Unit 31, Day 3: Revelation 6–7

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

The Apostle John saw a vision of the Lamb of God opening the first six seals of the sealed book. In the sixth seal, which symbolizes this latter-day dispensation, John saw the servants of God who had “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).

Revelation 6

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

What are some concerns or fears you or people you know may have about living in the latter days? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prophet Joseph Smith

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught how ancient prophets felt about our day: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they 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).

Why do you think ancient prophets felt this way about our day?

The Apostle John, also called John the Revelator, was one of the prophets who knew about the events of the latter-days and prophesied of our day with joyful anticipation. As you study Revelation 6–7 look for truths that can comfort you and those you know concerning the events of the latter days.

Remember that Revelation 5:1–5 records that John saw a book with seven seals that only the Lamb was worthy to open. In his vision, John saw figurative representations of some of the major events pertaining to each of the 1,000-year time periods represented by the seven seals.

  1. journal icon1.

    In your scripture study journal, draw a simple picture showing the events of the first five seals, found in the references below. As you read about each seal, think about what some of the symbolism might mean.

    1. a.

      First seal (Revelation 6:1–2)

    2. b.

      Second seal (Revelation 6:3–4)

    3. c.

      Third seal (Revelation 6:5–6)

    4. d.

      Fourth seal (Revelation 6:7–8)

    5. e.

      Fifth seal (Revelation 6:9–11)

Even though the Lord has not revealed the meaning of some symbols found in the scriptures, He has revealed the meaning of many of them through His prophets. As you study the scriptures and have questions, you can look at prophetic commentary to see what Church authorities have said about certain passages. Information in the accompanying chart can help you understand some of the symbolism found in Revelation 6:1–11 regarding the opening of the first five seals.

First seal

(About 4000 to 3000 B.C.)

White horse = Victory

Bow = Warfare

Crown = Conqueror

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested that Revelation 6:1–2 describes 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 Revelation 6:3–4 describes 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” (see 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 Revelation 6:5–6 describes 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 suggested that Revelation 6:7–8 refers to the time “of those great kingdoms and nations whose wars and treacheries tormented and overran [Israel] again and again” (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:481). These nations included Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Assyria, 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 Revelation 6:9–11 refers 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” (Revelation 6:11), symbolic of purity (see Revelation 7:13–14; 3 Nephi 27:19).

The sixth seal represents our own time and the events, particularly the calamities, leading up to the Millennium, when Jesus Christ will reign personally on the earth (see Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:485–86).

Read Revelation 6:12–17, looking for events that John foresaw in our day leading up to the Lord’s Second Coming. Also read Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 6:14 (in Revelation 6:14, footnote a).

Notice that Revelation 6:16 describes how desperately some people would seek to escape the wrath of God. John then posed the question, “Who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). 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

Read Revelation 7:1–4, looking for what else John saw in the sixth seal. Also read Doctrine and Covenants 77:8–11, in which the Lord explained the meaning of these verses.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that the word Elias, as found in Doctrine and Covenants 77:9, is “a name and a title for those whose mission it was to commit keys and powers to men in this final dispensation” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966] 221).

Some of the men who came to commit keys and powers were Adam; Moroni; John the Baptist; Peter, James, and John; Moses; and Elijah.

The sealing or marking of “the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3) is a metaphor for their devotion, service, and belonging to God.

Prophet Joseph Smith

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the sealing of the faithful in their foreheads “signifies sealing the blessings upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure” (in History of the Church, 5:530).

The number 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7:4 “is the number of representatives out of the twelve tribes of Israel who will be ordained to assist others in their quest for exaltation. … It is not, as some believe, the total number of people who will be exalted” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System Manual, 2014], 544).

As recorded in Revelation 9, John referred again to these righteous servants. Read Revelation 9:3–4, looking for what would happen to those who have not been sealed as the servants of God.

Read Revelation 7:9–10, looking for whom John saw. Notice what these people were wearing.

As recorded in Revelation 7:11–12, John saw that these people, along with the 24 elders and the four beasts mentioned in Revelation 4, encircled the throne of God and worshipped Him.

Read Revelation 7:13–17, looking for answers to the following questions. You may want to mark or note what you find.

  • What had these people endured?

  • How did their robes become white?

  • What blessings will they receive?

Notice the people’s robes were “made … white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14), which is symbolic of the people being purified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The blessings in verses 16–17 describe the joy, peace, and devotion of those who inherit celestial glory (see also D&C 138:12–15).

We can learn from these verses that if we endure tribulation faithfully and become pure through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we will enjoy celestial glory with God.

Think about what it would be like and how you would feel to be able to stand purified in the presence of God. How would these feelings compare to the feelings of the people described in Revelation 6:16?

  1. journal icon2.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

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

    2. b.

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

Review the list of concerns you wrote at the beginning of this lesson. Consider how the principle identified in Revelation 7 can help when you feel concerned about living in the last days.

You may want to spend a few minutes pondering and praying in your heart about how you can apply these principles in your life.

  1. journal icon3.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Revelation 6–7 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: