Archive | June, 2015

The Revelation of John; Chapter 8 – The First Four Angels

25 Jun

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens

Chapter Eight: Verse 6-13

The rest of chapter eight is the sounding of the first four trumpets, which herald the great tribulation that is to immediately precede the second coming. Whether these are to come in succession or all at once is not really specified. Either way there has never been such a great destruction since the flood in the days of Noah.

In the following paragraphs I will present my own thoughts concerning the meaning of these plagues, as well as what Bruce R. McConkie said regarding them (taken from the New Testament Institute Manuel).

First Trumpet

The First Angel

…there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

 

Brother McConkie speculates that this could refer to men using our own weapons and technologies. I think there is something in this idea. After all, at the time of John the primary source of energy would have been wood (or the trees) to make fire. Thus this could be seen as men consuming natural resources at an unprecedented rate.

The hail and fire could also refer to the destruction caused by various bombs that are dropped from the sky.

Second Trumpet

The Second Angel

…and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

 

Brother McConkie simply refers back to the waters of Egypt turning to blood, but gives no actual interpretation.

To me the burning mountain sounds very much like a volcano. While the first plague may be of man’s creation, the second appears to be a natural one. A great volcano will erupt; or, perhaps, many volcanos will erupt in rapid succession. The flaming rock that is spewed forth would fill the oceans, killing life all around it and sinking any ship unfortunate enough to be caught.

Third Trumpet

The Third Angel

…there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

 

First note that the second plague deals with the salt water in the oceans, while the third speaks of the freshwater.

I think I agree with Brother McConkie that this sounds very much like nuclear fallout and radiation contamination in the water supply. The star could be nuclear bombs, or simply power plants being destroyed. In either case the radiation would leak into the groundwater, which, coincidentally, happens to be about a third of the world’s freshwater supply.

Fourth Trumpet

The Fourth Angel

…the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

 

Brother McConkie gives us nothing on this plague, except to say that God may not want us to know. That is entirely possible, but I will speculate anyway.

This speaks of one third of the sun, moon and stars being darkened. Could this be caused by the ash and debris of the first three plagues? If there were rapid volcanic activity, along with nuclear fallout and even pollution, could not this cause a darkening of the skies that would last for some time.

 

After the first four angels sound another angel speaks to the earth and tells those on it to prepare for the next three angels. It seems to me that this would indicate a short period in which there are no tribulations, given to men for them to prepare for the final tribulations.

This last verse does say “Woe, Woe, Woe” and three ‘woes’ are later referenced in Revelation (9:12; 11: 14), so the warning is a little more specific than it first appears.

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The Revelation of John; Chapter 8 – The seventh seal is opened

18 Jun

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II

Chapter Eight: Verses 1-5

 Now we come to the Seventh seal, which is the last days, or the time that we are currently in. Before I continue I would like to clarify something. When speaking of previous seals I have referred to literal thousand year time blocks. I do not believe this to actually be the case, but to be an approximation. So, the sixth seal was opened sometime around the year 1000 BC, not necessarily exactly in that year. The same is true of the other seals, and especially the seventh. I believe the seventh seal started with World War I. I do not believe it was before this time, because the restoration of the gospel was to occur in the sixth seal (see chapter 7 of revelation).

So, with this in mind, let us look at the beginning of the seventh seal.

 

Verses 1-2

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

 

What are these trumpets? We are told in Doctrine and Covenants 77: 12 that “…as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it…even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man…and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are…the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.”

Once again this gives us very little actual details. Suffice it to say that the trumpets are used to symbolize the various events and catastrophes that at to beset the Earth during the seventh seal (or our day). Each trumpet heralds the beginning of a new tribulation. These tribulations are the work of the Lord to cleanse the Earth and prepare it for the coming and the reign of Christ in Glory. The Earth must be cleansed before God can dwell here. The real question to ask is, will these events happen one after the other, or will they happen at the same time.

 

After seeing the seven Angels, John sees another angel with a censor in which incense is burned. This alludes back to Revelation 5: 8, where the four beasts and the 24 elders held vials of incense while worshiping God. Just as in that verse, the incense here represents the prayers of the faithful (tying back to the alter of incense in the tabernacle).

What it means when the angel takes fire from the alter and casts it to the earth I am not sure about. However, it does say that this causes “voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” This is spoken of in D&C 88: 89-90

“For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.”

Notice that this comes after the testimony of the elders of the church (see verse 85) and thus comes after the sixth seal. We saw in chapter seven that the end of the sixth seal will see the beginning of the great signs of the times, but here we are told that after the restoration, when the elders of the church will spread the testimony of Christ in the world, things will get worse. The opening of the seventh seal marks the great time of tribulation that the earth will pass through immediately before the return of Christ.

The rest of this chapter speaks of the events that attend the blowing of the first four trumpets. I will place that in a separate post so that neither one is too long. At this point we have simply been told that the greatest calamities are about to begin. In the next post we will see what some of those calamities will be.

The Book of Revelation; Chapter Seven – The Sixth Seal, part two

7 Jun

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I

 144000

Chapter 7

This chapter continues the sixth seal. This chapter is also rather cryptic, but we will try to understand it. For this chapter there are, again, extensive explanations as to its meaning found in Doctrine and Covenants 77. In fact, it is from verse 10 of section 77 that we learn this chapter is to “be accomplished in the sixth thousand years” of the Earth’s temporal existence. However, some of the explanations only generate a lot more questions.

Verse 1

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

We have an explanation for this. In D&C 77: 8 we are told “they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness.”

I am not sure what this means, however. I find it hard to believe that there are literally four angels standing on the four corners of the Earth; and where do you find corners on a sphere anyway. However, what I think we can get from this is that there are four angels who stand in positions of power and authority in heaven. They are the ones that oversee the revealing of the gospel to men on earth and thus have power over the Earth.

Verse 2

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and I heard him cry with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

Again, the explanation for this leaves a lot unexplained. We are told in D&C 77: 9 that this angel is “he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel” and that he will seal “the servants of our God in their foreheads.” He is referred to as Elias who would restore all things. Who restored all things? We read the following in the D&C student manual.

At least the following have come: Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elijah, Elias, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. Since it is apparent that no one messenger has carried the whole burden of the restoration…it becomes clear that Elias is a composite personage.”

https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/section-101-109/section-107-the-organization-of-priesthood-quorums?lang=eng

So, the Angel ascending from the east is not a single individual, but a symbolic personage that represents all those who would assist in the restoration.

Now, this composite personage stops the four from hurting the Earth until 144,000 of the tribes of Israel are sealed to God, 12,000 from each tribe. It is interesting to note that in the list of the tribes Dan does not appear, though Joseph appears twice (once as himself and once through his son Manasseh). No one seems to know why this is.

But what are the 144,000? or who? In D&C 77: 11 we read “that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel” and they are “given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.”

And interesting quote from Joseph Smith says “If the first Seventy are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand thus set apart for the ministry” (History of the Church, 2:221).

https://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/hcpgs/hc.aspx

After the sealing of the 144,000 John then sees “a great multitude, which no man could number.” This multitude was made up of people from every nation and people. They were dressed in white robes, held palms, and worshiped God before the throne.

Then one of the 24 Elders from before asks John who they are. John says he doesn’t know and the Elder explains “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (verse 14-15)

So, John is seeing the multitudes of those who have entered the Celestial glory and are there serving God. Why John saw this in connection with the sixth seal I am not sure. I think it would have been a comfort to him and his readers to know that so many have found the salvation of God and were, at that time, serving him. Set against the disasters described in chapter six and the foreshadowing of disaster that is to come after the sealing of the 144,000 it would be an even greater comfort. But I can see no other reason.