April 19, 2020

Revelation Bible Studies Spike as People Search for Meaning During COVID-19

Maryellen Fairfax, Adventist Record

In the wake of negative news and media, social isolation measures, and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is unsurprising that many people are experiencing anxiety and questioning the future.

In response to these concerns, a number of Adventist Bible studies on the topic of Revelation have emerged in recent weeks to curb anxiety and reassure church members and seekers during this time of crisis.

Lloyd Grolimund, New Hope Church, Sydney

Lloyd Grolimund, church pastor from New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sydney, Australia, has been releasing Bible studies on the book of Revelation on Facebook, YouTube, and via the church’s website.

The videos, averaging half an hour in length, feature Grolimund and his behind-the-scenes media producer, Andrew Hunt, exploring one chapter of Revelation per video. The laid-back, conversational tone helps to simplify Revelation’s complex symbolism and bring new insight to the text for both Adventists and seekers alike.

“Revelation is a love letter from Jesus to His end-time church and people,” Grolimund explained. “[It] shows us what is ahead of us, and who is going to get us through — Jesus. It is an email sent to us 2,000 years ago that is waiting in your inbox for you, [and] it needs to be opened, read, and understood. That’s why I chose Revelation.”

Across online platforms, the videos have accumulated more than 200,000 views.

“The response has been mostly positive,” he explained. “I guess thousands are watching it, so that is a good thing.”

In the videos, Grolimund urges viewers to begin a relationship with Jesus or to return to Him in preparation for the end times, and he provides reassurance in the midst of anxiety and uncertainty.

“No matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter what’s burdening you today, you should come to Jesus and give your heart and life to Him and trust Him and say, ‘I don’t deserve this, I am unworthy, but save me!’ And He will save you; He promised.”

David Riley, Reedy Creek Church, Gold Coast

David Riley from Reedy Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church on the Gold Coast of Australia decided to produce “Revelation Webinars” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a resource for new church contacts.

“[It] all happened quite quickly. We were in the middle of some outreach ‘Prophetica’ programs at our church, when we had to close them up. In the mad rush to run our regular church programs, I also had to think about what we would do to ensure we stay connected with these community contacts we had through Prophetica. And so the ‘Revelation Webinars’ was hastily born,” Riley explained.

The sessions run three times per week, with an option for either morning or evening sessions, and more than 100 people are tuning in to the programs from across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Norway, and Portugal.

Using Zoom video technology, Riley has adapted more than 10 years of study presentations and programs he has hosted on Revelation in the past to the online space. He is approaching Revelation as a chapter-by-chapter study through the entire book, often taking two to three sessions to get through a single chapter.

“How do I help make Revelation relatable and understandable when it’s such a dense book? Well, I prayerfully take it slowly, chapter by chapter. That's why each of our three sessions per week only goes for twenty-five minutes plus a few minutes of questions and feedback,” he explained. “I've had some great feedback with that strategy, and the fact that participants can join us from their lounge rooms and offices for short bursts means they keep coming back for more.”

Youth Leadership Team, Greater Sydney Conference

Youth directors Simon Gigliotti and Phil Yates, from the Greater Sydney Conference, have started a Wednesday night Bible study called “Revelation with the Youth Directors.”

“We decided to go with Revelation because it’s one of those interesting books that often goes untouched,” Gigliotti explained. “The symbology, the Old Testament background that brings rich meaning to the text, and the eschatological [last-day events] nature makes for an exciting read. Most importantly, it is the Revelation of Jesus, the same Jesus we read about in the Gospels, so we know there will be an encouraging message in there.”

Meeting at 6:30 p.m. for a social chat via Zoom, they then dive into a chapter of Revelation with the youth each week at 7:00 p.m. Attendance is averaging between 30 and 50 people in each session.

When asked about the engagement with Revelation from young people, Gigliotti said, “I think young people in our time want four main things from those who teach the Bible: an acknowledgment that we don’t have all the answers; to know why we believe what we believe about the Bible; to be true to the text of Scripture and not read our ideas and traditions into the text if they aren’t there; and an application for life.… [When we do this,] young people want to tune in.”

“Revelation with the Youth Directors” focuses on providing young people with a fresh — and perhaps unexpected — picture of Jesus, and courage and resilience for the future, Gigliotti said.

“Revelation is a book about Jesus, His saving grace, and His sovereign hand overall — especially the things that lie before us. In these uncertain times, we have nothing to fear except losing our connection with Jesus,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.