Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Love Under Fire - Ch. 15
France's Reign of Terror: Its True Cause
The apostle John was keenly aware that his belief put him at odds with religious and civil leaders. As is often the case, however, that which humanity intends for evil God uses for His glory.
Most people enjoy sports, even if that means watching the Olympic games with a giant bowl of popcorn. Games like soccer, basketball, tennis, and football are popular around the world, because the competition, back-and-forth action, and excitement of winning are exhilarating to experience either as a player or as a watching fan. These types of sports need a field or court to play on, a ball of some type, goals or objectives, and players. However, the game is more than just these physical and objective elements. The game must also be actually played within the set of rules outlined for that sport. Actions and people using their energy to run, shoot, hit, tackle, or jump make up the sport. Just like the game must be played in order to be an event or match or tournament, without the Holy Spirit the Bible is just a book with white pages and ink. The Holy Spirit brings the Bible to life and teaches us the lessons that God put in His Word for us to discover and apply to our lives. In this week’s lesson we will explore how Revelation 11’s two witnesses are symbolic of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
Supplies: white board, dry erase markers
The lampstand in today’s lesson is symbolic of the Word of God, and the olive oil is the Holy Spirit. The lamp cannot create any light unless the oil is in it and burning. Think of all the sources of light and how they do not produce light unless they have fuel or power. Play a game similar to Pictionary.
Using the following list, have the group form two teams and take turns trying to guess what the other team is drawing.
Items to Draw: Flashlight, Lantern, Lighthouse, Lightbulb, Lamp, Torch, Spotlight, Campfire, Headlights, Fireplace, Chandelier, Streetlight
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions.
Read John 14:26 (NIV).
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Read John 16:13-14 (NIV).
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me, because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you.
Revealed by His Spirit
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love Him—these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit.
The Point Is
Applying the concept of the two witnesses to our lives is like filling the gas tank in a car. Without God’s Word and the Holy Spirit we are running on empty, filled with fear and uncertainty and desperate for help. The stories and promises in the Bible are like firewood ready to ignite in our lives as the Holy Spirit speaks to us and shows us the lessons God wants us to learn. The world is a dark, cold place without the fire of God’s power burning in our lives. As the time of Jesus’ second coming grows closer, it is more important than ever to have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word burning brightly in our lives, illuminating the way for us to follow Jesus.
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson by doing one or all of these activities:
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
Sometimes, reading the book of Revelation can be a bit challenging, confusing, and even a bit frightening. Unlike other passages in the Bible, there are certain parts of Revelations that require you to decode and piece together the message, kind of like a puzzle. The book of Revelation is heavily tied into the history of the church and its relationship to the present and, most importantly, the common goal at hand. Studying the book of Revelation, you will find that the first half of it largely covers the historical events in a chronological order. Revelation 11, specifically the part about the two witnesses which we are covering today, focuses on the period of about 1260 years in which the world was shrouded in darkness, largely attributed to the union of church and state in medieval Europe, and the intense trials the believers faced while attempting to spread the gospel and escape persecution. To understand this chapter better, I would recommend reading The Great Controversy, particularly chapter 15, to truly delve into the various stories of these witnesses.
Verses 1-3 of Revelation 11 introduce us to the scene of this time period: 1260 days of darkness, a temple whose very own courtyard had been delegated to other nations (the splitting of Jerusalem), and two witnesses who will be clothed in burlap (rags, meaning they are to be poor) prophesying. In verses 4-6, we discover that they have certain “powers” and are described as olive trees (signs of fertility and reproduction of the gospel) and lampstands (spreading light). It is important to note that the great controversy of the dark ages was between the church of Christ and the papacy who, by extension, had virtually all the kingdoms of the Old World in their hands.
It goes without saying that the small group of believers (witnesses) who were usually found hidden in the mountains were the underdogs in this situation, constantly fleeing persecution, moving from place to place without being able to buy or sell, usually living in poverty off the land in which they resided. However, these believers did indeed have certain superpowers, and there are many stories of the miraculous ways they evangelized in the face of death, didn’t feel pain at the times when they were being tortured, converted some of the biggest faces of nobility, or graduated from some of the top universities while spreading the word of God along the way.
Unfortunately, amidst all this protection, there was a lot of death, as depicted in verses 7-10. Throughout this time period and into the Reformation, it really seemed as if the “beast” had won, and every time another witness was killed, there were many who rejoiced. However, this is not the end of the story, as the tireless work of the reformers in the Old World gave way to the wide spreading of Protestantism and the Bible, freedom of religion, and many of the other religious liberties and precedents that we sometimes take for granted.
The ending of the story of the two witnesses is yet to come, and we will all be able to witness it. Verses 11-13 depict how the witnesses are taken out of their temporary rest into the heavenly kingdom, all in the face of the same enemies who gloated at their destruction. Furthermore, these evil beings will be struck down, and all will praise the name of the true God, not the replacements that were worshipped in the Middle Ages. Banking on the tremendous story of the two witnesses and more importantly who it represents, we pray to find the courage to be the witnesses in our own time period, in order to proudly stand with those who came before us on our way to the eternal reward.
Describe a time in which you had to be a witness.
Read Revelation 11:1-13.
1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The definition of a witness according to the Oxford Dictionary is someone who gives testimony or evidence of their knowledge and/or understanding. Throughout the Middle Ages, many reformers and believers bravely became witnesses for God, even while knowing what was at stake for them (literally . . . they could be burned at a stake). Although two witnesses in Revelation 11 (and in the Middle Ages) were successful throughout their ministry and brought light into the darkened world, it seemed as though they were no match for the beast of papal Rome and the monarchies of Europe, and for a time, it seemed as if this beast won.
However, reading further, we see that God “breathed life into them” and they ascended to heaven as the same evil forces watched. Although this part is yet to come, we have faith that all they did was not for nothing. Amidst all the trials and adversity, there is always hope. The stories of early reformers and believers who sacrificed their lives and whose blood ran through the streets of Europe should inspire us, not give us fear. Because of them, we are free to practice our religion safely, and although there will come a time where we too will be faced with having to be witnesses in the darkness, we can always call upon the faith and strength of those who came before us to help us stand strong and lead us through the trials and terrors into God’s eternal salvation.
The story of the two witnesses and the period of the Dark Ages is vitally important to us as last day witnesses. It is always a necessary part of studying to sit back and meditate how a story applies to us today as youth. Below you will find three applications that can benefit the youth in your group and help them meditate on the word shared today. These applications work both individually and in a group.
Chances are, you’ve probably heard/studied about the Middle Ages before.
The story of the two witnesses and the Middle Ages can inspire fear, but for many of us, we don’t face such dire consequences while spreading the gospel. However, there are people around the world who face true persecution for being witnesses in their regions.
Sometimes, being a witness is scary because you fear the ridicule of others or, even worse, persecution. In verses 4-6, we read that these witnesses were granted special powers and protection by God for their courage and faith. God can give us these superpowers too, even if we’re not exactly running through mountains to escape death.
You Are a Leader
By Seth Yelorda
Every day when you wake up and look in the mirror, the person staring back at you is your primary follower, and you are their primary leader. That person will do what you tell them to do. They will go where you tell them to go. They will say what you tell them to say. They will follow you up a mountain, through a valley, and even over a cliff. Who that person ultimately becomes and what that person achieves will be dependent on how you lead them? You Are a Leader gives examples of leaders and leadership traits along with exercise that will help develop your leadership ability.
As a leader, the influence you have with people is a sacred trust given to you by God. You Are a Leader will help you to maximize your influence.
1. Food Care Kits For Homeless Shelters / Street Ministry
Help eliminate hunger. Purchase ready to eat and easy to open food items and assemble them in resealable plastic bags. Donate to shelters or use for street ministry.
Cost: Less than $10.00
2. Sleeping Mats For The Homeless
Re-use plastic bags for a great cause. Save plastic bags and convert them into a sleeping mat for the homeless.
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Early Learning Bean Bags
Help small children learn at home. This easy sew bean bag craft can help children learn alphabets, numbers, or shapes.
Cost: Less than $5.00