This year I set a goal to read the entire New Testament and also the Book of Isaiah from the Old Testament. I’ve been slowly making my way through them and am really enjoying it! So I decided to share some of what I’ve been learning. Today I will share what stood out me the most as I read from the Book of Revelations.
But first of all is my schedule. It’s kind of a crazy-backwards schedule, but there is a method to the madness!
- January – mid-February: Revelations
- mid-February – April: Isaiah
- May: The Epistle of James thru The Epistle of Jude
- June – September: Acts thru Hebrews
- October – December: The Four Gospels
The initial idea was that I wanted to read the New Testament backwards on account of the fact that I haven’t read much of the last part of it. So I figured that if I started with the end, then I would definitely read the end. (Makes perfect sense, right? 😃). But going straight backwards didn’t seem quite right, so instead I grouped different portions together, starting with the end. I chose to not read the New Testament at all while I focused on Isaiah so that I could give it my full attention. And I chose to read the Book of Revelations before Isaiah because I just really wanted to. I also love how this makes it so I will be reading about the birth and ministry of the Savior during the holidays when so many people are striving to focus more on Him.
The Book of Revelations
I’ve never actually read the full Book of Revelations (I know, shame on me!) but I’ve definitely heard a lot about the crazy imagery it contains. I even watched a TV show about it once where they depicted the things that John described literally and gave some of their own interpretations. But I knew it was time for me to read it on my own and study what my church has to say about it.
One thing that was particularly interesting to me was Johns writings of the seven seals. These are the 7 periods of time of the earth. The New Testament Institute Manual helps to explain the first six seals. Here is a very brief summary of what it says (click the link for a more detailed explanation).
- First Seal: These events pertained to someone on a white horse, who had a bow, wore a crown, and went forth conquering and to conquer. The feeling is that this person was Enoch.
- Second Seal: A period of war and destruction: This was the time of Noah. From 3000 B.C. to 2000 B.C. was very violent, with plenty of war and destruction.
- Third Seal: A Period of Famine: “From 2000 B.C. to 1000 B.C., as never in any other age of the earth’s history, the black horse of hunger influenced the whole history of God’s dealings with his people.”
- Fourth Seal: A period of blood shed: (by sword, famine, pestilence, or wild beasts.) Approximately 1000 B.C. to the coming of the Savior. “This is the millennium of those great kingdoms and nations whose wars and treacheries tormented and overran, again and again, the people whom Jehovah had chosen to bear his name. This is also the general era in which the Lord’s own people warred among themselves and sent countless numbers of their own brethren to untimely graves.”
- Fifth Seal: “Dispensation of martyrdom:” Highlights from the birth of the Savior until 1000 A.D.
- The birth of the Savior, His ministry, and atoning sacrifice
- Setting up His Church, spreading it, and perfecting it. Also “the unbelievable fanaticism among unbelievers that made acceptance of martyrdom almost synonymous with acceptance of the gospel.”
- The Great Apostasy
“Among the ancient saints martyrdom was an ever present possibility, now which completely occupied their thoughts and feelings. They knew that by forsaking all to follow Christ, they might, if fate so decreed, be called to lay down their lives for Him who had laid down his life for them.”
- Sixth Seal: “The era when the signs of the times shall be shown forth, and they are in fact everywhere to be seen.” From 1000 A.D. until Christ returns.
I think what was so interesting to me about this explanation, besides the history of the earth being divided into these fairly specific periods of time, is that it shows that all people through all time have had a fair amount of trials to deal with. War and hunger seem to be at the top of the list.
I know that I’ve been guilty at times of wishing I was living in a “simpler time” where certain troubles that I have to deal with didn’t exist. But reading this helped me to understand that there is no time I could have lived that would be free of troubles. There has always been and will continue to be a battle between good and evil; there have always been people who have willingly chosen to follow the path of evil, making trouble for those who are trying to do what is right; and there has always been personal opposition as well, such as hunger, sickness, temptations, distractions, etc.
The scriptures teach that “there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). But they also explain that this opposition brings about God’s purpose which is “…to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Or in other words to give us the opportunity to learn to become like Him (and help others do the same) so that we can live with Him forever and become like He is.
I was also very interested in John’s writings of the time right before the second coming of the Savior. It is so interesting to live in this day, knowing that His coming is so close and yet not knowing exactly when that will be. I feel like my study has helped me to understand world events that I see on the news a little better. They are not just isolated events anymore in my mind, but instead they are part of the “story” of the earth that we live on, a story that was written and understood before the events themselves even happened. AND, it is a story that has a very happy ending, especially for those who put their faith in the Savior and continue choosing the good even though evil surrounds them.
I love these verses from chapter 21:3-4, 6-7, describing the time after the Millennium or the Seventh Seal.
“3- And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
6- And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7- He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
I’m really happy that I started with the Book of Revelations. And, I’m glad that I was able to review today what I learned since my reading of it was about 5 months ago. Next time, I’ll share what I learned from reading the Book of Isaiah!
What do you love most about the Book of Revelations?