By Luke Johnson | November 10, 2015
Remember your church
Read your church’s letter together to remember what Jesus said to your church.
- Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)
- Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)
- Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)
- Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)
- Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)
- Sardis (Rev 2:1-6)
- Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21)
Where do you fit in your group of friends? Are you the loud one? The joke maker? The stoic nodder?
How do you feel about public speaking or performing in front of people?
(E.g., How would you react if you were asked to stand up in front of the whole school and talk about scrambled eggs for 3 minutes? Have you ever been ‘put on the spot’ like that?)
READ Revelation 11
What popped out at you in this chapter?
Does anything remind you of other stuff we’ve read in Revelation so far?
Does anything remind you of what Jesus said in his letter to our Revelation church?
Have you ever been in a situation kind of like the Two Witnesses? Attacked or put down for standing up for something you believe in? Or for telling the truth?
The Two Witnesses are pretty mysterious! Who would you guess they might be?
(Do they remind you of anyone in the Old Testament? Who do you think John might want us to think about as we encounter these Two Witnesses?)
The Two Witnesses
John doesn’t want us to read his visions in isolation -- he is borrowing images, characters, and language from the Old Testament on purpose because he’s trying to help us grow our imaginations, and to get a big, full picture of what God is doing. To understand the Two Witnesses a little better, we need to look into the Old Testament to see where they come from.
READ Zech 3:6-9 and 4:1-14
Who are the 2 men mentioned by name, and what tasks are they given?
(Joshua = High Priest; Zerubbabel = build the temple -- both are involved in really important ways with the worship of God -- they’re anointed as God’s official servants)
Do you notice any similarities with John’s description of the Two Witnesses in Revelation?
(e.g., 2 men named in Zech // 2 unnamed witnesses; mention of ‘lampstands’ and ‘olive trees’)
READ Mark 9:2-9
Which 2 men from the Old Testament are mentioned by name? (Moses and Elijah)
What are Moses and Elijah famous for? Do you remember some of their stories from the Old Testament?
(Moses’ plagues in Egypt; Elijah’s fire from heaven)
Do you notice any similarities between the story in Mark with Revelation 11?
Look specifically at how they leave the scene: (compare Mk 9:7-8 and Rev 11:12)
Mark 9: a voice from heaven speaks from a cloud; Moses and Elijah suddenly disappear.
Rev 11: a voice from heaven speaks and the Two Witnesses go up to heaven in a cloud.
Do you remember from the Old Testament what Moses’ and Elijah’s jobs were?
(Moses gave Israel God’s Law; Elijah was one of Israel’s most famous prophets)
Our Role as God’s Witnesses
Why might John want us to think about Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet as we read about the Two Witnesses?
The law tells us how God is involved in our lives, and prophecy shows us how we are involved in God’s life. The Law tells us how the world works -- what is “real”. God speaks through prophets to make us wake up and remember that God is the one who decides what is “real” and “good” and “true” -- it’s not up to us. It doesn’t matter if we don’t like what God has to say. It doesn’t matter if our culture doesn’t like what God has to say -- we have to follow God’s direction, even if everyone yells at us not to.
What happens to the Two Witnesses throughout this chapter?
(How would you summarize their story?)
If we look at this story as an example of what it means to follow Jesus faithfully, what you think would be “the moral of the story”?
Remember the martyrs under the altar in chapter 6? (6:9-11) When Jesus involves us in his work in the world, our ‘work’ will look a lot like his -- God glorified in our suffering. But just as we share in Jesus’ suffering, we’ll also share in his life. Even if we get trampled on because of our commitment to following Jesus, that’s not the end -- Jesus himself has the last word, and offers life to all who follow him. So stand firm, because even if you feel shaky, Jesus is faithful.