Rev 4:1-7:17

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Home > The New Testament > Revelation > Chapters 4-7
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Summary[edit]

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Discussion[edit]

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  • Rev 4: Praising God upon his throne in heaven. John's vision begins with a scene familiar in the prophets: a "theophany" in which the prophet, on the occasion of his call to preach, sees God sitting upon his throne in heaven surrounded by those who are praising him. John's revelation returns to this scene more often than any other book. (Rev 5:11-14; Rev 7:9-12; Rev 19:1-7).
Similar scenes are also found on the occasions of Isaiah's call (Isa 6:1-4), Micah's call (1 Kgs 22:14, 19-21; 2 Chr 18:13, 18), Ezekiel's call (Ezek 1:26-28), Lehi's second vision before he begins preaching at Jerusalem (1 Ne 1:8), Alma the Younger's conversion experience, which is followed by a lifetime of preaching (Alma 36:22), and at the beginning of Joseph Smith's vision of the three degrees of glory. (D&C 76:19-22, 92-93).
Lehi, in his second vision while still at Jerusalem, joins in the choirs singing praise to God. (1 Ne 1:14-15). King Benjamin, in his sermon, expressed the desire that his immortal spirit join those heavenly choirs. (Mosiah 2:28). And the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer closed with the desire that those here on earth might nevertheless "mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne." (D&C 109:79).
Theophanies are related to prophetic calls and to councils in heaven in the discussion of councils at Amos 3:7. Additional references to pre-mortal councils in heaven are Abr 3:22-28; Moses 4:1-4 and the creation account in Abraham, especially Abr 4:26.
  • Rev 4:4: Twenty four elders. The 24 elders are explained in D&C 77:5 to be "elders who had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead; who belonged to the seven churches, and were then in the paradise of God."
  • Rev 4:6-11: Beasts correlate to banners of Israel. The faces of these beasts correlate to the lead tribes of Israel's banners in the encampment of Israel, with the tabernacle being in the center. Jewish tradition states that Judah's banner on the East was a Lion, Ephraim's on the West was an Ox, Reuben's on the South was a Man, and Dan's on the North was an eagle. See Numbers 2; Ezekiel 1.
  • Rev 4:11: Glory, honor, and power. God is praised here as being worthy to receive "glory and honor and power." We learn in Moses 1:39 that God's glory consists in elevating mankind to exaltation. We learn in D&C 29:36 that God's power derives from his honor. This principle is developed in the discussion of honor as power at D&C 29:36. The fact that God considers the charitable act of assisting others to achieve what he has achieved (Moses 1:39) would contribute to his honor in the sense that this term is described in D&C 29:36 and similar passages. Significantly, this praise regarding "glory and honor and power" is not given here by bloody conquering kings of the earth, but by two dozen elders who had been faithful in this life and were then in God's presence before his throne. (D&C 77:5). This doctrinal background suggests what these twenty four elders likely meant when they said that God is "worthy ... to receive glory and honor and power."
  • Rev 5:1: Book with seven seals. The book with seven seals is explained in D&C 77:6-7 (discussion) to represent 7,000 years of history, with each seal representing a separate 1,000 year period. This is generally understood to mean 4,000 years BC, 2,000 years AD so far, and a seventh thousand years yet to come.
  • Rev 6:1-8: Four horsemen. In the ancient world, horses were important primarily as instruments of war. The four horsemen of the apocalypse can be interpreted either collectively or individually.
One approach is to interpret the four horsemen as a collective group lacking separate individual significance. Groups of four often signify "all," as in the four directions of the compass meaning "all directions." This approach is less concerned with assigning assigning a distinctive individual meaning to each of these four horsemen or four millennia, and sees the entire period of the four millennia preceding John simply as one of death, want, and evil under the rule of mortal kings.
Another approach is to interpret the four horsemen as each having individual significance and each representing something different. Taking this approach: (1) The first white horse whose rider is given a crown might represent a righteous and victorious warrior during 4,00-3,000 BC, likely Enoch who was born and taken up to heaven in years 622-987 after the Fall (Gen 5:18-24) or else 719-1149 (JST manuscript OT1, p. 11-12, 19). The second red horse and its rider might represent warfare and bloodshed. (3) The third black horse and its rider represent death by plague, famine, and pestilence, including famines in the near east between 2,000-1,000 BC. (4) The pale green horse and its rider might represent the conquering empires that possessed the near east during 1,000 - 0 BC, such as Assyria, Babylon, Persian, Greece, and Rome.[1]
Also see Janet's posts on the four horsemen and the seven seals at the Feast blog.
  • Rev 7:6: Why is Dan not included?. The tribe of Dan is conspicuously absent here. In other lists of the 12 tribes of Israel, Levi is missing since Levi never inherited land (cf. Num 18:23-24). Some Old Testament passages portray the tribe of Dan in a poor light (cf. Gen 49:17; Judg 18:30; Jer 8:16; Dan 5:4-8). Early Christian traditions taught that the anti-Christ would come from the tribe of Dan (in contrast, Jewish literature never excluded Dan from any lists, and at least one tradition taught that the Messiah's father would be from Judah and mother from Dan). Other scholars have speculated that Dan was replaced by Manasseh through a scribal error. (See Word Biblical Commentary, Rev 7:6 Comment for more discussion and scholarly references.)
  • Rev 7:8: Unusual order of tribes. The order of tribes given here seems very unusual. Other lists of the tribes of Israel can be found in Gen 35:22–26; 46:8–27; Ex 1:2–4 (scholars believe Joseph is omitted here for narrative purposes); Num 1:4–15; 13:4–16. Although the ordering in these lists are not 100% compatible, they follow sensible patterns. Some scholars have suggested that part of verse 5 and verse 6 have bee displaced and should appear after verse 8, in which case the ordering would make sense. (For references, see Word Biblical Commentary, Rev 7:8 Comment.)

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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  • Draper, Richard D. Opening the Seven Seals. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1991. (ISBN 9781590386385) (ISBN 0875795471). A slow read that will take time to digest, but the most thorough discussion of Revelation by an LDS scholar.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

  1. See, for example, the interpretation provided in Draper, Opening the Seven Seals, p. 61-68.

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