1. Wish you were there? If you’re like me, every time you read John’s true-life account of the final days of earth’s history, you want to GO there. You want to see first-hand how God is bringing the battle between Christ and Satan to a conclusion. Don’t you? We can’t quite do that, of course, but we can imagine finding a rocky seat on the isle of Patmos and watching as God peels back the layers of time and tells us to the limit of our capacity to understand, what is going on “among the lampstands” of eternity.
2. On Patmos. It was no luxurious vacation spot for John on the isle of Patmos. What do you imagine our trusted friend did day after day as his captors hovered over him, inflicting injury at every possibility, filling the air with taunts…but wait! Is that the glow of a warm light shining on John? Are those the wings of angels fluttering in the early darkness? How much of John’s isolation on Patmos was deathly silence, and how much was the opening of God’s word to him? Do you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t rescue John immediately and let him share the word with others?
3. John’s Vision of Christ on Patmos. When Jesus revealed Himself to John in the first primary vision on Patmos, what did He look like and what was He doing? Did this image or picture of Jesus present a measure of comfort to John? Why or why not? How could John rejoice in such a setting? If you’ve enjoyed nature walks on Sabbath, you can sense a degree of sympathy with John on a forlorn and dismal island? Does this picture of “Sabbath on Patmos” give you an even deeper appreciation of John’s isolation on the deserted island?
4. Christ’s Messages for Then and Now. Suppose there were three dozen, or three hundred, Christian churches in the well-to-do sections of first-century Asia. Would it have been easier to grow the early Christian church from a financially stronger base? Explain the importance of seven churches in the early church. Why do we continue to read and study these letters thousands of years later? Are we sometimes tempted to think of our own circumstances or churches as superior to those around us? Imagine that the conference or mission president decided to write a special letter to each of the seven largest churches in your area. Do you think we could grow from the study of these seven letters?
5. Message to the church in Ephesus. Ah, here it is. The first letter to the first of seven churches in Asia. What was of special interest to God at that time in this church? Imagine being a member of a church known throughout Asia, Europe, and the rest of the known world as a loving and faithful church. Was that one of the honors of belonging to the Ephesus church? A severe reprimand is revealed in this part of the lesson concerning the decline of the church at Ephesus. Is your local church in any way caught up by the problems of the believers in Ephesus? What can you do to help fellow members take hold of the simplicity and beauty of the Christian church?