New Testament Lesson 46 (Revelation 5-6; 19-22)
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “When John had the curtains of heaven withdrawn, and by vision looked through the dark vista of future ages, and contemplated events that should transpire throughout every subsequent period of time, until the final winding up scene—while he gazed upon the glories of the eternal world, saw an innumerable company of angels and heard the voice of God—it was in the Spirit, on the Lord’s day, unnoticed and unobserved by the world.”1
These final chapters are a crescendo of adoration for the gospel and Christ’s glorious atonement. John testifies of the glorification of the earth and the righteous Saints who will finally inherit it. As is always the case, words are poor vehicles to convey the fulness of such a vision. Nephi, who received a similar vision, was commanded to “seal it up” (1 Nephi 14:18–27). John was commanded to “seal not. . .the prophecy of this book. “(Revelation 22:10).
JOHN’S VISION OF HEAVEN
● John sees God on his throne, and many other things (Revelation 4:1–8).
— The 24 elders were deceased members of the seven churches (v. 4; D&C 77:5).
— The sea of glass is the earth in its sanctified, immortal, eternal state (v. 6; D&C 77:1; 130:6–9).
— These are actual beasts, exalted and praising God on his throne (vv. 6–8). The eyes of the beasts represent their light and knowledge. The wings of the beasts represent their ability to move, act, etc. (D&C 77:4; 77:2).
THE ONGOING WAR WITH SATAN
Important Insights from the JST
Revelation chapter 12 was discussed in last week’s lesson; however, a few additional insights may also be helpful this week.
Joseph Smith made many significant changes in the book of Revelation in the JST.
Of the many chapters in which changes were made, chapter twelve was the most revised.
Every verse, with the exception of verse 12, received some change. In two changed verses—1 and 7—the meaning of the entire chapter was significantly altered.
● “And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (JST 12:1).
● “And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the Church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ” (JST 12:7).
THE BOOK WITH SEVEN SEALS
The Meaning of the “Seals”
● The Father had a book that only the Lamb of God was able to open (Revelation 5:1–5).
— The seals symbolize the seven “days” of the earth’s temporal existence (D&C 77:6–7).
— One day with the Lord is as a thousand years to us (2 Peter 3:8).
— Elder Orson F. Whitney said: “‘The book which John saw’ represented the real history of the world what the eye of God has seen, what the recording angel has written; and the seven thousand years, corresponding to the seven seals of the Apocalyptic volume, are as seven great days during which Mother Earth will fulfill her mortal mission, laboring six days and resting upon the seventh, her period of sanctification. These seven days do not include the period of our planet’s creation and preparation as a dwelling place for man. They are limited to Earth’s ‘temporal existence,’ that is, to Time, considered as distinct from Eternity. . . .”2
— These dates are only approximate. No one knows exactly how many years elapsed between the Fall of Adam and the birth of Christ. Through numerous changes from one calendar system to another through the centuries, many years have been either added or lost.
● John beheld “creatures” (as well as men) worshiping Christ (Revelation 5:11–14). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven,— all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven,—actually there, giving glory to God. How do you prove it? (He then read Revelation 5:13). . . . I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.”3
The First Six Seals
● First seal: The time from Adam through Enoch (Revelation 6: 1–2).
● White horse: Symbolic of victory over evil.
● Second seal: Noah’s day, which was full of great wickedness (Revelation 6: 3–4).
● Red horse: Symbolic of bloodshed & the sword.
● Third seal: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses (Revelation 6: 5–6).
● Black horse: Symbolic of famine and hunger.
—A measure (Greek choenix) was about 1 quart, a day’s allowance.
—The penny (denarius) was a small silver coin, a day’s pay.
—Thus, it cost 1 day’s wages to buy 1 day’s food for 1 person.
—Barley for 3 people was inferior, used only in times of great hunger.
—The balances in the rider’s hand means food had to be doled out.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said “hurt not the oil and the wine” meant that enough food should be preserved so that man would not utterly perish in the famine conditions of that time.”4
● Fourth seal: Wicked Israel is conquered, captured & killed (Revelation 6: 7–8).
● Pale horse: Symbolic of death and hell.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “During the fourth seal, from 1000 BC to the coming of our Lord, death rode roughshod through the nations of men, and hell was at his heels. Thus, the slain among the ungodly in this age of bloodshed whether by sword or by famine or by pestilence or by wild beasts—were, at their death, cast down to hell. This is the millennium of those great kingdoms and nations whose wars and treacheries tormented and overran, again and again, the people whom Jehovah had chosen to bear his name. This is also the general era in which the Lord’s own people warred among themselves and sent countless numbers of their own brethren to untimely graves.”5
● Fifth seal: The Lord’s earthly witnesses are martyred (Revelation 6: 9–11).
● They receive their exaltation and rest awhile.
● Sixth seal: Earth’s temporal existence ends with destruction (Revelation 6:12–17).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “We are now living during the final years of the sixth seal, that thousand year period which began in 1000 AD and will continue through the Saturday night of time and until just before the Sabbatical era when Christ shall reign person ally on earth, when all of the blessings of the Great Millennium shall be poured out upon this planet. This, accordingly, is the era when the signs of the times shall be shown forth, and they are in fact everywhere to be seen.”6
The Destruction of Satan’s Kingdom
● Sounding of the trumpets of judgment before the coming of the Lord (Revelation 8:7–13).
— The 1st angel sounds the trumpet:Natural disasters and death (v. 7).
— The 2nd angel sounds the trumpet:A great volcano in the sea (v. 8–9).
— The 3rd angel sounds the trumpet:A comet slams into the earth (v. 10–11).
— The 4th angel sounds the trumpet:The atmosphere is darkened (v. 12–13).
● The Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 9:1–12). The 5th and 6th angels sound the trumpet. A description of the armies gathered against Jerusalem’s people.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “During this particular period of the war and desolation the evil forces will be directed against all men, save those sealed up unto eternal life, for those in Zion shall be preserved. The plagues and torments of this era shall so afflict men that they shall desire to die rather than to suffer more. In prophetic imagery John here seeks to describe a war fought with weapons and under circumstances entirely foreign to any experience of his own or of the people of that day. Joel, subject to the same limitations of descriptive ability, attempted [with difficulty] to portray the same scenes. It is not improbable that these ancient prophets were seeing such things as men wearing or protected by strong armor; as troops of cavalry and companies of tanks and flame throwers; as airplanes and airborne missiles which explode, fire shells and drop bombs; and even other weapons yet to be devised in an age when warfare is the desire and love of wicked men.”7
— Their leader is Abaddon or Apollyon—”Destroyer” (names for Satan).
— A related name is Perdition—meaning “utter loss” or “destruction.”
— An army of two hundred thousand thousand (two hundred million) (Revelation 9:16–21).
— 1/3 will die (66 million), yet the wicked will still not repent.
— The wicked will mourn the loss of their worldly possessions and be amazed that their worldly kingdom could be destroyed so quickly (Revelation 18:8–18).
● All of this will take place before the Lord’s Second Coming (D&C 77:12–13).
The Second Coming of Christ
● Great multitudes shout praise at the Lord’s Second Coming (Revelation 19:6–9).
— His coming is symbolized as a “marriage supper.”
— Christ is the Bridegroom, and his “wife” is the Church.
— Our relationship with Christ is sacred—like a covenant of marriage.
● Christ invites all to come to the wedding supper and be exalted (Revelation 22:12–17).
The First Resurrection
● The First Resurrection will begin at the Savior’s Second Coming (Revelation 20:4–6).
— Those who will receive a celestial or terrestrial reward will come forward in this resurrection (D&C 88:98–99).
— The Second Resurrection, or the resurrection of the unjust, will not begin until the end of the Millennium Those who will receive a telestial reward and the sons of perdition will come forward in this resurrection (D&C 88:100–102).
● Satan will be bound for a thousand years and cannot tempt mankind (Revelation 20:1–3).
— Satan will be bound because of the righteousness of the people (1 Nephi 22:26).
— Our little children will grow up without sin unto salvation, and Jesus Christ himself shall reign in our midst (D&C 45:55–58).
— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “After Christ comes, all the peoples of the earth will be subject to him, but there will be multitudes of people on the face of the earth who will not be members of the Church; yet all will have to be obedient to the laws of the kingdom of God, for it will have dominion upon the whole face of the earth. These people will be subject to the political government, even though they are not members of the ecclesiastical kingdom which is the Church. This government which embraces all the peoples of the earth, both in and out of the Church, is also sometimes spoken of as the kingdom of God, because the people are subject to the kingdom of God which Christ will set up; but they have their agency and thousands will not be members of the Church until they are converted; yet at the same time they will be subject to the theocratic rule.”8
The Battle of Gog and Magog
● When the Millennium is over, Satan will be loosed again for a time (Revelation 20:7–8).
● Elder Joseph Fielding Smith clarified the difference between the battle of Armageddon and the battle of Gog and Magog: “Before the coming of Christ, the great war, sometimes called Armageddon, will take place as spoken of by Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Another war of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium.”9
● In the great battle of Gog & Magog, Michael and his armies will defeat Satan and his followers and cast them away forever (D&C 88:110–116).
● The final fate of Satan, his angels, and the sons of Perdition is “a lake of fire and brimstone” where they shall be “tormented day and night forever” (Revelation 20:9–11).
The Final Judgement
● All will stand before God and be judged by their works (Revelation 20:12–15).
— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “We are informed that the books will be opened. One of these books will be the record of our lives as it is kept in heaven. Other books which will be opened are records which have been kept on earth. From the very organization of the Church the Lord has given instruction that records should be kept of the members of the Church.”10
● Those not found in the Lamb’s “book of life” will be cast into a “lake of fire” (spiritual death and eternal disappointment) (Revelation 21:8; 20:14). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man.”11
THE RIGHTEOUS ARE EXALTED
● The earth will be celestialized and the righteous exalted (Revelation 21:1–7).
— John said, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (v. 1).
— John described the New Jerusalem (vv. 2–3).
● John also described the celestial city of God (Revelation 21:8–15).
— There will be no temple there, for God and Christ will be with us (Revelation 21:22–27).
— There will also be no need for the sun to provide light.
— The tree of life will be there, as will be the throne of God (Revelation 22:1–5).
— President David O. McKay said of a similar vision that he saw: “The city, I understood, was [the Savior’s]. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness. But who were they? As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words: These Are They Who Have Overcome the World—Who Have Truly Been Born Again!”12
● The Savior said, “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:7).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Not soon, but in a quick manner; that is, with speed and suddenness after all of the promised conditions precedent have occurred. ‘I am Jesus Christ, who cometh quickly, in an hour you think not.’ (D&C 51:10).”13
● John said, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 247.
2. Saturday Night Thoughts, 12.
3. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 291–292.
4. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 3:480.
5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:481.
6. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:485–486.
7. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:502–503.
8. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:229.
9. Doctrines of Salvation, 3:45.
10. The Way to Perfection , 342.
11. History of the Church, 6:314.
12. Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss , 60.
13. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:590.