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Lesson 2: Among the Lampstands *

Introduction: Would you like to know the future? The worrisome part is that you might not like your future! Our study this week has a slightly different approach. Instead of merely giving us information about the future, it tells us that our future is in the hands of Jesus, who not only has all power, but He cares for us. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. John's Life

    1. Read Revelation 1:9. How is John's life at this point in time? (He says he joins other Christians in their suffering. This does not paint a picture of pleasure.)

      1. What positive thing does John say? (He does not feel alone. He is our "brother and companion" in the Kingdom of God.)

      2. John writes of "patient endurance." How can we have that if we are suffering like him? (He says that Jesus will give us patience.)

        1. If you were suffering, what would you ask of God? (I would ask Him to take the suffering away! We should learn something here. Sometimes we need to ask for patience and the ability to endure the suffering.)

    2. Look again at the last part of Revelation 1:9. Why is John suffering? (It is not because he did anything wrong. He says it is because of the "word of God and the testimony of Jesus.")

      1. What does John mean when he writes that his problems stem from the "word of God and the testimony of Jesus?" (He is suffering because he has been witnessing for Jesus. He has been following Jesus' command recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.)

      2. When you are suffering, do you ask the "why" question? Is this because of something that I've done wrong? (While I have seen some people who needlessly blame themselves, most of the time it seems that those who are suffering do not ask this question. Because they do not ask this question, they do not learn to avoid those things that cause them to suffer.)

    3. We have not discussed what, exactly, is the nature of John's problem. Do you know what he is talking about? (If you look again at Revelation 1:9 John says that he is on the island of Patmos. John is not vacationing in the sun and sand of a tropical island, this is a penal colony. He is there as a prisoner of Rome. His crime? Evangelizing about Jesus.)

  2. The Lord's Day

    1. Read Revelation 1:10 and John 5:9-10. If this is the seventh-day Sabbath, why doesn't John call it that?

      1. Read John 20:19-20. If this is Sunday, the first day of the week, why doesn't John call it that in Revelation 1:10?

      2. Read 1 Corinthians 11:20. This is the only other place in the New Testament that the Greek word used in Revelation 1:10 (kuriakee - translated "Lord's") is found. Does this shed any light on the day to which John refers? (The commentaries that I read say that John is likely referring to Sunday, but I see no basis in the Bible for that conclusion. If you look at every other place that John refers to the Sabbath, it is in connection with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. The question of the appropriateness of doing this on the Sabbath is at issue with the Jewish leaders. Thus, it would be natural for John to write "Sabbath" in that context, while not calling Saturday the Sabbath in other contexts.)

    2. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What does the Sabbath commemorate here? (God's people being freed from government imposed slavery.)

      1. Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures tells us that a form of this Greek word translated "Lord's" was commonly used to refer to imperial Rome, such as "imperial finance and imperial treasury." The sense is that God owns the day. The fact that Jesus rested on the grave during the Sabbath, the fact that the Sabbath reflects freedom from government-imposed slavery, might have caused a man who was currently confined by the government to refer to the Sabbath as time he could be with God - "the Lord's Day.")

  3. The Vision

    1. Read Revelation 1:10-11. To what is the message of this book directed? (To seven churches. These were Christian churches in existence at this time.)

    2. Read Revelation 1:12-15. Who does this describe?

      1. Who is "like a son of man?" (Read Matthew 9:4-6 and Daniel 7:9. Jesus refers to Himself as "the Son of Man." Our first reaction is that this picture sounds like God (Daniel's "Ancient of Days"), but this is God who looks like a human, and so that tells us that it must be Jesus who is speaking to John.)

    3. Read Revelation 1:16. Have you heard of someone in the Bible who has a sword coming out of his mouth? (Read Revelation 19:13-15, where we see a similar reference. In John 1:1 John previously referred to Jesus as "the Word." This confirms that John is describing Jesus.)

      1. Isn't it awkward to have a sword coming out of your mouth? (Swords should be in your hands, not your mouth. The symbolism here is that Jesus does not need to fight with His hands. He merely needs to speak and He can defeat His enemies.)

      2. Instead of holding a sword in His hand, Jesus is holding "seven stars." What are they, and what does holding them mean? (Read Revelation 1:20. The seven stars are angels or messengers for the seven churches. The picture of Jesus holding them means that He has a special concern for them. Thus, Jesus is personally invested in the angels working with these seven churches.)

        1. Do you think that an angel is assigned to your church?

    4. Re-read Revelation 1:12. Now that we have read ahead, what is symbolized by Jesus being "among the lampstands?" ( Revelation 1:20 identifies the lampstands as the seven churches. Thus, we see the full extend of Jesus concern and work for His church. Not only does He hold the heavenly messengers to those churches in His hand, but He is personally present.)

    5. Read Revelation 1:17. Why did John faint when he saw Jesus? (This shows the awesome and terrifying appearance of Jesus. John falls down.)

      1. What does Jesus do when John faints? (He comforts him.)

    6. Read Revelation 1:18. Is this part of Jesus' message of comfort to John? (Jesus has all power, and this should comfort us, since He loves us.)

  4. Ephesus Church

    1. Read Revelation 2:1. Who is the source of this message? (Based on what we just studied, it is Jesus!)

    2. Read Revelation 2:2-3 and Revelation 2:6. What things has this church done? (Persevered, worked hard, and took action to test the message of those claiming to be proper leaders. It rejected the practices of the Nicolaitans.)

    3. Read Revelation 2:4-5. What is the failing of this church? (It has "forsaken [its] first love.")

      1. How serious a problem is this? (Jesus threatens to remove it as a lampstand.)

        1. What does this say about hard work, perseverance and pure doctrine? (These are not enough.)

          1. Imagine the reverse: Jesus says I appreciate you clinging to your first love, but you lack hard work, perseverance and pure doctrine. Would Jesus threaten to take away their lampstand in that situation?

    4. Read Revelation 2:7. Does it seem odd to you that Jesus would have a message for only seven Christian churches? (This says the message is for anyone with ears. Recall that Revelation is a book of symbols. As we get more deeply into our study of the messages to the seven churches, we will see that these are universal messages. Bible scholars believe that these seven churches represent a description of the stages of history of the Christian church - with Ephesus describing the early history of the church.)

    5. Friend, when you feel under pressure and concerned about the future, remember that Jesus not only holds you in His tender embrace, but He holds the key to your future! Why not decide, right now, to accept Him and trust Him with your future?

  5. Next week: Jesus' Messages to the Seven Churches.
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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