Where We Are on the Prophetic Timeline: The Times of Types and Shadows


Not too long ago I came across a post from the Upward Thought blog called, The Seals of the Book of Revelation Do Not Represent Each 1000 Years, and, to be honest, I just skimmed through it at the time, but I caught that it put forth the idea that the seals mentioned by John the Revelator were still future events and that D&C 77 wasn’t reliable information.  I discounted the latter idea (about D&C 77) but decided to review the book of Revelation later concerning the seals.  I then forgot all about it.

Then I published the last post (The definition of eternal) and I found myself quoting from section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, so I thought maybe I ought not to put off looking at the book of Revelation and D&C 77 and also other prophetic timelines.  The new scriptural search I did took my old beliefs concerning these things and tossed them right out the window.  I now have a new understanding, which I will share right now.

I will use today’s date [Monday, March 21, 2016] and insert it into each of these prophetic timelines to show where we are.

John’s apocalyptic book of Revelation

Past

JST Rev. 4:1After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened into heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said,

Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.

Present

[Monday, March 21, 2016]

Future

Revelation 4:2 and on.

Explanation:  Everything John saw, whether it was in the extreme future—(for example: JST Rev. 4:6“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal” and D&C 77:1“Q. What is the sea of glass spoken of by John, 4th chapter, and 6th verse of the Revelation?  A. It is the earth, in its sanctified, immortal, and eternal state.)—or in the extreme past (for example: JST Rev. 12:6“And there was war in heaven;”) were to signify “things which must be hereafter,” meaning after the time of John’s vision.

The Revelation of John is the revelation of the seven seals and the events that take place once these seals are opened:

D&C 77:6Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?

A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

7Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?

A. We are to understand that 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.

The first seal, then, is a revelation of the “will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the first thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.”  The second seal is a revelation of the “will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the second thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.”  And so on until the seventh.

After each seal is opened, or after each revelation is unfolded in the eyes of the people, John saw events happen on earth.  These events were future to him.

When are the earthly events associated with the opening of these seals supposed to happen?  The Book of Mormon gives us the answer:

Ether 4:13Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.

14Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

15Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

16And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed.

So, first the Book of Mormon has to come forth (and remember, this hasn’t happened, yet.)  Then, the Lord’s people must rend the veil of unbelief.  Once that happens, the seals will begin to be opened and the revelations of each of the thousand years will be given to the saints, and the accompanying earth events associated with these revelations will go forth.

Again, when do these seals get opened?

D&C 77:10Q. What time are the things spoken of in this [7th] chapter to be accomplished?

A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal.

12Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?

A. 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 judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; 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.

13Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?

A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.

So the events associated with the opening of the first six seals take place during the sixth thousand years, while the events associated with the opening of the seventh seal take place “in the beginning of the seventh thousand years.”

Given that none of these things have occurred yet, we can assume that the “meridian of time” in which Jesus came is an uncounted portion of these thousands of years.  As there were 4,000 years before the birth of Christ, this means that the fifth thousand years began in AD 33 and the sixth thousand years began in AD 1033 and will end in 2033.  So, between now [March 21, 2016] and April 6th, 2033, the events associated with the opening of the first six seals must take place, and the events associated with the opening of the seventh seal will take place after April 6th, 2033.

In other words, not a single thing from the book of Revelations has happened, yet.  What we—and all the Christians and others who look at the book of Revelation and then say, “Prophecy is happening before our very eyes!”—are seeing are merely types and shadows.

Now, going back to the Upward Thought blog and actually reading it this time, it seems that the idea for the seals being events future to John actually comes from Joseph Smith himself.  So, I guess I’m in good company on this.  Quoting from that blog post:

It turns out we do have teachings from Joseph Smith on the Book of Revelation outside of D&C 77. This comes from “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”:

There is a grand difference and distinction between the visions and figures spoken of by the ancient prophets, and those spoken of in the revelations of John. The things which John saw had no allusion to the scenes of the days of Adam, Enoch, Abraham or Jesus, only so far as is plainly represented by John, and clearly set forth by him. John saw that only which was lying in futurity and which was shortly subject: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of his prophecy and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Also Rev. 4:1. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”….Now, I make this declaration, that those things which John saw in heaven had no allusion to anything that had been on the earth previous to that time, because they were the representation of “things which must shortly come to pass,” and not of what has already transpired. John saw beasts that had to do with things on the earth, but not in past ages. The beasts which John saw had to devour the inhabitants of the earth in days to come. ….The revelations do not give us to understand anything of the past in relation to the kingdom of God. What John saw and speaks of were things which he saw in heaven; those which Daniel saw were on and pertaining to the earth.

Nephi’s apocalyptic vision

Past

1 Ne. 13:1And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying:

Look!

And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms.  2And the angel said unto me:

What beholdest thou?

And I said:

I behold many nations and kingdoms.

3And he said unto me:

These are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.

Present

[Monday, March 21, 2016]

Future

4And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church.  5And the angel said unto me:

Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.

There certainly are, and have been, many nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles, but there has been no formation of the great and abominable church among the nations of the Gentiles, as yet.  This church’s formation is the first sign of the apocalypse and last days events.  Notice, though, that there are already saints of God on the scene when this church is formed, for the church begins to torture and kill and imprison them.  The fact that there are latter-day saints on the earth today among the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles means that all is in prophetic readiness.  We are just awaiting the formation of this quite literal church.

People are free to apply the portion of the vision found in 1 Ne. 13:4 through 1 Ne. 14 to the events of today, but it is my understanding that these are just types and shadows.  Now, let’s fast-forward to:

1 Ne. 14:15And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.  16And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying:

Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things—17and when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.

Then Nephi is shown John, who the angel says will write the rest of the apocalyptic vision. And what is the rest of the vision? The opening of the seals.

Nephi’s end times prophecy

In 2 Ne. 25 Nephi gives an end time prophecy which he finishes in 2 Ne. 30.  “I give unto you a prophecy, according to the spirit which is in me” (2 Ne. 25:4), “I proceed with mine own prophecy, according to my plainness” (2 Ne. 25:7), “And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings” (2 Ne. 30:18), and “And now I, Nephi, make an end of my prophesying unto you, my beloved brethren” (2 Ne. 31:1).  Where do we fit into the timeline of this prophecy?  Here:

Past

2 Ne. 26:14But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men.  15After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief,

Present

[Monday, March 21, 2016]

Future

15and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten.

The Gentiles have not yet brought the remnant so low in the dust that they are not. They’ve come close, but it’s not a perfect fulfillment, so what happened previously was yet another shadow fulfillment.  This means that most of chapter 26 and all of chapters 27-30 are still future events.

Daniel’s apocalyptic visions

Daniel’s end time visions, found in Daniel chapters 7 to 12, largely deal with kingdoms and kings.   John’s vision also dealt with kingdoms and kings.  Although our times [Monday, March 21, 2016] have some kingdoms among a bunch of nations, most of these kingdoms are constitutional monarchies, with essentially powerless kings.  The future, as I understand it, will mark a return to the absolute monarchy.  This is why both Daniel and John speak at great length about these things, which are largely absent today.  Daniel, then, saw things that are still future to us.

Some loose ends and final thoughts

Nephi prophesied:

1 Ne. 22:7And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.

This mighty nation is typically interpreted by latter-day saints as being The United States of America under the United States Constitution, but that might be just a shadow fulfillment.  It may, instead, be The United States of America under the New Articles of Confederation (NAC).  I prophesied that the Josephite restorer will use his faith to bring us into a new set of perfected articles of confederation, and this event would certainly qualify as fulfilling Nephi’s prophecy that “the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles.”  In other words, God Himself, using His miraculous power, will create a new nation in a day, through His appointed miracle-working seer.  Such an event shows God directly raising up the nation Himself, explicitly fulfilling the prophecy.  There would be no need to “try and make current events fit” into the prophecy, like is done with the Revolutionary War.  They would simply fit, altogether perfectly.

If, then, the NAC is the document that the Josephite is going to cause to be installed, by his faith, then its installation must precede the scattering and smiting of the remnant.  But what about the great and abominable church?  Does it precede or follow the NAC’s installation?

An interesting thing about the NAC is its strong language against kings and secret combinations.  I think, then, that the formation of the great and abominable church may be a sort of knee-jerk reaction against the Josephite and the new set of articles of confederation that he puts in place.  So I give it as my opinion that first comes the Josephite and the NAC (or something like it) and a slew of miracles from this guy, and then we get the rapid formation of the abominable church, in order for the wicked to try to deal with and stop him.

I say this because not only are saints on the scene when the abominable church is formed, but also miracles also appear to be on the scene:

1 Ne. 26:20And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.

Now, most latter-day saints would interpret that as meaning that they will simply say that there are no more miracles done any more, but that is not how I read this text.  I read it as that there are miracles occurring among the saints, or at least through this Josephite, and these miracles are causing a whole lot of problems for the various Christian and other churches and denominations out there.  After all, if you’ve got a guy saying that the Mormon church (LDS church) is God’s only true church and fold, and he’s emptying out hospitals of the sick and afflicted, and doing all sorts of other miracles, people are going to start flocking to his church (the LDS church.)  How do you deal with this onslaught of miracles, from a pastor’s perspective?  Well, one way, perhaps, is to unite the various churches into a single church conglomerate, a sort of great church, united against this man and his Mormon church.

So, it seems to me that the Josephite, the NAC and the Josephite’s never-ending mighty miracles, must precede the formation of the great and abominable church.  He, then, is the initial sign that gets everything prophetically moving, but how do we know when he is active on the scene?

I’ve already written that I believe now that that California earthquake I prophesied about, and the Josephite, are prophetically linked.  So, he is going to cause the earthquake.  This means it won’t be naturally occurring, but a miraculous event.  I now also believe that this “earthquake” might not even be a singular earthquake, at all, but a series of earthquakes, unleashed on the same day, in increasing magnitude over time, in a manner that cannot be explained as naturally occurring.  In other words, it seems to me that he is going to make it unmistakably clear that we are witnessing a mighty miracle, so that the entire nation and the whole entire world suddenly turn their attention to him.  This can only cause a full and complete combination of the wicked, to face this new threat to their power, hence the formation of the great and abominable church.

One last thing, and then I’ll end this post:  The angel that John saw having the seal of the living God, appears to me now as being the Josephite:

JST Rev. 7:1And 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.  2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God; and I heard him cry with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3saying,

Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

D&C 77:9Q. What are we to understand by the angel ascending from the east, Revelation 7th chapter and 2nd verse?

A. We are to understand that the angel ascending from the east is he to whom is given the seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things.

So, maybe what I’ve written above (if believed) will allow people to sleep a little more restfully.  The presidential elections will not mark the end of American civilization, nor is it, as yet, the end of the world.  We are not even yet in the end or last times.  It is still very much just the latter days and despite the doom and gloom crowd, we can expect a work of miracles to be forthcoming, before any of the “bad” signs happen, since it is also my understanding that the Josephite is already among us somewhere in this church.

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1 Nephi 13 & 14 commentary, using CTC’s view


On June 17th, 2008, Anthony E. Larson uploaded a post to this blog called, The Great and Abominable Church.  A couple of weeks later a visitor called CTC claimed that 1 Nephi 13 & 14 spoke of a literal great and abominable church that had yet to make its appearance and that much of both of these chapters was yet to be fulfilled.  He said he got this information from someone who he believed was a bona fide prophet of God.  CTC did not use a chronological approach to Nephi’s prophecy.  This made it easy for him to get around certain parts which posed problems to him as a future fulfillment.  But I’m not going to take that approach.  I’m going to read it chronologically and literally, and see where it takes me.

I’m doing this because it interests me, not because I subscribe to this view, so please don’t take this as my interpretation of this chapter.  As I’ve said before, my understanding of prophecy is that it is plain and speaks of real things, and also that it often has shadows or types.  When CTC first posted his comments, I did not respond, because I hadn’t taken the time to really look at 1 Nephi 13, to see if the fulfillment that we normally assign to it could be a mere shadow.  So, I remained silent and let others respond to him.  However, recently I have found myself mentioning time and time again about a coming future captivity of the saints, which brought to my mind what Nephi had stated in 1 Nephi 13, which then brought to my mind what CTC had written in his comments.

All of which leads me to this post, in which I look at these chapters and attempt to interpret them as if their literal fulfillment was still future.  So, let’s begin.

Chapter Thirteen of First Nephi

I will quote a part of the chapter, then give what is commonly assumed as its fulfillment, but as a shadow, and then I will give its literal future fulfillment.  I will try to convincingly show why the shadow fulfillment does not satisfy the prophecy, meaning why the prophecy is not fulfilled every whit by the shadow, necessitating a future, literal fulfillment.  I am using this as my Book of Mormon text.

The times of the Gentiles

and it came to pass | that the angel spake unto me | saying |

look |

and i looked | and beheld many nations and kingdoms | and the angel said unto me |

what beholdest thou |

and i said |

i behold many nations and kingdoms |

and he said unto me |

these are the nations and kingdoms of the gentiles |

This is obviously talking about the times of the Gentiles.  But which times?  The times of the primitive church with the twelve apostles, the times right after the death of the apostles, the times of Joseph Smith, the current times, or a future time of the Gentiles?  Nephi isn’t clear on this point, but I will interpret this as a future time.

The formation of a church

and it came to pass | that i saw | among the nations of the gentiles | the formation of a great church | and the angel said unto me |

behold | the formation of a church | which is most abominable | above all other churches | which slayeth the saints of god | yea | and tortureth them | and bindeth them down | and yoketh them with a yoke of iron | and bringeth them down into captivity |

Shadow past fulfillment: Some have stated that this is the Roman Catholic Church, a literal church, which would put its formation after the death of the apostles.  Others have stated that this is the “church” of science, a metaphorical church, which would put its formation after the Roman Catholic Church.  Others believe this is speaking metaphorically about all churches that are not the true saints of God, per the later verse of 1 Ne. 14:10, giving it a metaphorical “formation” and a metaphorical “captivity.”  These must all be shadows because they do not fulfill the prophecy every whit.

Literal future fulfillment: This a real church, not a figurative or metaphorical church.  And it exists among other, real churches.  It literally kills and tortures real saints—or sanctified people who have entered into a covenant with God, witnessed by baptism—and literally binds them, puts real iron yokes upon them and brings them down into literal (not metaphorical) captivity.

To literally fulfill this prophecy every whit, living saints of God must be present during, or after, the formation of this church, and they must be killed, tortured, bound, yoked with iron, and brought into captivity.  Also, there must be other, real churches present, which do not pertain to the abominable church.

This has not occurred, yet, for although there were people tortured, killed, put into iron yokes and brought into captivity, by various religious organizations in the past, these tortured souls were not saints of God, for the church of God was already non-existent by then and the saints and apostles were already dead.  Therefore, this prophecy must pertain to the future.

Devil, materialism, worldy praise

and it came to pass | that i beheld this great and abominable church |

and i saw the devil | that he was the founder of it |

and i also saw gold | and silver | and silks | and scarlets | and fine-twined linen | and all manner of precious clothing |

and i saw many harlots | and the angel spake unto me | saying |

behold | the gold | and the silver | and the silks | and the scarlets | and the fine-twined linen | and the precious clothing | and the harlots | are the desires of this great and abominable church |

and also | for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of god | and bring them down into captivity |

The previous commentary applies to this section, as well, for if the church of God is not present, in order for this abominable church to bring God’s saints down into captivity and destroy them, it cannot be fulfilled literally.

Many waters

and it came to pass | that i looked | and beheld many waters | and they divided the gentiles from the seed of my brethren |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The Gentiles of Europe are divided (separated) from the American Indians (Lamanites) by the Atlantic Ocean.

Literal future fulfillment: The Gentiles of Asia are divided (separated) from the American Indians (Lamanites) by “many waters.”  The term “many waters” refers to that body of water called by the Nephites, Irreantum, which is the Pacific Ocean.

And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.  (1 Ne. 17:5)

The Spirit of God upon a man

and it came to pass | that the angel said unto me |

behold | the wrath of god is upon the seed of thy brethren |

and i looked | and beheld a man | among the gentiles | who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters |

and i beheld the spirit of god | that it came down | and wrought upon the man | and he went forth upon the many waters | even unto the seed of my brethren | who were in the promised land |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The European Gentile, Christopher Columbus, “believed himself chosen by God to find [a new] land and deliver the light of Christianity to the natives there.”  He sailed upon the Atlantic Ocean to the New World, all the way to the Lamanite remnant.

Literal future fulfillment:  A man among the Asian Gentiles (not necessarily a Gentile man, nor Asian) will have the Spirit of God come down and work upon him.  This man will be a holy prophet of God and will travel from Asia to North America, upon the Irreantum or Pacific Ocean, until he reaches the Lamanite remnant.

The Spirit of God upon captive Gentiles

and it came to pass | that i beheld the spirit of god | that it wrought upon other gentiles | and they went forth out of captivity upon the many waters |

Shadow past fulfillment:  European Gentiles (Puritans) leave Europe and their religious “captivity” for America to partake of religious freedom.  (Never mind that Europe was one of the freest places on the planet at the time.)  They travel over the Atlantic Ocean.

Literal future fulfillment:  Asian Gentiles are wrought upon by the Spirit of God, becoming saints of God, and leave Asian captivity, meaning that they leave the captivity of the tyrannical Chinese, North Korean and other communist regimes and dictatorships, which bind the people down in literal captivity.  They travel over the Irreantum (Pacific Ocean.)

The scattering of the Lamanites

and it came to pass | that i beheld many multitudes of the gentiles upon the land of promise |

and i beheld the wrath of god | that it was upon the seed of my brethren | and they were scattered before the gentiles | and were smitten |

and i beheld the spirit of the lord | that it was upon the gentiles | and they did prosper | and obtain the land for their inheritance |

and i beheld | that they were white | and exceedingly fair and beautiful | like unto my people before they were slain |

Shadow past fulfillment:  Lots of European Gentiles are in America.  The European Gentiles partially scatter the American Indians and gather them into reservations.  The European Gentiles take possession of Indian and American land.  Some prosper, some do not.  The European Gentiles are white, fair and beautiful.

Literal future fulfillment:  Lots of different Gentiles are in America.  An unnamed group of (European?) Gentiles fully scatter the American Indians, off of the reservations, and smite them, so that the Lamanites are completely landless.  The Spirit of the Lord comes upon a righteous group of (Asian?) Gentiles (saints) and they prosper and inherit the land.  This righteous group of Gentiles is white, fair and beautiful.

Former captors wage war against former captives; God saves former captives

and it came to pass | that i nephi beheld | that the gentiles | who had gone forth out of captivity | did humble themselves before the lord | and the power of the lord was with them |

and i beheld | that their mother gentiles were gathered together upon the waters | and upon the land | also | to battle against them |

and i beheld | that the power of god was with them | and also | that the wrath of god was upon all those | that were gathered together against them to battle |

and i | nephi | beheld | that the gentiles | that had gone out of captivity | were delivered by the power of god out of the hands of all other nations |

Shadow past fulfillment:  Many European Gentiles (in the American British colonies) are either deists or believe in God, Christianity and the Bible.  The American Revolutionary War ensues.  Despite hardships, lack of supplies, training, etc., the American Continental Army defeats the British.

Literal future fulfillment:  The Asian Gentiles (who are converted saints of God)—who left their Asian communist countries, who traveled over the Irreantum (Pacific Ocean), who are now living upon the land of America—humble themselves before the Lord and obtain the gifts and powers of the Holy Ghost.  Their mother countries (China, Russia and the rest) send warships upon the waters to battle them and gather together upon the water and also gather together upon the land.  Divine intervention (miracles of God) takes place and the armies of the mother Gentile nations, as well as the armies of all those nations who were gathered with them to battle the former Asian Gentile captives, are defeated by the power of God, and not by any power of man.

A book, the record of the Jews

and it came to pass | that i | nephi | beheld | that they did prosper in the land |

and i beheld a book | and it was carried forth among them | and the angel said unto me |

knowest thou the meaning of the book |

and i said unto him |

i know not |

and he said |

behold | it proceedeth out of the mouth of a jew |

and i | nephi | beheld it | and he said unto me |

the book | that thou beholdest | is a record of the jews | which contains the covenants of the lord | which he hath made unto the house of israel |

and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets |

and it is a record like unto the engravings | which are upon the plates of brass | save there are not so many | nevertheless | they contain the covenants of the lord | which he hath made unto the house of israel | wherefore | they are of great worth unto the gentiles |

and the angel of the lord said unto me |

thou hast beheld | that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a jew |

and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a jew | it contained the fulness of the gospel of the lord | of whom the twelve apostles bear record | and they bear record | according to the truth which is in the lamb of god | wherefore | these things go forth from the jews in purity unto the gentiles | according to the truth which is in god |

and after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the lamb from the jews unto the gentiles | thou seest the formation of a great and abominable church | which is most abominable | above all other churches |

for behold | they have taken away from the gospel of the lamb many parts | which are plain and most precious |

and also | many covenants of the lord have they taken away |

and all this have they done | that they might pervert the right ways of the lord | that they might blind the eyes | and harden the hearts | of the children of men | wherefore | thou seest | that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church | that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book | which is the book of the lamb of god |

and after these plain and precious things were taken away | it goeth forth unto all the nations of the gentiles |

and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the gentiles | yea | even across the many waters | which thou hast seen with the gentiles | which have gone forth out of captivity | thou seest | because of the many plain and precious things | which have been taken out of the book | which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men | according to the plainness which is in the lamb of god | because of these things | which are taken away out of the gospel of the lamb | an exceedingly great many do stumble | yea | insomuch that satan hath great power over them | nevertheless | thou beholdest | that the gentiles | who have gone forth out of captivity | and have been lifted up by the power of god | above all other nations upon the face of the land | which is choice | above all other lands | which is the land | that the lord god hath covenanted with thy father | that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance | wherefore | thou seest | that the lord god will not suffer | that the gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed | which are among thy brethren | neither will he suffer | that the gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren | neither will the lord god suffer | that the gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness | which thou beholdest | they are in | because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the lamb | which have been kept back by that abominable church | whose formation thou hast seen |

wherefore |

saith the lamb of god |

i will be merciful unto the gentiles | unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of israel in great judgment |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The European Gentiles (now called American citizens) have a Bible—written by multiple authors, not a single Jew—which has been corrupted by that great and abominable church, you know, the Roman Catholic Church, or the science non-church, or the vast assembly of non-saint churches “church.”  That church.  Anyway, that church/non-church takes some plain and precious parts away from the Bible and then sends it out to all the European Gentiles, which then makes its way to America, since the European Gentiles have traveled there over the Atlantic Ocean.  And because of this faulty Bible, many of the European Gentiles stumble and sin.  But hope is not lost, for the Lord has a plan.

Literal future fulfillment:  The Asian Gentiles saints living in America have a book, written by a singular Jew, which contains a record of the Jews, the covenants of the Lord and many of the prophecies of the prophets.  This book is like the plates of brass, except it doesn’t contain as much information as the plates of brass.  It contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the testimony of all twelve apostles of the Lord.

When the book first appears, written by the singular Jew, it will go to the Gentiles, presumably to the Asian Gentiles who were in captivity, since they will be carrying the book.  After it goes to the Gentiles, the great and abominable church will be formed.  That church apparently will get a copy of the book and make drastic changes to it, taking out plain and precious parts.  Then they will publish the book far and wide, so that it ends up in every Gentile nation, including in America.

There will be, then, two editions of the book.  One which is pure, carried by the Asian Gentile saints living in America, and the other which is corrupted, carried by the other Gentiles (living in America and elsewhere).  Because of the corrupted version, many Gentiles stumble and sin.  But hope is not lost, for the Lord has a plan.

Another book, the record of the Nephites

and it came to pass | that the angel of the lord spake unto me | saying |

behold |

saith the lamb of god |

after i have visited the remnant of the house of israel |

and this remnant | of whom i speak | is the seed of thy father |

wherefore | after i have visited them in judgment | and smitten them by the hand of the gentiles | and after the gentiles do stumble exceedingly | because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the lamb | which have been kept back by that abominable church | which is the mother of harlots |

saith the lamb |

i will be merciful unto the gentiles in that day | insomuch that i will bring forth unto them in mine own power much of my gospel | which shall be plain and precious |

saith the lamb |

for behold |

saith the lamb |

i will manifest myself unto thy seed | that they shall write many things | which i shall minister unto them | which shall be plain and precious | and after thy seed shall be destroyed | and dwindle in unbelief | and also the seed of thy brethren |

behold | these things shall be hid up |

to come forth unto the gentiles by the gift and power of the lamb |

and in them shall be written my gospel |

saith the lamb |

and my rock | and my salvation |

and blessed are they | who shall seek to bring forth my zion at that day | for they shall have the gift and the power of the holy ghost |

and if they endure unto the end | they shall be lifted up at the last day | and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the lamb |

and whoso shall publish peace | yea | tidings of great joy | how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The Book of Mormon, an abridged record of the Nephites, was written, and came forth to the Gentiles that were stumbling, by the gift and power of God, and in it is God’s rock, salvation and gospel, and it contains the many plain and precious parts that have been taken out of the Bible, as well as an abridgment of the ministry of the Savior to the Nephites.  Those during the time of Joseph Smith were blessed with the gift and power of the Holy Ghost as they sought to establish Zion.

Future literal fulfillment:  An unabridged Nephite record (not the Book of Mormon) will be written, to come forth to the Gentiles that stumble, by the gift and power of God, and in it will be God’s rock, salvation and gospel, and it will contain the many plain and precious parts that have been taken out of the book that is carried by the Asian Gentile saints.  In the Nephite record will be “many things” that the Savior personally ministered to the Nephites.  In other words, it will be an unabridged account of that ministry.  Those during the time of the appearance of this unabridged Nephite record will be blessed with the gift and power of the Holy Ghost as they seek to establish Zion.

Two records established in one

and it came to pass | that i beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren | and also the book of the lamb of god | which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the jew | that it came forth from the gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren |

and after it had come forth unto them | i beheld other books | which came forth by the power of the lamb from the gentiles unto them | unto the convincing of the gentiles | and the remnant of the seed of my brethren | and also | the jews | who were scattered upon all the face of the earth | that the records of the prophets | and of the twelve apostles of the lamb | are true | and the angel spake unto me | saying |

these last records | which thou hast seen among the gentiles | shall establish the truth of the first | which are of the twelve apostles of the lamb |

and shall make known the plain and precious things | which have been taken away from them |

and shall make known to all kindreds | tongues | and people | that the lamb of god is the son of the eternal father | and the savior of the world | and that all men must come unto him | or they cannot be saved | and they must come according to the words | which shall be established by the mouth of the lamb |

and the words of the lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed | as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the lamb | wherefore | they both shall be established in one | for there is one god | and one shepherd over all the earth |

and the time cometh | that he shall manifest himself unto all nations | both unto the jews | and also unto the gentiles |

and after he has manifested himself unto the jews | and also unto the gentiles | then he shall manifest himself unto the gentiles | and also unto the jews |

and the last shall be first | and the first shall be last |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The Bible written by multiple Jews went to the Lamanites.  Later, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price went to the Lamanites, and these last records established the truth of the Bible (as far as it is translated correctly), which is a record of the four apostles of the Lord, and made known the plain and precious parts missing in it.  Both volumes of scripture were established in one, by being bound up as a quadruple combination.

Literal future fulfillment:  The unchanged book carried by the Asian Gentile saints, written by a singular Jew, will go to the Lamanites.  Later, the unabridged Nephite record (as well as other records) will go to the Lamanites and will establish the truth of the unadulterated book that is carried about by the Asian Gentile saints, which is a record of all twelve apostles of the Lord, and will make known the plain and precious parts that are missing in the perverted edition of that record.  Both volumes of scripture will be established in one.

Chapter Fourteen of First Nephi

The whole of 1 Nephi 14 is still future, according to my understanding, but since I’m using CTC’s view to interpret the prophecy, I will try to bring up anything that may coincide with what I wrote about chapter thirteen.

Numbering

and it shall come to pass | that if the gentiles shall hearken unto the lamb of god | in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word | and also in power | in very deed | unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks | and harden not their hearts against the lamb of god | they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father | yea | they shall be numbered among the house of israel |

and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever |

they shall be no more brought down into captivity |

and the house of israel shall no more be confounded |

and that great pit | which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church | which was founded by the devil and his children | that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell | yea | that great pit | which hath been digged for the destruction of men | shall be filled by those who digged it | unto their utter destruction |

saith the lamb of god |

not the destruction of the soul | save it be the casting of it into that hell | which hath no end |

for behold | this is according to the captivity of the devil | and also according to the justice of god upon all those | who will work wickedness and abomination before him |

Shadow past/present fulfillment:  I suppose latter-day saints could interpret numbering among the house of Israel as fulfilled by getting their patriarchal blessings, which tell them what tribe they have been assigned to.

Literal future fulfillment:  Numbering is a tribal function.  I’ve already gone over this on this blog before, so I’m not going to elaborate on this topic again.  Let it suffice that my understanding is that this pertains to the future and has not yet been fulfilled in any part, whatsoever.

The great and marvelous work

and it came to pass | that the angel spake unto me | nephi | saying |

thou hast beheld | that if the gentiles repent | it shall be well with them |

and thou also knowest | concerning the covenants of the lord unto the house of israel |

and thou also hast heard | that whoso repenteth not | must perish | therefore | wo be unto the gentiles | if it so be | that they harden their hearts against the lamb of god |

for the time cometh |

saith the lamb of god |

that i will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men | a work which shall be everlasting | either on the one hand | or on the other | either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal | or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts | and the blindness of their minds | unto their being brought down into captivity | and also into destruction | both temporally and spiritually |

according to the captivity of the devil | of which i have spoken |

Shadow past fulfillment:  The times of Joseph Smith in which he restored many lost truths and layed the foundation of the kingdom is often thought as the great and marvelous work.

Literal future fulfillment:  The great and marvel work takes places after the numbering of the Gentiles among the house of Israel, therefore, it is still a future event.

The covenants of the Father to the house of Israel

and it came to pass | that when the angel had spoken these words | he said unto me |

rememberest thou the covenants of the father unto the house of israel |

i said unto him |

yea |

I don’t really need to comment on this.

Two churches only

and it came to pass | that he said unto me |

look | and behold that great and abominable church | which is the mother of abominations | whose founder is the devil |

and he said unto me |

behold | there are save two churches only |

the one is the church of the lamb of god | and the other is the church of the devil | wherefore | whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of god | belongeth to that great church | which is the mother of abominations | and she is the whore of all the earth |

Shadow past fulfillment:  Some use this scripture retroactively, to apply to the thirteenth chapter of First Nephi.  So, they define the great and abominable church as everything that isn’t the LDS church.

Literal future fulfillment:  The great and marvelous work, which is still future, will cause a division among the people, so that there are no longer a multiplicity of churches on earth.  Everything will either align itself with the great and abominable church, being absorbed by her, or join the saints of God in the now-called church of the Lamb of God.  The church of the Lamb of God will be using, if you remember, the Book of the Lamb of God.  In other words, that unchanged book written by a singular Jew, carried by the Asian Gentile saints, which contains the writings of the twelve (not four) apostles of the Lamb.  Just as Mormons are called Mormons because of the book they carry and use and believe, so the Lamb of God church will be called by the name of their main book.

Headquarters in the midst of Irreantum

and it came to pass | that i looked | and beheld the whore of all the earth | and she sat upon many waters | and she had dominion over all the earth | among all nations | kindreds | tongues | and people |

Shadow past fulfillment:  Bad (non-LDS) churches are all over the planet.

Literal future fulfillment:  The great and abominable church will be headquartered somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and will have global reach.

The church of the Lamb of God

and it came to pass | that i beheld the church of the lamb of god | and its numbers were few | because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore | who sat upon many waters | nevertheless | i beheld | that the church of the lamb | who were the saints of god | were also upon all the face of the earth | and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small | because of the wickedness of the great whore | whom i saw |

Shadow past fulfillment:  Good (LDS) churches are all over the planet.

Literal future fulfillment:  The church of the Lamb of God will have global reach, but small membership, due to the other church’s wickedness.

Gathering of the whore to fight the Lamb

and it came to pass | that i beheld | that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth among all the nations of the gentiles to fight against the lamb of god |

I ain’t gonna interpret this.

Power of God upon the saints and covenant people

and it came to pass | that i | nephi | beheld the power of the lamb of god | that it descended upon the saints of the church of the lamb | and upon the covenant people of the lord | who were scattered upon all the face of the earth | and they were armed with righteousness | and with the power of god in great glory |

Nor will I interpret this.  But do notice that at this point in the prophetic timeline, the covenant people of the Lord are still in their scattered state.

Worldwide wars

and it came to pass | that i beheld | that the wrath of god was poured out upon that great and abominable church | insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth | and as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations | which belonged to the mother of abominations | the angel spake unto me | saying |

behold | the wrath of god is upon the mother of harlots |

and behold | thou seest all these things | and when the day cometh | that the wrath of god is poured out upon the mother of harlots | which is the great and abominable church of all the earth | whose founder is the devil | then at that day the work of the father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants | which he hath made to his people | who are of the house of israel |

Nor will I interpret this.  But do notice that only now, after there are wars and rumors of war everywhere, after the numbering, after the unabridged Nephite record and the record of the twelve apostles of the Lamb come forth, etc., only after all these things happen does the work of the Father commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of His covenants with Israel!

The apostle John

and it came to pass | that the angel spake unto me | saying |

look |

and i looked | and beheld a man | and he was dressed in a white robe | and the angel said unto me |

behold | one of the twelve apostles of the lamb |

behold | he shall see and write the remainder of these things | yea | and also many things which have been | and he shall also write concerning the end of the world | 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 |

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 | 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 | 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 |

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 |

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 i saw |

and i bear record | that i saw the things | which my father saw | and the angel of the lord did make them known unto me |

Shadow past fulfillment:  John the apostle wrote the Book of Revelation, which contains some of the things that Nephi saw and the Book of Revelation is found in the Bible, which was written by multiple Jews.

Literal future fulfillment:  John the apostle will appear in the future, with a mission to gather the tribes of Israel, as a Jewish Elias, meaning an Elias of the tribe of Judah, and he will come and restore all things pertaining to the Jews.

Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.  (D&C 77:14)
As part of his commission, John will prophesy among many nations, kings, tongues and people.

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was at it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth; and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me,

Those things are sealed up which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said,

God and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him,

Give me the little book.

And he said unto me,

Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

And he said unto me,

Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.  (Revelations 10, Inspired Version)

It was for this reason that John was translated, that he might perform this latter-day work.

And the Lord said unto me:

John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.

 And I said unto him:

Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.

 And the Lord said unto me:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

 And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter:

If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desired of me that he might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightest speedily come unto me in my kingdom.   I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire; but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done.   Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth.   And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James; and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.   Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy in that which ye have desired.  (D&C 7)

John, then, is the Jew, out of whose mouth the book, which Nephi saw in vision, would proceed.  He is the “hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” which will write this book.  Through John will proceed the record and testimony of all twelve apostles of the Lamb, and all the things which Nephi saw will be written by John, “and also many things which have been,” meaning that John will write things which preceded Nephi.  The writings of John in the Bible do not cover all the things that the angel told Nephi John would write, which would be written in the book that proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, which is called “the Book of the Lamb of God.”

And this is the very reason why the angel prohibited Nephi from writing the rest of his vision.  The Book of Revelation does not contain the vision that Nephi saw.  If anything, it only contains a part of the vision, or an abridgement.  Nephi could not write what he saw because it was not the proper time for that information to come forth.  When John re-appears on the scene, he will dictate the book that Nephi saw the Asian Gentile saints carrying, which will contain the full vision of Nephi, as well as the covenants of the Lord, many of the prophecies of the prophets, the testimony of all twelve apostles, a record of the Jews and “many things which have been.”  Yet, despite all that, it will still be less material than what the plates of brass contain.

John may, in fact, be the man who is wrought upon by the Spirit of God, who goes forth upon the many waters (Irreantum) to the promised land, who is followed by the Asian Gentile saints.  John may be that man among the Asian Gentiles, who preaches to them and gives them the book that he will write, which they will carry with them to the promised land.  John may be the very one who frees them from captivity, allowing them to leave their countries and come over the Irreantum to America.

Wrapping this up

Is any of this true?  Could our standard interpretation of these two chapters be mere shadows?  I will leave it up to the reader to figure that out for him or herself.  One thing is for sure, if 1 Nephi 13 has yet to be literally fulfilled, we know what the very first thing mentioned is: the formation of a great and abominable church and the death, torture and captivity of the saints.  Let us hope that none of the things I wrote above have any basis in prophetic reality.

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The Keys to Prophecy IX: Apollyon, the Destroyer


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© Anthony E. Larson, 2005

The Keys to Prophecy IX:

Apollyon, the Destroyer

Like the histories of all ancient cultures, that of the Hebrews-the Old Testament-tells the very same story of sky-spanning marvels and manifestations that profoundly and directly impacted their culture and beliefs.  Comparing the names of the gods they worshipped supports this conclusion, as we have seen.

Having made that connection, we can now turn to the scriptural record to see how well that knowledge helps our comprehension of symbolism that otherwise seems unfathomable: prophecy.

For example, Baal, a figure we see often in the Old Testament, was the god of the Canaanites, sometimes neighbors and enemies of the Israelites.  From time to time in their history most Israelites worshipped him as well, to the dismay of the prophets.

Apollo was the Greek equivalent of Baal.  In fact, the name is the same, altered only by linguistic preferences.  The Greeks added an antecedent ‘a’ (a-baal), softened the hard ‘b’ sound to a ‘p’ and then added an ‘o’ ending (a-paal-o).

The conclusion: The Greeks worshipped the same sky god as the Canaanites and the apostate Israelites.

Although the Greek’s god Ares is more typically associated by scholars with the Roman war god, Mars, others insist that Apollo (Apollon/Apollyon) was also a Greek equivalent. For that reason, Apollo was virtually adopted intact into the Roman pantheon. So, as we make cross-cultural connections of these gods, we learn that the Old Testament god Baal is the same are the Greek Apollo and the Roman god of war, Mars.

The planets in our solar system, such as Mars, were not arbitrarily assigned the names of mythical gods, as most suppose.  The nine known planets bear the names of Roman gods and goddesses because some of them were the ‘gods’ that once stood near to or passed perilously close to the Earth, illuminating and dominating the ancient heavens as well as occasionally raining destruction on the world’s civilizations.

In fact, Revelation’s Apollyon is usually translated “destroyer,” a fitting description of Apollo’s Roman counterpart, the warrior god Mars.

These connections become particularly useful when we consider the following enigmatic passage from John’s vision.  “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”  (Revelation 9:11.)

Earlier in that same chapter, it is a “star” that opens the bottomless pit.  Of course, we’ve learned in earlier installments in this series that the ancients commonly called planets that once hovered near the Earth “stars.”

Can you see where this is leading?  John implied that, this “king,” “angel” or “star”-Apollyon-was the planet Mars.  This is the key.

Thus, we learn many things from John’s carefully worded explanation in these few verses.

Foremost, we learn that this “king,” which is also the “angel of the bottomless pit” and the “star” that fell to the earth, is a planet.  Thus, we must conclude that other references to kings, angels, beasts, stars and creatures in John’s account may be references to planets as well.

This tendency to use common images to describe celestial objects is still practiced today where star constellations are given names like Great Bear, Lion and Archer, and where the greatest star cluster is called the Milky Way.  It’s a cultural tradition from antiquity, employed by John, which we preserve in the present.

It also fits perfectly with Joseph Smith’s teaching that the beasts seen by prophets in heavenly visions are not beasts at all but “images” meant to represent something else.  (For clarification of this, see “Joseph Smith’s Marvelous Key.”)

We can also now see that John drew upon traditions common to all cultures around the Mediterranean to describe the future.  This practice of drawing on the past to describe the future is a common literary device used by the prophets-Nephi and Isaiah, for example-one that John employed throughout his record.

Also implied is the idea that the imagery of the entire vision draws heavily upon the cultural traditions of John’s time, employing the sacred, “mythical” stories of those pagan cultures of the “seven churches which are in Asia” that John addressed to explain the place of Christ in those traditions as well as events of the last days.

Thus, the images or icons embodied in those ancient cultural traditions are the keys to interpreting all the imagery of John’s enigmatic vision, Revelation. And so it is, too, with all the visions of the prophets recorded in scripture. Armed with these keys, which are an understanding of the meaning of that imagery, the most mysterious symbolism of the scriptures becomes easy reading.

In order to properly understand all these mysterious, symbolic references, we must know both what these traditions were and their origins.  We cannot simply guess at their meaning, as most modern expositors of prophecy do.  Such gratuitous speculation is commonplace, though dangerously misleading.

In order to grasp the meaning of prophecy, we must know as much about the past as we do the present.

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The Keys to Prophecy IV: Of Beasts and Men


753 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2005

The Keys to Prophecy IV:

Of Beasts and Men

Ancient monuments, temples, tombs and sacred texts are replete with strange, mysterious symbols and creatures.  By comparing those symbols to the verbal imagery of prophecy, we learn that they gave rise to even more bizarre language.

In order to understand the symbolism of the scriptures, we must allow ancient images to illuminate the texts, beliefs and traditions of the past, while permitting the texts, beliefs and traditions to illuminate the images.  This is one key to understanding the strange language used by the prophets.

A comparison will allow us to see how one gave rise to the other.

Take the vision of John, for example, in Revelation.  He described seeing four distinct creatures.

“And … 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.  (Revelation 4:6, 7.)

Ezekiel, too, saw four creatures in a similar setting.  “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.”  (Ezekiel 1:10.)

The lists of creatures are identical, save that Ezekiel named an ox where John listed a calf.  This is understandable given that the two prophets were separated in time by about 600 years, allowing for a slight ‘shift’ in cultural symbolism.

Of course, the universal mistake made by Bible scholars of all epochs is to assign some fantastic meaning to these symbolic creatures-especially in John’s vision because he says these creatures surround the throne of God in heaven.  In truth, the two prophets are probably describing something far more mundane, but quite remarkable, as we shall see momentarily.

Most revealing is the fact that these four creatures are not unique to the Israelite religious tradition.  They figure prominently in the religions of neighboring cultures-the Egyptian, for example, where we meet them face-to-face in funerary art.  They are called “canopic figures.”  Curiously, human figures with the heads of beasts dominate Egyptian art.  They are one of the most obvious features of their religious iconography.

Named after Canopus, an area in the Nile delta region, these jars were funerary furniture used to house various organs of the deceased during internment rites.  The four creatures were said to be the sons of Horus.

The Egyptians employed the heads of a baboon and a jackal rather than the Israelite ox (calf) and lion.  This variation is typical from culture to culture and across time, just as the names of the same gods varied.  But there is no mistaking that the four creatures seen in prophetic vision also adorned the burial art of Egyptians for hundreds of years.

Ezekiel is more specific in his description of the four.  “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.  And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.”  (Ezekiel 1:5.)

So, these four looked like men with the heads of beasts.

Anthropomorphic creatures-animals with the body and limbs of humans-figure prominently in Egyptian religious art.  Curiously, this is the same thing the prophets describe seeing in their visions.  Ezekiel described them as “living creatures” with “the likeness of a man,” which is exactly what we see here.

Israelite tradition prohibited the use of such symbolic masks, thanks to the Ten Commandments, so these did not exist in the Israelite culture.  Nevertheless, these four creatures figured prominently in their traditions, as we’ve seen in the visions of John and Ezekiel.

More interesting still is the fact that these same four are also found in the Pearl of Great Price.  Two of the facsimiles copied from the Joseph Smith papyri show these same four canopic figures, described as four “idolatrous gods.”

Significantly, most of the images for which Joseph provides explanations turn out to be planets and stars, suggesting that these four also represent celestial objects.  This, as it turns out, is a key that will be explored in a subsequent installment in this series.

As we have seen previously, the Israelites often strayed into pagan beliefs and practices.  It should hardly be surprising that these four ‘gods’ of their neighbors should show up in the system of symbols Israelites held sacred.

What is not generally acknowledged is that the language of prophecy also draws on these well-known images from antiquity.

While this explains the imagery of only a few passages of scriptural prophecy, Revelation and Ezekiel are among the most mysterious.  This comparison clearly points out the mechanism of describing sacred images in narrative form: prophetic imagery is drawn from ancient images or idols. 

This takes some of the mystery out of prophetic imagery.

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Understanding John’s Apocalypse


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© Anthony E. Larson, 2006

Understanding John’s Apocalypse

LDS scholars and church members alike fail to notice vital elements of John’s New Testament book, Revelation. They see it solely as a eschatological writing—a revelation of future tribulations to befall the world in a period of physical and political upheaval immediately preceding the second coming of Christ.

While it is certainly all that, there is much more to discover. With the aid of a new perspective, the mystery of that book vanishes. Revelation becomes a pivotal document, a virtual ‘Rosetta Stone’ of the cultural traditions common to 1st century Mediterranean and Middle Eastern peoples.

Let’s look at a summary of the situation that led to John’s vision:

Christianity’s early leaders, most notably the Apostle Paul, had expanded their missionary efforts far beyond Palestine and its roots in Judaism. Thanks to a revelation given to Peter, they initiated a campaign to win converts from non-Jewish or ‘gentile’ cultural groups, including Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians.

This put the fledgling church on the horns of a dilemma. Gentile religious and cultural traditions were very different from those of Judaism and Christianity. For example, the gentiles believed in a multiplicity of gods while Christianity taught of only one God. This and many other fundamental differences made proselytism difficult for the newly born religion. Yet, if the new church were to survive and flourish, it had to win converts.

What was needed was a strategy to find connections, common ground with the religious traditions of their ‘pagan’ neighbors to make Christianity more palatable.

John’s Revelation was part of that strategy. His vision was an attempt to reconcile the cultural and religious traditions of the gentiles with that of the Jews, melding them into a new, common tradition for the Christian church that would allow it to appeal to both communities.

Evidence for this is found in several examples of Revelation imagery, which are also found in ancient sources that predate John’s writing, demonstrating the ‘borrowing’ nature of his account.

In Revelation, chapter 13, we read of a rather remarkable beast. “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leipard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast.” (Revelation 13: 1-3.)

Marduk Battles Tiamat

This story is a rhetorical rendition of a Babylonian tradition, illustrated in this copy of a Babylonian ostracon depicting the mythical battle between Marduk and the beast, Tiamat.

Astoundingly, we learn that this beast—wounded head and all—was depicted in Mesopotamian cylinder seal art hundreds of years before John described seeing it in vision.

This discovery allows for only one of two conclusions: Either this is a rather remarkable coincidence, or it is an instance of borrowing from older, pagan tradition by John. As we shall see from the next example, it was most likely a borrowing.

In his epic vision, John also reported seeing four other beasts in heaven. “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.” (Revelation 4:7.)

These four are also seen everywhere in the Egyptian tradition that long predates John.

Canopic Jars

Named after Canopus, an area in the Nile delta region, these jars were funerary furniture used to house various organs of the deceased during internment rites. The four creatures depicted on lids of these Canopic jars were said to be the sons of Horus.

They are also found in the Joseph Smith papyri.

Joseph Smith Papyri

The Egyptians employed the heads of a baboon and a jackal rather than the Israelite designation of a calf (ox) and lion. This variation is typical from culture to culture and across time, just as the names of the same gods varied. But there is no mistaking that the four creatures seen in prophetic vision also adorned the burial art of Egyptians for many centuries before John penned his Apocalypse.

These two examples amply demonstrate John’s borrowing of pagan tradition and imagery for his own vision. As it turns out, almost all the imagery in Revelation can be traced to common religious traditions of that day and time.

This is a remarkable discovery.

John created an admixture of ancient cultural motifs and Christian beliefs that would give the ring of familiarity to doctrines of the early Christian church among any of his ‘gentile’ contemporaries—a calculated attempt to give Christianity the proper traditional underpinnings necessary to validate any religion, thus making it more acceptable to a much wider audience.

Given this alternative view, we can now see John’s vision with new eyes. Here is the answer to the riddle that is Revelation: The multitude of pagan gods became mythic characters and images in John’s vision—the strange beasts, creatures, kings, women and other icons—in a revised series of sacred dramas, each one calculated to show Christ’s place in those traditions.

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