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The Book of Revelation, Part 1

The Book of Revelation is rich in symbolism, so much so, that most Christians find it difficult to understand.  Volumes of commentary have been written around it in order to increase our understanding.  For those parts which are prophetic, it will be much easier to “see” meaning after the events have transpired.  For some parts of the Book of Revelation, Joseph Smith, first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, went to the Lord with direct questions.  The answers, direct from God, are contained in the collection of modern revelations called the Doctrine and Covenants. (See Book of Revelation, Part 2.)

The Challenges of the Seven Churches

At the time that John was exiled by Rome to Patmos and received the revelations recorded here, apostasy was already creeping into Christ’s true church.  Throughout the New Testament epistles, the apostles cited it and warned against its many various iterations.  Here, John addresses the congregations in Asia.  As with all areas of the world and through all dispensations of time, the light of the gospel is an individual thing, and a congregation is only as strong as the faith of its individual members.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things - Revelation 21:7[The] theme [of the Book of Revelation] is that “there will be an eventual triumph on this earth of God over the devil; a permanent victory of good over evil, of the saints over their persecutors, of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men and of Satan. … The details about the beasts, the wars, the angels, the men, etc., contribute to the development of this theme. By a little study, the theme can be perceived even if the details are not completely identified” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John,” 762).

The three introductory chapters of the book record John’s testimony of the truthfulness of the revelation, John’s instructions from the Lord, and John’s counsel to the seven branches of the Church in Asia. Chapter 4 records John’s vision of heaven, and chapters 5 through 20 record his vision of the triumphant destiny of God’s kingdom. This vision shows the battles against Satan’s kingdom, the destruction of Satan’s kingdom, and the final scenes in the world’s history. After this is a vision of the new heavens and new earth—the world in its celestial state (Revelation 21:1–5). The book of Revelation concludes with the angel’s testimony and additional counsel from the Lord.  [1]

The angel used the symbolism of candlesticks to represent the branches, or congregations, of the Church.  Candlesticks do not create light; they carry light.  And that is the duty of the congregations of Christ, to carry His light to the world.  In John’s vision Christ stood in the midst of the congregations with the seven stars representing the leaders of the congregations.  The sword coming from the Savior’s mouth is an image repeated in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, especially when referring to His words.  (See  Doctrine and Covenants 6:2; Hebrews 4:12; Helaman 3:29.) There is enough power in the Word of God to create and destroy universes.

Another symbol used is keys.  The Lord says He has the “keys of hell and death” (Revelation 1:18).  It means He has authority, power, and control over hell and death.  Other keys cited in the scriptures refer to the power and authority to administer God’s kingdom on earth.

The Lord runs through a judgment of the seven churches and cites the good and bad elements of all of them.  Those who are overcoming trial and temptation by faith are promised eternal life.  The Revelation names the sources of corrupted doctrine and warns against their beliefs and practices, including the Nicolaitans; those who claim to be Jews but are not; the doctrine of Balaam which relies on earthly rewards; the false prophecies of Jezebel; the tendency to be lukewarm in one’s testimony and witness of Christ; and the temptation to follow false doctrines into wicked habits like fornication.

John Speaks of the Celestial Earth

In 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 Paul spoke of bodies Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial.  This is pretty much all the Christian world has in the way of a description of the three main kingdoms of heaven, and most don’t even see the heavenly kingdoms in those verses.  Mormons have extensive accounts of visions of heaven experienced by modern prophets that teach us more, and revelations of doctrine that elaborate on the brief verses given us in the Book of Revelation.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it (Revelation 2:17).

Here is what the Doctrine and Covenants says about this verse:

But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.

This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.

Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;

And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word (See Doctrine and Covenants 130:7 – 11).

After the millennium ends, Satan is conquered, and all are judged (and it says several times in the Book of Revelation that they will be judged by their works) the earth will be sanctified and become the Celestial Kingdom, filled with the presence of God.

The New Jerusalem

Through modern revelation, Mormons know that there will be two great and spiritual world centers during the millennium, Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem.  The latter will be on the American Continent, at its center, and when established there, will receive the City of Enoch as it descends from heaven:

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name (Revelation 3:12).

More information about the City of Enoch and how it will return can be found in the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon:

And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.

Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—

And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.

And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.

And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel (Ether 13:3 – 6; 9, 10).

More information regarding the City of Enoch and how it was taken up can be found in Mormon scripture in the Pearl of Great Price:

And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him;

And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man; and behold, the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth.

And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled (Moses 7:23 – 24; 69).

Rewards Are Promised to Those Who Overcome by Faith

He who overcomes will partake of the Tree of Life (Revelation 2:1–7).  Read more about the Tree of Life in Lehi’s vision in 1 Nephi 11:21–22.

“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (See Alma 12:16, 32; Helaman 14:18.)  The second death is spiritual death and means separation from God.  Those who overcome temptation and trials by faith will regain God’s presence in the afterlife forever.

Those who overcome will partake of “hidden manna.” (The word hidden in this context means sacred, or not evident to everyone.) (See John 6:35, 49–51.)  Christ is the bread of life, and we will become co-heirs with Him.

In Revelation 2:26–28 God promises those who overcome power over the nations.  There will be no nations during the millennium; we will all be part of Christ’s kingdom.

Those who overcome shall have their names written in God’s Book of Life.  These are they who shall inherit Celestial glory and dwell in God’s presence.

The Lord promised the Laodiceans, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

How Do We Overcome?

It is through the atonement of Christ in our behalf and calling upon His grace to help us in our daily walk that we overcome temptations and trials.  Note that this is work!  Are we saved if we have expended no effort except to believe?  Can we expect to be exalted and receive these promised blessings if we claim to have overcome yet still walk in sin without doing the work to repent?  We can cite other verses in the Book of Revelation to answer these questions:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works (Revelation 20:12, 13).

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them (Revelation 14:13).

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