What images of “the eschaton,” the “last things,” and of the second coming of Jesus orient us and our own lives? If we had to say how much thought we give to the “last things,” say on a scale of 1-10, what would we say? Why is that? Assuming we see both some positive and some negative consequences of having a lively sense of expectation when it comes to those last things, what do we identify as the positives, what do we identify as the negatives, and why those?
The text – Revelation 22:10-21 – that we are studying for Sunday, August 28, gives us an occasion to examine our own eschatology. Maybe the best opportunity we’ve had, since these verses seem to be making explicit the impact on life in the present that the book of Revelation’s vision and expectation of the end times is designed to have.
Some notes on the text are here. Here are a couple of additional questions we might want to think about or to discuss:
One of the issues raised in the text is the ultimate fate of evildoers. What do we understand the text’s attitude towards evildoers to be? What word(s) would we use to describe it? [For instance: “harsh,” “uncompromising,” “concerned,” “compassionate,” … ?] Why – what is our evidence for this attitude from the text?
What is our own attitude towards evildoers? Why? How would we say that attitude is informed by this text?
When we say “evildoers,” who are we thinking of? Why? How would we say that’s informed by this text?
[A lot more personal] Do we ever think of ourselves as included in any of these categories of evildoing? Why – or why not? What are our thoughts and feelings about that?
How do we understand the invitation in verse 17? To whom is it open?
[Also a lot more personal] How do we see ourselves participating in verse 17? As one of the speakers, one of the hearers, as someone answering the invitation, as a bystander, … ? Why is that?
How do we ourselves understand the significance of Jesus being “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”? What does that mean to us – that is, what is its personal significance for us? Why?
Overall, this text, perhaps more than any other we’ve studied, really asks us about our own relationship to evangelism – personal witness, invitation, whatever label we want to attach to that. It will make us think about what we, ourselves, do, and why we do that, instead of something else that we might be doing. And what relationship we think that has to “faithfulness,” on one hand, and to the character of the God we understand ourselves to be serving, on the other. That’s a lot to think about.
Images: “Spennende Lekture” (detail)Walter Firle, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; “The New Jerusalem,” 1645, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons