The full title of this lesson is He That Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things. The purpose of this lesson is to remind us that we can use our testimony of Christ to overcome the trials of this world. Doing so will bring great blessings from our Father in Heaven. Everything in the universe belongs to God, so to be told we will inherit all things is no mean or stingy inheritance.
Reading Assignment: Revelation 1-3; 12.
Additional reading: Revelation 21:7; Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John,” 762–63.
Jesus was raised in a culture that spoke heavily using symbolism, and it was largely of his own doing. As Jehovah, the revelations He gave to the prophets were heavy with symbolic imagery. This is why Jesus taught in parables, stories full of imagery that conveyed lessons. When John has his vision on the isle of Patmos, he communicates what he sees using imagery. It is important to note that not only are the things he saw in his vision real and literal, but they also have spiritual messages and lessons in them. These lessons are taught through the images John uses. This lesson is pretty straight forward, but the next lesson has heavier imagery in it.
There are only a few images we need to know about in this lesson. I have listed them to make it easier to find and follow along in the scriptures.
- The mention of candlesticks refers to the menorah, the candelabra that has seven candle holders in it. This is heavily symbolic of temple worship but also has historical significance to the Jewish people. In this lesson, each candleholder on the menorah refers to one of the seven branches or congregations of the Church the Lord needed to chastise.
- The stars, angels, or Spirits refer to the seven Bishops of the congregations being discussed. These references are all about the elevated status and influence of their calling as spiritual leaders in the church.
- The keys refer to Christ’s power over physical death – his ability to offer resurrection to all, and His power over spiritual death – his ability to offer eternal life to those who repent.
- The two-edged sword represents the power of God’s word (which is why it comes out of his mouth) to cut through the trappings and snares of lies and misinformation of the devil. It represents God’s ability to discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts. So just a like a sword that cuts either way you swing it, so God’s discernment can reveal the traps of the devil as well as the intents of our own hearts. This demonstrates that we cannot dodge His wisdom and discernment, for He will always reveal the truth.
Setting for the lesson
John was filled with the Holy Ghost on the Sabbath day. He heard a voice, like a trumpet behind him. Turning around to see who was speaking to him (the angel) he saw a menorah. Standing with the menorah was Christ, dressed in temple priest’s robes, and holding seven stars in His right hand. Christ makes it clear that he is present among the seven congregations or churches he will be talking about, and that he carries his chosen servants in his hand. In other words, he supports and holds them close to Him. These are ways to indicate that he is aware of and concerned for the welfare of both the congregations and their leaders.
What the Lord wants changed
Without pinning down each congregation’s sins, let’s just look at a partial list of spiritual crimes that have been committed then we will go over what the Lord praises the people for doing.
- The people have left their first “love.” They are no longer keeping all the commandments (Revelation 2:4).
- More than one of the congregations had begun to embrace the evils of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. In the Book of Numbers, in the Old Testament, the prophet Balaam was more interested in the praises of men than in the approval of God. He couldn’t prophesy against Israel, which is what the enemy king wanted him to do, but Balaam could, for a price, give bad counsel to the children of Israel. He got them to participate in the idolatry of local people, eating meat that had been sacrificed to their gods, and committing whoredoms with their women. God’s punishment to Israel for this breach in their covenants with Him cost the lives of more than 26,000 Israelites.
- The Nicolaitans, it is assumed, instituted a form of power structure within the church like that of a government, with the leaders acting as bosses and governors over the people. Instead of being the servants of all, they became the ones the people served. The Lord states clearly that He hates this doctrine.
- To the Saints who have become lazy in their commitments, the Lord voiced his displeasure. He says they are like lukewarm water which he will spew out of his mouth. We often think of that as just spitting out the water, but the translation of the word spew is to vomit, a more energetic and forceful word.
Good works and blessings
- If the Saints will overcome the evil in their lives He will feed them with the fruit of the tree of life in paradise, which is the love of God (Revelation 2:7). This congregation had also had false apostles come in and try to lead them astray. They proved them to be liars and got rid of them. The Lord was pleased with their faithfulness in this thing.
- This congregation has remained faithful, even though there have been people claiming to be Jews from Jerusalem trying to lead them astray. They have suffered much in the name of their lord, but will still have more trials coming their way. The promise is that those who overcome all things will not be affected by the second death. In other words, the atonement will wipe away their sins so they don’t have to suffer for them by themselves.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
- Referring to those who overcome the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, Christ promised that those who overcame the world would receive a white stone on which is written a new name that is unique to the person to whom the stone is given. This stone is also mentioned in D&C 130:10 – 11.
10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17,will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual whoreceives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher orderof kingdoms will be made known;
11 And a white stone is given to each of those who comeinto 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.
- The world has no idea what this white stone is or what it can do. We only know because of modern revelation, and our experience with the temple ordinances. The Lord also makes reference to giving those who overcome the things of the world hidden manna. In the Word of Wisdom the Lord also refers to hidden treasures of knowledge. Manna is what God sent the Israelites to sustain them in the wilderness for 40 years. He tells us to feast upon the words of Christ, which is His manna to us. As we keep the commandments God reveals hidden knowledge to us that the world is not privy to. This is the hidden manna.
- Finally, in the Joseph Smith Translation of Revelation 2:26 – 27 the Lord promises those who will inherit all things will receive great power to rule over many kingdoms and mold them in righteousness as a potter molds clay.
26 And to him who overcometh, and keepeth my commandments unto the end, will I give power over many kingdoms;
27 And he shall rule them with the word of God; and they shall be in his hands as the vessels of clay in the hands of a potter; and he shall govern them by faith, with equity and justice, even as I received of my Father.
- Finally, the Lord promises those who overcome the world will have power to resist temptations in the times of testing and trial.
Do you see the pattern in these two sections? Those who have allowed themselves to be led astray by the lies of others or by their own laziness in the gospel, are told they are going to suffer many things. The Lord is very clear in his displeasure over their allowing evils to be practiced among His people.
To those who are obedient and keep the commandments, they are given power to overcome the temptations of the world. The Lord promises revelations and wisdom, kingdoms and glory beyond human imaginings. The power of God’s word, that two-edged sword, has the ability to both recognize the evil and identify the nature of it, and to recognize the good of the Saints and the virtues they have exercised.
As we go about our own efforts to keep the commandments, we should remember the Saints in the original church and the sins that crept into their worship. We may be separated by time, but we are exactly the same in our disposition and practice. If we are not careful about keeping strictly faithful to the covenants we have made, Satan will carefully lead the members of the Church into forbidden paths, causing us to lose all the promises made to those who faithfully keep the commandments and will eventually inherit all things.