John to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come… (Revelation 1:4)
I think it is interesting that in Revelation John calls Christ “him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” The reference to past, present, and future gives the sense of Christ’s eternal nature, as well as His mortal ministry and His future coming again.
Also, since the D&C defines truth as things as they were, are, and as they will be, the title John gives Christ is an oblique reference to Christ’s truthful nature.
In contrast to this, we have some description of the beast which the whore sits on in Revelation 17:8,11:
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is….
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
The beast is described in two different ways. Two times it is called “the beast that was, and is not” and once it is called “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
“was and is not” – This underlines that this beast will have a definite end. It was in the past, but it won’t be allowed to continue. At some point it will be stopped and won’t exist anymore. This should give us hope.
“Was, and is not, and yet is” – The way the present tense contradicts itself is interesting here. It exists, but it doesn’t. It’s like a hologram, a phantom, a false fantasy that people believe in, but it has no right to exist in the economy of reality. It’s a lie. It also has no future. Wickedness is like that.
By the way, I also notice in the above verses that we are told this beast ascends out of the bottomless pit and goes into perdition. What does that mean?
If something or someone ascends out of the bottomless pit, that suggests it may improve or reform and be good. But if it goes into perdition, then that means it ascended to great heights of goodness and then falls from grace, like Judas Iscariot. An entity can’t go into perdition unless it had once been at a great spiritual pinnacle. So this tells us there are church members who got involved in this. These people were in an awful state, were converted, reached a level of spiritual greatness and privilege, and then decided they preferred to sin for the worldly advantages they could gain. That is a definitely warning to the Saints that should give us pause.