Lesson 154: Revelation 6–11, Part 1

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John saw a vision of the Lamb of God opening the first six seals of the sealed book. In the sixth seal, John saw the servants of God who had “washed their robes … in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 6

John saw the Lamb of God opening the first six seals of the sealed book

Invite students to share any concerns they may have about living in the latter days. List their responses on the board.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for how ancient prophets felt about our day:

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Prophets, priests and kings … have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 186).

  • How did ancient prophets feel about our day?

Point out that John the Revelator was one of the prophets who knew about the events of the latter days and who prophesied of our day with joyful anticipation.

Invite students to look as they study Revelation 6–7 for reasons why ancient prophets looked forward to our day with joy.

Remind students that as recorded in Revelation 5:1–5, John saw a book with seven seals that only the Lamb was worthy to open. Explain that in his vision, John saw figurative representations of some of the major events pertaining to each of the thousand-year periods represented by the seven seals.

Write the following list on the board (consider doing this before class):

First seal (Revelation 6:1–2)

Second seal (Revelation 6:3–4)

Third seal (Revelation 6:5–6)

Fourth seal (Revelation 6:7–8)

Fifth seal (Revelation 6:9–11)

Give each student a sheet of paper. Assign each student one of the seals (each seal may be assigned to more than one student). Ask students to read the references corresponding with their assigned seal and to draw some of the events John saw pertaining to that seal.

After sufficient time, invite students to show their drawings to the class in order, starting with those who were assigned the first seal. Invite one student from each group to use his or her drawing to explain what John saw when that seal was opened. As students report, share the following possible interpretations suggested by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. You may want to encourage students to write this information in their scriptures or in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

First seal

(About 4000 to 3000 B.C.)

White horse = Victory

Bow = Warfare

Crown = Conqueror

Elder McConkie suggested that verses 1–2 describe Enoch’s day and that the rider is Enoch (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 3:476–78).

Second seal

(About 3000 to 2000 B.C.)

Red horse = Bloodshed

Sword = War and destruction

Elder McConkie suggested that verses 3–4 describe Noah’s day, when wickedness covered the earth. The rider of the red horse could be the devil himself or perhaps “a person representing many murdering warriors” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:478–79).

Third seal

(About 2000 to 1000 B.C.)

Black horse = Famine

Balances = High prices for food

Elder McConkie suggested that verses 5–6 describe Abraham’s day, when many died of starvation (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:479–80). A person could purchase only enough food to live on with a whole day’s wages, indicating extreme famine prices.

Fourth seal

(About 1000 B.C. to the birth of Christ)

Pale horse = Death

Death and hell = Destruction of the wicked and their reception into spirit prison (see Isaiah 5:14)

Elder McConkie said verses 7–8 refer to “the millennium of those great kingdoms and nations whose wars and treacheries tormented and overran [Israel], again and again” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:481). These nations included Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Fifth seal

(About the birth of Christ to A.D. 1000)

Altar = Sacrifice

Souls = Martyrs, Christians killed for their beliefs

Elder McConkie suggested that verses 9–11 refer to the many early Christians, including most of the original Apostles, who died as martyrs (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:482–83). Because these Saints gave up their lives “for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9), they were given “white robes,” symbolic of purity (see Revelation 7:13–14; 3 Nephi 27:19).

After each group has presented, explain that the sixth seal represents our time and the events leading up to the Millennium, when Jesus Christ will reign personally on the earth (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:485–86).

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 6:12–17, including the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 14, footnote a. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the events John foresaw.

  • When the sixth seal was opened, what events did John see? (Explain that these catastrophic events are signs of the last days.)

  • According to verse 16, what will those who seek to escape God’s “wrath” wish for?

  • What question is recorded in verse 17?

Write the following question on the board: Who shall be able to stand?

Explain that Revelation 7 helps us understand who will be able to stand, or abide, the catastrophes of the sixth seal.

Revelation 7

John saw the servants of God who had washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood

Invite a student to read Revelation 7:1 aloud, and invite another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 77:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else John saw in the sixth seal.

  • What were the four angels doing? (Point out that the winds they are holding back have power to destroy life on earth. See also D&C 86:5–7.)

Invite a student to read Revelation 7:2–3 aloud and another to read Doctrine and Covenants 77:9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what another angel said to the four angels.

Explain that the word Elias in this instance is a “title for those whose mission [is] to commit keys and powers to men in the final dispensation” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:491–92; see also Bible Dictionary, “Elias”).

  • What did this angel say to the four angels?

Explain that “the sealing, or marking, of ‘the servants of our God in their foreheads’ is a metaphor of their devotion, service, and belonging to God (Revelation 7:3; see also Revelation 9:4; 14:1). …

“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the sealing of the faithful in their foreheads ‘signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure’ (in History of the Church, 5:530)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 544).

Explain that as recorded in Revelation 9, John saw what would happen to those who do not bear this seal. Invite a student to read Revelation 9:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the condition of those who do not have this seal. Invite students to report what they find.

Invite students to read Revelation 7:4 silently, looking for how many people were sealed in the forehead by this angel. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith that “the number 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7:4–8 is the number of ordained high priests out of the twelve tribes of Israel who will assist others in their quest for exaltation [see D&C 77:11]. It is not, as some people believe, the total number of people who will be exalted” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 544).

Invite a student to read Revelation 7:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who else John saw.

  • Who did John see?

  • What was this multitude wearing and holding? (You may need to explain that palm branches can symbolize victory and joy.)

Invite a student to read Revelation 7:13–17 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what John learned about these people.

  • What had these people endured?

  • How did their robes become white? (By the “blood of the Lamb”—symbolic of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.)

  • According to verses 15–17, what blessings did these people receive because they were purified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (You might point out that these verses describe the joy, peace, and devotion of those who inherit celestial glory.)

  • What principle can we identify from these verses about how we can inherit celestial glory? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a principle similar to the following: If we endure tribulation faithfully and become pure through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we will enjoy celestial glory with God. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite students to ponder what it would be like and how they would feel to stand purified in God’s presence.

  • How would these feelings compare to the feelings of the people described in Revelation 6:16?

  • What must we do so that the Savior can purify us through His Atonement?

  • How has remembering the blessings of celestial glory helped you in your efforts to endure tribulation and become pure?

Remind students of the list of concerns written on the board at the beginning of class. Invite them to consider how the principle written on the board can help them when they feel concerned about living in the latter days. Invite a few willing students to share their thoughts with the class.

Invite students to take a few minutes to ponder how they can apply the principle they learned today. Encourage them to record any promptings they receive.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 6–11. Living in the last days

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about living in the last days:

“Teenagers also sometimes think, ‘What’s the use? The world will soon be blown all apart and come to an end.’ That feeling comes from fear, not from faith. No one knows the hour or the day (see D&C 49:7), but the end cannot come until all of the purposes of the Lord are fulfilled. Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life” (“To Young Women and Men,” Ensign, May 1989, 59).

Revelation 7:1–3. The righteous will experience trials and suffering

“The Apostle John saw that certain calamities preceding the Second Coming would not affect all the earth or its inhabitants ‘but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads’ (Revelation 9:4). This corresponds with other scriptural promises that in the last days, those who are faithful will ultimately be protected (see 1 Nephi 22:17–19; D&C 115:5–6). …

“Though the Lord promises protection to the righteous in the last days, the Prophet Joseph Smith clarified that some who are righteous may lose their lives in the trials and calamities of the last days: ‘[I] explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and “the righteous shall hardly escape” [see D&C 63:34]; still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith [see Habakkuk 2:4]; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 253)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 547).

Revelation 7:2. Elias

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the title Elias:

“Many angelic ministrants have been sent from the courts of glory to confer keys and powers, to commit their dispensations and glories again to men on earth. At least the following have come: Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, Moses, Elijah, Elias, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. (D&C 13; 110; 128:19–21.) Since it is apparent that no one messenger has carried the whole burden of the restoration, but rather that each has come with a specific endowment from on high, it becomes clear that Elias is a composite personage. The expression must be understood to be a name and a title for those whose mission it was to commit keys and powers to men in this final dispensation. ([See Joseph Fielding Smith,] Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 170–174.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 221). See also Bible Dictionary, “Elias.”

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Overview of the book of Revelation

To help students better understand the chronology and events described in Revelation 6–11, consider using the Overview of the Book of Revelation found in the New Testament Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2014) on pages 538–39. You may want to invite students to read the information found in the top half of the overview, titled “The Seven Seals (Seven 1,000-Year Periods of the Earth’s Temporal Existence).”

video iconVideo presentation—“Helps for Understanding the Book of Revelation”

Consider using the following video clips to help students understand the context and content of the book of Revelation (these videos are available on LDS.org):

“Helps for Understanding the Book of Revelation Segment 1—Archaeologists’ Discovery” (3:02)

Downloads
Downloads: Small

“Helps for Understanding the Book of Revelation Segment 2—Structure and Symbols” (1:39)

Downloads
Downloads: Small

“Helps for Understanding the Book of Revelation Segment 3—Main Theme” (3:07)

Downloads
Downloads: Small