A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Lesson 48:
“Glory, and Power, Be unto … the Lamb for Ever”
The Revelation of John is directed to seven churches (branches of the church) in Asia. They are listed as Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Unto each one, John directs revelatory counsel from the Lord and also divine promises. Since we have seven churches, this leads to seven promises. Now since Revelation has a full compliment of symbolic content, it is worth noting right off that seven connotes such things as completion, perfection, divine action, and so forth. The instruction to each church comes as a direct address from the Lord to John, for example, the first of these begins with Revelation 2:1-2,
1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
I would add that this scripture illustrates some of the features of the apostasy at work, in which false apostles are attempting to infiltrate the Church of Jesus Christ. Plenty more could be said about the counsel, but I am going to focus on the promises in this video. The first of these comes in Revelation 2:7
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Astute readers of the scripture will quickly realize that the Lord, in the last book of the present Bible, is referring to events in the first book. Genesis 3:22-24 chronicles the expulsion of man from the Garden of Eden in consequence of the fall specifically to prevent him from partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life:
22 ¶ And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Mankind are not meant to partake of the fruit of this second tree until they have repented and are prepared to return to the presence of God, otherwise they would be forever miserable because they would return to the presence of God while still in their sins. As Alma 42:5 explains the problem, “For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.” However, this promise is to those who have repented, covenants with God and endured in faithfulness to the end. For those, partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life is one component of a crowning blessing. The effects of the Fall are fully reversed and they are brought back into the presence of the Lord.
I will also note the presence of the genre marker, “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” When this is used in the New Testament, it almost also marks rich symbolic teachings and specifically those that we would associate with the blessings and imagery of the Temple.
The second promise is given in Revelation 2:11
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The second death, is described in Alma 42:9, “9 Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.” The effects of the Fall are two kinds of death, each involving a separation: the body eventually separates from the spirit (temporal death), and the spirit is separated from the presence of God. This latter separation is reversed for those who overcome through the blood of the Lamb.
The third promise is given in Revelation 2:17
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; 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.
There is a lot of fairly transparent temple imagery here. The less obvious piece in the set is the reference to the hidden manna. This refers to the manna that was put in a pot so that the children of Israel could see it and remember the marvelous works of God in delivering them out of captivity and bringing them through the wilderness, as described in Exodus 16:32-34, 32
¶ And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
The fourth promise is found in Revelation 2:26-29
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Those who overcome will thus be given rule over the earth similar, again to the situation of Adam in the beginning. They are also promised the morning star. Indeed, they receive glory as the sun, as we read elsewhere.
The fifth promise is in Revelation 3:5-6
5 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, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The sixth promise in in Revelation 3:12-13
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Astute readers of the scriptures will once again recall that in Genesis chapter 2:19, Adam names every living creature, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” If Adam calling something by some particular name was sufficient to make that its name in a substantial, binding, and even ordinantial sense, what would it mean if the resurrected Son of God so names something? If Jesus Christ names something a god, what does this imply?
While pondering upon that question, we come to the seventh of the promises in Revelation 3:21-22, which arguably answers the question
21 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.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Thus those who overcome will sit down with Jesus in the throne of God, just as Jesus has sat down with the Father in the throne of God.
That’s a powerful promise.
To know revelation as a vision (promise) is a must. But more importantly to know the reality is most important.
Learning about how Jesus came according to the promises of the Old Testament is what gives me full faith in the 2nd coming.
I agree with your observation that the phrase “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear” is an indicator that what follows has a hidden meaning that is known to the faithful. The phrase is used in Matthew 13, where Christ teaches the Parable of the Sower, and then explains the hidden meaning to the apostles.
The seven cities in which the churches resided wete situated on a ring road, so you could start from Ephesus and visit each city in turn, returning to Ephesus. The order of the cities and their churches on a physical trip is the order in which the admonition and promise were made to each church. I believe that the order of the promises corresponds to specific stages of the endowment as we know it.
One event mentioned that does not appear as recognizably in our endowment is the partaking of the “hidden manna”. It seems to me that this is a reference to the Sacrament. In the sermon Christ gives in the synagogue in John Chaper 6, he repeatedly identifies his body with the manna from heaven. My understanding is that in early Christianity, the ordinance of the Sacrament was not open to the public. If so, inclusion of it into an endowment ordinance would be reasonable.
A number of the writings of Hugh Nibley suggest that ancient Christians performed ordinances that we identify with the modern Endowment, including washings and anointings and prayer circles. We know that baptism for the dead was performed. The modern Endowment was revealed to Joseph Smith before the Nauvoo Temple was completed. It seems reasonable to believe that tbe early Saints had a version of the Endowment.
The famous image illustrating the last words in Revelation Chapter 3 has Christ saying “I stand at the door and knock.” But the prior verses say that the saint has received the name of Christ. I suggest that it is the saint who has taken the name of Christ who is knocking, just as Christ taught that we can seek and find, ask and receive, and knock and have it opened to us.
At a time when false apostles were trying to infiltrate the church, it was important for the letter from John to be authenticated. For the faithful saints who had received the Endowment ordinance, they would recognize the teachings as authentic, though hidden from the world.