The final chapters of Revelation gave hope to Christians facing persecution from outside the Church and from factions within the Church that were dissenting from accepted beliefs. Revelation 17–22 also describes the crescendo of final earthly events fulfilling Heavenly Father’s plan for the redemption of His children. John heard heavenly servants rejoice in praise for the salvation made possible through the Lamb’s triumph over evil. John saw the fall of wicked Babylon contrasted with the glories of the Second Coming and the blessings of exaltation for all those who follow God’s commands. John further saw that the righteous inhabitants of the earth and those who will come forth in the First Resurrection will enjoy a thousand years of millennial peace with Christ. The earth will then receive celestial glory and become the eternal home for all righteous Saints.
Ask the class to summarize, using as few words as possible, conditions in the world that draw a person away from God. After several responses, tell the students that all of the conditions can be captured by a single scriptural word: Babylon. Explain that in Old Testament times, the city of Babylon was a center of great wickedness and an enemy that threatened and conquered ancient Israel. Today, the city of Babylon no longer exists. However, in the scriptures, Babylon often refers to something other than a geographic location or the inhabitants of the ancient city. Have students look in Doctrine and Covenants 133:14 for a definition of modern Babylon. Consider writing on the board: “Babylon = wickedness.”
Explain that John the Revelator saw a vision concerning Babylon in the last days. Turn with students to Revelation 17–18. Assign half of the class to study Revelation 17:1–6, 14 and the student manual commentary for Revelation 17. Assign the other half of the class to study Revelation 18:1–7, 23–24 and the student manual commentary for Revelation 18:3, 7–16. Students should look for and mark words and phrases that describe Babylon, or the wickedness of the world in the last days. You might encourage students to avoid trying to determine the meaning of each symbol or image in these chapters, but rather to focus on what John was teaching about the wickedness of the last days. This will still allow the students to discover important gospel principles.
After several minutes, have students report on what they found. Their answers may include words and phrases such as the following: “decked with gold and precious stones” and “waxed rich” (love of wealth), “filthiness of fornication” (sexual sins), “drunken with the blood of the saints” (rejection or murder of prophets and Church members), “make war” (violence), “habitation of devils” and “all nations deceived” (lying and deception). You might write these words on the board as students give their reports. As a follow-up to the student reports, you might ask:
What concerns do you have as you consider the condition of the world in the last days?
Ask several students to take turns reading aloud Revelation 17:16; 18:8–10, 17, 20–21. Then ask students what feelings they have as they think about Babylon being destroyed in the last days. (You might have students cross-reference Revelation 18:8–10 with 1 Nephi 22:14–17.) Tell students that John the Revelator also wrote about how the followers of Jesus Christ can escape the destructions that will befall Babylon. Give students a few moments to study Revelation 17:14; 18:4, looking for who will escape these destructions. (You might have students cross-reference Revelation 18:4 with D&C 133:5, 7, 14.) Help students state a principle taught in Revelation 17–18 by asking:
What is a principle or doctrine you learn from Revelation 17:14; 18:4 about who will escape the plagues and destructions that will come upon the wicked in the last days? (Answers may include truths like the following: The Lamb of God will overcome the evils of Babylon in the last days, and those who are called, chosen, and faithful will be with Him and share in His victory. When we refuse to join in the wickedness of Babylon, we will be spiritually protected by the Lord in the last days.)
Help students deepen their understanding of these principles by asking questions like the following:
How can we determine if we are partaking of the sins of Babylon?
How can we continue to live among worldly influences and still obey God’s command to come out of Babylon?
Give students a moment to ponder the following questions (ask students not to verbally respond): Which elements of Babylon are likely to be more tempting and problematic for you personally? What will you do to depart from spiritual Babylon?
Introduce Revelation 19 to students by explaining that John saw in vision two separate suppers: “the marriage supper of the Lamb” and “the supper of the great God” (Revelation 19:9, 17). Explain that this pair of contrasting images, like many other contrasting pairs in Revelation, teaches valuable lessons for followers of Christ. Have a student read aloud the description of the marriage supper of the Lamb, found in Revelation 19:7–9. Have another student read aloud the student manual commentary for Revelation 19:7–9. Then ask:
What is the marriage supper of the Lamb?
Who is the Lamb? Who is the bride? (If students need help, see the student manual commentary for Revelation 19:7–9.)
Verse 7 states that “his wife hath made herself ready.” How does a bride in our day prepare herself for her wedding? How would Church members make themselves ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?
Read Revelation 19:8–10 and ask:
What does the “clean and white” clothing worn by the Lamb’s wife suggest that we must do to make ourselves ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb? (Possible answers: Repent and draw upon the purifying powers of the Atonement; live righteously. You might point out that the white clothing worn in the temple also symbolizes cleanliness before the Lord.)
An angel declared to John that the servants of God possess “the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 19:10). Why is a testimony of Jesus necessary to prepare a person for the Second Coming? (You might remind students that in the previous lesson, they learned that in the premortal War in Heaven the Saints overcame Satan by “the word of their testimony” [Revelation 12:11]. In mortality, too, “the testimony of Jesus” is key to overcoming evil and preparing for the Savior’s return.)
You may want to share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explaining that each person can receive the testimony spoken of by John:
“‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev. 19:10.) … Each of you has the opportunity and the responsibility to develop a testimony of Jesus as the Savior of mankind. That testimony is the ‘spirit of prophecy.’ It is a gift that may be yours” (“Ten Gifts from the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 88).
As a result of your study of Revelation 19:8–10, how would you summarize what we can do to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (Consider writing this principle on the board: To be prepared for the Second Coming, we must be made clean through the Savior’s Atonement and have a testimony of Jesus Christ.)
Summarize Revelation 19:11–16, especially noting the various titles and descriptions of Jesus Christ. Tell students that this description of the Savior prepares us, as readers, for the description of the other “supper,” found in Revelation 19:17–21. Ask students to look for contrasts between “the marriage supper of the Lamb” and “the supper of the great God” as they read Revelation 19:17–21. You might also invite students to read the student manual commentary for Revelation 19:17–18, 21.
In what ways is “the supper of the great God” different from “the marriage supper of the Lamb”?
What lessons can we learn from studying about these two suppers in the same chapter of scripture? (As students respond, help them understand that the contrast between the two suppers vividly illustrates that the Second Coming will be a very different experience for the wicked than for the righteous.)
If time permits, you might use the following set of continuum questions to help students evaluate their current status and ponder any changes they may want to make in their lives. Because of the personal nature of these questions, it would be best to prepare a handout or slide ahead of time so students can respond in private. Have students place an X on each line indicating where they believe their current beliefs and actions to be.
After students complete the questions, ask them to ponder specifics about what they can do to better flee from Babylon and prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
To prepare students to study Revelation 20, ask them to raise their hands if they are looking forward to the Millennium. Follow up by asking for brief responses to the following questions:
What is the Millennium?
What aspects of the Millennium are you looking forward to?
Write the following chart on the board, and have students copy it on a piece of paper (or give it to them on a handout):
During the Millennium
At the End of the Millennium
After the Millennium
Assign students to work individually or in pairs to complete one column in the chart by reading the assigned scripture passage and then writing what will take place during the time period. Make sure that all three columns of the chart are assigned to students. Students should find the following:
During the Millennium: Satan will be bound. The righteous will reign with Jesus Christ for a thousand years, including those who were martyred for Christ’s sake. The First Resurrection—which includes those who will eventually go to the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms—will take place. (You might also mention to students that telestial influences will be removed from the earth during the Millennium.)
At the End of the Millennium: The Resurrection of the wicked—all who lived on earth who will inherit a telestial glory or become sons of perdition—will take place, sometimes referred to as the Second Resurrection or the Resurrection of the Unjust. Satan will be loosed for a short season. The battle of Gog and Magog will take place. Satan and his followers will be cast permanently into a lake of fire and brimstone.
After the Millennium: The Final Judgment will occur. The wicked will receive the second death (see the student manual commentary for Revelation 2:11).
After several students report their findings, ask students if they have any questions about what they read. The sections of the student manual commentary for Revelation 20 will help you respond to their questions. Conclude this teaching idea by emphasizing these doctrines: The events of the Millennium will precede the time when the earth becomes a celestial kingdom. In the Final Judgment, the dead will be judged according to their works.
Tell students that John’s recorded visions of things that “must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1) concluded with a vision of the celestial kingdom.
Write the following scripture references on the board: Revelation 21:22–27; 22:1–5. Tell students that as they study these verses they will find numerous descriptions of the celestial kingdom. Explain that latter-day revelation teaches us that the earth will become the celestial kingdom (see D&C 88:18–20, 25–26). Ask students to study the verses from Revelation and the student manual commentary sections for any verses they want to understand better. Ask them to select from these verses three descriptive phrases or sentences about the celestial kingdom that they find most meaningful and that motivate them to live worthy to inherit the celestial kingdom. Students may select phrases such as the following: “the glory of God did lighten [the city]” (Revelation 21:22–23); “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27); “was there the tree of life” (Revelation 22:2); “they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4).
After sufficient time, have students pair up with another member of the class to share the three phrases they selected and explain what each phrase means to them and how it motivates them to live worthily.
You might ask class members if they would like to share any scriptural insights they gained about these verses from their partner or through inspiration. You might also ask students if there were any descriptions of the celestial kingdom that they could not understand.
Read Revelation 22:7, 14, 17 to your students. Ask students to consider the following question as you read: What are some requirements to enter into the celestial kingdom? After student responses, write this principle on the board: Those who keep the commandments and come unto Christ will dwell with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom.
You might also put the following continuum on the board and ask students to mentally place an X on the line indicating their beliefs and feelings:
Express confidence in your students. Assure them that if their answer does not match where they want to be, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ every one of them can change so that they can live eternally with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Briefly explain that critics of the Church have sometimes used Revelation 22:18–19 to try to discredit the Church’s claims that God has revealed additional scripture in these latter days. Give students a moment to silently read Revelation 22:18–19, and ask them if they know how these verses have been used by critics of the Church. (The critics claim that the latter-day scriptures—the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price—are improperly “adding to” the Bible.) Ask a student to read aloud the student manual commentary for Revelation 22:18–19. Have each student turn to another member of the class and explain how he or she would answer the following question:
How would you respond to someone who uses Revelation 22:18–19 to argue that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are not revealed scripture? (As students respond, be sure it is clear that they should avoid contention in their responses; see 3 Nephi 11:29; D&C 19:29–30.)
Before concluding this class, you might ask students if any of them would like to share their testimony of doctrines and principles they have learned in this lesson or over the course of the semester. Leave enough time at the end of class so that you can take time to share your testimony one last time.