Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Review of Revelations--Part 7--The Testimony of the Lord

Krakatoa eruption
[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12]

This is the continuation of my series reviewing Revelations as part of my reading of The Book of Revelation: Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass by G. Erik Brandt. Last time, I started in to Revelations Chapter 8. This week, we continue into Chapter 8.

Revelation 8:3-5 reads:
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The angel is not identified, but Brandt (and others he cites) suggest it is the Archangel Michael (i.e., Adam).

The alter and incense representing the prayers of the saints showed up earlier during the Fifth Seal. During the Fifth Seal, the prayers were those of the persecuted members of the Church seeking justice. However, at the time, the Lord indicated that he would withhold his judgment for a little while. Given the earlier reference, it seems reasonable that the prayers of the saints in this, the Seventh Seal, are likewise prayers for justice in response to the persecution and wickedness of the world. Only this time around, the Lord is prepared to mete out His justice on a wicked world.

Brandt writes: "As individuals and nations ripen in iniquity, their enmity towards good becomes intolerant and violent. ... When the Lord comes it will be to a people who are praying for relief from the persecutions and wickedness of the day." Brandt also notes that "[a]t this time conditions in the world will have seriously deteriorated 'for the wicked doth compass about the rightous' (Hab. 1:4)."

As I've documented in many posts, persecutions against Christians increases throughout the world: Christians have largely been driven out of the Middle-East, and are being killed on an almost daily basis by Muslims, particularly those aligning with the Wahhabi sect. We also see a great deal of continued persecution in China, and growing persecution by Hindus in India. Within the United States, the federal government has turned against Christians by compelling acceptance of various aspects of cultural Marxism, and we can only expect the hostility to grow.

In any event, there will come a time when the Lord says "enough is enough." Brandt continues:
The silence is broken, ushering in a new level of devastation felt by the earth and her inhabitants. Earlier in the Revelation, John noted that the "winds" of judgment were forestalled for a season. Later, Wilford Woodruff revealed that they had already been released and had begun to pour judgments in measure on the earth. Now, consent is given to release the judgments with ferocity.
When will this time come? I suppose that there could be an argument made that the time has already come. The period of silence could have been the 20 year period between Wilford Woodruff's announcement that the four angels had been released and the start of World War I. The tumult that results could be the two world wars and the numerous other events following.

However, this may be incorrect. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord indicates that the world will first hear the testimony of the Church, and, after that, the Lord's testimony be means of natural disasters and other phenomena.
88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
     89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
       90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
         91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.
           92 And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
          (D&C 88:88-92). Brigham Young, speaking on this point, explained:
          Do you think there is calamity abroad now among the people? Not much. All we have yet heard and all we have experienced is scarcely a preface to the sermon that is going to be preached. When the testimony of the elders ceases to be given, and the Lord says to them, ‘Come home; I will now preach my own sermons to the nations of the earth,’ all you now know can scarcely be called a preface to the sermon that will be preached with fire and sword, tempests, earthquakes, hail, rain, thunders and lightnings, and fearful destruction. … You will hear of magnificent cities, now idolized by the people, sinking in the earth, entombing the inhabitants. The sea will heave itself beyond its bounds, engulphing mighty cities. Famine will spread over the nations.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:123).
          Keep in mind that this was made in the midst of a century that saw natural disasters, such as the Tambora explosion and resulting savage cold in North America and Europe, the New Madrid earthquake, the Carrington event, and numerous other disasters, that exceeded anything that occurred in the 20th Century. Thus, I believe that the sounding of the trumpets will follow the time that missionaries are called home--something that has not yet happened.

          As we read further in the Revelation:
           6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

           7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

           8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

           9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

           10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

           11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

           12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

           13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
          (Rev. 8:6-13).  You will see obvious similarities with the section from the Doctrine & Covenants cited above.

          Brandt notes that these are disasters that will be experienced around the globe, and surmises that "[i]n some cases, the destructions come at levels not experienced since the crucifixion of the Son of God (3 Ne. 8:6-25; Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45)." While earlier God had commanded that the Earth be spared, that time is also over, as Brandt describes, "earth no longer holds back, but groans in reaction to the trumpets (D&C 84:49; Moses 7:48).

          Brandt points out that "[t]he trumpet plague is likened to the storms of hail that tore through Egypt in the days of Moses." (See Ex. 9:23-35). Brandt explains:
          As it was in Egypt, so across the earth storms will rage resulting in the destruction of crops and property (D&C 29:16). In places where the storms pass over and fires are ignited, a third part of the trees are burnt up, and all green grass or vegetation is consumed. This trumpet sent to ravage the lands causes great desolations of the forests and jungles, both man and beast are impacted. Perhaps the most notable effect is that many crops and orchards are ruined. Food becomes scarce and in some places serious famine is visited upon the people.
          As for the second trumpet, and the "great mountain burning with fire," Brandt theorizes that it refers to a volcano. It is a possibility: both the hail of fire and this incident could be the result of violent tectonic activity. I've discussed before a theory that this could be in reference to the Cumbre Vieja Volcano. The eruption of a super-volcano could also produce the effects described. Alternatively, these may be of an extraterrestrial origin: both the hail of fire and the burning mountain could be meteorites. Certainly, as we get further into the Revelation, we will see that there is definitely some signs that have only extraterrestrial explanations. A rogue body falling from deep space would probably drag along a great deal of debris that would contribute to the events described.

          The third trumpet describes a "star" falling that results in poisoned waters. Brandt theorizes that this is a meteorite of some sort that poisons much of the drinking water on the earth. He also explains:
          The Seer names the star "wormwood" after a particularly harsh herb mentioned in the Old Testiment. Symbolically, "wormwood" represented bitterness and sorrow (Deut. 29:18; Prov. 5:4; Lam. 3:15). When the herb is added to fresh water, the water became bitter and undrinkable. The Lord told Jeremiah that He would "feed them [unrepentant Israel], even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink" (Jer. 9:15) because of rebellion. In the gall of iniquity, the children of Israel became bitter in soul, angry, mischievous, and indignant. Wormwood is as much a symbol of the consequences of man's spiritual conditions as it is a literal event.
          (Brackets in original).

          The fourth angel sounds and the impact is now on the heavenly bodies (or, at least, the illumination and view receive by earth). Brandt writes:
          John sees the sun and moon are "smitten," and the stars in the heavens are shaken and darkened. The Greek word for darkened is skotizo ..., which means to cover with darkness, as if the heavenly bodies are deprived of showing their light. It is unlikely, but not an impossibility, that these signs are actual changes in the heavenly bodies themselves. ... The scriptures prophesy of a sign in the last days where the sun is darkened and the moon becomes red as blood. (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20; D&C 29:14, 34:9, 45:42). Whether the sun and the moon are actually affected themselves remains to be seen, but the prophecies are distinct and will be unmistakable when they occur.
          I would note that whether there are strikes by meteorites or volcanic eruptions--or both--there would be significant dust and vapor thrown into the atmosphere. We know from past events--the Tambora explosion, Krakatoa, and the Tunguska event--such incidents can literally reduce a significant amount of the light reaching the earth's surface and cause other atmospheric effects. Since the events listed in the Revelations will exceed the aforementioned incidents, we can expect correspondingly more severe reduction of visible light from the sun and moon.

          In closing, I would point out that the following the Fourth Trumpet, an angel makes another proclamation--yet another call for the inhabitants of the earth to repent.

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