Archive | July, 2015

The Revelation of John: Chapter 12 – part two

30 Jul

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, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I

Again I have decided to include the complete text of the chapter in this article so that the significant corrections made by Joseph Smith are readily apparent to the reader. The changes in this second part are not as significant, but there are a number of them.

Chapter 12: 9-17

Verses 9-11

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ;

For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

For they have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death. Therefore, rejoice O heavens, and ye that dwell in them.

In these verses we return to the millennium and see that Satan is cast down and the saints have emerged victorious. (Note that Satan means accuser or slanderer.)

It is interesting that it is not just through the blood of Christ that victory is made possible, but also through the word of the testimony of the saints. This shows that power of a personal testimony in overcoming Satan and his influence, and the need to continually strengthen ours.

Also, note that Satan accuses both night and day, meaning that he never ceases his efforts in trying to destroy us.

Verses 12-14

And after these things I heard another voice saying, Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, yea, and they who dwell upon the islands of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

For when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child.

Therefore, to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

We return to the story of the church and the kingdoms of Satan. Satan knows that the end is coming, and so he is stepping up his game. Again we see the apostasy described, and the same time frame given. (Time, times, and half a time = a year, two years, and half a year = 1260 days.)

In this case I think we can also see the latter-day church. As it began to be organized Satan, knowing the last days were fast approaching, let loose all his power against the new church. The saints then fled into the wilderness (Utah) through divine deliverance, represented by the eagle’s wings. There the church was nourished away from the persecutions of Satan for a short time, allowing it to become firmly established. The time frame here could be symbolic. Note that it doesn’t state 1260 days, but three and a half years. I recently read that since the number seven represents perfection in the scriptures, three and a half could simply represent a period of tribulation in which Satan causes chaos.

Verse 15-17

And the serpent casteth out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

And the earth helpeth the woman, and the earth openeth her mouth, and swalloweth up the flood which the dragon casteth out of his mouth.

Therefore, the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Keeping with my belief that these verses speak of the modern church, the great flood seems to be the persecutions that the saints endured, which did follow them to Utah for a short time. President Buchanan even sent troops to Utah to put down an alleged rebellion. But since Utah was mostly a desert country the saints were eventually left alone to grow and flourish; or the earth swallowed the flood. However, Satan is not pleased with this and so has continued to make war through the spreading of false doctrine and false understanding of the church.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 12 – part one

30 Jul

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, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet

I have decided to include the complete text of the chapter in this article so that the significant corrections made by Joseph Smith are readily apparent to the reader. Only 2 of the 17 verses do not have changes, and one verse has been placed in a different sequence (given in blue). As you read this pay attention to these changes.

Also, this chapter ran a bit long and so I have divided it into two articles.


Chapter 12:
1-8

Verses 1-3

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.

And the woman being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and his throne.

The word wonder here is changed to sign, meaning that these things are a representation of things on earth.
The woman is the church and the child is the kingdom of God (see verse seven below). So, the Kingdom of God will come out of the church. Also, the church is clothed in the sun, which is most commonly a symbol of celestial glory. This would suggest that it is through the church that one prepares for the Celestial Kingdom.

The moon represents the terrestrial kingdom, and is placed beneath the woman’s feet, suggesting that other churches, which can only bring their followers to the terrestrial, are under or below the true church.

The twelve starred crown would suggest the Twelve Apostles who lead the church. It could also refer to the apostles of Christ who were told that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Verses 4-5

And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman which was delivered, ready to devour her child after it was born.

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore years.

The dragon is Satan, as stated later in the chapter. The seven heads and ten horns are very similar to Daniel 7: 7-8. In both cases these represent earthly kingdoms. These kingdoms would be under the power of Satan.

The third part of heaven that the dragon casts to earth is a reference to the spirits that sided with Satan in the pre-existence.

The rest of this is speaking of the church that was organized by Christ. As the church spread it was preparing to bring forth the Kingdom of God. However, because Satan had set the worldly kingdoms to destroy it the Lord took the church off the earth and the result was the great apostasy. This would last 1260 years.

Now, the exact year in which the church was taken is a matter for speculation.If one places the end as the reorganization of the church in 1830, than the beginning would be in 570. This year does seem to have a significance in history as the year the Lombards conquered Rome and ended forever the western Roman Empire. It was just after this that the Catholic church, under Gregory the Great, rose to great political power in Europe. The timing would seem to fit.

Verses 6-8

And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael;

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.

Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out; that old serpent called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth; and his angels were cast out with him.

We know that Michael is Adam, who lead the armies of heaven in this war and was the one who eventually cast Satan out. Now, this was not a war waged with weapons. This was a war of words fought over ideas and ideologies. Those involved were spirits and could wage no other kind of war. Satan continues to wage this war on the earth where he uses all forms of thought and philosophy to destroy the souls of men.

All that has been seen up to this point has been a kind of illustration of what the saints have faced on the earth. The first five verses showed us the worldly kingdoms that will eventually become Christ’s, as we saw in chapter 11. The next three show us who Satan is.

Questions

29 Jul

Today I received a comment on one of my previous articles asking a number of questions about the LDS faith and my blog in particular. I have chosen to answer them in this article so that I may given due consideration to each and not detract from the focus of the article to which they were originally posted.

This is what was said.

You say defending the truth… why do so many think you are a cult? Why don’t you believe in the trinity? Why do you say Jesus was crucified on a stake instead of a Cross? Why do you not believe in the literal meaning of Hell? That it is a place of eternal torment for ones that reject Christ… ones that DENY the trinity, that deny the very truth you claim to defend?

I will address each question in turn.

First, the poster states “You say defending the truth…” Then, by asking the questions, the clear implication is that I am not doing what I say I am doing in the title of this blog. I understand this. They are asking “If you are defending the truth than why do you not teach etc. etc.?” It is a valid question to ask if you accept these things as true. I , however, do not. I defend what I know and believe to be the truth, not what others believe to be the truth. Yes, I think others are wrong and I am right, and I will continue to think that. That does not mean others aren’t entitled to think that they are right and I am wrong.

So, lets get to the actual questions.

Q. Why do so many think you are a cult?

A. Most people who think this do not understand what a cult is and do not understand the doctrine and practices of the LDS church. I have yet to hear a scholar make the accusation unless they have a clear agenda that involves the tearing down of our faith. Those who do make the accusation do so because they know they have to vilify the church in order to turn people away from it.

 

Q. Why don’t you believe in the trinity?

A. Because I do not see it in the Bible. The trinity is the result of a fusion between the true gospel and Greek philosophy that crept into Christianity over the course of many years. It is a false concept. The Bible clearly speaks of three distinct beings; The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost. It makes clear distinction between them in their role, their authority, and their existence. Beyond this, the very idea is a logical contradiction.

We rather believe in the Godhead which agrees perfectly with all passages of the Bible, and has no internal contradictions that require one to abandon logic and reason to accept. I actually wrote an article on this.

 

Q. Why do you say Jesus was crucified on a stake instead of a cross?

A. Well, you are going to have to provide a reference because this is the first time I have ever heard this. I have always been taught that Christ was crucified, which is to be hung on a cross. It is taught clearly in the Bible, as well as in our other scriptures. For example, D&C 138: 35 states “that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.” Also, in 1 Nephi 11: 3 it tells us that “Nephi, saw that [Jesus] was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.” Other references can be given, including talks from modern prophets, that all testify that Christ was crucified on a cross.

 

Q. Why do you not believe in the literal meaning of Hell? That it is a place of eternal torment for ones that reject Christ…ones that DENY the trinity, that deny the very truth you claim to defend?

A. Do you know what we teach regarding Hell? Hell is a very real place, and is a place of endless torment for all those that reject Christ. The difference in our doctrine is not what Hell is, but what constitutes rejecting Christ. Most people I have talked too say that those who have never even heard of Christ have rejected him because they never accepted him. To us this is nonsense and destroys the mercy of God. We also don’t hold that a person who simply hears the message of the gospel and disagrees with it has rejected Christ. They have been blinded to the truth, and so they are unable to reject it. Rather, we hold that in order to reject Christ one must first have accept him, and then turn against him, rejecting what they once had. These are the ones that will rot in hell for eternity.

Besides this, anyone who dies without baptism (except children) will suffer in hell for a period of time before the mercy of God will pull them out. This is also different than most peoples belief, but it is fully supported in the Bible. In psalm 16: 10 David declares “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” which means that his soul would be in hell for at least some time. Also, in Revelation 20: 13 we read that “death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them” and thus they were brought out of hell.

 

Now, I will continue to defend the truth, regardless of what others think of it or whether they agree that it is, in fact, the truth.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 11 – the Seventh Trump

24 Jul

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, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses

Chapter 11

 

The rest of chapter eleven begins the seventh trumpet. Now, this is only five verses, and so this will be a very short post (comparatively). Let us look at each verse.

 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

This is speaking of the Millennial reign of Christ when all earthly rulers will acknowledge Him as their King. It is given greater description is Daniel 7: 9-14, but we will leave that for a later post.

I will note that Revelation is bare half over, so if we are already at the millennial reign we have to assume that much of what will follow is not going to be chronological with the first eleven chapters of the book. After this point the vision of John does do quite a bit of jumping around.

 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

This refers back to the 24 elders that John saw earlier, mentioned in chapters four and five. See those posts for my explanation of who these men are.

 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

This is simple praise of God and needs no comment.

 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

This is speaking of the first judgment that will come upon the dead at the time of Christ’s coming. We read about this in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 94-106. In these verses we read that at this judgment the righteous (first those who inherit Celestial Glory, then those who inherit Terrestrial Glory) are caught up to Christ, while the wicked (those of Telestial glory and sons of perdition) are destroyed from off the earth and remain in Hell, or the spirit prison, for the time of the Millennium. This is not the final judgment, which comes after the millennium, but it is the time of the dead when they shall be judged.

Note: the word destroy, when speaking of those that destroy the earth, can also be rendered as corrupt, waste, pervert from the original Greek. So we are not talking about literal (physical) destruction, but a corruption of morals and society that pollutes the earth.

 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

First note that the Ark of the Covenant is in the Temple that is in heaven. I guess the mystery is solved.

On another note, this verse describes great destruction. I think it is describing the destruction of the wicked that is declared in verse 18. This will be discussed again in later chapters as this destruction is shown in more detail by John.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 11 – The Two Witnesses

24 Jul

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, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten

Two Witnesses

Chapter 11

This chapter continues the sixth trumpet and takes us to the battle of Armageddon. There are a few things that John tells us.

Verses 1-2

John is given a reed and told to “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

So, during the battle the temple (which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem) will be protected by God, but the outer court and the city will be given over to the army to destroy. Note that this battle and destruction will last 42 months, or three and a half years.

In the rest of the sixth trumpet is a description of two witnesses, that are called to minister to the Jews at the time of this battle. There are many important things to note about these two witnesses.

God “will give power” to them (v 3) In other words, they will have the Priesthood
they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (v 3) The Hebrew calendar has thirty days in each month, making 360 days a year. Thus, 1260 days equal 3.5 years. So, these two prophets will be prophecying during the same period as the battle of Armageddon.
They are “clothed in sackcloth.” (v 3) A symbol of trials and suffering, indicating that the ministry of these men is filled with suffering.
fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (v 5) Elijah called down fire from Heaven to kill the soldiers sent to take him, and I think this is speaking of similar miracles. Their words will hold such power that they can literally call down fire to kill any who seek to harm them.
They “have power to shut heaven” to “turn [water] to blood” and to “smite the earth with all plagues” (v 6) This is the sealing power that was wielded in the past by such prophets as Moses and Elijah. Thus we will see again such great miracles as were seen in the past.
They can use this power “as often as they will.” (v 6) This shows that God has complete confidence that they will not abuse this power. It reminds me of Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Besides this verse 4 says “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”

This is a reference back to Zechariah 4: 3, 11-14 in which Zechariah sees two olive trees that are described as “the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” John would have been familiar with this prophecy, and thus God is telling him that this is when it would be fulfilled.

Just who are these witnesses. In D&C 77: 15 we are told “They are two prophets” sent to the Jews “in the last days.” They are “to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.”

I am inclined to believe these will be two of the Apostles, which is a calling to be a special witness of Christ. It is possible they will be serving in the First Presidency at the time of these events.

Whoever they are John next sees the events surrounding these witnesses. What he describes is in turn horrible, comic, and glorious.

The horrible part is not just that they are killed (v 7), but even more than this. The bodies are left in the street for the people to see and mutilate (v 9). Notice also that this will occur in Jerusalem (where Christ was crucified, v 8), a city that was once dedicated to the Lord.

The comedy is the reaction of the great army that fought against the city while these two protected it. They proclaim a holiday and even exchange gifts in celebration of the death (v 10).

The glory is in their resurrection, for after three and a half days they will rise again (v 11) and shall ascend up to heaven in a cloud (v 12). The army will see this (v 12) and be filled with fear (v 11).

After the Two Witness the sixth trump ends with this.

Verses 13-14

And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Men seem to finally be recognizing that God is behind all that has been happening. Yet, it is still not the end, for verse 14 tells us “The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” So there is one last tribulation that the world must endure.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 10

17 Jul

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, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet

Chapter 10

This chapter is somewhat odd. I am not sure it is continues the sixth trumpet, or if it is a side note inserted at this time. However, the symbolism is even more bizarre.

In the first verse John sees a new angel appear. This is a “mighty angel” that is “clothed with a cloud.” The rest of the description seems to simply be describing the glory, or possibly the power of the angel. He wears a rainbow on his head; his face shines like the sun; and his feet are like fire. These symbols are common symbols of glory and power. What isn’t so common is what is said in the second verse; that that this angel stands with “his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” showing power over the entire planet.

This is one awesome angel, and to stand in his presence would be something indeed. But who is he?

If we look at the foot notes we are referred to Doctrine and Covenants section 88. In this section is revealed the events that comprise the second coming. Important to our discussion is that fact that seven angels will sound their trumps as part of these events. In verse 110 we read “the seventh angel…shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer.” Note that the seventh angel stands on the land and the sea, just as the angel that John saw.

Also, the angel that John saw “lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer” (v. 5-6). Again strikingly similar to what we read in D&C 88: 110. It seems to me that these two scriptures speak of the same angel.

So, if we look at D&C 88: 112 we read “Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel,” which tells us that this angel that John saw was the archangel Michael. We learn from D&C 27:11 that Michael is none other than Adam, the first man, who is also called the Ancient of Days.

It would make sense that Michael would give this commission to John, as we are told that God has “given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One” (D&C 78: 16).

There are a few other things in this chapter that are interesting. This angel, or Michael, when he first appeared “cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices” (v. 3). Now, John was forbidden to write what the thunders said, but let us look again at D&C 88. In verses 108-110 we are told that the seven angels “sound [their trumps] in the ears of all living, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God” in each of the first six millenniums of earth’s history, with the seventh declaring the end of the work. We have seen the parallels in the description of the seventh angel, so can we not be confident in thinking that what John heard was this great revelation of all the acts of men and God in the history of the world?

A final event of this chapter is the little open book that the angel was carrying (v. 2). John tells us that he was told to “Go and take the little book” from the angel (v. 8). When he did the angel told him to “Take it, and eat it up” (v. 9) which John did. John also tells us that “it was in [his] mouth sweet as honey” but after eating it his “belly was bitter.” (v. 10) The the angel says “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” (v. 11)

What does all this mean? In D&C 77: 14 we read that the book “was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel” and John is named as Elias. There are some interesting points here.

  1. The book was open, indicating that John was given a full understanding of the mission he was being called to.
  2. John ate the book, showing that he accepted it as part of him and his life.
  3. The taste was sweet, which tells us that the calling itself was something to cherish.
  4. It was bitter in the belly, showing that the mission would be fraught will trials and difficulties that would try the soul.

Now, considering that this is during the sixth trumpet, and thus in the last days (whether part of the sixth trump or incidental to it doesn’t matter) one might reasonably ask how John would again prophecy before nations and kings?

We read in D&C 7: 1-3 that John did not die, but was granted “power over death, that [he] may live and bring souls unto [Christ].” So, John has been on the Earth for 2000 years. According to John Whitmer’s account of a conference of the Church in June 1831, “the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel who had been led away by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion, to again possess the land of their fathers” (History of the Church, 1:176 footnote 4).

 

God Bless America

16 Jul

This past Independence Day our local paper printed a series of quotes from past leaders of our country. They titled the collection “God Bless America.” I enjoyed the quotes so much that I turned them into a video, which I wanted to share here. I apologize if some of the words are hard to read. My resources are limited. Also, the video is somewhat long (just over 11 minutes). It is an experiment on my part, and i hope you like it.