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


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.”

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).

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.


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