The Victory of the Lamb (Revelation)

  • Des Smith

Leading a study on the book of Revelation can be a daunting task, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Amid the wild imagery and the world of puzzling explanations on offer, Revelation’s central message is clear: take courage and stand firm, because Jesus wins.

In this series of 10 studies, pastor Des Smith guides you through the stunning big-picture reality of Revelation. He helps us to see that God is on his throne, and his plans and purposes will be fulfilled. As with all of our Pathway Bible Guides, extensive leader’s notes help with understanding the material in order to prepare and teach well.

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Table of contents:

  1. 1. Jesus wins (Revelation 1)
  2. The letter to the churches (Revelation 2–3)
  3. The throne room of God (Revelation 4–5)
  4. The rule of tyrants (Revelation 6:1–8:1)
  5. The suffering of creation (Revelation 8:2–11:19)
  6. The persecution of believers (Revelation 12–14)
  7. The destruction of the earth (Revelation 15–16)
  8. The end of evil (I) (Revelation 17:1–19:10)
  9. The end of evil (II) (Revelation 19:11–20:15)
  10. The new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21–22)
  11. For the leader

Before you begin

Revelation scares a lot of us.

It’s full of strange, vivid images: multi-eyed beasts, angels of destruction, people with swords coming out of their mouths, and dragons. What are we to make of all this? Are these images literal or figurative? And if they’re figurative, what do they represent?

It’s also quite a violent book. There are lots of plagues being poured out on people, God punishing the wicked, and graphic depictions of the end of the world.

And perhaps most scarily, there’s the question of when all this will happen. Is Revelation a chronological description of the end of the world, telling us each of its stages, some of which we can see now? For example, is the beast of the sea in chapter 13 the Soviet Union, or perhaps Napoleon? And should we be trying to look for each of these signs so we can tell what will happen next? Or is Revelation something different to a straight chronology? But if so, what is it?

These are some of the reasons lots of people either avoid Revelation, or dwell on it too much. But in fact, we shouldn’t do either, because the book’s basic message is clear: Jesus wins. In the end, the lamb who was slain will be victorious over all the enemies of God and his people. This key message of Revelation is communicated in a way that’s unfamiliar to us, and there are many historical references that need explaining. But its basic message is an encouraging word for anyone living in a world ruined by evil and wondering if it will ever end: Jesus wins.

That’s what we’ll unpack over these ten studies.

To get you oriented to the book as a whole, here’s how it fits together.

Chapter 1

An introduction to John, Jesus, and the book.

In particular, chapter 1 sets out John’s program: “Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this” (1:19). John will write:

  • The things that he has seen—what he has already seen in the lives of the churches under his jurisdiction in Asia Minor (chapters 2–3).
  • Those things that are—what is currently happening in the throne room of God (chapters 4–5).
  • Those things that are to take place after this—what will happen between the time of John’s writing and the coming of the new creation (chapters 6–22).

The rest of Revelation is John filling out this outline.

Chapters 2–3

The things that he has seen: a letter from Jesus to seven churches in Asia Minor (what we would now call Turkey).

Chapters 4–5

Those things that are: a vision of God and his crucified king, Jesus, and what they are doing now: sitting on their thrones in heaven, having defeated evil on the cross.

Chapters 6–22

Those things that are to take place after this: a vision of life between the time of John’s writing and the coming of the new creation in all its fullness. We can break this down into three sections:

Chapters 6–16: Four episodes describing what life will be like during this time:

  • 6–7: The rule of tyrants
  • 8–11: The suffering of creation
  • 12–14: The persecution of believers
  • 15–16: The destruction of the earth

These episodes are not in chronological order. That is, Revelation 8–11 doesn’t describe what happens after Revelation 6–7 (and so on). Rather, they are overlapping descriptions of the same period of time, each describing a different aspect of life before the end of the world.

Chapters 17–20: A description of the final destruction of evil, both earthly and satanic, at the end of the world.

Chapters 21–22: The new creation coming in all its fullness.

If you ever get lost in Revelation, come back to this page to see where you are. Hopefully, like a map, it will help you find your bearings again.