The Gospel of the Revelation
according to St. John the Divine
St. John’s MCC • Session 4
Questions to Ponder for Chapter 7
When do these events happen? Why would they be reversed in the telling of the vision?
How are the seals put on the foreheads of God’s servants different from the seals that are on the scrolls? Is this 144,000 a symbol or a statistic? If it is a concrete statistic, who counted them all and when? If a symbol, what does it symbolize? (It’s okay to refer to the Numerology Reference.)
How does he describe the size of the crowd he sees next? Are they the same as the 144,000? What are they doing? Wearing? Carrying?
What is the significance of the white robes, the palm branches, and the washing?
What is your greatest tribulation or persecution? How difficult does that seem next to the majesty of God pictured here? How will you incorporate this glimpse of heavenly worship into your earthly walk?
Questions to Ponder for Chapters 8 and 9
What happens to you when everything suddenly becomes silent? Amid all the pageantry, why this silence now? Why the golden censer?
What do altars and incense teach about prayer?
Does this imagery seem foreign to you? When was the last time you tried silent meditation?
What is one of the most excruciating pains you’ve ever experienced?
What events follow the sounding of each of the first four trumpets? How do these events compare with the injustices revealed by the first six seals? How do these events compare with the plagues in Exodus 7-10 and Joel 2:1-11?
What parallels or repeated patterns do you see between the opening of the seals and sounding of the trumpets which suggest that these two scenes are two sides of the same thing?
Do these seals and trumpets refer to datable events in history or to aspects of the world’s condition which may be true at any point in history?
What events begin at the sounding of the sixth trumpet? What response should this woe elicit from the unbelieving world? Why do you suppose this woe failed to bring the majority to repentance, as intended?
What do you think of Christians who pray for trouble to strike other people? What do you think of God’s answer to such prayers? What modern-day realities do these plagues bring to mind for you? How might they have applied equally well in John’s day?
How has the star named “Bitterness” affected your life? What have you discovered as an antidote to bitterness?
Questions to Ponder
Describe the angel who announces the coming of the seventh trumpet. In what ways does this angel contrast with your view of angels?
Why was John forbidden to record the words of the seven thunders? See 2 Corinthians 12:4.
What purposes have the disasters following the first six trumpets served?
How can a revelation from God be both sweet and bitter?
When has God led you into a project that you wouldn’t have selected for yourself? What happened?
We note a grammatical and lexical change in the Greek text between chapter 10 and chapter 11. This chapter begins a brand new section of the entire work. It may have been written later and inserted in this spot to explain why the “time out” mentioned in chapter 10 was over.
We are not at all certain that this chapter was written by the same person who wrote the first ten chapters.
Pay attention to this story. We will hear it again two more times. Revelation 16:16-21 and Revelation 19:11-21. Be sure to note how the story changes.
What is measured on the “inside” and the “outside?” Where do you stand? Who does it sound like God has “given up on?” What does it really mean that God has “given up” on them?
Who are the Messengers? Moses? Joshua? Elijah? Zerubbabel? John the Baptist? What message do they bring to the world? (Don’t fall for the obvious law-giving answer for Moses. That’s the way Romans would read it.)
Who is it that arises out of “the Abyss?” How does this “beast” treat the messengers of God’s love? (The town of Sodom is specifically referenced as is the captivity in Egypt.)
Why do you think this Beast has so many followers? Is it because he is ugly to look upon or because he is so obviously evil? Could it be that the Beast’s message sounds like “righteousness” to people who cling to fears and hatred – the things that Jesus preached against?
Should we be surprised when people harass us for proclaiming that God loves everybody unconditionally?
Even though it looks as though we are beaten, chapter 11 offers us the hope that “… the Living Spirit of God will enter them—they’re on their feet!—and all those gloating spectators will be scared to death.”
What is your response to knowing that you have been affirmed by God? Would you sing this anthem to God’s greatness and power over the “enemies of the gospel message” – that God loves everyone in the world unconditionally?