I would like to begin the discussion of Seven Seals by first saying that the full meaning of these things is not clearly known, not by myself, and not by anyone who has not seen these things in full vision, as did the Brother of Jared. This means that this discussion will be inherently flawed, and inherently searching for answers. Please bear this in mind as you share your differing opinions. My intent is to stimulate thinking, prayerful analysis and discussion, not to define how these things actually must occur. More than this, my goal is to lower the fuel rods into the reactors of our faith.
Revelation 5 through 7 give us a brief overview of the first six seals, and Revelation 8 through 10 tells us about the seventh seal. One of the great blessings of the latter-days is that the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded in a question and answer format, a brief interpretation of what the Seven Seals mean.
Q. 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. (D&C 77:7)
The easy way to interpret this is that we are reading a book of history, and each seal records 1000 years of history. In this regard, Joseph Smith said:
“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 to come to pass. See Rev. 1:1-3,which is a key to the whole 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.” (Teachings, p 289)
In other words, John appears to have been shown a vision of future events by referencing historic ones. The major events of each thousand-year period appear to repeat in the future in a much condensed timeframe. I say “appears to” because John was recording “things which must be hereafter” but was being shown historic events.
History repeats itself by divine design. God describes his work as “one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever” (D&C 35:1, Hebrews 13:8, D&C 20:12, ) It stands the test of reason that revealing the hidden truths of past millennia will in the same revelation unveil the “revealed will, mysteries, and works of God, the hidden things of his economy…” regarding the future. (D&C 77:6)
To investigate this possibility, let us look at what each seal possibly meant, and try to view what it was to mean in the latter-days. I will use Elder McConkie’s opinion of what these seals and times held as recorded in his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, volume 3, pp. 472-505.
|First Seal||White Horse||With bow and a crown, went forth conquering and to conquer||4000-3000 BC was the time from Adam to Enoch. It is assumed it was Enoch who went forth to conquer.||Latter-day parallel is with the restoration of the gospel, the triumph of Zion prior to the Second Coming|
|Second Seal||Red Horse||Take peace from the earth, kill, great sword||3000-2000 BC was the time of Noah and great wickedness and war. Violence filled the earth.||This is clearly a latter-day event. “Peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power…” (D&C 1:35) Wars in foreign lands and your own lands. (D&C 45:26, 33, 63)Wicked as in the days of Noah. (Matthew 34:37-39; JS-M 1:42-43)|
|Third Seal||Black Horse||Pair of Balances, expensive food. Hurt not the oil and wine.||2000-1000 famine in Egypt, Joseph sold into Egypt||Famine and hunger are part of the latter-day scene. (JS-H 1:45; D&C 1:36; 5:19-20; 29:16; Matt 24:5-7)|
|Fourth Seal||Pale Horse||Death and Hell. Slay ¼ of man by the sword||1000 B.C. – 0 A.D. Jewish wars, Babylonian wars, Assyrian empire, Roman Empire.||War is a major event in the latter-days. Ultimately 2/3 of mankind, trees and green grass killed in wars. (Revelation 8)|
|Fifth Seal||Those who were slain for the testimony of Jesus||0 – 1000 A.D. Christian martyrs, Coliseum, Persecution of Saints. Establishment of Great and Abominable Church “which killeth the saints”. (1 Nephi 13:5)||Ancient Christian martyrs to rest until their Latter-day brethren are also killed. (Revelation 8:11)|
|Beginning of Sixth Seal||Gospel Restored (D&C 77:8, 10; Rev 14:6-7)||1000-2000 A.D. Gospel restored. Times of Gentiles||Gathering to Zion begins (D&C 42:9)|
|End of Sixth Seal||Tribulation (D&C 29:17-19)10 Virgins fulfilled (45:56-57) Scourge. Abominations. The saints will hardly escape. (D&C 63:33-34; 97:22-26, Matthew 24:21-22; Luke 21:34-36)||Angels to destroy earth are held back until Saints are “sealed in their foreheads”. Establishment of 144,000 (Rev. 8:3-4; D&C 77:9) Lost Tribes begin to return. (D&C 77:9; 133:12-33)Earthquake, sun become black, moon as blood, fire from heaven, great men hiding in fear. Wrath poured out upon wicked. Times as wicked as Noah. (Matthew 34:37-39; JS-M 1:42-43) Beginning of establishment of Zion. Temple built in JCM. They shall serve in his temple, hunger or thirst no more (translated people) Lamb shall feed and lead them to the living waters (in Zion Rev 21:4-7), and God will wipe away all their tears. (Rev. 8:14-17)|
|Seventh Seal||Silence in heaven ½ hour (may equate to 21 years). Divine timetable on hold, possibly waiting for saints to be sealed and work finished||Thunder, lightning, earthquake. (Revelation 8:5) Plagues (first mention of plagues) destruction, fire, bloodshed, war in incomparable power and degree. 1/3 of mankind killed. (Revelation 9) Changes in the earth. (Isaiah 40:4-5; D&C 40:23; Ezek. 38:19-20)Saints are protected in Zion. (D&C 45:64-75; 115:5-6)Great warfare as never before. (except against those sealed) 200,000,000 warriors.Great sign in heaven (88:93) G&A church falls (88:94)Additional 1/3 of mankind killed (total of 2/3). Armies agree to “hurt not the grass or trees” (Rev 8:4).Remainder of man does not repent (Rev 9:21)|
As I have studied and pondered and prayed, it has hit me again how powerfully important it is for us to rise to the call of building the latter-day Zion. There will be our safety, and our joy, as the world spins out of control. There we will be sent by Christ Himself to gather in the elect, and to complete the work of every dispensation before us. These will be the greatest times in human history, and if we fulfill our divine potential, our names will adorn the pages of scripture.
Next on the Un-Blog: The Second Coming
© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.