Lesson 156: Revelation 12–13

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John saw a vision of a dragon threatening a woman and her child, which symbolizes Satan’s attempts to destroy the Lord’s Church and its faithful members. John wrote about the War in Heaven and about the kingdoms of the world that would fight against the followers of God.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 12

John is shown that Satan and his angels have always warred against the Lord and His Church

Before class, copy the following matching activity on the board. After class begins, invite a few students to draw connecting lines between each of the threats listed in the left-hand column and the ways to combat them listed in the right-hand column.

Threats

Ways to Combat Threats

Sunburn

Truths in Revelation 12

Enemy soldiers

Medicine or rest

Sickness

Sunscreen or clothing

Sin and guilt

Repentance and trust in Jesus Christ

Influences of Satan

Weapons of war

  • Which of these threats have you had to combat lately? Which one do you think is the most dangerous? Why?

Invite students to look for truths as they study Revelation 12 that can help them combat Satan’s influences. Explain that Revelation 12–14 records an interlude, or pause, in John’s vision of the events of the seventh seal. The Lord may have been helping John understand the meaning of the phrases “the kingdoms of this world” and “the kingdoms of our Lord” in Revelation 11:15.

Show students the accompanying picture of the woman with the dragon behind her. Invite students to consider what these symbols might represent.

Invite a student to read Revelation 12:1–2, 5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to the woman. Explain that the Joseph Smith Translation places verse 5 directly after verse 2.

  • What happened to the woman? (She gave birth to a son “who was to rule all nations” [verse 5].)

  • What do you think it means that he would “rule all nations with a rod of iron”? (verse 5). (The child would use the rod of iron, which may symbolize the gospel, the priesthood, and the word and power of God, to righteously govern the nations of the world [see Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (1965–73), 3:517].)

Invite a student to read Revelation 12:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the symbols described in these verses.

  • What do you think the symbols described in verses 1–5 could represent?

Invite students to read silently Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 12:7–8 (in the Bible appendix). Ask them to look for what the dragon, the woman, and the child represent.

  • According to Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 12:7–8, what do the dragon, the woman, and the child in John’s vision represent? (The dragon represents Satan [see verse 8]; the woman represents “the church of God;” and the child represents the “kingdom of our God and his Christ” [verse 7], which is a political kingdom that the Lord will establish during the Millennium, through which He will rule all nations. [See New Testament Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2014), 550–52, for more explanation of the symbolism in these passages.])

  • According to Revelation 12:4, what was the dragon’s intent? Why do you think Satan seeks so diligently to destroy the kingdom of God and Christ?

Invite a student to read Revelation 12:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the woman did because of the threatening dragon.

  • What happened to the woman? What might this symbolize? (The woman fleeing into the wilderness represents the Church entering the Great Apostasy and the priesthood being taken from the earth after the Apostles’ deaths [see also D&C 86:3].)

Explain that after John saw the dragon threatening the woman and her child, he witnessed the War in Heaven between Satan and the Saints of God. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 12:6–11 (in the Bible appendix). Ask half of the class to look for what happened to Satan in the War in Heaven and the other half of the class to look for how the Saints of God overcame Satan and his followers.

  • What happened to Satan and his followers? (You might point out that Revelation 12:4 says that the dragon’s tail “drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” This is symbolic of the large number of Heavenly Father’s spirit children who chose to follow Satan. You may also want to explain that “Michael and his angels” [Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 12:6] are Adam and other righteous spirit children of God.)

  • According to verse 11, how did the righteous hosts of heaven overcome Satan? (“By the blood of the Lamb,” or through the Savior’s Atonement, and by remaining true to their testimonies of the gospel. Write these answers on the board.)

  • According to verse 8, where were Satan and his followers sent following their rebellion?

Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 12:12, 17 (in the Bible appendix). Ask the class to follow along, looking for whom Satan made war against after he was cast out of heaven.

  • Whom did Satan make war against after he was cast out of heaven?

  • Based on what we learn from verse 11, what can we do to overcome the influences and attacks of Satan in our day? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: We can overcome Satan’s influences through the Savior’s Atonement and by remaining true to our testimonies of the gospel. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for how Satan is attacking their generation.

Elder James J. Hamula

“Reserved to come forth in these last days and labor for our Father and His Son are some of the most valiant and noble of our Father’s sons and daughters. Their valiance and nobility were demonstrated in the pre-earth struggle with Satan. …

“With God’s kingdom restored to the earth and your entry into the world, Satan knows that ‘he hath but a short time’ [Revelation 12:12]. Therefore, Satan is marshalling every resource at his disposal to entice you into transgression. He knows that if he can draw you into transgression, he may prevent you from serving a full-time mission, marrying in the temple, and securing your future children in the faith, all of which weakens not only you but the Church. He knows that nothing can overthrow God’s kingdom ‘save it [be] the transgression of [his] people’ [Mosiah 27:13]. Make no mistake about it—the focus of his war is now on you” (“Winning the War against Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 50, 51).

  • How do Satan and his followers seek to weaken us?

Invite students to consider how Satan is waging war against them personally.

  • What are some things we can do to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen our testimonies of Him? (List students’ responses on the board.)

Read the following two statements aloud, and invite students to respond to one of them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  1. 1.

    Write about an experience when your testimony of and faith in the Savior’s Atonement helped you combat Satan’s influences.

  2. 2.

    Record your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and explain how the Atonement can help us in our war against Satan and his followers.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they wrote.

Encourage students to select one or more of the ideas listed on the board and apply them in their battles against Satan and his followers.

Revelation 13

John writes about kingdoms of the earth that will receive power from Satan

Summarize Revelation 13 by inviting a student to read the chapter summary aloud. (If you prefer, you could explain that John saw a vision of fierce-looking beasts that represent wicked earthly kingdoms controlled by Satan. John also saw that through these kingdoms, Satan would work wonders and false miracles to deceive the inhabitants of the earth.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

During the last week of seminary, consider giving students a final scripture mastery test. You might encourage students to study at home or immediately before the test. The following are a few types of tests you could use (you may adapt these ideas to meet students’ needs):

Reference test: Give students clues from the scripture mastery passages. These clues could be key words, doctrines or principles, or passage summaries. Invite students to write the reference to the passage on a piece of paper after you provide each clue.

Doctrine test: List the Basic Doctrines on the board. Ask students to list corresponding scripture mastery references under each doctrine. They could do this by recalling the scripture mastery passages from memory or by using a list of the mastery passages.

Memorization test: Invite students to use memorized words and principles from the scripture mastery passages to explain some of the Basic Doctrines. Invite them to write out their explanations and read them aloud to the class.

Remember to commend your class for their efforts to master these key scripture passages and the Basic Doctrines. Testify of the spiritual power and testimony we can receive as we master scripture passages and doctrines.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 13. Fierce-looking beasts

Apart from the knowledge that the beasts represent worldly kingdoms, we do not have any interpretation from the Lord concerning the beasts. While speaking about the mysteries of the book of Revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith said the following:

“Whenever God gives a vision of an image, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it. …

“… Never meddle with the visions of beasts and subjects you do not understand” (in History of the Church, 5:343, 344).

Revelation 13:8. “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”

The phrase “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) refers to Jesus Christ and His Atonement. “From the foundation of the world” refers to the premortal life, before the world was created. Therefore, we can understand from this verse that the effects of the Savior’s Atonement were in place before Jesus was even born. For example, people who lived before the time of Christ could exercise faith in Christ, repent, and have their sins forgiven through the power of His Atonement, even though the Savior had yet to be born (see D&C 20:25–26).