John’s revelations cover many things. It is not my intention to cover the whole scope of John’s writings. I have already touched on portions of John’s work, such as his writings regarding the great and abominable organization of our day. The focus of this section will be to review the events associated with the seven angels of the seventh seal. In doing so, I feel it prudent to once again remind the reader that my thoughts, opinions, and insights are no substitute for the Holy Ghost. While I will try to support my interpretations by as many scriptures as possible, it is the Holy Ghost that has been tasked to teach the truth of all things, not me. Therefore, continually seek the confirmation of the spirit before my own interpretations. Doing so, regardless of the accuracy of my opinions, will make this a very beneficial and enlightening exercise.
My account begins with John beholding a special book in heaven with seven seals.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man…was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.[i]
It should be obvious that the man found worthy to open this book is the Lamb of God, thus the saying “Worthy is the Lamb”. The title Root of David associated with the Savior is a reference to Christ’s mortal genealogy, which was through David.
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.[ii]
We have two mortal genealogies for Christ, presumably one from Joseph and one from Mary (Joseph and Mary were cousins). Both genealogies show a direct line to Judah through Jesse.[iii] In this manner the Root of David differs from the Root of Jesse. As we noted in the previous chapter, the Root of Jesse is a descendant of both Jesse and of Joseph of Egypt.[iv] The Root of Jesse is John, and the Root of David is Christ. The reference to the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” goes back to the lion on the standard of the camp of Judah.
Returning to the book with the seven seals, the Doctrine and Covenants provides insight into its meaning:
The first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.[v]
Therefore these seals represent thousand year periods of time, and are meant to provide a contextual timeframe for when the events in John’s revelation will occur. In order to put things in context, we must first understand when the first thousand-year period began. The Bible Dictionary places the fall of Adam at 4000 BC.[vi] With this date as a general starting point we can correlate each seal with a corresponding time period as depicted by the following chart.
|First Seal||4000 BC – 3000 BC|
|Second Seal||3000 BC – 2000 BC|
|Third Seal||2000 BC – 1000 BC|
|Forth Seal||1000 BC – 1 BC|
|Fifth Seal||1 AD – 1000 AD|
|Sixth Seal||1000 AD – 2000 AD|
|Seventh Seal||2000 AD to 3000 AD|
We can validate this interpretation with the pivotal point upon which our calendar is based, the birth of Christ. According to this calendar, this takes place during the fifth seal. Therefore we can assume that the ministry of Christ and His apostles likewise occurred during this period, as well as the apostasy, and persecution of the Christians. Consider the description of the events from the fifth seal.
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God [the word of God was defined by John to be Jesus Christ], and for the testimony which they held.[vii]
The vision of the fifth seal corroborates the time frame, having reference to the many martyrs who gave their lives for their belief in the Son of God during this period. This section will focus on the events of the seventh seal. Based on the chronology of the seals above, the opening of the seventh seal corresponds roughly with 2000 AD. I would note that our calendar is not precise. The splitting of time between BC and AD was done five hundred and twenty five years after the birth of the Savior, and is considered by many bible scholars to be off by a couple of years. That being said, for purposes of this book, a couple of years will make little difference.
John describes the opening of the seventh seal:
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.[viii]
Of the seven seals John saw open, this is the only seal that opens with a corresponding delay of silence. There is obvious meaning to this reference. Orson Pratt said the following regarding this half an hour period, and he did so back in the eighteen hundreds.
Whether the half hour here spoken of is according to our reckoning—thirty minutes, or whether it be according to the reckoning of the Lord we do not know.[ix]
As I stated in the first chapter of this book, in retrospect, all things become clearer. As this seventh seal has now been opened for some time, we know that this reckoning was not after our time, therefore it must be after the Lord’s. By John’s own description, the time frame relates to the silence in “heaven”. Peter provided some interesting insight that also links this period of silence to the Lord’s time. Like John, Peter also saw our day and made the following prophetic statement as a result:
There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.[x]
Peter’s comments on the conditions of the last days are insightful. He implies that many will perceive that the timing for the events leading up to the Second Coming of the Lord will be delayed. He then makes an interesting observation that heavenly time is calculated differently than earthly, namely 1,000 years for one day.
According to the Lord’s reckoning, thirty minutes equals twenty-one years or 2021. Note, however, that John said that the silence in heaven lasted “about” an half an hour. This is not a definite time period. Twenty-five minutes is about an half an hour, as is thirty-five minutes. If we therefore apply Peter’s explanation to John’s revelation, a very curious time range appears: 2017 to 2025. If we were to take into consideration the potential calendar discrepancy of six years the range could be even sooner. Either way this is an eye-popping, heart-pounding time frame. Using the Lord’s reckoning of time, this squarely points to the silence in heaven ending in our day!
Please note, this timeline does not represent the timeline for the coming of the Lord. It only represents the timeline for termination of the silence in heaven. I wish to remind the reader of the definitive statement of the Lord regarding His coming:
I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes.[xi]
The timing of the Lord’s coming is entirely up to the Father. What then does the silence in heaven mean? I believe that the answer to this becomes obvious in John’s writings, and relates to a flurry of heavenly signs and wonders that begin in earnest after this silence has ended. After the period of silence, John beheld seven angels holding seven trumpets. These angels and trumpets are symbolic of the purification process that will precede the Second Coming, as is explained in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Question: What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
Answer: We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man…and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.[xii]
As the earth was created over seven periods, so will it be sanctified by seven symbolic events associated with seven symbolic angels. These events will transpire within the beginning of the seventh seal, but after the silence in heaven has ended. These events will prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.
Before these seven angels sound their trumpets, another angel approaches a golden altar that is before the throne of God holding a censer with smoke representing the prayers of the saints.[xiii] The term “golden altar” appears six times in the bible, four times in the Old Testament, and is always associated with either the tabernacle or Solomon’s temple. Censers are likewise associated with the temple, and were for burning incense. Temples and the alters of the temple in particular, are where we make special covenants with the Lord. Therefore, in these verses, we see both the symbolism of the covenants of Israel, and the prayers of Israel both before the throne of God. Thus John is showing that the time has come where the conditions for the fulfilling of the Lord’s covenants with Israel have been met.
But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they [Israel] shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.[xiv]
In other words, the events that John is seeing in vision correspond to the timing of the Lord’s fulfillment of His covenants with Israel when, in the curious wording of Christ, Israel “shall be restored in the flesh upon the earth”. With that in mind, consider the following symbolic action of the angel.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth.[xv]
The angel takes the censer, the symbol of the prayers of the saints and fills it with the fire of the altar. The fire is symbolic of the covenant the Lord has made to gather and restore the house of Israel from the utmost ends of heaven. Combined, these are sent from heaven to the earth. Given the testimony found in previous accounts, this symbolism is clear. Consider the following clarifying passage from Mormon:
And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel, concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled.[xvi]
After this acknowledgement, which correlates with the termination of the silence in heaven, the first four of seven angels sound their trumps. Notice there is no break between the events of these four angels; they are given one after the other until all four have sounded. Consider the events that John associated with these angels, and how their fulfillment certainly would constitute the breaking of heaven’s silence regarding the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.[xvii]
Apart from being terrifying, all of these events have many things in common. First, they all are associated with heaven. The hail falls from heaven. A burning mountain falls from heaven. A star falls from heaven, and the lights of heaven are dimmed. In other words, each of these events aptly demonstrates that the half hour of silence in heaven has ended. These are given for signs and wonders, and their occurrence has been long foretold.
Second, each of these events is associated with destruction. The hail destroys the trees and crops by fire and brute force. The fiery mountain and the burning star both impact the water – killing fish and destroying property. The destruction on the earth darkens the naturally occurring light sources, the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Third, each event is linked to the number three, or one third. Preceding these events the heavens were silent for 30 minutes. The destruction of all things is associated with a third of the total. The lights of heaven are cut to a third of their strength. The number three is symbolic. It is symbolic of redemption through great adversity. Jonah was in the belly of the whale until the third day. Christ was in the grave until the third day. America was in darkness after the great destruction following Christ’s death, until the third day. Furthermore consider this scripture from the book of Hosea in the Old Testament.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.[xviii]
Fourth, each of these events are associated with the plagues of the Egyptian Exodus, when the Lord delivered Israel from its hard bondage. To demonstrate this unmistakable similarity, consider the following comparitive descriptions of the plagues of Egypt.
Hail mixed with Fire destroys trees and crops
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.[xix]
Water turns to blood, fish die, men can’t drink
Thus saith the Lord, in this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.[xx]
The lights of heaven are darkened
And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.[xxi]
In fact, as if to emphasize the comparison, John uses the term Egypt to denote wickedness in the same manner as the term Sodom and Gomorrah is used.[xxii] John’s comparison of these latter-day events to the Exodus is consistent with others who saw the same events roll out in the latter-days. Reconsider the following passage from Isaiah:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.[xxiii]
The similarities between Isaiah’s prophetic statement and John’s vision of events mirroring the plagues of Egypt are not coincidental. Egypt was a type of things to come. Although according to Jeremiah, these latter-day events will rival even the astonishing miracles of the Egyptian Exodus. Recall the following from Jeremiah:
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, the Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, the Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country…[xxiv]
Why is there such obvious symbolism between these latter-day events and those of the Egyptian Exodus? I believe the answer is because both events accomplish the same thing – the deliverance of captive Israel. The Exodus delivered Israel from physical captivity. In the last days, Israel will be delivered from spiritual bondage and oppression. Remember that Jacob also foresaw the day when Israel would be delivered from spiritual bondage. [xxv]
Fifth, all of these events are associated with John and the Lost Ten Tribes. To demonstrate this fact, consider that whenever the term four is used in the book of revelations, there tends to be a plausible correlation to the House of Israel. The above events are attributed to four angels suggesting that the events are related to the gathering of Israel. Consider how the following four examples help to further illustrate this concept. All examples are taken from within the book of Revelations.
In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.[xxvi]
There can be no mistaking the symbolism between these four beasts and the four camps of Israel. Each beast represents one of the images on one the four standards of the camps of Israel. And the reference to the throne of God being in the midst of these beasts calls to mind how Israel’s ancient camps encircled the Tabernacle of God.
Four horns of the golden altar
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God.[xxvii]
This has reference to the Ark of the Covenant that contained the covenant of Mt. Horeb, (the Ten Commandments), the staff of Aarron, and a bowl of manna. All of these are symbols of the Lord’s dealings with the House of Israel.
Hundred and forty-four thousand
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.[xxviii]
It is self-evident that the hundred and forty-four thousand is affiliated with Israel.
Four corners and four winds
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.[xxix]
Both the four angels, four corners of the earth and the four winds are associated with the scattering and gathering of Israel. Consider the following examples.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.[xxx]
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.[xxxi]
In each of these examples, the number four has direct associations with the House of Israel. The House of Israel itself was, of course, also divided into the four camps of Israel. As we have also noted above, Isaiah and Jeremiah both associated Egypt with the return of the lost tribes of Israel.
Remember that John will return with the Remnant of Jacob. In addition, modern day revelation also links the apostle John to the latter-day cursing of the waters and destruction previously noted as curses of these four angels. Christ, himself, informs us of this fact:
Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters. Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters. And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart. I, the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree.[xxxii]
By this verse we see that the curse that comes upon the waters in the last days comes at the hand of John. Furthermore, it is the Lord that gives the destroyer dominion over the waters in that day. Note that as a result of the destroyer, Zion is kept safe from all other nations, for no man is able to travel upon the waters save the upright in heart. Satan is not in the business of sparing the righteous, but this destroyer allows the righteous safe passage. This enables the one hundred and forty-four thousand to gather the righteous to Zion from all the nations of the earth, while at the same time keeping the wicked at bay. This destroyer is the mighty Remnant of Jacob, as evidenced by the following description of the Remnant of Jacob from Jeremiah:
The portion of Jacob [Remnant of Jacob] is not like them; for [God] is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name. Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms.[xxxiii]
The Lord has stated that John will curse the waters and cause the destroyer to dominate the seas in the last days. Jeremiah associates the Remnant of Jacob with being the destroyer, the Lord’s battle-axe and weapon of war. Consider this additional passage from modern revelation regarding the events brought on by these four angels.
And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath. And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke. And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven. And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place.[xxxiv]
These commonalities that exist between the events of the first four angels are not coincidental. Whereas they are highly symbolic, they are also highly instructive when approached from this perspective. I cannot say which parts of these things will have literal meanings, such as fiery mountains and burning stars plunging into the earth like meteors. The plagues of Egypt were very literal. Interpreting these events beyond what I have done could only be speculative on my part. There are passages, however, that suggest that these events may be literal, at least to some degree.
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent [75 pounds]: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.[xxxv]
For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.[xxxvi]
For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.[xxxvii]
Regardless of the spiritual and or literal interpretations of these events, in the day that they play out, we will recognize them for what they are: the signs that the silence in heaven has, at long last, come to an end. We will know that the great and terrible day of the Lord is at hand.
I have demonstrated that these first four events are steeped in symbolism; they tie back to the plagues of Egypt when the Lord delivered his people in days of old. They imply redemption through tribulation, and they link the heavens and the earth. The Lord will again deliver his Saints in miraculous fashion. He will not suffer the modern pharaohs of our day to destroy His covenant people. In that day He will work a marvelous work and a wonder in the eyes of all the nations, reminiscent of the days of old. The work of this day will either convince his children to come unto Him to enjoy peace and life eternal, or will deliver them up to both physical and spiritual destruction.[xxxviii] I conclude the analysis of these four angels and the latter-day plagues of Egypt with the following passage from the Lord.
O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not! How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not! Behold, the day has come, when the cup of the wrath of mine indignation is full.[xxxix]
[i] Revelations 5:2-5
[ii] Revelations 22:16
[iii] Mathew 1 & Luke 3
[iv] D&C 113: 5 & 6
[v] D&C 77:7
[vi] Bible Dictionary – Chronology
[vii] Revelations 6:9
[viii] Revelations 8:1
[ix] Journal of Discourses 16:328
[x] 2 Peter 3: 3,4 & 8
[xi] D&C 49:7
[xii] D&C 77:12
[xiii] Revelations 8:4
[xiv] 2 Nephi 10:7
[xv] Revelations 8:5
[xvi] 3 Nephi 29:1
[xvii] Revelations 8:7-12
[xviii] Hosea 6:1-2
[xix] Exodus 9:23 & 25
[xx] Exodus 7:17,18,21
[xxi] Exodus 10:21 & 22
[xxii] Revelations 11:8
[xxiii] Isaiah 10:24-25
[xxiv] Jeremiah 23:7-8
[xxv] JST – Genisis 48:5-6
[xxvi] Revelations 4:6-7
[xxvii] Revelations 9:13
[xxviii] Revelations 7:4
[xxix] Revelations 7:1
[xxx] Mathew 24:31
[xxxi] 2 Nephi 21:12
[xxxii] D&C 61:14-16;19;27
[xxxiii] Jeremiah 51:19-20
[xxxiv] D&C 45:40-43
[xxxv] Revelations 16:21
[xxxvi] D&C 88:87
[xxxvii] D&C 88: 89-90
[xxxviii] 1 Nephi 14:7
[xxxix] D&C 43:24-26