Thunker’s Weblog


Revelation 21-22 (Part 4)
September 30, 2016, 3:49 pm
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Robert Wheadon-126x150

This is a review of lecture four in the book, “Apocalypse-Reading Revelation 21-22.”  This lecture was prepared by Shon D. Hopkin, assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU.  His lecture is entitled, “Seeing Eye to Eye: Nephi’s and John’s Intertwining Visions of the Tree of Life.”

The premise of Dr. Hopkin’s paper is one that permeates many of the other articles in this volume.  The idea is of the connected nature of scripture and the idea of how scripture from different places and times can support the tenets of the gospel, the divinity of the Savior, and God’s plan for each of us.

In particular, Dr. Hopkin looks at the symbolism and commonalities between John’s vision in the New Testament and Nephi’s vision in the Book of Mormon.  These two visionary experiences differ in place and time, and yet compliment each other and support the divine message of God’s love for his children.

Let’s begin with Nephi’s vision.  In 1 Nephi 11-14, Nephi is shown the desire of his heart, the vision that has father, Lehi, experienced.  Nephi’s recounting of his experience is much more detailed than the Lehi’s account and offers readers explanations and clarifications of the symbols used in the vision.  The first commonality between Nephi and John’s revelation lies in the presence of an angelic guide.  From the beginning of John’s experience we read,

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John,” (John 1:1).

In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi’s vision is initially led by the Spirit of the Lord.  Then in 1 Nephi 11:14, we read, “And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?”

The presence of an angelic guide coincides with other scriptural visionary experiences.  If one thinks of Isaiah, Peter, King Benjamin or Alma the Younger, all of these prophetic figures experienced visions with the presence of an angelic guide.  Of note, these celestial guides tend to lead the receiver of the vision by asking questions, rather than just imparting information.  For example, the angel in 1 Nephi repeatedly asks Nephi, “What do you see?”  Only after Nephi responds does the angel share the meaning of the vision.

Another commonality with the visions of John and Nephi is the designation of the twelve apostles.  In John’s vision, the number 12 is not limited to the apostles.   The numerical imagery extends to the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve apostles and with twelve angels that guard the gates of the New Jerusalem.

In Revelation 21:12-14 we read:

“12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

 Another reference to the number twelve is the  144,000 high priests, as mentioned in Revelation 7, as multiples of twelve from the twelve tribes.

An additional commonality is the usage of the the term the Lamb.  In the New Testament, John is the only scriptural writer to use the term to connote the Savior.  Nephi, in his writings, uses the term multiple times as he describes his vision.

Dr. Hopkin points out several other shared symbols between John’s and Nephi’s visions.  These consist of heavenly versus earthly cities, rivers of water, trees of life and straight paths/ways to God’s love.

Finally, I want to share what I believe is the most important link between the vision of John and the vision of Nephi.  Each prophet was tasked with writing certain aspects of what they were shown.  John’s vision concentrates on pre-Millennial and Millennial events in the life of earth.  He writes of the eventual overthrow of evil and Satan by God and the presentation of the New Jerusalem.

Nephi’s vision precedes John’s vision and Nephi shares his experience right up to the point where John’s begins.  Nephi is commanded by his angelic companion that he is not to write more of what he saw.  He is told that John will take up the vision and write the portion John has been assigned.  In 1 Nephi 14:18-28 we read:

18 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me,saying: Look!

 19 And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe.

 20 And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

 21 Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been.

 22 And he shall also write concerning the end of the world.

 23 Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.

 24 And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.

 25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.

 26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord,unto the house of Israel.

 27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.

 28 And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard;wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me;and I have written but a small part of the things which saw.”

And so, to get a really good read of God’s message on the last days, let’s read 1 Nephi 10-14 and then the book of Revelation.  The two visions go hand in hand and offer a more complete picture of God’s last days message to the world.

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1 Comment so far
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Love the comparison and it makes perfect sense!

Comment by Sydney Wheadon




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