Chapter 56: “Behold, I Come Quickly; and My Reward Is with Me”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 466–72


Map Chp. 56

The Book of Revelation (the Revelation of John) to Seven Branches of the Church

Written by the Apostle John, Exiled on the Island of Patmos, ca. A.D. 95

 

Revelation

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

19:1–9a

The Testimony of Jesus—the Spirit of Prophecy

19:9b–10

Christ: King of Kings, Lord of Lords

19:11–16

Last War—the Supper of the Great God

19:17–21

Satan Bound During Millennium

20:1–3

Saints Lived, and Reign with Christ

20:4–6

Devil and Armies Cast Out Eternally

20:7–10

Dead Judged According to Works

20:11–15

Earth Receives Its Paradisiacal Glory

21:1–6

Men May Become Sons of God

21:6, 7

The Second Death

21:8

Earth Attains Its Celestial Glory

21:9–27

Saints Will Reign as Gods

22:1–5

Christ Comes to Bless the Worthy Saints

22:6–16

“Come unto Christ”

22:17–21

Original Painting is located in Washington d.c. Temple.

Artist: John Scott

Donated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Glenn E. Nielson.

Interpretive Commentary

(56-1) Revelation 19:7–9. Who Are to Be Invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?

“‘In this dispensation the Bridegroom, who is the Lamb of God, shall come to claim his bride, which is the Church composed of the faithful saints who have watched for his return. As he taught in the parable of the marriage of the king’s son, the great marriage supper of the Lamb shall then be celebrated.’ (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 469.) The elders of Israel are now issuing the invitations to the marriage supper of the Lord; those who believe and obey the gospel thereby accept the invitation and shall sit in due course with the King’s Son at the marriage feast.” (McConkie, DNTC, 5:563–64.)

(56-2) Revelation 19:10. “The Testimony of Jesus Is the Spirit of Prophecy”

“If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore, if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or a preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key false teachers and imposters may be detected.” (Smith, HC, 5:215–16.)

(56-3) Revelation 19:11–16. Why Did John See Jesus Riding on a White Horse?

Interestingly enough, just before his crucifixion, Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21). Traditionally, riding into a city on a donkey signified that the rider came in peace. Who could imagine a conqueror riding to battle on a donkey? John’s vision of Christ’s second coming showed the Lord as riding on a white horse (Revelation 19:11–16). That does not mean that Christ will actually come riding on a horse, but seems to symbolize that his second coming will be that of the conqueror of all evil, as King of kings and Lord of lords.

(56-4) Revelation 19:13. “A Vesture Dipped in Blood”

It is a common misconception that Christ shall be clothed in white at his coming. Here and also in the Doctrine and Covenants it is clear that he shall be dressed in red apparel, symbolic of his taking upon himself the sins of the world and of coming in his judgment. (Read D&C 133:46, 48, 50, 51.)

(56-5) Revelation 19:21. “Slain with the Word” of God

The Inspired Version changes the word sword in this verse to word. This suggests that the wicked are condemned by the word of God (Hebrews 4:12, D&C 14:2). Men should learn to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, for his word is truth (D&C 84:44, 45).

(56-6) Revelation 20:2, 3. How Is Satan Bound?

“Many other scriptures refer to the thousand years of wonderful, glorious conditions on the earth, because Lucifer, Satan, the devil, will be bound.

“The scriptures say he will be ‘bound with a chain’ and ‘put into a bottomless pit.’ To me, these are symbolical terms. I cannot quite conceive of steel chains or pits that could hold Satan. The only power I know of that will bind Satan, or render him powerless, is righteous living.

“The war that started in heaven has not ended yet and shall not end until everyone has proved the extent of his ability to resist Satan. Even Jesus Christ had to bind Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. Satan had no power over him, because Jesus resisted his temptations. Then the record says, ‘… he departed from him for a season.’ (Luke 4:13.)” (Eldred G. Smith in CR, Apr. 1970, p. 142; see also 1 Nephi 22:26.)

(56-7) Revelation 20:4. Who Is Meant in the Phrase “Judgment Was Given unto Them”?

“Under Christ, selected agents and representatives shall sit in judgment upon specified peoples and nations. Scriptural intimations indicate that there will be a great judicial hierarchy, each judge acting in his own sphere of appointment in conformity with the eternal principles of judgment which are in Christ. …

“Our Lord promised his 12 apostolic ministers in Jerusalem that when he came in glory, they also should ‘sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30.) [Read D&C 29:12; 1 Nephi 12:9, 10; 3 Nephi 27:27; Mormon 3:19.]

“Nor is this principle of placing eternal judgment in the hands of the Lord’s agents, who have undergone the testing of mortality along with those who are to be judged, limited to the Jewish and Nephite Twelves. Paul said that the saints should judge both the world and angels (1 Cor. 6:2–3); and the faithful elders have this promise relative to those who reject their testimony, ‘Know this, that in the day of judgment you shall be judges of that house, and condemn them; And it shall be more tolerable for the heathen in the day of judgment, than for that house.’ (D. & C. 75:21–22; Matt. 10:14–15.) Daniel has left us the assurance that when the Ancient of Days sits in that great council at Adam-ondi-Ahman that then judgment will be given to the saints of the Most High. (Dan. 7:22.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 398–99.)

(56-8) Revelation 20:4–6. Are There Varying Times for the Resurrection?

Read D&C 88:96–102.

(56-9) Revelation 20:7–10. The Battle of Gog and Magog

John tells us clearly that after the Millennium Satan shall be loosed again, and one last great battle shall be fought between the forces of good and evil. Michael the archangel (who is Adam) shall gather the armies of God together to do battle with Satan and his armies, and Satan and his hosts shall be defeated and cast into their own place for the rest of eternity (D&C 88:110–16).

John calls the hosts who follow Satan, Gog and Magog. These terms cause some confusion, for they are also used to refer to the leader of the final battle before the Millennium begins, which is commonly called the battle of Armageddon. The terms themselves come from Ezekiel 38, 39, where the battle of Armageddon is described in some detail. Most scholars believe that Ezekiel chose these names as symbols of great military prowess and wickedness.

Joseph Fielding Smith clarifies the difference between the battle of Armageddon and the battle of Gog and Magog: “Before the coming of Christ, the great war, sometimes called Armageddon, will take place as spoken of by Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Another war of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:45.)

(56-10) Revelation 20:12. What Books Are to Be Used in the Judgment?

“We are informed that the books will be opened. One of these books will be the record of our lives as it is kept in heaven. Other books which will be opened are records which have been kept on earth. From the very organization of the Church the Lord has given instruction that records should be kept of the members of the Church.” (Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 342.)

(56-11) Revelation 20:14. What Is the Lake of Fire?

“A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man.” (Smith, HC, 6:314.)

(56-12) Revelation 21:1. “And I Saw a New Heaven and a New Earth”

“We discover from the word of the Lord that the earth, like mankind upon it, is passing through various stages of development, or change. It was created and pronounced good. It partook of the decree of mortality coming through the fall. It is now passing through the telestial condition, in which telestial beings predominate and rule. It will then pass into the ‘renewed,’ or restored state, for a thousand years as a terrestrial earth and the abode of terrestrial inhabitants. Then comes the end. The earth like all creatures living on it must die. Then it will, like all creatures, receive its resurrection and be celestialized because it obeys its law.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:295.)

(56-13) Revelation 21:2, 3. The New Jerusalem

“To envision what is meant by this title, we must know these five facts:

“1. Ancient Jerusalem, the city of much of our Lord’s personal ministry among men, shall be rebuilt in the last days and become one of the two great world capitals, a millennial city from which the word of the Lord shall go forth.

“2. A New Jerusalem, a new Zion, a city of God shall be built on the American continent.

“3. Enoch’s city, the original Zion, ‘the City of Holiness, … was taken up into heaven.’ (Moses 7:13–21.)

“4. Enoch’s city, with its translated inhabitants now in their resurrected state, shall return, as a New Jerusalem, to join with the city of the same name which has been built upon the American continent.

“5. When this earth becomes a celestial sphere ‘that great city, the holy Jerusalem,’ shall again descend ‘out of heaven from God,’ as this earth becomes the abode of celestial beings forever. (Rev. 21:10–27.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:580–81.)

Read Moses 7:62–64.

“And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them. …

“I discover by this quotation, that John upon the isle of Patmos, saw the same things concerning the last days, which Enoch saw.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 84.)

(56-14) Revelation 21:8. What Is the Second Death?

“After the separation of the body and spirit, which is the natural death, the wicked and ungodly die a second death, a spiritual death, meaning they are cast out of the presence of the Lord and are dead as pertaining to the things of righteousness, which are the things of the Spirit. [Read D&C 63:17, 18.]

“But when those here designated have suffered for their own sins, after they have paid the utmost farthing in hell, after they have suffered ‘the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times,’ they shall come forth in the second resurrection and receive their inheritance in the telestial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:103–106.) That is, the allotted period of their spiritual death shall cease; death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them; and all men, except the sons of perdition, shall receive their part in the kingdoms which are prepared. Thus these vessels of wrath are ‘the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power after the resurrection. (D. & C. 76:37.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:583–84.)

(56-15) Revelation 21:17. How Long Is a Cubit?

Cubit comes from the Latin cubitas, “the elbow,” and originally signified the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. Though the cubit varied somewhat down through the ages, it was approximately a foot and a half. One hundred forty-four cubits would be about 216 feet. The significance of the number may be symbolical, however. Twelve is associated throughout with the holy city, and 144 is twelve squared.

(56-16) Revelation 22:1. The River and Tree of Life

Read 1 Nephi, chapters 8 and 11.

(56-17) Revelation 22:7. “I Come Quickly”

“Not soon, but in a quick manner; that is, with speed and suddenness after all of the promised conditions precedent have occurred. ‘I am Jesus Christ, who cometh quickly, in an hour you think not.’ (D. & C. 51:10.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:590.)

(56-18) Revelation 22:9. “For I Am Thy Fellowservant”

“We are told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that ‘there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.’ Hence, when messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends, and fellow-beings and fellow-servants.” (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 435–36.)

(56-19) Revelation 22:18, 19. Do Modern Revelations “Add unto These Things”?

“Of course, a careful reading of this text shows very clearly that John the Revelator was speaking only of the book of Revelation and not of any collection of other sacred writings. Moses used a similar expression in speaking to ancient Israel when he said: ‘Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, …’ This is found in the fourth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy (verse 2). In the 12th chapter of the same book Moses said this: ‘What things soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.’ (Verse 32.)

“Can anyone suppose that in these words Moses laid down a prohibition against all subsequent revelations and against all books which might be called scripture in years to come? Did he have the power to silence all future prophets and forbid them to speak or write as God intended that they should? Of course not, or we would be without most of the Old Testament and would have none of the New Testament at all.

“It was the same with John the Revelator. In warning against additions to the book of Revelation he spoke of that book only, insisting that no one attempt to change or corrupt what he had said. The Bible was not compiled when John wrote the book of Revelation, so he could not possibly have referred to it.

“Furthermore, scholars tell us that the Gospel of John was written after the book of Revelation, and if this be true it becomes another indication that John had no thought of precluding other writings but only of protecting this particular book of Revelation from change or corruption.” (Mark E. Petersen in CR, Oct. 1964, p. 121.)

Points to Ponder

John Had a Lively Hope of Eternal Life, and So Must All of Us

(56-20) Saints Should Be Optimists

“Yet, of all people, we as Latter-day Saints should be the most optimistic and the least pessimistic. For while we know that ‘peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion,’ we are also assured that ‘the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst.’ (D&C 1:35–36.)” (Ezra Taft Benson in CR, Oct. 1974, p. 90.)

(56-21) Our Hope Is Anchored in Christ

The prophets of God, and especially the “seers” who have seen as God sees from the beginning to the end (Ether 4:7), are substantial optimists because their hope is sure. They are given a “knowledge of things as they are, … were, and … are to come.” (D&C 93:24.) As a matter of fact, our Articles of Faith state that “we hope all things.” (Thirteenth Article of Faith.)

Of course, that hope is anchored in Christ, his gospel and our obedience thereto.

No one can read these concluding chapters of Revelation without sensing the great joy and hope that was felt by John as he wrote. And yet consider the circumstances that were then current. John himself was in exile. Most, if not all, of his fellow apostles had suffered martyrs’ deaths, and the church was on the eve of one of the greatest apostasies of all history. And yet this magnificent message of hope goes to the beleaguered seven churches and to all of us. One can only imagine the comfort the revelation must have given to those struggling saints standing at the eve of their dispensation. What effect does it have on you who live in the greatest of all dispensations: the dispensation of the fulness of times? Though your time is certainly more hopeful, you see in the reality of your life what John saw in vision: the culmination of the struggle between the dragon, even that old serpent the devil (Revelation 20:2), and the Christ, on whose side you fought before the foundation of the world. You surely can take renewed hope from the Beloved John, who, having seen our day and beyond, was so ultimately hopeful and even sure of the righteous triumph of our God and of His Christ.

Let us now consider together the following question: Why is hope such an essential part of the gospel? (See Romans 8:24.) List three or four reasons:

For further insights read 1 Peter 3:15. Could you give reasons “for the hope that is in you”?

Read Alma 32:21 and Hebrews 11:1. (Note: The Inspired Version of Hebrews 11:1 substitutes the word assurance for substance.) How essential is hope to the development of faith?

(56-22) Hope—the Great Incentive to Repentance

“Hope is indeed the great incentive to repentance, for without it no one would make the difficult, extended effort required—especially when the sin is a major one. Scriptures breathe hope into the soul of the convinced sinner.

“‘… he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.

“‘And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance, …’ (Hel. 5:10–11.)” (Spencer W. Kimball, Church News, 2 Jan. 1971, p. 14.)

Without hope, where would the sinner be? (See Moroni 10:22.) Read Hebrews 11:13.

How long must hope be maintained? Read Colossians 1:5 and Job 38:4–7.

How long has hope been a part of the gospel and of your life?

(56-23) Hope unto Salvation

“As used in the revelations, hope is the desire of faithful people to gain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God hereafter. It is not a flimsy, ethereal desire, one without assurance that the desired consummation will be received, but a desire coupled with full expectation of receiving the coveted reward.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 365.)

Some Factors Rob Us of the Hope That Saves

Of the wicked, the Lord says, “their hopes [are] cut off.” (D&C 121:14.) There can be no confidence in the presence of the Lord unless there is obedience. “… When ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10; see also 121:45.) In Revelation 21:8 John lists some of the factors that rob us of any lively hope unto eternal life. Read this verse and consider the following:

Fear Not!

Fear. It is written of the unrighteous that rather than seek the Lord when he comes, they will call on the rocks to fall on them to hide them from his wrath. (Revelation 6:16.) Conversely, the true love of God casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Constantly the injunction to the saints is fear not! (See Matthew 28:5; Luke 2:10; Revelation 1:17.) To all of us, the gospel proclaims that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7.)

The Impotency of Unbelief

The Savior himself “did not many mighty works” in Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people. (Matthew 13:58) Those who come to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Of course, in the fullest sense belief is not merely intellectual assent but vivified, active and living belief which leads to action; and the works produced are the fruits of enlightened hope. King Benjamin aptly taught his people: “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things … believe that he has all wisdom, and all power. … Believe that ye must repent … and now, if you believe … see that ye do. …” (Mosiah 4:9, 10.) On the other hand, the “double minded man is unstable in all his ways” and as a result can bring no hope to fruition. (James 1:8.)

Sin Destroys Hope

The Lord has made it very plain that those who involve themselves in the grosser sins of this fallen world and then fail to repent cannot have a hope of a first resurrection. Rather, they are “thrust down to hell” (D&C 76:84), where they suffer and pay the uttermost farthing (Matthew 5:26). Ultimately, as John relates, they suffer the second death (Revelation 21:8), for where God and Christ dwell they cannot come (D&C 76:112).

Lest we feel that we need not concern ourselves with the sins listed above, it would be well to remember that the Lord has said that he has seen abominations in the church that bears his name (D&C 50:4). He has told us that we must not kill nor do anything like unto it. Moreover, sexual sin is a serious problem in the Church today and is the greatest cause for disfellowshipment and excommunication. The occult and other manifestations of sorcery run rampant in the world in which we live; and idolatry, or the worship of “things” other than the Lord, is prominent. Men walk in their own ways, after the image of [their] own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world.” (D&C 1:16.) Finally, the basic integrity of many has been so much compromised that they live a lie.

Without repentance there is no hope for the wicked.

And What Is It That We Should Hope For?

In these last chapters of Revelation John identifies five of the great hopes we must have if we are ever to have that faith unto eternal life that will anchor our souls (Ether 12:4).

1. The hope to keep from receiving the mark of the beast (Revelation 20:4).

As is stated in Alma 3:18–19, one marks, or curses, himself by disobedience to God. Are you keeping yourself more fully … “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27) by separating from it in all that is evil?

Hopefully, you are now more able than ever to discern the influences of Satan. There can be no lively hope in disobedience. Sin brings only despair (Moroni 10:22).

2. The hope to be called to “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9.)

In part, at least, the symbolism of the marriage supper refers to the coming of Christ to the earth at the outset of the great millennial day. (See Matthew 11:1–14.) To be invited to this transcendent event is to be worthy to remain with Christ on the earth. As the Savior and John indicate, there can be no lively hope for an invitation unless we keep our “garments” clean of the sins of the world (Revelation 16:15), “for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).

3. The hope to overcome all things (Revelation 21:7).

The hope for perfection is real in the life of a Saint who has been born again. Though not accomplished in a day, you can be on your way to fulfilling this commandment. Such a course is essential to hope for eternal life.

“We do not look for absolute perfection in man. Mortal man is not capable of being absolutely perfect. Nevertheless, it is given to us to be as perfect in the sphere in which we are called to be and to act, as it is for the Father in heaven to be pure and righteous in the more exalted sphere in which he acts. … we can strive for that perfection with the intelligence that we possess, and the knowledge that we have of the principles of life and salvation. The duty of the Latter-day Saints, and the paramount duty of those who are leaders … in the Church, is to inculcate in the hearts of the young people these principles of righteousness, of purity of life, of honor, of uprightness and of humility withal, that we may be humble before God and acknowledge his hand in all things.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 132.)

4. The hope to be resurrected in the morning of the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6).

To come forth in the morning of the first resurrection is to receive, among other things, a celestialized body. Of course, there can be no exaltation without entering in at the gate of baptism (John 3:3–5). Further, exaltation comes through the holy endowment (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 227), and the crowning ordinance of celestial marriage brings you to the fulness (D&C 131:4). All of these blessings can be hoped for only as you live by all the covenants, walking always in obedience.

5. The hope for the coming of Christ (Revelation 22:20).

Certainly all of earth’s history finally revolves around two pivotal points: the first coming of Christ in the meridian of time and his coming in glory at the beginning of the Millennium. All the saints in all the ages have yearned for the time when the earth would rest, for the time when He whose right it is would reign. This anticipation is called by many “the Messianic hope.” That hope has been and will be realized. You who have placed your trust in the Lord will not be disappointed; your hope will not be blasted. Whether it be in time or eternity, in life or death, each of you will see the day; and may it be that, as John, you will await it with a perfect brightness of hope. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20.)

(56-24) Summary

You have come to the end of this manual. May it be that your study has strengthened and blessed your life. Hopefully, you will return again and again to the words of life as found in all scripture, ancient and modern, for as the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principle of eternal life, and so can you. … I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life … you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good … and rejoice more and more.” (Teachings, p. 355.)