Gold. From “placer” miners working alone or with one or two companions to sift gold nuggets from mountain streams, to machine operators cutting into gold-rich rock at the huge Sutter Creek Gold Mine near Yosemite National Park in California, people everywhere are gearing up for a flow of money from gold waiting to be discovered in the United States and elsewhere.
Why such a surge of interest in gold? Biggest reason: the value of processed gold has soared from a mere $35 per ounce back when the U.S. was on the “gold standard” to values of $1820 and more today.
Even after discovering about two billion dollars’ worth of gold in the famous Gold Rush days of 1849 in California mountains, there is plenty left. Every quart of water from the ocean contains an average of a microscopic protozoa-sized spec of gold. The oceans contain an estimated 10 trillion dollars worth of gold. Clumps of gold rest undisturbed on the ocean floor. There’s still gold in our mountains and beaches. Billions, even trillions, of dollars in gold. Where is it? Where is all the gold that could make you and me wealthy? The answer: it costs too much to extract it. The price is too much to pay. Gold prices today may make some of that “hidden” gold worthwhile to a few, but most of it will probably never be retrieved, at least until the New Earth.
You and I have been promised a life worth more than pure gold if we maintain a growing friendship with Jesus. It is worth everything to us. All the gold in the world is a trivial price to pay for eternal fellowship with God.
And yet too often we turn the other way. We slip into periods of indolence. We get wrapped up in business or pleasure and don’t have time for eternal issues.
John the Revelator was given special visions from God to display for us the value of heavenly gold, the gold of eternal life and everlasting love. How much do these insights mean to us?
1. Revelation’s theme. Are you fascinated by the book of Revelation? Or does it seem too hard to comprehend? A humble member of a local congregation was asked one day if he understood Revelation. “Yes,” he said. “God is challenged. God wins. Praise be to God.” Can you accept an explanation that simple for this complicated Bible book? Did God place the book of Revelation in the Scriptures to test our ability to interpret prophecy? What do you think is the fundamental theme or purpose of the book of Revelation?
2. God reveals Himself to John. John says the divine Being He saw was “like a son of man,” with hair “white like wool,” “feet like bronze glowing in a furnace. Why does John use indirect descriptions of the God He saw in vision? Did John see God in His fullness? If not, why not? Do you ever sense the presence of God when you enter the sanctuary of your church for the main service? Is God there? How do you know?
3. Heaven and earth. How close is heaven to earth? How do you know? Imagine being sequestered in a glorious universe far from sin. Is that what heaven is like today? For twelve weeks we’ve been studying worship as described in Scripture. What does the book of Revelation add to what we have learned this quarter about worshipping the Creator God? Will mere human beings ever be able to see the God we worship? Does something have to change to make that possible? What?
4. Singing in heaven. How important is singing in the worship of Revelation? Are you ready to sign up to join the heavenly choir? Will your voice be capable of conveying the power of worship in music? Does your church provide abundant opportunities for the congregation to sing together? Or is most of the music on a performance level? How can we make singing an important part of our worship experience with God? What do you think will be the theme of the songs we will sing through eternity? Will you have a “golden” voice?
5. Revelation 13. Read carefully the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. Notice the terms, “worship the beast,” “worship the dragon.” What sort of worship might that be? An hour or so in a house of worship once a week? Or a full commitment to do what the evil heart requires? Does this conflict between the dragon and the people of God make sense, given the nature of sin and the power of God? Should we try harder to understand evil so that we can recognize the condition of our hearts at the very time of the end? Or is there a better way?
6. Revelation 14. Could anything be more dramatic than the display of evil depicted in Revelation 13? Turn the page! What is the connection between Chapter 14 and the official logo of the Seventh-day Adventist church? Where do today’s people of God fit into the picture? Are the earnest Christians looking for victory over evil in this vision all Seventh-day Adventists? Is it possible for us to proclaim the three angels’ messages to the world without stirring up more anger against us? How does the act of worship divide the people of the world into two groups? What are some of the characteristics of worship that identify those who love the Lord more than anything or anyone else?
7. “Worship God.” When John fell at the feet of the revealing angel, how did the angel respond? How could worship of the highest being John had ever seen close up possibly be wrong? The angel replies with what two powerful words? Can you and I fall at the feet of Jesus in our worship of Him? How much of our time should we spend in an attitude of worship? What activities of our life does “worship God” embrace?
8. Worship or fear. Will you be filled with fear when the final events of the world’s history take place? Why or why not? If you feel fear when these striking movements happen, does that mean you are lost? Or is there a place where you can take your fear? What are some things you and I can do now to make our faith in the Lord strong enough to resist temptations to give in to fear?