Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Are We Supposed to Understand the Book of Revelation?

            I found interesting information, topics, and quotes in my study of the book of Revelation. The book was written by a man who identified himself as “John.” The author is understood to be the son of Zebedee and the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:21-22). According to latter-day revelation, John the Beloved is the author of the book of Revelation (see 1 Nephi 14:18-27; Ether 4:16; Doctrine and Covenants 77:1-2).

            The book of Revelation was written to encourage the early-day Saints – and any other readers – to remain faithful amid persecution and adversity. It is also known as the Apocalypse, a word that comes from Greek and that means a revelation, uncovering, or unveiling of something hidden. We should prayerfully study Revelation because it reveals important information about events between now and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as well as during the Millennium.

            Revelation includes much imagery and many symbols, but it contains much information about how God deals with His children as well as about the Savior. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written” (in History of the Church, 5:342; as quoted in New Testament Student Manual – Religion 211-212 [2014], 525).

            The book of Revelation is difficult for some people to understand because of the symbolism and imagery. Gerald N. Lund, who later became a member of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote an article in which he explained that the book of Revelation unveils many truths.

The title of the book in Greek is Apocalypsis, from which we get its other common name, the Apocalypse. Apocalypsis is formed from two Greek words – apo, a proposition denoting separation or removal, and kalypto, a verb meaning to cover, hide, or veil. Apocalypsis, then, literally means removal of the veil or covering. Hence its title in English, the book of Revelation (or the uncovering or unveiling).

While many might find the title to be ironic, arguing that few books are more hidden or veiled, it is an appropriate one, for it truly reveals many things. Elder Bruce R McConkie, in response to the question ‘Are we expected to understand the book of Revelation?’ answered:

“Certainly. Why else did the Lord reveal it? The common notion that it deals with beasts and plagues and mysterious symbolisms that cannot be understood is just not true…. If we apply ourselves with full purpose of heart, we can catch the vision of what the ancient Revelator recorded” ("Understanding the Book of Revelation,"Ensign, Sept. 1975, 87.) ….

If we diligently use the keys that the Lord has given us to interpret the book of Revelation, it can truly become a book of revelation for us (“Seeing the Book of Revelation as a Book of Revelation,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 46, 52).

            Nephi, a prophet in ancient America, had a great vision that gave significant insight into the vision of John found in Revelation. Nephi was shown in vision the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ as well as future events. He saw the division between the Nephites and Lamanites and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter-days (see 1 Nephi 12:1-14:2). He saw things that are in our future, but he was forbidden to write them (see 1 Nephi 14:25). He was told by Jesus Christ that the He had given the assignment to write about the Last Days to the Apostle John (see 1 Nephi 14:27). Nephi is a second witness to the reason why we should study the book of Revelation.

Lund suggested four key that may help us to understand the book of Revelation. These keys are: (1) Study, ponder, and pray about its message. (2) Use latter-day revelation to expand our understanding of the book. (3) Explore its symbolic imagery. (4) Study its chronological structure. There is more information about Lund’s four keys in his article.  

            Lund closed his article with this statement: “If we diligently use the keys that the Lord has given us to interpret the book of Revelation, it can truly become a book of revelation for us.” As we gain understanding of the Revelation, we will become better prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and more ready to dwell with Him.

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