Come Up Here
When Powerball got up to $1.6 billion, one clerk noted that people were buying two dollars’ worth of hope at a time. But God’s Word offers us a better hope: a lasting, eternal, and blessed hope in the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
John Is Commanded to Write (1:17-19)
John’s vision was sent and signified (Revelation 1:1), that is, it was given in signs and symbols. Why?
Preservation: Symbols transcend language, time, and culture.
Emotion: Symbols cause an emotional reaction that plain language doesn’t.
Orientation: These symbols are rooted in the Old Testament: strange to us but familiar to the Jewish audience of John’s time.
Protection: As Romans persecuted Christians, the symbols of this book would make no sense to their culture and mindset, protecting believers like a code.
Jesus gave the outline for this book in Revelation 1:19: the things which you have seen; the things which are; and the things which will take place after this.
Probe: Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. What is our living hope, and how do Peter’s words encourage us in these difficult times?
John Is Called Up to Heaven (4:1)
John saw a depiction of the rapture of the church. The language reflects another description found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: the shout like a trumpet and the snatching away (from the Greek harpazō, Latin raptius or rapture) of the church to meet with Jesus in the lower atmosphere. What will Jesus shout? Perhaps “Come up here!” (see Revelation 4:1).
The church will then be tucked away safely for a seven-year honeymoon while the tribulation happens on earth.
Probe: Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15, and John 14:1-3. List the details of the event described in these passages.
John Is Captivated by Glory (4:2-5)
When John was caught up to heaven, the first thing that caught his attention was God’s throne and appearance–like jasper (clear and brilliant) and sardius stone (reddish, maybe to remind us of the blood of redemption).
The twenty-four elders represent the church in heaven during the tribulation. Why? Because only one group, Christians, can sing the lyrics of the song in Revelation 5:8-10.
Probe: Only two times in this book do we see a door into heaven opened: in Revelation 4:1 and 19:11. What are the differences between these two events? How do those differences help us distinguish the rapture from the second coming?
Connect Up: John saw Jesus differently in heaven than he did on earth. When you think of Jesus, what images come to mind? Contrast His appearance and work during His first visit with what they will be like when He returns.
Connect In: Like many today, John faced suffering and uncertainty over the future. How can his vision help encourage and comfort us in hard times?
Connect Out: Discuss the symbolism of the lampstand, decoded in Revelation 1:20. What does that symbol mean for believers and our role as the church?