Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Be sheep, not goats (the devil and his angels)

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world . . . Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting [aiōnios] fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these shall go away into everlasting [aiōnios] punishment: but the righteous into life eternal [aiōnios]” (Matthew 25:31-4, 41, 46).

The sheep symbolize those of the celestial glory.

The goats symbolize everyone else. Therefore, even those of the terrestrial glory will experience the “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment.”

“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:8-9).

“And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end” (2 Nephi 9:16).

“O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death” (Jacob 3:11).

There are different categories of devil’s angels

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [archē], against powers [exousia], against the rulers [kosmokratōr] of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios] places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Archē has been translated as “principalities” or “magistrates” (“the first person who commences,” “the leader”). Exousia has been translated as “powers” or “authorities.”

This implies that there is some structure to the forces of the adversary.

The use of the word epouranios is interesting, since it is also translated as “heavenly.” “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios] places” (Ephesians 1:20-1).

Therefore, spiritual wickedness is not just in places of worldly authority, but also exists in heavenly places.

The current ruler [archōn] of this world

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince [archōn] of the power of the air [aēr], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince [archōn] of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince [archōn] of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30).

“Of judgment, because the prince [archōn] of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

Archōn appears to be better translated as “ruler” than as “prince,” since nowadays a prince is generally thought of as a son of a king.

“In whom the god [theos] of this world [aiōn] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince [archōn] of the kings [basileus] of the earth” (Revelation 1:5).

In the above scripture, an archōn is superior to a king.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

According to their wants

“And now the people of Ammon did not fear their words; therefore they did not cast them out, but they did receive all the poor of the Zoramites that came over unto them; and they did nourish them, and did clothe them, and did give unto them lands for their inheritance; and they did administer unto them according to their wants” (Alma 35:9).

“And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, which is a residue to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants” (D&C 42:33).

Administering to peoples’ needs is generally easier than administering to peoples’ wants.

A person may need $100 one month to pay for food, but what if he or she wants $1 billion?

“Wherefore, let my servant Edward Partridge, and those whom he has chosen . . . appoint unto this people their portions, every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs. . . . let there be an agent appointed unto this people, to take the money to provide food and raiment, according to the wants of this people. And let every man deal honestly, and be alike among this people, and receive alike, that ye may be one” (D&C 51:3, 8-9).

“And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just” (D&C 82:17).

What limits us from being able to give $1 billion to a person is the fact that we are also trying to equitably provide for every other person’s wants as well.

The person who wants a lot of things may need to realize that with a finite amount of things, if he or she takes too much, that could limit the amount that can go to other peoples’ wants.

“And now . . . for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:26-7).

“And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” (Mosiah 18:29).

We are to administer spiritually and temporally.

The Spirit is inexhaustible, so we can continue to try to provide for people’s spiritual needs and wants.

“For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack” (2 Corinthians 8:13-5).

The goal is to provide equally for everyone’s wants.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Wants are subjective, so if everyone chooses to decrease their wants, more peoples’ wants will be satisfied.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The urim and thummim symbolize the celestial earth

The urim and thummim

“Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim” (Joseph Smith—History 1:35).

“And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow. Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages” (Mosiah 28:13-4).

The urim and thummim also provide revelation, in addition to translation.

“And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord” (Abraham 3:4).

“And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim” (1 Samuel 28:6).

These two stones symbolize the celestial earth

“[T]here are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God [the celestial kingdom], on a globe like a sea of glass and fire . . . The place where God resides [the celestial kingdom] is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state [as a celestial kingdom], will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon” (D&C 130:5-9).

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal” (Revelation 4:6).

“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” (D&C 77:1).

“I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Revelation 15:2).

One symbolism would be the union of what were initially referred to as “heaven” and “earth.”

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth”(Genesis 1:6-10).

Each earth is paired with a heaven.

The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come” (Moses 1:37-8).

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

New heaven and new earth shall be like unto the old

“And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand” (D&C 29:23-5).

Although it is possible that God could cause planet Earth to be completely physically destroyed after the Millennium, another possibility is that just the geography of areas inhabitable by mortals is entirely rearranged.

“And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new” (Ether 13:9).

With this possibility, this planet can then accommodate multiple iterations of the plan of salvation.

“And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered. . . . Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the Spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof . . . And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof” (Moses 1:7-8, 27-9).

If Moses beheld many lands on the earth, and each land was called “earth,” then he beheld many “earths” on the earth.

The angels can see the earth’s past, present, and future, so other cycles of the plan of salvation can be seen.

“The angels . . . reside . . . on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:6-7).

“This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state . . . will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it” (D&C 130:9).

All things pertaining to the terrestrial (earthly) and telestial (subterranean) kingdoms are manifest to those in the celestial kingdom.

Heaven is intimately connected with earth

There will be a holy city on the celestial earth. However, outside the city there are unholy people.

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:14-5).

Rather than keeping the holy distantly separated from the unholy (like on another planet), there is simply a gate between them.

People in heaven are not self-absorbed isolationists. Like Christ, they care about the welfare and progression of others, and are willing to serve others.

Apparently at least some will leave the holy city and go out among the unholy and minister to them.

“These [the telestial] are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial. And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation” (D&C 76:86-8).

This supports the idea that eternal progression between kingdoms is at least possible, however long it may take.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The kingdom of heaven "suffereth violence?"

“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence [biazō], and the violent [biastēs] take it by force [harpazō]. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (KJV Matthew 11:11-3).

Verse 12 can be confusing.

Biazō appears to be a verb that means “to force” or “to apply force.” In addition to “suffereth violence,” other translations have used “has been forcefully advancing” or “is forcing its way in.”

The word occurs in another verse in the Bible: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth [biazō] into it” (Luke 16:16).

Biastēs appears to be a noun that refers to someone “forceful” or “strong.”

Harpazō appears to be a verb that means “to carry off by force,” “to seize,” or “to claim for oneself eagerly.” It has been translated in the KJV as: “catch up,” “take by force,” “catch away,” “pluck,” “catch,” “pull.”

The context of the verse also helps clarify the meaning.

Therefore, my translation of verse 12 would be something like: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcing its way in, and people of force take it.”

Fortunately, although people of (spiritual) strength eagerly seize the kingdom of heaven and claim it for themselves, there is more than enough of it to go around.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mystical (spiritual) experiences: the lifeblood of one's belief system

On an individual level, mystical experiences trump human logic.

(Various definitions of mysticism have been given here.)

“Mystical states, when well developed, usually are, and have the right to be, absolutely authoritative over the individuals to whom they come. . . . . The mystic is, in short, invulnerable, and must be left, whether we relish it or not, in undisturbed enjoyment of his creed” (William James; The Varieties of Religious Experience; 422, 424).

Someone, of any belief system, who experiences a sufficient quality and/or quantity of mystical (i.e. “spiritual”) experiences will stay with that belief system and weather through any illogicalities, inconsistencies, and imperfections associated with that belief system and/or its adherents.

Those who do not experience a sufficient quality and/or quantity are more amenable to give more weight to negative aspects of their current belief system, and less weight to positive aspects. This will eventually allow them to justify looking elsewhere for further light and knowledge.

I have gratitude for the LDS Church, which I have membership in, which laid the groundwork for my being given an absolute knowledge of certain important things.

“For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not there faith is weak; and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them” (Lectures on Faith 6:12).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lucifer and the holy mountain

There will be a future “holy mountain,” an area of heaven on earth

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy [qodesh] mountain [har]: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. . . . The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy [qodesh] mountain [har]” (Isaiah 11:9, 65:25).

“So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy [qodesh] mountain [har]: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more” (Joel 3:17).

“Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy [qodesh] mountain [har]” (Zechariah 8:3).

In Ezekiel 28, the king of Tyrus is representing Lucifer, who was on “the holy mountain”  before

“Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:12-3).

Lucifer has been in Eden.

“Thou art the anointed [mimshach] cherub [kĕruwb] that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy [qodesh] mountain [har] of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect [tamiym] in thy ways from the day that thou wast created [bara'], till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:14-5).

Lucifer had been an “anointed cherub,” was on “the holy mountain” in the past, and even was considered “perfect [tamiym].”

“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more” (Ezekiel 28:16, 18-9).

If there is no holy mountain currently, then the holy mountain that Lucifer was on was in existence before this current mortal existence, before this cycle of the eternal round.

The question is if Lucifer had a physical body when he was on the holy mountain in the previous cycle of the plan of salvation, and then succumbed to the second death and lost the physical body.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The one true church

There are only 2 “churches”

There are many churches in a temporal sense, but only 2 in a spiritual sense.

“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” (1 Nephi 14:10).

Membership in the church of God leads to salvation in the celestial kingdom of God.

The members of the church of God

“And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. Behold, I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up. And for this cause have I said: If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them. Now I do not say this to destroy my church [which appears to imply ‘. . . that is already in existence’], but I say this to build up my church; Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center. . . . Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (D&C 10:52-6, 67-9).

“Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they [this word is plural, so would refer to people] are built upon my gospel. Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it” (3 Nephi 27:7-10).

“For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church” (Alma 46:14).

“And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. . . . And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name” (D&C 18:5, 16).

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church [ekklēsia]; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-8).

The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of God, which is built on the rock of revelation.

“And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for [because] there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God” (Mosiah 5:22).

“And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon . . . and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God. And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church” (Mosiah 18:16-7).

“And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ” (Moroni 6:4).

“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually— For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:30-1, given in 1831).

In the diagram above, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a temporal church) who are spiritually in the portion that overlaps with the church of God are in the only true and living church.

Righteousness trumps affiliation

“And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God” (Helaman 3:33).

“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion” (D&C 84:54-8, given in 1832).

In the diagram above, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are spiritually in the portion that overlaps with the church of the devil are under condemnation.

“Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed; But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world” (D&C 50:7-8).

Detecting and cutting off hypocrites after physical death would seem outside the stewardship of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (I have not heard of disciplinary councils being conducted vicariously for the dead).

Now, the Lord wants the wheat and tares to grow together; for Zion must be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:228).

“Now we learn by this parable [Matthew 13:24-30], not only the setting up of the Kingdom in the days of the Savior, which is represented by the good seed, which produced fruit, but also the corruptions of the Church, which are represented by the tares, which were sown by the enemy, which His disciples would fain have plucked up, or cleansed the Church of, if their views had been favored by the Savior. But He, knowing all things, says, Not so. As much as to say, your views are not correct, the Church is in its infancy, and if you take this rash step, you will destroy the wheat, or the Church, with the tares; therefore it is better to let them grow together until the harvest, or the end of the world, which means the destruction of the wicked, which is not yet fulfilled, as we shall show hereafter, in the Savior’s explanation of the parable, which is so plain that there is no room left for dubiety upon the mind” (Joseph Smith, HC 2:267).

“I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9).

There are righteous people throughout the world who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:6).

However, there are some benefits to having membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
  • A large, organized group of people can provide large-scale service to others. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth” (Luke 11:17; see also Matthew 12:25).
  • Apostles and prophets. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
  • The priesthood, through which ordinances may be performed and people may be blessed.
  • Temple marriage, and the doctrine that it is possible to be married for time and all eternity.
(To be continued)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Second Coming around 2104

(Click on the image for more detail)

The Book of Revelation contains both sequential and parallel events

The Book of Revelation (cells with a yellow background in the above table) seems to progress sequentially at the beginning and the end, but in between there appear to be events occurring in parallel.

This becomes especially evident when other scriptures are laid out in a timeline.

Lining up particular “keywords” helps. For example, the imagery of an angel standing on land and sea and swearing there is “time no longer” is in Revelation 10 and D&C 88.

From Joseph Smith, HC 5:342-5:
The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written. . . . 
There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning of the prophets and the present translation. The prophets do not declare that they saw a beast or beasts, but that they saw the image or figure of a beast. Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion, but the images or figures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered “image” instead of “beast,” in every instance where beasts are mentioned by the prophets. But John saw the actual beast in heaven, showing to John that beasts did actually exist there, and not to represent figures of things on the earth. When the prophets speak of seeing beasts in their visions, they mean that they saw the images, they being types to represent certain things. At the same time they received the interpretation as to what those images or types were designed to represent. . . . 
He then read Rev. 13:1-8. John says, “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.” Some spiritualizers say the beast that received the wound was Nebuchadnezzar, some Constantine, some Mohammed, and others the Roman Catholic Church; but we will look at what John saw in relation to this beast. Now for the wasp’s nest. The translators have used the term “dragon” for devil. Now it was a beast that John saw in heaven, and he was then speaking of “things which must shortly come to pass;” and consequently the beast that John saw could not be Nebuchadnezzar. The beast John saw was an actual beast, and an actual intelligent being gives him his power, and his seat, and great authority. It was not to represent a beast in heaven: it was an angel in heaven who has power in the last days to do a work. 
“All the world wondered after the beast,” Nebuchadnezzar and Constantine the Great not excepted. And if the beast was all the world, how could the world wonder after the beast? It must have been a wonderful beast to cause all human beings to wonder after it; and I will venture to say that when God allows the old devil to give power to the beast to destroy the inhabitants of the earth, all will wonder. Verse 4 reads, “And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
Some say it means the kingdom of the world. One thing is sure, it does not mean the kingdom of the Saints. Suppose we admit that it means the kingdoms of the world, what propriety would there be in saying, Who is able to make war with my great big self? If these spiritualized interpretations are true, the book contradicts itself in almost every verse. But they are not true.
There is a mistranslation of the word dragon in the second verse. The original word signifies the devil, and not dragon, as translated. In chapter 12, verse 9, it reads, “That old serpent, called the devil,” and it ought to be translated devil in this case, and not dragon. It is sometimes translated Apollyon. Everything that we have not a key-word to, we will take it as it reads. The beasts which John saw and speaks of as being in heaven, were actually living in heaven, and were actually to have power given to them over the inhabitants of the earth, precisely according to the plain reading of the revelations. I give this as a key to the elders of Israel. The independent beast is a beast that dwells in heaven, abstract [apart] from the human family. The beast that rose up out of the sea should be translated the image of a beast, as I have referred to it in Daniel’s vision.
From D&C 77:6-7:
Q. 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. 
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.
“I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Revelation 6:2).

To John, the above imagery in a sense symbolized the first 1,000 years of temporal history.

The man sitting on the white horse does not necessarily have to be an actual person in history.

“I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood” (Revelation 6:12).

To John, the above imagery in a sense symbolized the sixth 1,000 years of temporal history.

The question is if the earthquake necessarily has to be a singular event, or can it just symbolize something like natural calamities.

From D&C 77:8-11:
Q. What are we to understand by the four angels, spoken of in the 7th chapter and 1st verse of Revelation? 
A. We are to understand that they are four angels sent forth from God, to whom is given power over the four parts of the earth, to save life and to destroy; these are they who have the everlasting gospel to commit to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; having power to shut up the heavens, to seal up unto life, or to cast down to the regions of darkness. 
Q. 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. 
Q. What time are the things spoken of in this chapter to be accomplished? 
A. They are to be accomplished in the sixth thousand years, or the opening of the sixth seal. 
Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel—twelve thousand out of every tribe? 
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.
Although they are high priests, it is unclear if there is a possibility that these individuals could be resurrected individuals.

From D&C 77:12-5:
Q. 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
Q. 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
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. 
Q. What is to be understood by the two witnesses, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation? 
A. They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, and to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers.

The year of the Savior’s birth (“first coming”) was known beforehand

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

“I, the Lord God, have spoken it; but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes” (D&C 49:7).

“Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord. Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour” (D&C 133:10-1).

It is futile to think about the day or the hour, but what about the year?

“And behold he cometh, according to the words of the angel, in six hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 19:8).

“Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world” (1 Nephi 10:4).

“For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem” (2 Nephi 25:19).

John the Beloved saw the church of God being nourished

“And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ” (JST Revelation 12:7).

“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed [trephō] her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [hēmera]” (Revelation 12:5-6).

The JST changes the 1,260 “days” to 1,260 “years.”

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished [trephō] for a time, and times, and half a time [kairos kai kairos kai hēmisys kairos], from the face of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).

If “a time” = 1 period and “times” = 2 periods, then “time, and times, and a half a time” = 3.5 periods. If 3.5 periods = 1,260 years, then “a time” = 360 years in this verse.

So the church of God is fed/nourished for 1,260 years.

“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [mēn]” (Revelation 13:4-5).

42 months x 30 days/month = 1,260 days. The question is if in this verse, 1,260 prophetic days = 1,260 years.

“And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [`iddan `iddan pĕlag `iddan]” (Daniel 7:24-5).

The Aramaic pĕlag apparently can mean “half.”

The Aramaic iddan apparently corresponds to `iddah, “(menstrual) period.” So if such a “period” is 30 prophetic days, then “a time” = 30 prophetic days/period x 12 periods/year x 1 year/1 prophetic day = 360 years.

“And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness—clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (D&C 5:14).

“But first let my army become very great, and let it be sanctified before me, that it may become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon, and that her banners may be terrible unto all nations; That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws” (D&C 105:31-2).

“That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens” (D&C 109:73-4).

Michael and the resurrection

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament . . . I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half [mow`ed mow`ed chetsiy]; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:1-3, 7).

Daniel mentions the resurrections, so that supports the idea that “time, times, and an half” spans more than 1,000 years.

The year of the Savior’s second coming

If the nourishing of the church of God starts around 1844 (after the woman gives birth to the child, or in other words, after the church of God brings forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ), it will last until around 3104 (1844 + 1260).

If the Millennium is exactly 1,000 years, we then get the year 2104 (3104 - 1000).

There are numerous implications of this timeline, which will be discussed later.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Revelation Chapter 12: War in heaven occurred around 1844

The traditional LDS idea is that the war in heaven described in Revelation 12 is talking about a premortal conflict. In a symbolic sense, that could still be correct.

However, in addition to that idea, we have Joseph Smith’s statement, “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 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 shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass . . .’ Also Rev. 4:1. ‘. . . Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter’” (HC 5:341).

Below, the JST is in red.
And there appeared a great wonder [sēmeion, “sign”] in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: (v. 1)
According to JST v. 7, the woman represents the church of God.
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (v. 2)
“The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out” (Joseph Smith, HC 6:363).

* The JST moves v. 5 to this point. This emphasizes the fact that the woman did give birth to the child (the kingdom of our God and his Christ).
And there appeared another wonder [sēmeion, “sign”] in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (v. 3)
And his tail drew the third part [tritos] of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for [ready] to devour her child as soon as [after] it was born. (v. 4)
Note that the dragon already has the third with him on the earth. Their premortal casting out has already occurred.
* And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (v. 5)
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath [had] a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [hēmera] [years]. (v. 6)
Sometime after John sees this vision, the church of God flees to be fed 1,260 years.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels [dragon and his angels fought against Michael;], And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ. (v. 7)
The JST makes it clear that the dragon could not prevail against the woman (church of God) or the child (kingdom of our God and his Christ) caught up unto God and to his throne.

To battle against an organization (a church or an organization) is to battle its members.
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (v. 8)
Until this time, Satan had some limited access to the presence of the Lord.

“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 2:1-2; see also 1:6-7).
And the great dragon was cast out [Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out], that old serpent, called the Devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (v. 9) 
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (v. 10) 
And they overcame [For they have overcome] him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death [for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death]. (v. 11)
The JST is very interesting since it states that they kept the testimony “even unto death.” Since spirit bodies cannot die, this would support the idea that this particular war in heaven did not occur in the premortal existence (in the traditional sense of the term).
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. [And after these things I heard another voice saying,] Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, yea, and they who dwell upon the islands of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (v. 12) 
Satan knows he has but a short time to tempt humans.
And [For] when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (v. 13)
And [Therefore,] to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly [flee] into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (v. 14) 
And the serpent cast [casteth] out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. (v. 15) 
And the earth helped [helpeth] the woman, and the earth opened [openeth] her mouth, and swallowed [swalloweth] up the flood which the dragon cast [casteth] out of his mouth. (v. 16)
The JST changes the past tense into a present tense, suggesting that these events did not occur before John saw them.
And [Therefore,] the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (v. 17)
To my knowledge, the events in Revelation 11 (the 2 witnesses) have not occurred yet. Therefore, John must be seeing the events in Revelation 12 and 13 in parallel; these 2 chapters primarily describe what the opposition is doing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Revelation Chapters 4-5: Salvation of beasts

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (4:4)

“Q. What are we to understand by the four and twenty elders, spoken of by John?

“A. We are to understand that these elders whom John saw, were 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” (D&C 77:5).

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal (4:6)

“The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon” (D&C 130:6-9).

“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” (D&C 77:1).

[A]nd 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. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within (4:6-8)

“Q. What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?

“A. They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.

“Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?

“A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.

“Q. What are we to understand by the eyes and wings, which the beasts had?

“A. Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge, that is, they are full of knowledge; and their wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc.” (D&C 77:2-4).

The drawings at the top represent the earth in its four quarters (see The Book of Abraham, Facsimile Nos. 1 and 2).

“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).

“And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 10:14).

“The four beasts and twenty-four elders were out of every nation; for they sang a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seal thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation’ (See Rev. 5:9). . . .

“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. . . .

“John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven—all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven—actually there, giving glory to God. How do you prove it? (See Rev. 5:13.) ‘And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.’

“I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.

“John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them. The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect: they were like angels in their sphere” (Joseph Smith, HC 5:342-3).

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure [thelēma, “will”] they are and were created. (4:11)

Since God has omniscience and omnipotence, everything that happens in creation is because either God caused it to happen or allowed it to happen.

I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (5:6)

Interesting that the JST changes the numbers to “having twelve horns and twelve eyes, which are the twelve servants of God, sent forth into all the earth.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Revelation Chapter 3: Christ chastens those He loves [phileō]

These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (v. 1)

The JST of the same verse states, “These things saith he who hath the seven stars, which are the seven servants of God.”

So instead of implying the God has seven Spirits, it appears to be a reference to “the seven Spirits which are before his throne” in Revelation 1:4 and 5:6.

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life (v. 5)

“For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand” (Alma 5:58).

The book of life is mentioned later in Revelation.

As many as I love [phileō], I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (v. 19)

A relatively easy form of showing love is smiling at someone, greeting them, and saying nice things to them.

In addition to doing those things, a higher form of showing love is to try help someone change for the better. It can involve giving correction.

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:5-8).

“Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified” (D&C 101:4-5).

“My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom” (D&C 136:31).

“When a corrupt man is chastised he gets angry and will not endure it” (Joseph Smith, HC 4:478).

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (v. 21)

Christ is willing to treat worthy people as equals.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Revelation Chapter 2: The tree of life is figurative

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise [paradeisos] of God. (v. 7)

Paradeisos is used 2 other times in the Bible.

“How that he was caught up into paradise [paradeisos], and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4).

“Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise [paradeisos]” (Luke 23:43).

“I will say something about the spirits in prison. There has been much said by modern divines about the words of Jesus (when on the cross) to the thief, saying, ‘This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’ King James’ translators make it out to say paradise. But what is paradise? It is a modern word it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of. Find the original of the word paradise. You may as easily find a needle in a haymow. Here is a chance for battle, ye learned men. There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was—This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits: then I will teach you all about it and answer your inquiries. And Peter says he went and preached to the world of spirits (spirits in prison, 1 Peter, 3rd chap., 19th verse), so that they who would receive it could have it answered by proxy by those who live on the earth, etc. . . . Hades, the Greek, or Shaole, the Hebrew: these two significations mean a world of spirits. Hades, Shaole, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits. The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection” (Joseph Smith, HC 5:424-5).

The tree of life is in the midst of the world of spirits. It is a figurative tree; it does not seem likely that the tree has spirit roots anchoring it into some spirit ground. It is a spiritual symbol.

“I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God” (1 Nephi 11:25).

“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9; see also Abraham 2:9).

“In the midst of the street [plateia] of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life” (Revelation 22:2).

The tree of life is said to be in the midst of the spirit world, in the midst of the garden of Eden, and in the midst of the “street” of the holy city. This also reminds us of the figurative, yet spiritual, nature of the garden of Eden and the holy city.

The seed of the tree of life is planted in our hearts (see Alma 32:28), which again reinforces the fact that it is a figurative tree. The tree of life (love of God) springs from a pure heart.

He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (v. 11)

Celestial beings will avoid the second death.

The implication is that terrestrial beings, telestial beings, and sons of perdition will be hurt of the second death.

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (v. 17)

“Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known; And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word” (D&C 130:10-1).