What can we ourselves make of this scene of exuberant worship in the heavenly throne room? Does it have anything to do with us, now – and if so, what? This may be the central question for us to ask ourselves as we study Revelation 7:9-17 for Sunday, November 7. But to get there, here are a couple of other questions we probably need to ask ourselves, or possibly discuss in class:
What do we “already know” about the book of Revelation? And where do we know it from? (For instance, have we made a study of The Late, Great Planet Earth? Or Left Behind? Or have we heard all about the end times from our Nanny who had committed the Scofield Reference Bible notes to memory, and one of whose recurrent concerns was whether the Rapture would, or wouldn’t, come before the Tribulation, as I did?)
Can we look at how what we already know affects the way we read this text? How possible is it for us to set that aside and read the text “fresh”? What do we notice when we try to do that? Anything we want to spend some time on?
If we take these verses as a snapshot of something taking place in heaven, what do we notice about it? What effect does imagining this scene of worship have on us? What element or elements of this worship makes the deepest impression on us, or affects us most powerfully?
There are a couple of dimensions of this scene that we might be able to think about in different ways. Which way we think about it might make a difference for the way the text affects us. For instance:
When do we think this scene is taking place? In the past? Now? In the future? What difference does it make to us when we think of this worship happening? Why, do we think?
Who do we think is part of the crowd in heaven? For instance, do we envision ourselves as part of that crowd? Or, our loved ones? Or anyone else specific? What difference does it make to us who we think of as offering this worship to God? Why, do we think?
Overall, and really, as always, we want to think about this: how does reading and meditating on this text lead us to have greater love for God, and for our neighbor?
Image: “A Family Around a Table,” Julius Paulsen (1919), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons