Friday, June 5, 2015

Joseph Smith’s revelation on Revelation 8

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. (D&C 77:12)

Upon running into this verse, I noticed it said that on the seventh day God finished his work and formed men from the dust, and I said to myself, “Wait!  That’s not what Genesis says; Genesis says God formed man in the sixth day and rested on the seventh!”

And I thought, “Did Joseph Smith get his creation days mixed up when he was writing this revelation down?” It certainly seemed like it.  And I was embarrassed by this.

But then, I realized something else.  In this verse, the bit about creation is being used as an analogy to explain the bit from Revelation 8 that Joseph Smith was interested in learning about.  So I began to wonder if maybe the “mistake” was actually meant to teach something.  What was really being compared?

Our idea of the seventh day of creation is that God rested and refrained from creation.  But the “mistake” of Joseph Smith tells us that on the seventh day God was finishing his work and sanctifying it and forming man out of the dust.  So maybe this is supposed to hint to us that during the beginning of the seventh thousand years (as described in Revelation 8) it will seem like God is resting, but that He is really finishing His work, sanctifying and refining and forming man—those who have faith in Him—into the kind of perfected beings He meant them to be.  This is supported by the imagery in Revelation 8—the silence in heaven for half an hour as though heaven were at rest, and then the angels sounding trumpets, which bring great tribulations on the earth (and which would certainly refine those who remain faithful throughout).