the world. Many people envisioned a dark and spiritual world behind the physical. Satanic Panic was a thing. And yet, when Jesus teaches His first disciples to pray, he says, “Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from ‘The Evil One.’ He gives evil personhood.
With that said, I want to clear up a few issues. The first is the idea of a demonic Antichrist to seek into the world. Here is the problem: In John 1:7 it states, “For many deceivers have entered the world, and claimed not the salvation of Christ and thus are deceivers and antichrists [in the PLURAL]. 1 John 2:18 reads, “My children, you have heard that in the last days, an antichrist shall come, but even now there are very many antichrists [plural] these days” [Brad’s Translation]. [i]
For everyone, me included, John is sort of saying things in a kind of code. But John isn’t trying to be confusing. For me, a key to understanding Revelation lies in understanding that in this book John does not quote from the scripture the way Matthew or I might. Instead, he is referencing the previous descriptions of evil found in Daniel, and Isaiah and Ezekiel, changing details, expanding ideas, and challenging people. By using the same exact phrases and descriptions found only in these authoritative writings John links current persecution under Rome with historical persecution under “Babylon” as a “catch-all” and so warns of any innumerable future persecutions to come.
When I was young the world was flush with views of Revelation being a checklist of things that must take place before Christ’s return. To be fair if John saw the future and he were to describe a modern-day attack helicopter he might just write down that he saw “Giant locusts” with “faces like men” but which “spit fire from their mouths” and destroyed the land. Two thousand years ago, how would you describe that? There is no shortage of striking images. Note: the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Yet for me, the scary part of Revelation (I memorized) says that “the sun turned black like sackcloth and the moon became like blood and the stars in the sky fell to the ground.” And for me, until I see that, the world plans to keep on spinning. Still, I was afraid. But I want to show you something that changed everything for me. In the Book of Revelation, there is this pivotally important section describing the “Whore of Babylon” who is attacking the Christian Church.
Now look at this coin. Ancient cities had gods. There was also a fear that to know the name of a god was to have control over that god. Some religions had secret names for gods that outsiders could not learn. Rome had a “secret” name (not well hidden) of Amora. Roma = Amora: it is just Roma backwards and this was the lead and “secret” goddess of Rome. In Revelation 17 there is an important moment where the Whore of Babylon (the big evil in the world) who sits upon a seven-headed dragon, while other beasts of war lick at her feet and sit in the rivers of chaos.
One side of the coin celebrates the face of Ceasar and the military power of Rome. The other depicts a woman called “Amora” (or Roma spelled backwards, and the “secret” goddess of Rome) drinking wine. On the coin, Roma is in full military dress (standing for strength). She is sitting on the Seven Hills of Rome (or the seven headed dragon). Her feet dip into a river (representing the god Tiberinus). There we also find a mother wolf with her twin cubs Romulus and his brother Remus whom Romulus kills to found the city of Rome on the hill he wanted. In other words, this coin is exactly what John is describing. It is a statement about power through violence. [ii]
The beast who “once was,” “now is” and “is to come” is a repeating cycle of governments who seek power and lead by violence. In this image it is Rome, but John will use Rome, Babylon, Persia, Egypt and others to describe how Kings try and fail to rule like God. The seven heads are the seven hills of Rome (all its provinces). There are also seven rulers of Rome. “So far, five have already come,” “One is there now,” and “One is still to come.” The horns are ten kings (a bunch of rulers) with short-to-come rules and will attack the Christian Church. John sees more violence coming. Nero is not the end. More trouble will arrive.
In his day, Martin Luther said nobody could ever understand Revelation, so he tore it from his bible and tossed it in the trash. Zwingli said it should “never have been included in the scriptures” and that it made no sense. Revelation is also the only book of the Bible John Calvin does not have a commentary on. [iii]
Revelation is attributed to John [iv] while he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos just off the coast of present-day Turkey. [v] likely it was around 95 AD. [vi] John penned Revelation because he was told to. He was given a vision by God and told to write it down. The book also gives a picture of the future, albeit one that is illustrated with obscure images and meant to reveal patterns and not exact details. It was written at a time when churches were facing great persecution. In a way, which had never happened before.
In the early years of Rome, the great imperial power did not take much notice of what it saw as just another strange Jewish group. By the time Revelation was written, however, the situation had changed. After about 60 AD the Roman authorities viewed Christianity as something to be suppressed. In sixty-four, a fire broke out in Rome and Emperor Nero avoided blame by accusing and then persecuting the Christians. Although Nero was on the dysfunctional side. Later emperors continued their work. They did it more officially. And more efficiently. And for the next 250 years, Christianity had no legal right to exist. [vii]
The book begins with the vision. In chapter one John writes seven letters to seven different congregations in the far west of Turkey; just below Istanbul. To each congregation, he says something kind. He follows this with a charge of hard things to hear. Before declaring each one John writes, “Let those who have ears hear this.” He does this for each congregation. Patmos is just off the southern coast of these cities.
Jesus gives John a message for each congregation: God’s word to the church at Pergamum is sharp. They have kept true and faithful despite tragedy, but they are following some false teachings. They must turn back before it is too late. Thyatira was a garrison town and the birthplace of Lydia (Paul’s friend and first Christian in Philippi). The people are told to “hold strong” to the yoke they received just as they have received it. [viii] A prosperous town and a faithful ally of Rome, Smyrna was famous for the magnificence of its public buildings. The church, however, had been extremely poor and persecuted by local authorities. God reassures the congregation and promises a future reward for the faithful. Sardis was living on old glory. It was once a great city but at the time had fallen into disrepair. The church reflects the city. While it has a good reputation it is a sleepy place and almost dead. God urges the congregation to wake up and be alive. Gather back up its strength and hold.
The church in Ephesus is praised for its integrity, endurance, work with the poor and more. But the people are struggling, and no new people are coming. God tells them to reject complacency and apathy and follow the principles they first had when they began. In Philadelphia, the congregation was “weak” and quite small. They are praised for their faithfulness in the face of persecution. God praises them for what they do and promises them a heavenly reward. And then finally a message to Laodicea. Laodicea was a rich city on a main trade route. The city, however, had no natural water. It had to be piped in. And it came from hot springs in the south. When it arrived, it would no longer be hot, but it would also never be cold. It was not ideal, and one major downfall that people often complained about. God tells the people of the congregation not to be like the water they drink. Be hot or cold he says, but never a fence sitter. Pick a side.
John has a Vision which results in a prophecy. It is full of sevens. The number seven (a symbol for completeness and holiness) is everywhere in this letter. And yet, this is not a secret code. It is just unfamiliar. But John uses common images from the Hebrew Bible and expects people to say “Hey, that sounds like…” and then go and look something up to better understand what is being said. In the vision, JESUS is risen and king of the world. He is standing by seven burning lights (as in a menorah – and as in the seven congregations he sent this letter to – “shining lights on a hill.”) Of these cities some were morally compromised, some sleeping around in pagan temples, but many faithful and others not-so-much were all facing harassment. John writes to say an evil force is constantly coming. He asks, haven’t we been through this before and finally, will the cycle ever end?
I know people like happy conclusions but in this one the bleeding lamb tells John that things can and will get worse for people and even for the faithful (they are not exempt). The culture will shift, and all Christians will have to decide who they truly follow. They may want to avoid persecution or just to join the spirit of the age. But people are recanting their faith. Jesus however promises a reward for those who endure until the end.
Next, there is John’s vision of God’s Heavenly Court – strange beings that represent God’s creation of all things. If you see twelve of something in this book it is the twelve disciples or the twelve tribes of Israel (if it’s a hidden code, it is terribly concealed). There are also four strange and scary figures representing the authors of the gospels or Four beings with animal faces that represent their attitudes. A scroll is presented showing how heaven and earth unite. And John hears that nobody can open the scroll. It has all these wax seals on the message keeping the scroll closed. No one can open the scroll. Until John hears of one that can open it. It is the Lion of Juda. However, when John turns to see, he does not see a lion. Instead, it is a bleeding lamb. He is not the victor they anticipated. And yet, this lamb is the only one worthy of opening the scroll. And so together the lamb and the father are worshiped as one by all the beings in the heavenly court.
There are seven churches, seven lights, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls and that is not the end of John playing with numbers.
These sevens are like Russian dolls (where each one comes out from inside the larger one). John is using that idea. He sees the same story unfolding repeatedly. It is a terrible cycle. This book is not so much a prediction as a repetition. As before John hears someone say that only 144,000 are allowed into heaven (12,000 from each of the twelve tribes). John hears this. But again, when John looks, he sees a heavenly nation made up of people from every part of the world. [ix] After the trumpets, John uses a lot of symbols. The “Beasts” are nations, the “horns” or “heads” they grow are leaders and rulers of a nation or family. At this point, John argues that there is a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Just because Rome is a beast today does not mean Rome always will be. John mixes images of a beast, a dragon, slavery in Egypt, the Babylonian exile, the Assyrian massacres, and now Rome saying, they are all THE same Evil Beast. A spiritual batter behind each warring nation. In other words, the whole book is not fortune telling about the future so much as it is a reminder of how we do the same garbage over and repeatedly.
Now at the time, many Hebrew people would say the daily prayer called the Shema. This prayer was said as the worshipers wore a tiny box on their forehead and a tiny box on their hand with the commandments tightly rolled up inside. These people keep the scriptures “on their minds” and “in their hands.” For many devout Jews of the time, this was common. And it demonstrated exactly where one’s allegiance lies. Next, this whore of Babylon comes and wants to replace the holy scriptures on your hands and head with the name of “the beast.” Hebrew letters, by the by, also function as numbers. In this case Nero Ceasar and Beast – each comes out to 666. The Nation Babylon did this, then Persia did this, now Rome is doing this, and someday – someone else will do this! John, however, now sees a harvest of faithful people.
At this point, John switches gears to a last battle. This portion may be more open-ended than most. And yet basically it says, God wants us to do right. When we do not God sometimes punishes us. Sometimes not. When not, we get off free only to throw it in God’s face and do it again. When God does punish us, we rarely change. This is the cycle of stories John now tells his readers. Still, in the end, the world gathers at the Medigo or Medigog Valley for a battle between two groups. Finally, the Day of the Lord arrives and the faithful see Eden come crashing down into Earth as the Kingdom of Heaven arrives on Earth and Everything is remade anew. And in the end, Christ arrives and is covered in blood. His weapon is just his mouth. This war will not be like others. The bleeding will be victorious by what they have done already. They come to life and live again. Those who wished to reject God and live for themselves were cut off from Him just as they wanted to be.
On a final note, John suggests that evil will someday be destroyed forever. All things are remade anew fulfilling the restoration of creation, the grade, and eternal life in a new city where only peace reigns. John expounds hope for the seven churches he thinks need support. He offers hope for the abused. He sees a promise of justice, a promise of final justice. He says that a grand reward awaits, keep strong and do not give up now. [x] In the end God wins.
Song: Praise, I will praise (420)
Our Time of Giving
Reflection on giving: The Apostle Paul urges us to think on things that on things that are honourable and just, commendable, and true. To share what we have is honourable. Our gifts can help create justice and work for truth to prevail. So, trust your gifts to God and know they are pleasing to God.
Offertory Response: Praise God, from whom all blessings flow (830)
Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
Generous God, we offer to you part of the abundance your share with us. Bless our gifts and work through them, so that others will know your generosity and be touched by your love through the kindness we can offer.
God of Truth and Wisdom, We give you thanks for all those people throughout our lives, who taught us what is trustworthy and true, and shared wisdom that has shaped the way we live.
We remember our favorite teachers in school and church, in college and university, in training programs and instructional opportunities.
Thank you for everyone who has the knack for teaching.
Give all students, of every age and in every endeavour, a desire to learn for the sake of the world, not just for the sake of finishing a program.
On this Theological Education Sunday, we pray for all who contribute to the life of learning at the Colleges of our Church.
In these challenging times for ministry, guide all who teach, all who learn and all who support learning. to explore traditions of our faith and new technologies with wisdom and imagination.
Awaken in us all the trust that you will lead us into the future you are creating, and the willingness to learn when to keep and when to cast away past practices and new experiments in faithful witness.
We give you thanks for all those who taught us by example, parents and grandparents, friends, and neighbours, colleagues and even strangers met by chance.
Help us cherish life lessons and build on them in new situations, sharing them when we can.
Keep us open to learn new things about our faith, about life, and about what you are calling us to do.
We thank you for Jesus and his teaching, and the compassion he showed for his disciples when they were slow to learn.
Give us patience and compassion. when we are teaching something, we’ve learned, and make us good listeners so we learn from others’ experiences.
Song: You are holy, you are whole (828)
Sending out with God’s blessing
Go in faithfulness, cherishing the lessons of love you have learned from Christ and his people so that your life will speak with that love. And may God, the Source of Love, Christ, the Face of Love, and the Spirit of Love in action bless you now and go with you into each new day. Amen.
Response: Go forth into the world
Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).
The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.
[i] The end of days is not a short period of time. I believe that we are in the “End of Days.” But so were the disciples. We are righter than they were! Still, as far as the scripture is concerned, the end of days appears to begin with John the Baptist proclaiming “Make straight the path” for the end is near. “Near” however is relative. Most of the first Christians thought that Jesus would come back within their lifetime. The Thessalonians even got in trouble with Paul because they quit their jobs and mooched from everyone else because ‘who cares, it’s all going to end”.
[ii] In Revelation 17 there is a description of “the Great prostitute (Roma Amora), who sits above the waters (Tiberinus). With her the kings (other superpowers) commit their adultery and are drunk on her wine (which is war).” The woman sits on a red beast (All of Rome), covered in blasphemous names (the coin claims Caeser to be God), she wears scarlet, gold, and gems (stolen goods) and her hand holds a goblet of filth and atrocities. Her name is a mystery, but she is the Whore of Babylon. Maybe some things are lost on us, but the crucial points are easy. Rome’s version of Power is the opposite of Christ’s.
[iii] The Rapture – The idea of a Rapture is based on the idea that the book intends to describe future events. It was an idea first invented in the early 1900s and popularized by the Schofield Bible aimed at people during WWII as an explanation for the world at the time. The same commentary also claimed to have worked out the exact date of creation in 4004 BC. It suggested that the Devil put dinosaur bones on Earth to confuse us. And it most famously said that real Christians would not have to suffer through a period of persecution but would be “beam me up Scottie[ed]” into heaven. In the words of a former professor of mine, in 2-4,000 years, if nobody else has said it yet – that is because it is heresy. He is correct.
Futurism is the idea that most if not the whole of Revelation is meant to describe the present and the future. Taken this way, the book of Revelation describes a Millennium of the Christian Golden Era and A Millennium of Satan’s rule. Some have taken this very literally and expect a time when God will rescue the believers from hell on earth. Some believe this rescue takes place before the troubled times happen. Some think it happens after. And then again some (like me) think this is all silliness because the book describes concepts of corruption and ideals for Christian life and a future Day of Justice to believe in and hope for. It reveals that evil is not just about the ruler or theory in one time or place or nation but is instead something deeper and darker lying behind the scenes.
[iv] Tradition says that the author is John, the Apostle. Later many came to believe that the author though named John, was an early first-century church leader referred to elsewhere by the moniker John the Elder.
[v] The tradition appears as early as 140, when Justin Martyr first talked about “a certain man whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ”. Although the author simply refers to himself as John, it is truly clear from the book that he had a position of some importance among the Asian churches. However, some argue that it is different. Altogether, and instead written by a man called John the Elder.
[vi] The earliest tradition states that John was an exile on a small rocky island called Patmos, where he had been sent during the reign of Emperor Domitian who ruled from 81 to 96 AD. Again, early tradition records that John was 90 years old when he received this vision. Other theories as to the date revolve around the difference in interpretation of the symbols in the book.
[vii] In Revelation, John’s purpose is to record a vision of the end times and to encourage churches to stay strong. One of the key verses is from chapter 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice shout from the throne. God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all the tears away from their eyes and there will be no more death or suffering or crying or pain. These things of the past will be gone forever. But the thing is, while John proclaims this day to be “at hand” he also proclaims that the day has not yet “fully arrived.”
[viii] The congregation is praised for its endurance and service but wanted against the teaching of a woman called “Jezabell” a title given to a particularly nasty person speaking false gospel.
[ix] At this point, the people of all seven churches are told to conquer just as the lamb did – in other words, to give up their lives in sacrifice and be willing to die for the truth they professed. Next, the trumpets replay the plagues in Egypt. The dreaded “Four Horsemen” are little more than a retelling of the Exodus from Egypt and a warning that God is “not safe” but rather “dangerous.” Here there is also a clue that sometimes even punishment does not bring people around.
John is told to eat the scroll. This is just like Ezekiel. Again, the author uses all the images Ezekiel does and points out that God’s people suffer but must continue to cherish the gospel as it is their only victory. Yet, nations rise and fall and evil sometimes rules. The people are nevertheless meant to share the good news that the defeated are the victors. They are meant to draw in all nations. Some do. Some do not. When the scroll is opened it says that by persecution the people will become victorious just as Christ did by his death. Follow the Lamb before the Beastly Nations.
[x] Below is a recap of every section of the Book of Revelation in just five pages:
The appearance of the “one like a son of man” is given, and he reveals what the seven stars and seven lampstands represent. (1:14–20)
Messages for seven churches in Asia which is in today’s Turkey.
Ephesus: From this church, he “who overcomes is granted to eat from the tree of life, which is amid the Paradise of God.” (2:1–7)
Praised for not bearing those who are evil, testing those who say they are apostles and are not, and finding them to be liars; hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans; having persevered and possessing patience.
Admonished to “do the first works” and to repent for having left their “first love.”
Smyrna: From this church, those who are faithful until death, will be given “the crown of life.” He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (2:8–11).
Praised for being “rich” while impoverished and in tribulation.
Admonished not to fear the “Synagogue of Satan,” nor fear a ten-day tribulation of being thrown into prison.
Pergamum: From this church, he who overcomes will be given the hidden manna to eat and a white stone with a secret name on it.” (2:12–17)
Praised for holding “fast to My name”, not denying “My faith” even in the days of Antipas, “My faithful martyr.”
Admonished to repent for having held the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put an obstacle before the children of Israel; eating things sacrificed to idols, committing sexual immorality, and holding the “doctrine of the Nicolaitans.”
Thyatira: From this church, he who overcomes until the end, will be given power over the nations to dash them to pieces with a rod of iron; he will also be given the “morning star.” (2:18–29
Praised for their works, love, service, faith, and patience.
Admonished to repent for allowing a “prophetess” to promote sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Sardis: From this church, he who overcomes will be clothed in white garments, and his name will not be blotted out from the Book of Life, his name will also be confessed before the Father and his angels. (3:1–6)
Admonished to be watchful and to strengthen since their works have not been perfect before God.
Philadelphia: From this church, he who overcomes will be made a pillar in the temple of God having the name of God, the name of the city of God, “New Jerusalem,” and the Son of God’s new name. (3:7–13)
Praised for having some strength, keeping “My word”, and has not denied “My name.”
Reminded to hold fast to what they have, that no one may take their crown.
Laodicea: From this church, he who overcomes will be granted the opportunity to sit with the Son of God on his throne. (3:14–22)
Admonished to be zealous and repent from being “lukewarm”; they are instructed to buy the “gold refined in the fire”, so that they may be rich; to buy “white garments”, that they may be clothed, so that the shame of their nakedness would not be revealed; to anoint their eyes with eye salve, that they may see.
Before the Throne of God
The throne of God appears, surrounded by twenty-four thrones with twenty-four elders seated in them. (4:1–5)
The four “living creatures” are introduced. (4:6–11)
A scroll, with seven seals, is presented and it is declared that the Lion of the tribe of Judah from the “Root of David, is the only one worthy to open this scroll. (5:1–5)
When the “Lamb having seven horns and seven eyes” took the scroll, the creatures of heaven fell before the Lamb to give him praise, joined by myriads of angels and the creatures of the earth. (5:6–14)
Seven Seals are opened.
First Seal: A white horse appears, whose crowned rider has a bow with which to conquer. (6:1–2)
Second Seal: A red horse appears, whose rider is granted a “great sword” to take peace from the earth. (6:3–4)
Third Seal: A black horse appears, whose rider has “a pair of balances in his hand”, where a voice then says, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and [see] thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (6:5–6)
Fourth Seal: A pale horse appears, whose rider is Death and Hades follows him. Death is granted a fourth part of the earth, to kill with a sword, with hunger, with death, and with the beasts of the earth. (6:7–8)
Fifth Seal: “Under the altar”, appeared the souls of martyrs for the “word of God”, who cry out for vengeance. They are given white robes and told to rest until the martyrdom of their brothers is completed. (6:9–11)
Sixth Seal: (6:12–17)
There occurs a great earthquake where “the sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon like blood” (6:12).
The stars of heaven fall to the earth and the sky recedes like a scroll being rolled up (6:13–14).
Every mountain and island are moved out of place (6:14).
The people of Earth retreat to caves in the mountains (6:15).
The survivors call upon the mountains and the rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the “wrath of the Lamb” (6:16).
Interlude: The 144,000 Hebrews are sealed.
144,000 from the Twelve Tribes of Israel are sealed as servants of God on their foreheads (7:1–8)
A great multitude stands before the Throne of God, who come out of the Great Tribulation, clothed with robes made “white in the blood of the Lamb” and having palm branches in their hands. (7:9–17)
Seventh Seal: Introduces the seven trumpets (8:1–5)
“Silence in heaven for about half an hour” (8:1).
Seven angels are each given trumpets (8:2).
An eighth angel takes a “golden censer”, filled with fire from the heavenly altar, and throws it to the earth (8:3–5). What follows are “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (8:5).
After the eighth angel has devastated the earth, the seven angels introduced in verse two prepare to sound their trumpets (8:6).
Seven Trumpets are sounded (Seen in Chapters 8, 9, and 12).
First Trumpet: Hail and fire, mingled with blood, are thrown to the earth burning up a third of the trees and green grass. (8:6–7)
Second Trumpet: Something that resembles a majestic mountain, burning with fire, falls from the sky and lands in the ocean. It kills a third of the sea creatures and destroys a third of the ships at sea. (8:8–9)
Third Trumpet: A great star, named Wormwood, falls from heaven, and poisons a third of the rivers and springs of water. (8:10–11)
Fourth Trumpet: A third of the sun, the moon, and the stars are darkened creating complete darkness for a third of the day and the night. (8:12–13)
Fifth Trumpet: The First Woe (9:1–12)
A “star” falls from the sky (9:1).
This “star” is given “the key to the bottomless pit” (9:1).
The “star” then opens the bottomless pit. When this happens, “smoke [rises] from [the Abyss] like smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky [are] darkened by the smoke from the Abyss” (9:2).
From out of the smoke, locusts who are “given power like that of scorpions of the earth” (9:3), are commanded not to harm anyone or anything except for people who were not given the “seal of God” on their foreheads (from chapter 7) (9:4).
The “locusts” are described as having a human appearance (faces and hair) but with lion’s teeth and wearing “breastplates of iron”; the sound of their wings resembles “the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle” (9:7–9).
Sixth Trumpet: The Second Woe (9:13–21)
The four angelic beings are bound to the great river Euphrates and are released to prepare two hundred million horsemen.
These armies kill a third of humankind by plagues of fire, smoke, and brimstone.
Interlude: The little scroll. (10:1–11)
An angel appears, with one foot on the sea and one foot on the land, having an opened little book in his hand.
Upon the cry of the angel, seven thunders utter mysteries and secrets that are not to be written down by John.
John is instructed to eat the little scroll that happens to be sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach, and to prophesy.
John is given a measuring rod to measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
Outside the temple, at the court of the holy city, it is trodden by the nations for forty-two months (3+1⁄2 years).
Two witnesses prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. (11:1–14)
Seventh Trumpet: The Third Woe that leads into the seven bowls. (11:15–19)
The temple of God opens in heaven, where the ark of his covenant can be seen. There is lightning, noises, thunder, an earthquake, and great hail.
The Seven Spiritual Figures. (Events leading into the Third Woe)
A Woman “clothed with a white robe, with the sun at her back, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars” is pregnant with a male child. (12:1–2)
A great Dragon (with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns on his head) drags a third of the stars of Heaven with his tail and throws them to the Earth. (12:3–4). The Dragon waits for the birth of the child so he can devour it. However, sometime after the child is born, he is caught up to God’s throne while the Woman flees into the wilderness into her place prepared by God that they should feed her there for 1,260 days (3+1⁄2 years). (12:5–6). War breaks out in heaven between Mihael and the Dragon, identified as that old Serpent, the Devil or Satan (12:9). After a great fight, the Dragon and his angels are cast out of Heaven for good, followed by praises of victory for God’s kingdom. (12:7–12). The Dragon engages in persecuting the Woman, but she is given aid to evade him. Her evasiveness enrages the Dragon, prompting him to wage war against the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (12:13–17)
A Beast (with seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns on his horns and his head names of blasphemy) emerges from the Sea, having one mortally wounded head that is then healed. The people of the world wonder and follow the Beast. The Dragon grants him power and authority for forty-two months. (13:1–5)
The Beast of the Sea blasphemes God’s name (along with God’s tabernacle and his kingdom and all who dwell in Heaven), wages war against the Saints, and overcomes them. (13:6–10)
Then, a Beast emerges from the Earth having two horns like a lamb, speaking like a dragon. He directs people to make an image of the Beast of the Sea who has wounded yet lives, breathing life into it, and forcing all people to bear “the mark of the Beast.” The number of the beast the Bible says is “666”. Events leading into the Third Woe:
The Lamb stands on Mount Zion with the 144,000 “first fruits” who are redeemed from Earth and victorious over the Beast and his mark and image. (14:1–5)
The proclamations of three angels. (14:6–13)
One like the Son of Man reaps the earth. (14:14–16)
A second angel reaps “the vine of the Earth” and throws it into “the great winepress of the wrath of God… and blood came out of the winepress… up to one thousand six hundred stadia.” (14:17–20)
The temple of the Tabernacle, in Heaven, is opened (15:1–5), beginning the “Seven Bowls” revelation.
Seven angels are given a golden bowl, from the Four Living Creatures, which contains the seven last plagues bearing the wrath of God. (15:6–8)
Seven Bowls are poured onto Earth:
First Bowl: A “foul and malignant sore” afflicts the followers of the Beast. (16:1–2)
Second Bowl: The Sea turns to blood and everything within it dies. (16:3)
Third Bowl: All fresh water turns to blood. (16:4–7)
Fourth Bowl: The Sun scorches the Earth with intense heat and even burns some people with fire. (16:8–9)
Fifth Bowl: There is total darkness and great pain in the Beast’s kingdom. (16:10–11)
Sixth Bowl: The Great River Euphrates is dried up and preparations are made for the kings of the East and the ultimate battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil. (16:12–16)
Seventh Bowl: A great earthquake and heavy hailstorm: “Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” (16:17–21)
Aftermath: Vision of John given by “an angel who had the seven bowls”
The great Harlot who sits on a scarlet Beast (with seven heads and ten horns and names of blasphemy all over its body) and by many waters: Babylon the Great. The angel showing John the vision of the Harlot and the scarlet Beast reveals their identities and fates (17:1–18)
New Babylon is destroyed. (18:1–8)
The people of the Earth (the kings, merchants, sailors, etc.) mourn New Babylon’s destruction. (18:9–19)
The permanence of New Babylon’s destruction. (18:20–24)
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
A great multitude praises God. (19:1–6)
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (19:7–10)
The Judgment of the Two Beasts, the Dragon, and the Dead (19:11–20:15)
The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire. (19:11–21).
The Dragon is imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit for a thousand years. (20:1,3)
The resurrected martyrs live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. (20:4–6)
After the Thousand Years
The Dragon is released and goes out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth— Gog and Magog—and gathers them for battle at the holy city. The Dragon makes war against the people of God but is defeated. (20:7–9)
The Dragon is cast into the Lake of Fire with the Beast and the False Prophet. (20:10).
The Last Judgment: the wicked, along with Death and Hades, are cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death. (20:11–15)
The New Heaven and Earth, and New Jerusalem
A “new heaven” and “new earth” replace the old heaven and old earth. There is no more suffering or death. (21:1–8)
God comes to dwell with humanity in the New Jerusalem. (21:2–8)
Description of the New Jerusalem. (21:9–27)
The River of Life and the Tree of Life appear for the healing of the nations and peoples. The curse of sin is ended. (22:1–5)
Christ’s reassurance of imminent return. Final admonitions. (22:6–21)