Members sustain one man as the Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they sustain fifteen men as prophets, seers, and revelators. Three of these men make up the First Presidency, and the other twelve are the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Most people know about the prophets in the Old Testament, and most Christians know about John the Revelator in the New Testament. How many people understand seer?
The Bible Dictionary defines prophet as a man who acts as a messenger for God and declares God’s will to the people. Hebrew prophets kept the records of God’s dealings with the Hebrew people. A prophet is a “preacher of righteousness,” calls the people to repentance, and foretells what will happen if they do not repent. A prophet gets his title from the fact that he sometimes prophecies future events. “In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost” (p. 754).
The book in the King James New Testament is titled “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.” It begins “The Revelation of Jesus Christ….” The revelation came from God and is about Jesus Christ. Because it came through the Apostle John, he is known as John the Revelator. A revelator makes known truth that is unknown. The truth may be new, or it may be something that was previously known but lost. True revelations always come from God.
A seer sees events that are past, unknown in the present, or future. The Bible Dictionary states, “There have been many seers in the history of God’s people on tis earth, but not so many as there have been prophets.” A seer can use the Urim and Thummim or holy interpreters, but he may not always do so. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ teaches, “A seer is a revelator and a prophet also” (Mosiah 8:15-16). It also says, “A seer is greater than a prophet… and a gift which is grater can no man have…” (Mosiah 8:15-18).
In my Come, Follow Me studies this week, I studied Mosiah 8 where Ammon taught King Limhi about a seer. The King had asked if Ammon knew of anyone who could translate records, and Ammon told him that King Mosiah had that gift. When King Limhi said “a seer is greater than a prophet,” (verse 15), Ammon replied, “a seer is a revelator and a prophet also” (verse16) and continued with this explanation in verse 17:
But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which re to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.
The Lord provides prophets, seers, and revelators to benefit mankind and has done so in all dispensations. The Prophet Joseph Smith is the great seer who stands at the head of the present dispensation. He saw Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and numerous other heavenly beings who restored priesthood keys and authority to the earth. These priesthood keys, power, and authority were handed down from prophet to prophet until President Russell M. Nelson holds them today. The role of a seer is clearly defined in the following quotes.
President Howard W. Hunter (1907-95) explained the unique role of a seer and how a seer views things differently than others: “A seer is one who sees. This does not mean that he sees through his natural eyes but rather through spiritual eyes. The seeric gift is a supernatural endowment” (in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 224).
Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872-1952) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles further described a seer as one who “perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of eternal truth. He foresees the future from the past and the present. This he does by the power of the Lord operating through him directly, or indirectly with the aid of divine instruments such as the Urim and Thummim. In short, he is one who sees, who walks in the Lord’s light with open eyes” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham , 258).
I am grateful to live in a day when prophets, seers, and revelators walk the earth, and I am grateful to live in a day when I can hear their counsel through numerous technological means. I know that President Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s Prophet, Seer, and Revelator on earth today and that he is assisted by fourteen other good men whom I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators of God.