Lesson 153: Revelation 4–5

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

The Apostle John saw glorified beings worshipping Heavenly Father as He sat on His throne. John also saw a book that was sealed with seven seals and saw the Lamb, or Jesus Christ, who is worthy to open the book.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 4

John sees glorified beings worshipping Heavenly Father

Consider singing “Glory to God on High” (Hymns, no. 67) as the opening hymn, or sing another hymn that praises and honors God.

Ask students to imagine being in the celestial kingdom. Invite several students to describe what they think the celestial kingdom might be like.

Explain that as recorded in Revelation 4–5, the Apostle John saw a vision of part of the celestial kingdom. Ask for a volunteer to draw on the board. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 4:1–8, and ask the class to follow along, looking for what John saw. Instruct the volunteer to draw, while these verses are being read, what John saw. Those who are reading may need to pause periodically to allow the student who is drawing time to complete each part of the drawing. (Ask the volunteer to exclude the “one [who] sat on the throne” [verse 2], or Heavenly Father, from the drawing to show respect for Him. For additional participation, you may invite several students to take turns drawing.)

Explain that to be “in the spirit” (verse 2) means to be enveloped by the Spirit in a revelatory state or vision, and explain that the “jasper” stone in verse 3 may indicate a colored stone or a diamond and that a “sardine stone” (verse 3) is a precious stone that is usually red or reddish orange.

Explain that modern revelation helps us understand more about what John saw. For example, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 77 after the Prophet Joseph Smith asked Him to interpret some of the symbols and events recorded in Revelation 1–11.

handout iconDivide students into groups of two or three, and give each group a copy of the following handout. Invite students in each group to read the cross-reference passages aloud together and to write on the chart additional information they find about what John saw.

Revelation 4

What John Saw

Cross-Reference

Additional Information

Throne (Revelation 4:2–3)

Doctrine and Covenants 137:1–4

 

Twenty-four elders with crowns (Revelation 4:4)

Doctrine and Covenants 77:5

 

Seven Spirits of God (Revelation 4:5)

Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 4:5 (in Revelation 4:5, footnote a)

 

Sea of glass (Revelation 4:6)

Doctrine and Covenants 77:1; 130:6–9

 

Four beasts (Revelation 4:6–7)

Doctrine and Covenants 77:2–3

 

Beasts’ many eyes and six wings (Revelation 4:8)

Doctrine and Covenants 77:4

 

© 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

After sufficient time, invite students to report the additional information they found. As needed, use the following answers to clarify or add to students’ understanding: God sits on a throne in the celestial kingdom; the 24 elders with crowns are faithful elders who belonged to the seven churches; seven servants of God are referenced, not seven spirits; the sea of glass is the earth in its glorified, celestial state; the four beasts are actual animals representing classes (or species) of glorified beings; the beasts’ eyes represent great light and knowledge, and the beasts’ wings represent the power to move and act.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 4:8–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those assembled around Heavenly Father said and did.

  • What did those assembled around Heavenly Father say about Him? What did they do?

  • What could the elders casting their crowns before Heavenly Father’s throne represent? (Possible answers include their recognition of Heavenly Father’s greatness; their acknowledgment that they owe their exaltation to Him; and their reverence, adoration, and submissive devotion to Him.)

  • What principle can we learn from this account about how recognizing Heavenly Father’s greatness can affect us? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we recognize Heavenly Father’s greatness, we desire to worship and praise Him.)

  • What can help us recognize Heavenly Father’s greatness?

Revelation 5

John sees a book sealed with seven seals and the Lamb who is worthy to open it

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 5:1–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John saw in Heavenly Father’s hand.

  • What did John see in Heavenly Father’s hand? (A book, or scroll, with seven seals.)

Explain that in ancient times, important documents were sealed with clay or wax seals. Only the owner of the document and those whom the owner authorized were allowed to break the seals and read the text.

  • According to verse 2, what qualification did the person who could open the book need to have?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 77:6–7 silently, looking for the meaning of the book and the seals.

  • What does the book contain?

Explain that the 7,000-year period refers to the time since the Fall of Adam and Eve. It does not refer to the actual age of the earth, including the periods of creation.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 77:7, what did the seven seals represent? (Seven thousand-year periods of the earth’s temporal existence, which extends from the Fall of Adam to the end of the Millennium.)

Point out that considering the meaning of the book and the seals, when it appeared that no man was worthy to open the book, John may have thought that God’s will and works would not be revealed or carried out.

  • What would happen to Heavenly Father’s children if His plan for their salvation could not be carried out?

Invite a student to read Revelation 5:5–7 aloud. Invite the student to also read the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 6, footnote b. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why John was told not to weep. You may want explain that in the scriptures, horns are often a symbol of power or authority; eyes can symbolize light and knowledge; and the number twelve can symbolize divine government and organization, or the priesthood.

  • Why was John told not to weep?

  • What does the title used for Jesus Christ as recorded in Revelation 5:6 reveal about Him? (He was the sacrificial offering that was given to atone for God’s children [see also Isaiah 53:7; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18–19]. You may need to explain that “a Lamb as it had been slain” [Revelation 5:6] refers to the Lamb displaying the marks of having been slain. Point out that John the Baptist referred to the Savior as “Lamb of God” [John 1:29, 36].)

Invite a student to read Revelation 5:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the beings surrounding Heavenly Father’s throne praised the Lamb. You may want to explain that “vials full of odours” (verse 8) refer to wide cups or bowls full of incense.

  • How did these beings praise the Lamb, or Jesus Christ?

  • Based on what John saw and heard regarding the Lamb, what truth can we learn about Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Jesus Christ is the only one who is worthy and able to redeem us.)

  • Why is Jesus Christ the only one who is worthy and able to redeem us?

  • According to verse 10, what will those who are redeemed by Jesus Christ become? (Kings and priests, which includes women as queens and priestesses [see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (1966), 613].)

Ask students to ponder what Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and the Savior’s role in that plan mean to them personally. Invite students to write their thoughts and feelings in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Inform them that they will be invited to share what they wrote later in the lesson.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 5:11–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how others joined in worshipping and praising Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

  • After the Lamb took the book from the hand of Heavenly Father, why did the glorified beings and all creation worship and praise Them? (The beings recognized the goodness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and felt gratitude for the Lamb’s role in Heavenly Father’s plan.)

  • What truth can we learn about what can lead us to worship and praise Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as the beings and creations that John saw did? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we recognize and feel gratitude for what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have done for us, we desire to worship and praise Them.)

Point out that the glorified beings and all creation worshipped Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in song. Similarly, we sing hymns to worship and praise Them. Invite the class to sing “All Creatures of Our God and King” (Hymns, no. 62) or another hymn that praises or glorifies God, and ask them to think about how the hymn relates to Revelation 5:9–14.

  • In addition to worshipping Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through music, what else can we do to worship Them?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about worship:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“True and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in his Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar” (“How to Worship,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, 130).

  • How do Elder McConkie’s teachings add to your understanding of how we can worship Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • How are we blessed by worshipping and praising Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • Why do you desire to worship and praise Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? (Invite students to share some of the thoughts and feelings they wrote earlier.)

Consider sharing your feelings about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, including why you willingly worship Them.

Invite students to ponder and answer the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • What more could you do to worship Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

After students have had sufficient time to write, encourage them to apply what they wrote.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 4–5. Symbolism of what John saw

See page 541 of New Testament Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2014) for commentary on the four beasts (Revelation 4:6–9), the titles “Lion of the tribe of Juda” and “Root of David” (Revelation 5:5), and the Savior’s role as the Lamb of God (Revelation 5:6–14).

Revelation 4:3. “He that sat [on the throne] was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why John might have mentioned the jasper and sardine stones (see Revelation 4:3):

“In striving to record for mortal comprehension the grandeur, glory, and beauty of the Almighty of Almighties, John likens his appearance to precious and semi-precious stones. The jasper mentioned is believed by commentators to be a diamond …

“… How can mortal prophets find language to unveil to the view of their fellow mortals the splendor and transcendent beauty of that eternal world of celestial might and glory? They speak of rainbows and jewels, of circling flames of fires, of burning coals of fire with lightning flashing forth therefrom; they tell of thunders and voices, of the sound of the rushing of many waters, and of majestic displays of might and beauty—all in an attempt to record in mortal words that which can be seen and known only by the power of the Spirit. (Ezek. 1 and 10; Isa. 6.) But the Lord be praised that they have made such attempts so that those who have not seen and heard may gain some meager knowledge of those things hidden behind the windows of heaven” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:464–66).

Revelation 4:6. “A sea of glass”

The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following about the “sea of glass” (Revelation 4:6):

“While at dinner, I remarked to my family and friends present, that when the earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be one great urim and thummim, and the Saints could look in it and see as they are seen” (in History of the Church, 5:279).

President Brigham Young gave the following insight:

“This earth will become a celestial body—be like a sea of glass, or like a urim and thummim; and when you wish to know anything, you can look in this earth and see all the eternities of God” (in Journal of Discourses, 8:200; see also D&C 88:17–20, 25–26; 130:6–9).