Going Deeper – 05.05.2024

Breaking Ground

Think about a time when you had to wait a long time before getting something that you really, really wanted. What was it? Why did you have to wait? How did you finally end up getting it? How did that make you feel?

The Dig

This Sunday, we continued our series Apocalypse Now as Pastor Mike explored the Book of Revelation, which describes one gigantic visionary dream or apocalypse. 

What’s your experience with Revelation? How were you taught to read it & how did that impact you? What do you think it’s about & how does it make you feel now? 

Before going any further, it’s important to note that many have a lot of baggage with Revelation primarily because of how it’s been described as this coded message that, once cracked, foretells literal, horrifying, sequential future events that help us to predict the exact timing & mechanisms of our world’s destruction.

However, as we’ve explored, that’s simply not what biblical apocalypses are about. Recall our “Four Rules for a Biblical Apocalypse”:

  • RULE 1: A biblical apocalypse describes a God empowered epiphany through which God reveals to someone a previously hidden part of their reality. 
  • RULE 2: Biblical apocalypses come in different forms.
  • RULE 3: All biblical apocalypses rely heavily upon symbolism & metaphor
  • RULE 4: The primary purpose of a biblical apocalypse is to transform us HERE & NOW. 

With this in mind, let’s reconsider the Book of Revelation as a whole. As a work of Jewish Apocalyptic Literature, it’s a deeply symbolic description of John’s visionary dream, which he transcribes in a letter to seven 1st century churches who were undergoing intense Roman persecution (imprisonment, torture, & public execution). As an apocalypse, it reveals God’s heavenly perspective on their painful earthly circumstances; while, simultaneously, grounding them in God’s cosmic story of redemption. 

Does this overlap with how you were taught to read Revelation? How should these rules & Revelation’s background information inform how we read the book? 

With this in mind, read Revelation 5:1-7. Here, we’re introduced to Revelation’s central symbol. After being transported to God’s heavenly throne room, John hears that God’s Messiah, described as a fierce lion, has been empowered to defeat evil & restore Creation. However, after being empowered to see things through God’s eyes, what he actually sees is a sacrificed lamb. This is Revelation’s symbol for Jesus & it represents how God intends to reclaim His world through self-sacrificial love, instead of violent conquest. Throughout the rest of the book, John sees symbolic visions of the Lamb & his people being violently persecuted on earth; before their sufferings are revealed as actually being cosmic victories of Christ over evil & evil human empires from God’s heavenly perspective as his people respond to them with self-sacrificial love

What stands out to you about this specific text & larger pattern in Revelation? How would this have impacted Revelation’s original audience? 

What lessons & truths does this reveal to us today? How might it inform how we think about our world’s chaos, our own sufferings, & how we respond to both? 

Next, read Revelation 21:1-5 & 22:1-5. Ultimately, this is what Revelation builds to. After defeating evil & toppling every human nation with a word, King Jesus brings about the full renewal of Creation. Specifically, we see heaven (God’s space) symbolically depicted as this New Eden & Jerusalem coming down to fully overlap with earth (humanity’s space) again like God intended in Genesis 1 & 2.

What stands out to you about this triumphant conclusion to Revelation? How does it offer a different hope & vision for the end of God’s story than one grounded in our world’s annihilation? 

How can Revelation’s ultimate vision of renewal inform how we live in the present? How does this, in turn, allow us to drag its future vision of reality into the present through how we live? 

Coming Out of the Hole

Take time to reflect on the Sunday sermon & how this week’s teaching might speak into your daily life.

  • Read Revelation 21:1-5 & 22:1-5. What stands out to you about these passages? What images stick with you the most? How does it make you feel?
  • How does knowing that this is how God’s story ends help us navigate our own experiences of suffering here in the present?
  • How can this apocalypse help you navigate a big, scary, present world event with more trust & faith? How might this lead you to productive, positive action in this area of our world? 

Journal, reflect, & pray on how God might be speaking to you through each week’s teaching. Share your experience with your growth group next week!

Additional Resources*


The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham

Reading Revelation Responsibly by Michael Gorman

Binding the Strong Man by C. Myers

The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard B. Hays

Coming Up This Week:* 

Sunday, May 12th: Join us next Sunday as we continue our series Apocalypse Now!* Please see mye3.org for details.



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