Thunker’s Weblog


Revelation 21-22 (Part 6)

Robert Wheadon-126x150

Here is the final installment of my review of “Apocalypse – Revelation 21-22.”  The last lecture is by Dr. Adam Miller, a professor of philosophy at Collin College, currently teaching in McKinney, Texas.

Dr. Miller focuses on two points in his paper:  “1) having the name of God written on one’s forehead and 2) having one’s own name written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

In Revelation 22:3-4 we read:

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”

There are several citations in scripture where God has inscribed his name.  Aaron, of the Old Testament, is described as wearing as part of his priestly garments a plate on his forehead inscribed with the name of God.  Exodus 28:36-38 reads:

36 ¶And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

 37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.

38 And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.”

The phrase, “that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things,” indicates Aaron’s responsibility and accountability for Israel’s guilt, that was then expiated through the annual sin offering, or the goat driven into the wilderness.

In D&C 77:9-11, we gain insight into the 144,000 who are sealed in the forehead in Revelation chapter 7.  In D&C 77:9-11, we are informed that the sealing is a calling for a group of high priests from all of the twelve tribes to administer the gospel across the earth.

 So, we have Old Testament symbolism and a specific calling for a chosen group to share the gospel.  But what about the rest of us?  Are not the followers of God receive His name, as well?  Well in Revelation 22:3-4 we read:

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”

Aha!  Revelation 22 is a continuation of John’s vision of the celestial New Jerusalem, with the tree(s) of life and the eternal temple and the river of pure water flowing through the city.

The the city is populated with people serving God and the Lamb, who have his name written upon them.  These are people who are saved to live in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  These are the true saints of God.  The question then is asked: “What did these people do to inherit such blessings?”

I believe the clearest direction and description comes from the Book of Mormon prophet, Alma the Younger.  In Alma 5 we read:

“14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?

28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.

29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless.

30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?”

Alma uses a wonderful phrase, of us “having the image of God engraven upon (our) countenances.”  We receive this image or mark by trying to become like our Savior every day.  We do this through expressing faith in God in our righteous acts, in being humble, in having a clear understanding that pride and envy should not find a place in our hearts.  With God we are everything, relying solely on ourselves we are nothing.  Are task in this mortal life is to lift those around us, make the lives of others better rather than worse.  It is our daily striving for this heartfelt re-orientation of our desires that will gain us God’s image/name in our faces.

Now, on to the second part of Dr. Miller’s paper.  Throughout the book of Revelation there are references to the Lamb’s book of life, (see Rev. 3:5, Rev. 13.8, Rev. 20: 12, 15, Rev. 21:27, Rev. 22:19.)  This book of life is also mentioned by the apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:3, and by Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon, (Alma 5:58.)  All of the verses stress the importance of having one’s name written in the book of life or in the obverse negative connotation of being cast out, or hit by plagues, if one’s name is not found in the book.

There is also the mention of the book of life being used in the final judgement of humanity.

In Revelation 20:12-15 John writes:

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

The clearest definition we have is from the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He wrote a letter to the Saints, addressing Revelation 20:12.  In September 1842 he wrote:

You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previous to my leaving my place—that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven,” (D&C 128:7).

Our acts, whether they be righteous or not, are recorded both on earth and in heaven.  The heavenly book is the book of life.  John records that those whose name is not found in that heavenly volume, are not included as residents of the New Jerusalem.  It seems of all the millions of books available, the one of most worth, and worth working towards, is the Lamb’s book of life.

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Revelation 21-22 (Part 5)

Robert Wheadon-126x150

The fifth lecture is by Eric D. Huntsman, professor of ancient scripture at BYU.  The lecture is entitled, “The Unveiling of Christ…and of Angels.”

The focus of this paper is how angels are prominent figures in the Book of Revelation, as well as in other LDS scripture.

If one gives it a little contemplation, angels play a prominent role in LDS theology.  Beginning with the angel, Moroni, the beginnings of the LDS church and the translation of the Book of Mormon rely heavily on God’s use of angels and heavenly messengers.

LDS belief in angels is certainly not unique.  The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The angels of the Bible generally appear in the role of God’s messengers to mankind. They are His instruments by whom He communicates His will to men…”(http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=774).

The Jewish Encyclopedia describes angels as “Angels (from αγγελōς = messenger, Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ) are according to the usual conception superhuman beings dwelling in heaven, who, on occasion, reveal to man God’s will and execute His commands.” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1521-angelology).

The role of celestial messenger seems to be one of the chief roles of angels.  This role of messenger is in agreement with LDS theology of delegation.  We have examples of Heavenly Father, through, delegation, sending angels to guide, warn, instruct and do battle in various scriptural accounts, (see Gen. 16: 7-11, Exo 3:2, Judges 13:3-6, 2 Samuel 24:16, etc.).

This concept is manifest in Revelation as John is shown a series of visions, beginning with the appearance of the resurrected Savior.  In Revelation 1:

“17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; am the first and the last:

18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

Following the Savior’s appearance to John, the vision is populated by angels, all fulfilling tasks they have been assigned by God.  In Revelation 8-9, we have angels numerically completing apocalyptic measures against the earth.  For example, Revelation 8:7 reads:

“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.”

Six additional angels are described fulfilling celestially-ordained tasks.  Angels are replete throughout John’s vision, all performing delegated tasks or guiding John through his vision.  Towards the end of John’s experience, an angelic guide has just finished showing John the temple at the New Jerusalem.  John is so overcome by his experience that he falls down at the feet of his guide to worship him.  John is forbidden to worship the angel, as God is only worthy of worship.  We learn from this angelic guide in Revelation 22: 8-11:

“8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

 It’s interesting to note that the angel guiding John is a fellow prophet, like John, who apparently lived prior to John’s mortal existence and is not an angelic minister.  It is also worth noting that the angel, being delegated, speaks for an in behalf of Jesus Christ, as illustrated in verse 13-14.

In the Book of Mormon, we have similar angelic appearances.  As noted in my earlier posts, the prophet Nephi had an angelic guide throughout his apocalyptic visionary experience.  In 1 Nephi 11:14, Nephi writes:

“14 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?”

Angels have played and continue to play a vital role in God’s communication with humanity on earth.  As guides and messengers, God delegates his authority to angels to speak in His behalf and act in His behalf for the benefit of us.  Throughout all of holy writ, angels are evident.  From the angelic presence in the Garden of Eden, throughout the Testaments of the Bible, the angelic visits to Book of Mormon prophets, and the role angels have played and continue to play in our day, it is clear that Heavenly Father continues to use heavenly messengers to help His children.