By Luke Johnson | March 29, 2016
Have you ever been in a situation where everything went crazy really fast?
Or something got completely out of control? What happened?
Two questions to remember as we read:
- Who is Jesus?
- What does it mean to follow him?
READ Revelation 15
What stuck out to you? Did you find anything surprising? weird? disturbing? Interesting?
Who are the people standing by the glass sea? Where have we seen them before?
(6:9-11; 7:14 -- the faithful martyrs who died because of their faithfulness to Jesus)
Digging deeper: Did you know? The Greek word John uses for “bowl” in Rev 15:7 for the “bowls filled with the wrath of God” (phiale, φιάλη) is the very same word John uses in Rev 5:8 for the bowls that contain the prayers of God’s people. And in chapter 8, these prayers are the reason God unleashes his judgment on the world. So, here in chapter 15, God’s faithful people are present again, and God is unleashing the “bowls” of his wrath. Once again John shows that the prayers of God’s people are deeply connected to the actions God takes in the world.
John wants us to think about a specific event in the Old Testament as we read about his visions in Rev 15-16.
Can you tell what it is? What clues does he give us?
(He mentions: Moses, plagues, a sea glowing [red] with fire [Red Sea?], reference to the law, and the Lamb)
Take a quick look at the song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-18. (Just scan it, don’t read it out loud.) Do you notice any similarities between the song in Exod 15 and the song God’s people sing in Rev 15?
Moses’ plagues and John’s plagues
Before jumping into Revelation 16, read quickly through the 10 plagues in Exodus so we can try to hear them in what John writes:
- Water into Blood - Exod 7:20-21
- Frogs - Exod 8:5-6
- Gnats - Exod 8:16-17
- Flies - Exod 8:24
- Death of Livestock - Exod 9:6
- Boils - Exod 9:10
- Hail - Exod 9:22-26
- Locusts - Exod 10:12-14
- Darkness - Exod 10:21-23
- Death of the Firstborn - Exod 12:29-30
READ Revelation 16
Do you see any connections to the Exodus and the Egyptian plagues?
Is there anything else you think we should notice in Rev 16?
Why do you think John is trying so hard to connect his visions with the Exodus?
What’s so special about the Exodus? (What does John want us to understand?)
In Rev 13-14, God protected his faithful people from all the judgments suffered by the beast-followers, just like how God protected the Israelites from Egypt’s plagues in Exodus. The Exodus is the biggest, most important thing God did in the Old Testament -- it’s the story of God destroying a superpower nation in order to save his people. Here in Revelation 15-16, God is destroying all the nations of the world in order to show he is God and that his people’s testimony about Jesus is true. This is vindication! God is doing an Exodus thing again -- but even bigger this time!
Our Big Questions
According to what you saw in Rev 15 and 16, who is Jesus?
What does Rev 15-16 say about what it takes to follow Jesus?
Did you notice the strange warning Jesus gives in Rev 16:15? “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” What do you think staying awake and staying clothed have to do with following Jesus?
Do you remember anywhere else in Revelation where Jesus says something like this?
READ Rev 3:2-5 and 3:17-18
Do you hear the connection between Jesus’ words in Rev 16 and his words here in Rev 3?
What do you think Jesus means when he says, “I will come like a thief”?
(A thief comes sneaking in the night when the people of the house are not watching or awake. A thief catches you unprepared and suddenly shows up unannounced.)
How do you think some of the people of Sardis “soiled their clothes”? (Based on all the stuff Revelation says about following Jesus, what would you guess?)
Who are the people who walk with Jesus? What did they do to be called ‘worthy’?
What reward do ‘worthy’ people get? (3:5)
(Your name goes down in Jesus’ “book of life”, and in front of God and the angels Jesus promises to say,
“Yeah, I know that dude -- he’s/she’s with me.” It’s a pretty big deal when the King of the Universe tells people he knows you.)
A thought to prayerfully ponder...
If Jesus suddenly showed up right here right now, to what parts of your life do you think he would say …
… “Leave it behind!”
… “Well done, worthy white-wearer!”