June 3, 2020
Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Rv 1 — HAPPY HOUR
"Happy is the man who reads this prophetic message, and happy are those who hear it and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near!" 1:3
The book of Revelation is addressed to slaves of Jesus Christ. It was written to make us happy. It focuses on Jesus. If we're not happy when we read Revelation, we're not getting the message. This is either because we're not totally committed to Christ, or we don't have our eyes fixed on Him.
Prayer: Jesus, may I see all earthly realities from the foot of Your throne.
Promise: "When I caught sight of Him I fell down at His feet as though dead. He touched me with His right hand and said: 'There is nothing to fear. I am the First and the Last and the One Who lives. Once I was dead but now I live forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and the nether world.' " 1:17-18
Rv 2 — GET-WELL CARDS
"Let him who has ears heed the Spirit's word to the churches!" 2:7
When we have our eyes fixed on Jesus the Head, we can see His body, the Church. The seven churches represent all churches of all times. Some churches are powerful but have turned aside from their "early love" (2:4). Others are in tribulation and material poverty but are rich in God's eyes (2:9). Many churches "have not denied the faith" but are infected with secular humanism (2:13). Some churches' "efforts of recent times are greater than ever" (2:19). Yet they too are at fault for tolerating compromises with the world.
Prayer: Jesus, renew Your body, the Church. Do whatever it takes to make us holy (Eph 5:25-26).
Promise: "To the one who wins the victory, who keeps to My ways till the end, I will give authority over the nations the same authority I received from My Father." 2:26
Rv 3 — SICK TO HIS STOMACH
"Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears Me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with Me." 3:20
Some churches have the reputation of being alive but in fact are dead (3:1). Other churches have limited strength but are pleasing to the Lord because they have held fast to His word (3:8). Finally, many churches make Him sick to His stomach because they are lukewarm (3:16). Which church is yours?
Prayer: Jesus, may I never make You sick.
Promise: "Because you have kept My plea to stand fast, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is coming on the whole world, to test all men on earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have lest someone rob you of your crown." 3:10-11
Rv 4 — "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY"
"After this I had another vision: above me there was an open door to heaven, and I heard the trumpetlike voice which had spoken to me before. It said, 'Come up here and I will show you what must take place in time to come.' " 4:1
If we are to understand rightly the things of earth and the events recounted in Revelation, we must see them from a heavenly perspective. "As you well know, we have our citizenship in heaven; it is from there that we eagerly await the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil 3:20).
Prayer: "O Lord our God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power! For You have created all things; by Your will they came to be and were made!" (4:11)
Promise: "Day and night, without pause, they sing: 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, He Who was, and Who is, and Who is to come!' " 4:8
Rv 5 — GRAND OPENING
"Worthy are You to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for You were slain. With Your blood You purchased for God men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation." 5:9
The scroll with the seven seals represents all of human history. No one can understand it but Jesus. Without Jesus, we can find no meaning in life. Therefore, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and praise!" (5:12)
Prayer: "To the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honor, glory and might, forever and ever!" (5:13)
Promise: "You made of them a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they shall reign on the earth." 5:10
Rv 6 — GREAT BALLS OF FIRE
"They cried out to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us! Hide us from the face of the One Who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! The great day of Their vengeance has come. Who can withstand it?' " 6:16-17
The history of the human race is primarily one of war, deprivation, sickness, and persecution. Moreover, this will greatly increase at the very end. Under these circumstances, the martyrs naturally cried out: "How long will it be, O Master?" (6:10) "They were told to be patient a little while longer until the quota was filled of their fellow servants and brothers to be slain, as they had been" (6:11). At the end, we will see the fantastic faith of the martyrs contrasted with the overwhelming fear of those sold out to the world.
Prayer: Father, like Your Son, may I not die of "natural causes" but of persecution for the Gospel.
Promise: "Each of the martyrs was given a long white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the quota was filled of their fellow servants and brothers to be slain, as they had been." 6:11
Rv 7 — 144,000
" 'Do no harm to the land and the sea or the trees until we imprint this seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.' I heard the number of those who were so marked one hundred and forty-four thousand." 7:3-4
This number symbolizes a large number of people "from every nation and race, people and tongue" (7:9). No one will have a monopoly on heaven. For example, Baptists will sit eternally next to Catholics. The heavenly robes may be white but the faces will be black, brown, red, yellow, and white. They'll be plenty of Russians and Arabs. Heaven is international, multi-racial, and ecumenical.
Prayer: Father, I decide to live on earth for You and go to heaven.
Promise: "Never again shall they know hunger or thirst, nor shall the sun or its heat beat down on them, for the Lamb on the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." 7:16-17
Rv 8 — TRUMPET LESSONS
"Then the angel took the censer, filled it with live coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. Peals of thunder and flashes of lightning followed, and the earth trembled." 8:5
The Lord is patient. He unfolds His plan in stages and gives us ample time to repent. After the seven seals, there are seven trumpets followed by seven bowls pouring out seven plagues. The number "seven" symbolizes an indefinite number. This means that the Lord has given us countless opportunities to turn to Him before we gradually destroy ourselves as well as the land, sea, fresh water, and atmosphere. Hopefully, we will repent before it's too late.
Prayer: Father, thank You for another chance. I repent completely now.
Promise: "From the angel's hand the smoke of the incense went up before God, and with it the prayers of God's people." 8:4
Rv 9 — HARD-HEARTED?
"Neither did they repent of their murders or their sorcery, their fornication or their thefts." 9:21
In John's vision, "those men who had not the seal of God on their foreheads" were tortured for five months (9:4-5). Next, "a third of mankind was slain" (9:18). But even these catastrophes did not shock humanity into repenting of sin. "That part of mankind which escaped the plagues did not repent of the idols they had made" (9:20).
"Today, if you should hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 3:15; see Ps 95:8-11).
Prayer: Father, I repent before I get paid more of the wages of sin (Rm 6:23).
Promise: "So the four angels were released; this was precisely the hour, the day, the month, and the year for which they had been prepared, to kill a third of mankind." 9:15
Rv 10 — EAT YOUR WORDS
"I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. In my mouth it tasted as sweet as honey, but when I swallowed it my stomach turned sour." 10:10
As with the seals, there is a break between the sixth and seventh trumpets. John is called to eat the scroll and "prophesy again for many peoples and nations, languages and kings" (10:11). The Lord in His mercy raises up more prophets when the time is short.
Prayer: Father, thank You for reaching out to us even more when we refuse to listen. I obey You.
Promise: "When the time comes for the seventh angel to blow his trumpet, the mysterious plan of God, which He announced to His servants the prophets, shall be accomplished in full." 10:7
Rv 11 — THE LAST TRUMPET
"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet. Loud voices in heaven cried out, 'The kingdom of the world now belongs to our Lord and to His Anointed One, and He shall reign forever and ever.' " 11:15
In addition to his own ministry, John alludes to the prophetic ministry of the whole church and possibly to Peter and Paul. These two witnesses and many others were so mightily anointed by the Lord that they gave their lives for Jesus. The Lord has done and is doing everything possible to lead us to Him before the seventh trumpet blows.
Prayer: "We praise You, the Lord God Almighty, Who is and Who was. You have assumed Your great power, You have begun Your reign" (11:17).
Promise: "Then God's temple in heaven opened and in the temple could be seen the ark of His covenant. There were flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm." 11:19
Rv 12 — SPIRITUAL WARFARE
"Enraged at her escape, the dragon, went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep God's commandments and give witness to Jesus." 12:17
We get a glimpse of the war that began when Satan rebelled against the Lord, was overpowered by Michael, and lost his place in heaven. Satan "was hurled down to earth and his minions with him" (12:9). Jesus defeated him on Calvary. We also can defeat Satan "by the blood of the Lamb" and the word of our testimony (12:11).
Prayer: Father, may I be worthy of persecution because I keep Your commandments and witness to Jesus.
Promise: "Now have salvation and power come, the reign of our God and the authority of His Anointed One. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before our God." 12:10
Rv 13 — WORLD-WIDE WEB
"The beast will be worshiped by all those inhabitants of earth who did not have their names written at the world's beginning in the book of the living, which belongs to the Lamb Who was slain." 13:8
Satan uses an international web of people to wage spiritual warfare. At the time Revelation was written, he was using the Roman empire. Today, Satan uses primarily the international system of secular humanism, which includes both capitalism and Communism. If we don't sell out to the worldly system and take the mark of the beast, we will not even be allowed "to buy or sell anything" (13:17). Be faithful to Jesus no matter what.
Prayer: Father, may I never compromise my Christian life by giving into the pressures of the world.
Promise: "Such is the faithful endurance that distinguishes God's holy people." 13:17
Rv 14 — MAKE YOUR MARK
"Then the Lamb appeared in my vision. He was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him were the hundred and forty-four thousand who had His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads." 14:1
Everyone makes their mark, either by living for Jesus or for self. We receive the mark of the Lamb if we "are pure and follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (14:4). However, "if anyone worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on his forehead or hand, he too will drink the wine of God's wrath" (14:9-10). "There shall be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name (14:11).
Prayer: Jesus, mark me down as Your slave. I live for You and die to myself and to the world.
Promise: "They have been ransomed as the first fruit of mankind for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are indeed without flaw." 14:4-5
Rv 15 — CLIMAX
"I saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring: seven angels holding the seven final plagues which would bring God's wrath to a climax." 15:1
We are about to see the climax of human history as the seven angels pour out the seven plagues from the seven bowls. But before this vision, we once again look to heaven and see "those who had won the victory over the beast and its image" standing on the sea of glass, "holding the harps used in worshiping God" and singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (15:2-3).
Prayer: "Mighty and wonderful are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Righteous and true are Your ways, O King of the nations!" (15:3)
Promise: "Then the sanctuary became so filled with the smoke which arose from God's glory and might that no one could enter it until the seven plagues of the seven angels had come to an end." 15:8
Rv 16 — THE SUPER-BOWLS
"I heard a mighty voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out upon the earth the seven bowls of God's wrath!' " 16:1
Boils, bloody water, scorching heat, cursed darkness, frog-like demons, the most violent earthquake in history, and giant hailstones all this is to come. "Then I heard the altar cry out: 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, Your judgments are true and just!' " (16:7)
Prayer: "You are just, O Holy One Who is and Who was, in passing this sentence!" (16:5) I worship You.
Promise: "Be on your guard! I come like a thief. Happy the man who stays wide awake and fully clothed for fear of going naked and exposed for all to see!" 16:15
Rv 17 — A DRUNKEN PROSTITUTE
"Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came to me and said: 'Come, I will show you the judgment in store for the great harlot who sits by the waters of the deep.' " 17:1
Here we begin to see the judgment that came upon the Roman empire. This prefigures the judgment that will be given to those today who deny or ignore the lordship of Jesus and have been accomplices in the attacks on God's people through their greed, lust, and apathy.
Prayer: Lord, may I never let myself be manipulated to oppose You.
Promise: "They will fight against the Lamb but the Lamb will conquer them, for He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings; victorious, too, will be His followers the ones who were called: the chosen and the faithful." 17:14
Rv 18 — THE END OF THE WORLD
"Her plagues will come all at once, death and mourning and famine. She shall be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God Who condemns her." 18:8
When the devil's system is destroyed, the political and business sectors of society will be especially devastated. Anyone or anything that took part in the devil's system will be destroyed: any business, political system, entertainment, technology, or relationship. The fabric of society will be no more. Those who have chosen to follow Jesus will be spared. The Lord says: "Depart from her, My people for fear of sinning with her and sharing the plagues inflicted on her!" (18:4)
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for saving me from sin, Satan, death, slavery, and the destruction of the world's end.
Promise: "Rejoice over her, you heavens, you saints, apostles and prophets! For God has exacted punishment from her on your account." 18:20
Rv 19 — THE ALLELUIA CHORUS
"The angel then said to me: 'Write this down: Happy are they who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.' " 19:9
While the world is ending, what are the Christians doing? Singing, of course not because they are vengeful or apathetic, but because they trust in the Lord. "After this I heard what sounded like the loud song of a great assembly in heaven. They were singing: 'Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just!' " (19:1-2) "Once more they sang 'Alleluia!' " (19:3) "The four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God seated on the throne and sang, 'Amen! Alleluia!' " (19:4)
Prayer: Father, "Alleluia!" forever.
Promise: "He wore a cloak that had been dipped in blood, and His name was the Word of God." 19:13
Rv 20 — THE MILLENNIUM
The angel "seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil or Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years." 20:2
John speaks of a thousand-year reign with Christ when the devil is chained. We believe the millennium is now because Jesus has defeated and bound Satan by His death on Calvary (see 2 Thes 2:6). The time from Jesus' death till the end of the world is symbolized by the thousand years.
"When the thousand years are over Satan will be released from his prison" (20:7). He will raise up the anti-Christ and perpetrate the mass apostasy (2 Thes 2:3-4). The world will end and the last judgment will begin. Come, Lord Jesus!
Prayer: Jesus, may I reign with You now and stay close to You when Satan is released.
Promise: "They shall serve God and Christ as priests, and shall reign with Him for a thousand years." 20:6
Rv 21 — "NOW ALL IS NEW!" (2 Cor 5:17)
"The One Who sat on the throne said to me: 'See, I make all things new!' " 21:5
At the end, there will be new heavens, a new earth, and the new Jerusalem for those who have received new life in Christ. "This means that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now all is new!' " (2 Cor 5:17)
Prayer: Father, renew me as I repent of my sins and go to Confession.
Promise: "To anyone who thirsts I will give to drink without cost from the spring of life-giving water." 21:6
Rv 22 — MARANATHA! COME, LORD JESUS!
"Remember, I am coming soon!" 22:7
In the last chapter of the Bible, we see something much greater than the paradise of the first chapter of the Bible. We see "the river of life-giving water, clear as crystal, which issued from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (22:1). "The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there, and His servants shall serve Him faithfully. They shall see Him face to face and bear His name on their foreheads. The night shall be no more. They will need no light from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever" (22:3-5).
"Let him who hears answer, 'Come!' Let him who is thirsty come forward; let all who desire it accept the gift of life-giving water" (22:17). "The One Who gives this testimony says, 'Yes, I am coming soon!' " (22:20) We reply: "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (22:20)
Prayer: Jesus, I give my life to You. Come back today or as soon as possible.
Promise: "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen!" 22:21
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 8, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 12, 1996
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