BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 5: Revelation 14:14-20

Summary of passage:  John sees Jesus on a white cloud with a golden crown and a sharp sickle.  An angel tells Jesus to reap the harvest of the earth with his sickle and he does.  An angel emerges from the altar in heaven and tells another angel who emerges from the temple to gather grapes with his sickle.  The angel did and threw the grapes into the winepress of God’s wrath where they were trampled and blood flowed.

Questions:

11)  Jesus and he was called to reap the harvest of the earth.

12a)  Unbelievers

b)  The sickles:  To reap and to separate out the harvest (believers) from the grapes (unbelievers)

The winepress:  Judgment.  (Isaiah 63:1-6)

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is serious.  He will punish those who sin and refuse to accept His grace.  He will reap those who follow Him in the harvest.

Conclusions:  Good dissection of passage.

End Notes:  Revelation 15 & 16 has the 7 bowls judgment and some scholars see this scene as the preparation of the faithful before the judgments to come.  Here, Jesus is going to separate good and evil and gather in the faithful like in a harvest and then assemble all for judgment (Joel 3:12-14; Matthew 3:12; 13:30).  This is seen as well in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30; 13:36-43).

Christ in clouds:  Revelation 1:7,13 and in Daniel 7:13 and Matthew 24:30.

Here, Jesus has on his head the crown of victory.  Quite the contrast with the crown of thorns.

The Greek word for “ripe” has the sense of withered.  Thus, the indication is God is waiting for sin to be overripe.  He is in no hurry.

Some translations have verse 18 as “fully ripe”, meaning when the grapes are bursting and ready for harvest.  A winepress was a rock-hewn trough about 8 feet square with a channel leading to ta lower and smaller trough.  Grapes were thrown into the upper vat and trampled with bare feet.  The juice collected in the lower vat.  This is a common Old Testament analogy for the execution of divine wrath (Isaiah 63:3; Lamentations 1:15; Joel 3:13).  When trampled, the grapes burst and their juice squirts out–like the blood described in verse 20.

A horse’s bridle is a few feet high and 1,600 stadia is about 184 miles.  Can you imagine how much blood would have to be shed and how many people would have to die to create a flow of blood that would pour out for 184 miles a few feet high?  This is the carnage in the battle of Armageddon described in Revelation 16:16 and 19:11-19 and a graphic symbol to the world.  Turn to Christ now or face judgment.

However, some scholars say this is just a splattering of blood and not an actual blood flow. You make the call.

184 miles is a huge distance for a battle–almost unseen in Ancient Times.  But not in modern times.

Revelation Chapters 15-19 will reveal the fulfillment of these prophetic declarations of the angels.

Conclusions to Lesson 19:  In Revelation 13 we see the power of the beast.  In Revelation 14 we see who’s really in charge and who will win in the end.

Make sure you are part of the 144,000.  Be holy and pure and do not worship false idols.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 4: Revelation 14:6-13

Summary of passage: John sees 3 angels. The first proclaims the eternal gospel to the earth and says to turn to God because the judgment has come. The second says how Babylon has fallen. The third warns that whoever worships the beast or bears his mark will have God’s fury, be tormented with burning sulfur, and have no rest. God says blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Questions:

9a)  The mark of the beast appears on those who have chosen to worship Satan instead of God.  They may prosper here but for eternity they will drink from the cup of wrath which Jesus did for believers and be tormented for eternity day and night by burning sulfur.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I touched on this last lesson about how I wish more churches would discuss the consequences of choosing Satan over God.  Unbelievers face a grim, dismal, and undesirable future in hell. It is not a pretty picture.  Fully understanding what unbelievers face (and we’ll see more details later on in Revelation and talk more about this) does make me more concerned especially about family members and loved ones who don’t believe.  Yet at the same time, knowing we all have a choice, there are no excuses for not knowing Him, lends me little compassion at times especially when I read about indiscriminate killings and abuse.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God encourages the saints (those who accept Christ during the Great Tribulation) to be steadfast during the judgments and remain faithful and their deeds will be remembered in heaven.  Same goes for us–our deeds will follow us to heaven.  What we do here matters.

Conclusions:  Good lesson.  I like the emphasis on what happens to those who don’t believe.  Very important since like I said a lot of churches these days focus on “kind, loving, and accepting Jesus” and ignore the wrath of God.

End Notes:  See YESTERDAY’S notes.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 3: Revelation 14:6-13

Summary of passage:  John sees 3 angels.  The first proclaims the eternal gospel to the earth and says to turn to God because the judgment has come.  The second says how Babylon has fallen.  The third warns that whoever worships the beast or bears his mark will have God’s fury, be tormented with burning sulfur, and have no rest.  God says blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Questions:

6a)  First angel:  The eternal gospel, saying to turn to God now and worship Him because judgment has come.

Second angel:  Babylon has fallen.

Third angel:  Whoever worships the beast or bears his mark will have God’s fury, be tormented with burning sulfur, and have no rest–a judgment upon men’s souls.

b)  “Those who live on earth–to every nation, tribe, language, and people.”

7)  That Jesus is God’s son and only belief and faith in him as the Savior will result in forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  1 Corinthians 15 lays it out:  the saving gospel is :  Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he rose on the 3rd day.  His blood set us free forever and justified us–all through grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). (Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 as well for use of the word “gospel”).

Note:  The first angel is preaching the gospel (turn to Jesus and be saved) AND announcing the coming judgment.  He is announcing the “good news” that God’s words will be consummated–judgment is here, Satan will be vanquished, Israel shall be saved, and Christ shall come again!

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Matthew says to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all of God’s commands.  2 Corinthians says to preach Jesus as Lord and let our light (knowledge of God and Christ) shine out to the darkness (unbelievers).  1 Peter says to declare the praises of God who called us out of the darkness into the light.  God says we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to Him, and Jesus says he will be with us always to the end of time.

In essence, we are called to do what the angels are doing here:  Proclaiming God’s greatness, power, glory, and grace and what happens to those who fight against Him.  Good connection.

We’ve had similar questions before:  Lesson 7 Day 2, Lesson 13 Day 5, and Lesson 15 Day 4

I am wondering how you answer this question if you are not a believer.  It seems if you’re not a believer, BSF is saying to skip this question.  Strange.

Conclusions:  Has anyone else noticed that there has been no challenge questions in this study?  I believe these are forever gone now and instead BSF provides us with the Scripture for the answers.  Any thoughts on this? It’s good for new believers I think.  I remember my first year doing Isaiah and I’d have no clue where to go for the challenge questions because I didn’t know the Bible.  On question 7 which normally would have been a challenge question I just knew the answer without having to look it up.

I think it’s a good thing.  Most of us don’t know where God’s word says eternal truths and having the Scriptures in front of us helps us to know and learn and memorize where God speaks to us.  It helps us in our daily life, in evangelizing, and in our daily battles with Satan since God’s word is a weapon.  Any other thoughts?

Clarification:  Note I am speaking of challenge questions only that pertain to the passage.  I’m not speaking of random questions that are on different topics that take us all over the Bible (see YESTERDAY’S conclusion for my opinions there).

End Notes:

THE FIRST ANGEL:  The peoples of the earth can either voluntarily give God glory and be saved or they will either one day be forced to give God glory (Philippians 2:9-11) and be damned.  Seems intuitive to me.

This gospel is called “eternal gospel.”  It is the same gospel as we know it (accept Jesus as Lord and Savior or be damned) but it’s preached during a specific time (Great Tribulation) and with more of an urgency (this is the people’s last chance to choose God).

Note:  This is the only place in the New Testament where we see angels preaching the gospel.  God has chosen man and given him the job/responsibility to spread the word of Jesus to all (Question 8)–a responsibility we need to take seriously and keep in the forefront of our minds at all time.

THE SECOND ANGEL:  

Babylon:  Babylon was the first of the 4 beasts in Daniel 7.  We will see Babylon again in Revelation 17.  “Babylon the Great” is taken from Daniel 4:30.  All first century Jews/Christians would know who Babylon was and what they did to God’s people.  It was the center of a world empire, noted for its luxury and moral decadence.

Some say Babylon here stands for Rome since Rome was the center of pagan worship during John’s time and the angel here is predicting the downfall of the Roman Empire (known as prophetic certainty).  Scholars point out in prophetic writings of the time “Babylon” was the code word used to refer to Rome.  Some say it represents rebellious people.  Others take it literally–Babylon that is rebuilt and restored.  The interpretation that make sense to me is that Babylon the Great stands for man’s ungodly political systems and governments that man has created.  It is an evil that opposed God.  Some scholars extend this to say it is Babylon the Great versus the New Jerusalem.

[Side Note: Babylon did NOT represent the Catholic Church which was the belief perpetuated in the nineteenth century with the rise of Protestantism.  Catholicism wasn’t even organized until the 300 AD’s–200 years after the book of Revelation has been composed.]

Whichever you believe, John chooses it to represent the evil in this world and in man’s heart.  Most likely this is spiritual adultery (worshiping of false gods) caused by Babylon but with spiritual adultery comes physical as well.  The repetition of fallen is to emphasis that Babylon is about to receive judgment.

THE THIRD ANGEL:  Receiving the mark of the beast is a choice that one makes.  It’s a choice that leads to God’s wrath.  Like worshiping pagan gods in God’s mind.

God’s cup of wrath is mentioned 13 times in the Bible (Psalm 60:3; 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; 63:6; Jeremiah 25:15-16; 51:7).  This is the cup Jesus drank for us (Matthew 26:39).  Here, those who don’t accept Jesus will be forced to drink it.

Note the wine is “full strength.”  In Ancient Times, everyone including children drank wine because the water was unsafe to drink.  However, it was always diluted or watered down.  Here, the unbelievers will not face any watered-down version of God’s wrath.  It will be full strength God!

The Greek word for wrath (thymos) is used here and 9 more times in the book of Revelation.  It is only used once elsewhere in the Bible.  It means passionate wrath.  A different anger (orge) which means settled indignation is most often used in the New Testament.

Note the torment of burning sulfur.  God burned Sodom and Gomorrah the same way.

Note how angels and God and Jesus will be present in hell.  It’s wrong to think otherwise.  They are there to oversee judgment–all love will be absent.

“For ever and ever” is the strongest Greek word for eternity and ages.  Torment will be everlasting.  I’d rather have life myself.  I fervently wish more churches would speak on this and more people would dwell on it.  I think in today’s society people think nothing of hell and thus have no idea of what they are facing as unbelievers.  If more people would ponder hell, we might have more investigating the greatness of God, the one who can save from such torture.

Note the present tense here.  People worship the beast continually and they will continually be tormented as just punishment.

God encourages the saints (those who accept Christ during the Great Tribulation) to be steadfast during the judgments and remain faithful even if they face death and their deeds will be remembered in heaven.  Same goes for us–our deeds will follow us to heaven.  What we do here matters.

Second Beatitude in Revelation:  “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

Fun Fact:  This is the first of only 2 times the Holy Spirit speaks directly in the book of Revelation.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 2: Revelation 14:1-5

Summary of passage:  Jesus is standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000.  A loud roar came from heaven and a new song was sung by the 144,000 redeemed who are blameless, pure, followed Jesus, and purchased and offered as first fruits to God.

Questions:

3a)  John saw Jesus and the 144,000 redeemed standing on Mount Zion.  He heard a sound from heaven like a roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder and like harpists playing their harps.  He also heard a new song being sung by the 144,000.

b)  They had been redeemed from the earth.  They did not defile themselves with women and were pure.  They followed the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God.  They’re blameless and no lie has ever crossed their mouths.

4)  Believers were purchased by the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and justified, and marked with a seal to be redeemed to heaven and have eternal life with God.  God chose us ahead of time to follow Jesus. (Ephesians).  We were redeemed or purchased through Christ’s blood (1 Peter).

5a)  By treating our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, refraining from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), and honoring God with our bodies.  We are imitators of God and live a life of love, avoiding sexual sin, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse jokes; instead, living a life of thanksgiving and holy.  We obey and live as children of light (good, righteous, and truthful).  We are wise, making the most of every opportunity, filled with the Spirit instead of wine, speaking to others with psalms, hymns, and songs, thanking God always, submitting to Him (Ephesians 5:12-21).

Be Christ-like with love, spirit, and purpose.  Treat others better than yourself and put others first.  Have a Christ-like attitude, be a servant, humble, obedient, and act according to God’s purpose.  Don’t complain or argue and be glad and joyful.  (Philippians).

We do not lie, we confess our sins and are purified. (1 John 1)

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Loving others who are hard to love.  Guarding my mouth sometimes and speaking only praises.  Not complaining.  Being humble.  Putting others first.  Serving.

Conclusions:  We were all over the place in the Bible with only one question on Revelation.  We’ve explored this topic before this year in our study on how we are to live in Lesson 7, Day 5 when we read Ephesians 4.  We saw it in Lesson 8 Day 2 with how Daniel stayed true to God.

Going to other places in the Bible can be a good thing, but I feel like sometimes during this study that’s all we do.

Also, these week-long breaks make it harder for me to remember where we were at in Revelation.  Stopping and having to go back two weeks to remember what had just happened, so I have context for this week takes valuable time.  It feels like a stop, jerk, and go again motion that jars me and reorienting myself is frustrating.

End Notes:  Revelation says history will end with a loud bang.  Yet John repeatedly says this will bring peace on earth as God rules over a restored heaven and earth.  Here we see the heavenly choir again sandwiched between tribulation and judgment like an interlude.  This is to reassure us that all creation will once again be in harmony.

We last saw the 144,000 in Revelation 7 (BSF Lesson 13) where we learned they are the remnant, a group of believers (some say Messianic Jews some scholars say a mix of Jews and Gentiles) who were sealed or protected from the tribulation and have been martyred for their faith (we know this because they are in heaven).  Here, the beast has not defeated them and they emerge victorious.  Revelation 7 shows the 144,000 at the beginning of the Great Tribulation and here we see them at the end of it.

Again, the 144,000 is representative of all God’s people.  Yes, they are a specific group, but in the end, we will share in God’s glory as well.

Coming up in Revelation 14, we will find out what happens to the beast and does he defeat the followers of Christ (no because of the 144,000).

Mount Zion is the place where Christ gathers his redeemed and begins his rule over earth (Psalm 48, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:32, Obadiah 17 and 21, Micah 4:1, 4:7).

Satan copied the idea of the seal (Revelation 13:16-17) from God.

The sound from heaven like the road of rushing water and a loud peal of thunder is the voice of God (Revelation 1:15 and 4:5).

The elders have harps (Revelation 5:8).  Worshiping God and singing Him a song transports us to the foot of God at His throne.  Note the song was learned on earth and no one else can sing it but the 144,000.  Part of our job here on earth is to learn this song by accepting Jesus and drawing close to him.  Only then once we are saved will we have the new song in our hearts.

Identity of the 144,000:  are they symbolically pure (virgins) or are they literally?  Up for debate.  They could be celibate just during the time of the Great Tribulation or could be celibate meaning without engaging with pagans.

The term “virgins” is not used in the NIV.  The Greek word parthenos can be both men and women so the 144,000 are a mix of men and women.

Israel is referred to as a virgin in the Bible, reinforcing some scholars belief that the 144,000 represents all believers (2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Lamentations 2:13; Jeremiah 18:13; 31:34, 21; Amos 5:2).

We see them described as first fruits.  First fruits was the first portion of the harvest offered to God in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:10-14).  The nation of Israel is said to be the first fruits (Jeremiah 2:3), bringing the Gentiles to God.  In the New Testament we see first fruits being used to describe Christ rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20) or the first converts in a region (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15).  Hence, some scholars believe all believers are considered as the first fruits (or choice offering) to God.

God often speaks of the purity of His people in terms of sexual immorality as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 11:2.

However, here, most scholars agree the 144,000 are Jews who came to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation and who now will serve as the first fruits of God’s harvest and bring in the rest of the Jews.  They are holy and pure, not of the world.  Ultimately, remember, they will bring in all of us–the church (See End Notes on Lesson 13, Day 3 for more discussion of the 144,000).

Fun Fact:  This is the only place in Revelation we see “Mount Zion” used.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 5: Various Passages

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

10)  Part personal Question.  My answers:

Psalm 23:  God gives everything:  green pastures, quiet waters, restores the soul, righteousness, Himself, comfort, food, overflowing cup, anoints us, goodness, love, and eternal life.

Matthew 11:28-9:  God gives rest and knowledge.

1 Corinthians 10:13:  He does not give us any more than we can bear and provides us a way out when we are tempted.  He is faithful.

1 Corinthians 12:6-10:  God gives us the Holy Spirit which gives us wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Hebrews 4:14-16:  Mercy and grace through faith in Jesus.

Revelation 21:4:  He wipes away every tear and after the Second Coming there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain.

Honestly, I’m not suffering right now.  I’m in a season of blessing and extremely grateful for it.  However, knowing God provides grace, mercy, comfort, basic needs, wisdom, a way out of temptation, and goodness is indescribably empowering in any season of life.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12  Rejoice in suffering for it is a privilege and a way to participate in Christ’s glory. 1 Peter 4:12-19  We comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God so they may have patient endurance as well.  2 Corinthians 1:3-7  Love says Colossians 3:14  Verse 17 says whatever we do, do all in Jesus’s name, thanking God.

I try to offer words of comfort when those around me are in pain or suffering, or grieving.  I try to love as Christ would love.  Recently, an acquaintance’s dog passed away and an old colleague of mine lost his wife.  I tried to offer up words of comfort in those situations.

Conclusions:  Good reminder of how to help others who are suffering because often without God those who lose a loved one can become lost.  Ironic how we brought suffering into this world and death and God could easily have turned His back on us and let us wallow in our own misery.  Instead, He is there and He comforts for He feels our pain.  What an awesome God we worship!

Conclusions to Lesson 18:  Whole lesson on suffering.  Not sure we’ve ever done this before in BSF where we’ve deviated so much from the book(s) we are studying and dived into a topic in the Bible.  The Bible does speak on suffering a lot and we’ve looked at the majority of the passages on suffering.  We could call this the study of Revelation and Suffering in the Bible.  Fitting?  You make the call.

Didn’t realize there were so many ways to ask the same question:  why do we suffer, how do you suffer, and what is its purpose.  It all points back to Jesus (even when we comfort others) and I wish we could have kept it that simple.

This Lesson for me was relatively quick to complete because we have done so much previous work on suffering. Looking up the passages is time consuming but answering them is not.  Back to Revelation next week!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 4: Various Passages

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answers:

Psalm 73:26-28:  God is the strength, refuge, and portion forever when flesh and heart fail.

Proverbs 3:11-12:  God disciplines those He loves.

Romans 5:3-4:  Suffering produces perseverance, character, hope, and love through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:17:  Suffering allows us to share in Christ’s glory.

Philippians 3:8-9: (Read verse 10 as well)  Sharing in Christ’s suffering produces more knowledge of Christ, fellowship with him, becoming more like him, and attaining resurrection from the dead.  Giving up or losing all things results in a gain of Christ and righteousness through belief in the Savior.

Hebrews 5:8-9:  Suffering produces obedience to God and eternal salvation for believers.

When you have nothing, all you have is Him.  You rely more on God and the Holy Spirit.  You know him more and become more like Christ.  It humbles you to the point you cry out to God.  And that is what God wants–all of you.  This I’ve experienced throughout my life’s trials and tribulations and my current closeness with God.  Life is amazing when you have Him and nothing else.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I was in college, I had a hard time concentrating because songs kept playing over and over in my head.  I wondered where God was during this time and cried out to Him repeatedly.  However, He never left me and eventually they went away as I channeled my thoughts towards Him.  It strengthened me and I knew He never left me.  Now I know He’s always there even when we are hit with inexplicable events in our lives.

Conclusions:  God is more concerned about character rather than comfort.  Suffering is small compared to knowing Christ.  Suffering teaches us the greatest good of Christian life is not absence of pain but being Christ-like.  The important thing to take away is this:  there is a purpose in suffering.  God has a purpose.  You may not be able to see it now but through faith you will persevere and emerge stronger and more dependent on Him.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 3: Various Passages

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  By God’s Will Jesus took on our suffering as a guilt offering to satisfy God and to justify us (Isaiah).  Jesus says he must suffer, be killed and risen to life (Matthew).  Acts says God planned Jesus’s death for His purposes.  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Romans–no mention of suffering here though except through death.

Truthfully, I haven’t and I don’t believe I can ever come close to expressing my gratitude and appreciation for what Jesus has done on the cross for me.  I try to though by doing His will in my life, putting Him first, caring for His people and creatures and all He has given me, giving the glory to Him for all the good in my life, thanking Him repeatedly, and trying to live the life He wants me to by being like Jesus.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  This is the exact same question as Lesson 3, Day 4 Questions 10b & 11a & Lesson 4, Day 5 Question 15 & in Lesson 12, Day 4 Question 11a.

In Mark Jesus says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow him in order to gain eternal life.  Acts tells us if we suffer for Him, it makes us worthy.  Suffering allows us to know Christ more and the power of his suffering and fellowship with him and becoming more like Jesus.  (Philippians)

Suffering increases your faith no doubt about it.  Through faith, we know Him more, depend on him more, and love Him and His ways more.  It makes us more like Christ and our gratitude grows along with our character.  I have definitely experienced all of this and more through various trials:  bankruptcy, death, hard times, moving, etc.  But the gains have SO been worth it and eternity is near.  A life led for others is richness indeed.  See yesterday’s LINK for more purposes of suffering.

Conclusions:  Day of recounting our sufferings as we’ve seen/done in previous lessons.  Feel beaten down and we still have 2 more days of this!

End Notes:  Brief Note on Mark 8:34-38:  This passage is often misunderstood.  Denying yourself and taking up your cross simply put means we surrender ourselves to Christ and take up His will.  In the first century, the cross meant crucifixion.  It meant death.  It didn’t have any traditions or rituals or fuzzy or spiritual feelings attached to the cross and it wasn’t a symbol or associated yet with Jesus and Christianity.  The cross was death.  Period.

Deny self, take up cross, follow Jesus means:  We cannot save ourselves; hence, we follow the one who can save us–Jesus.  This is why we deny ourselves–to find life.

See this LINK.  Great reference for suffering in the Bible and its purposes in the passages quoted.