blood of the lamb
Week 51 is scheduled for study Dec. 11-17, 2023. These chapters demonstrate how the blood of lamb makes all things possible. His blood (sacrifice) will purify us and give us the strength we need.

Day 1

President Boyd K. Packer counseled: “If the language of the scriptures at first seems strange to you, keep reading. Soon you will come to recognize the beauty and power found on those pages.”

Revelation 6-11 – John saw many events of earth’s history, especially those of the latter days.

The first point I would like to talk about is the point of view in these chapters. When you read the manual it talks about the seven seals referring to the seven thousand years of the earth’s mortal existence. Each of the seals represents things God did or will do in that thousand years. The prophet John lived after several of the seals had already been opened, but when Nephi saw the same vision in the Book of Mormon, he was one seal earlier than John was. I’m saying that God sees the end from the beginning. He knew what the entire history of the earth would and will be before it was ever created. And just as amazing as that is, He is able to show that future to others in revelation form. The prophets have actually seen our day, for example. They have been shown how the plan of salvation will ultimately play out as it actually will happen.

This makes the future known to God. He lives in the past, present, and future all at the same time. All of eternity is before Him. When the prophets give us prophecies of what is coming we can rest assured that nothing can change what they have told us. And if the Lord promises us that a change of behavior and attitude will make a change in our future then we need to weigh our behavioral options carefully, since that change of attitude is our only way to escape the promises of death and destruction, be it physical or spiritual. When it comes to dealing with God’s knowledge there is no second guessing or changing what He tells us. The sooner we learn to accept this as the true reality in which we live, the better for us.

Now let’s look at the first bullet point from the manual in today’s lesson. The manual tells us to look at these verses in relation to the gathering of Israel, i.e. missionary work in the last days. I looked and looked at Revelation 7 and just wasn’t making that connection. I finally went to the reference in the Doctrine and Covenants 77:8-11 and now it makes more sense. Here are a couple of those verses.

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. [emphasis added]

The four angels in verse 8 remind me of the prophets who would seal up the heavens or send plagues upon the people to get them to repent. What I find interesting here is that these angels who have such power to physically save or destroy the inhabitants of the earth also have the everlasting gospel to give to every nation on earth. This tells me that our only safety in the last days is to be found being covenant makers and keepers, for the angel in verse 8 tells the four angels not to destroy the people until all have been gathered into the gospel who can be found willing to come.

In verse 9 the verse ends by referring to Elias. I recommend you read up on Elias and his mission, because the name Elias, which is the Greek form of Elijah, has two main functions, to prepare for something to come and to restore that which was lost. John the Baptist was an Elias, because he prepared the way for Jesus, and Jesus was an Elias, because he restored to the people the Melchizedek priesthood they had lost through disobedience. Elias was a prophet, but we know nothing about his life and ministry. We do know that it was he who delivered the keys of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple.

I leave the next two bullet points for you to research and see what you find. Don’t forget to read all of Doctrine and Covenants 77 in your studies.

Day 2

President Boyd K. Packer counseled: “If the language of the scriptures at first seems strange to you, keep reading. Soon you will come to recognize the beauty and power found on those pages.”

Revelation 12-13 – The War in Heaven continues on earth.

Here are two verses from Revelation 12. I want to make a point, but first I need to lay the groundwork for that point. Note that Satan is called “the accuser” and then note what purpose these accusations accomplish.

10 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.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia about Satan. “The Hebrew term śāṭān (Hebrew: שָׂטָן) is a generic noun meaning “accuser” or “adversary”, and is derived from a verb meaning primarily “to obstruct, oppose”.”

Have you noticed that in the public discourse of today so much of what takes place is the hurling of an incessant barrage of accusations? People are constantly complaining that someone isn’t fair, that someone’s actions are harmful, or that so and so has injured me. It has gotten to the point that when enough people make the same claim, whether true or not, people begin to act like it is true, and they pass judgment on the person or group as though a court has found them guilty. This is what Satan is known for, constant and incessant accusations used to sway people’s beliefs, to cast doubts, to divide society into factions who hate one another for no good reason (not that there is ever a good reason to hate someone).

The war in heaven was started by the rebellion of Satan, the accuser, against God. This war was not a physical war, but an ideological one. God wanted to save His children through the plan He proposed for our salvation. Lucifer disagreed with God’s plan. He wanted to do it another way, and in the process take all the credit for his accomplishments, displacing God as the supreme being. It was our testimony, our commitment to Christ, who represented God’s plan that eventually overcame Lucifer and his followers. By the power of the priesthood they were cast out of heaven. God sent them to earth. While here they could continue to sway His children to Lucifer’s way of thinking, but he only had a few thousand years of our mortality to see who he could win to his cause. In the meantime God would continue to fulfill His original plan for our salvation by sending Christ to atone for our sins and to try to win us over with his love. The key to this battle is that it has been placed in a completely neutral place. God is no longer standing among us, so we are truly free to choose which idea we want to follow. We can choose between God’s love and free will, His covenants and promises, or Satan’s coercion, his threats, and his power plays. Oddly enough there are many who opt for the latter choice.

Satan seeks to get us to view mortality as the be all and end all of existence, since that is all we can immediately see. God tries to help us think and see life as an eternal being where all the greatest blessings and promises are to come in the next life. He teaches us to love as Christ loves, to think as God things, and to feel and behave as one who will be that way for eternity, and not just as someone who will die and cease to exist upon our death. This is the war Lucifer brought to earth. He continues to accuse us of not being good enough, of not being obedient and capable enough. His accusations are never fully truthful, for he hates truth. Yet this is where he finds most of his successes. Christ encourages us to believe in his promises of eternal blessings. God’s way of living as a celestial being is what our covenants are here to teach us to obtain. This is why we must live in the world, but not be of the world. We must learn to live as eternal beings in a temporary condition of testing and trials.

Day 3

President Boyd K. Packer counseled: “If the language of the scriptures at first seems strange to you, keep reading. Soon you will come to recognize the beauty and power found on those pages.”

Revelation 14:6-7 – “I saw another angel … having the everlasting gospel.”

In my mind the message of today’s lesson is that the fulfillment of his prophecy is not just the coming of Moroni to the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. As you read through the verses listed in the manual you will see that there were many prophets who fulfilled this prophecy. Every prophet who came back to give keys and authority to Joseph Smith participated in this restoration of the everlasting gospel. I don’t know why the Lord reserved the blessings of being part of this process for many people instead of just one person. All I know is that the restoration of the gospel of Christ is a well orchestrated and organized event. All the participants have specific and well defined roles to play.

FHE/Personal Study

Revelation 7:9, 13-15 – White robes

Let’s talk about blood for a moment. The nature of blood in this life is complicated. It holds within it life, for without it our bodies cannot stay alive. It is for this reason that Jehovah told Moses that blood was forbidden as a food among His people, for blood held within it life.

Blood also acts as a dye. It is permanent in its ability to stain red.  In the Book of Mormon many of those who fought against God’s people dipped their loin cloths in blood to make them look terrible or frightening when they went into battle. They would also paint themselves with blood to intimidate their opponents. If blood is so good at staining red why do the scriptures tell us that Christ’s blood turns our clothing white?

This process is figurative, not literal. Jesus paid for our sins by bleeding from every pour, and by the shedding of his blood on the cross and elsewhere. Because Jesus paid for our sins we are able to be forgiven of our sins. Sins stain our soul, leaving a mark that we cannot erase, but the sacrifice of Jesus can. When we repent and he forgives us, the stain of our sin is figuratively washed away, and we become clean again.

One of the most beautiful pieces of imagery in the scriptures is Christ’s ability to cleanse us of our sins. That is conveyed visually by stating that the blood he shed makes it possible for us to cleans ourselves from the stains or filth of sin. In this way we are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb that was slain. In the verses given in today’s lesson, those who suffered for their obedience to Christ’s gospel were each given a white robe to wear. This signifies that they were spiritually pure and clean before God. Their repentant lives qualified them to live with God. They had become pure as Christ is pure.

In the Church we use the color white to represent all things pure. We are baptized in white clothing to signify our state of repentance as we enter into our first covenant with God. We wear white in the Temple for a couple of reasons. The first reason is so that we are all alike, unified in our worship of God. The second reason is because, like baptism, our Temple worship leads to forgiveness of our sins as we serve God, and our fellow man through our proxy work in their behalf.

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NT51-2023 – They Overcame … By the Blood of the Lamb