Revelation 15–16depicts some of the last events before the kingdom of the devil comes to an end. In chapter 15 John sees Saints in celestial glory praising God for His righteous judgments, as well as seven angels ready to pour out “seven last plagues” on the earth (v. 1). Revelation 16records disease, war, and other catastrophic events, as well as false prophets who perform miracles and continue to teach false doctrines to deceive the people of the earth (see vv. 13–14). Even with all the trials and destruction, many still “repented not of their deeds” (v. 11). Finally, a celestial voice declares, “It is done” (v. 17).
Prayerfully study Revelation 15–16and consider the following principle before preparing your lessons.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 463.
Use the following idea or one or more of your own as you prepare to teach Revelation 15–16.
Ask students to imagine that a new disease with no cure was unleashed on the earth and that it killed one in every three people. Imagine that the disease appeared in every nation at once and that millions died from the plague in a week. Ask: If there were a way to survive the plague and also enjoy God’s blessings, would you want to know what it was?
Ask your students to think about that question while studying Revelation 16.
Explain that in Revelation 15, John once again saw exalted Saints praising God in a celestial world (“sea of glass,” v. 2; see also D&C 77:1). He also saw seven more angels, each holding a vial (bowl) containing a plague. Then a great voice commanded the angels, “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” (Revelation 16:1).
Draw seven bowls on the board, and number them 1 through 7 (or simply write the numbers on the board). Invite students to read Revelation 16:2–4, 8–12, 16–21and suggest what each of the plagues represents. Write their suggestions under the appropriate bowl or number. Explain that God lets people suffer the consequences of their sins so they have a witness that they need to repent. Ask:
What does John say that indicates whether the people repented or not? (see vv. 9, 11).
What might your life be like if you lived during these times?
Will anyone escape?
Read 1 Nephi 22:14–19, 28and discuss some or all of the following questions:
Who will the Lord destroy?
Why will the Lord destroy the wicked?
How will the righteous be preserved?
What is the key to dwelling safely in the Lord?
To help students understand that, even though the righteous will be preserved, some will still suffer, read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“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;’ still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; 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” (History of the Church, 4:11).
Have students read Revelation 16:15, and ask: What two phrases in this verse describe those who will enjoy the Lord’s blessing of protection? (“He that watcheth” and “keepeth his garments.”) Write the phrases as column headings on the board. Write Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37, 46–50 and Mosiah 4:30 in the “he that watcheth” column. Write 2 Nephi 9:14 and Doctrine and Covenants 36:6; 109:72–76 in the “keepeth his garments” column. Divide the class into two groups and assign each a column. Have them search the references looking for what their phrase means. Discuss their ideas, writing them on the board as appropriate.
Testify that the Lord loves His people and will preserve them in the last days, even in the midst of awful destruction. Urge students to be watchful and to keep their covenants so their garments may be clean and ready. Encourage them to develop their faith and to believe all that the Lord has promised.