Quick Guide to Mistaken Interpretations of John’s Book of Revelation

by | Jul 10, 2023

Word revelation

Authentic Joseph Smith (No. 18)

Part of the Joseph Smith, Jr. Series

All blue quotes by Joseph Smith (unless otherwise noted).

General Conference – April 1843


I went to a Sunday fireside lecture at a good friend’s home, and the topic was the Book of Revelation. The speaker was from out of town and was billed as an excellent presenter. I was intrigued and enthused.

Have you guessed which way this post is going?

What happened instead was a PowerPoint presentation by someone who CLEARLY never investigated what Joseph Smith taught or at least disregarded it.

He peppered the fireside with compelling details and then quipped several times, “But if you want to know more, it’s in my book.” He ended the fireside with “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen,” after pushing his $120 book set.

There’s a comment to be made right here. Please – if they are profiteering off of their “spiritual knowledge” or offering monthly subscriptions to their “powers of revelation” – please read these few verses. Maybe read everyone these few verses so they know:

23 And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.
24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support.
25 And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together.
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.
(Mosiah 18:23-26)

Verse 26 especially says it.

The last thing on the minds of those wrought upon with mighty Spirit, vision, knowledge, and true revelation from God is making money from others with it. Instead, they want to spread the message and teach everyone they can – not just those who hand them currency.

Rather than share 2 hours of details of what the Book of Revelations is NOT – let’s revisit Jospeh’s straightforward teachings that will quickly clue you in on whether someone understands John.

Past or Future?

Everything in the Book of Revelation (except chapter 12) takes place after John has the vision. So as soon as they start to apply the symbols (horsemen and beasts) to dispensations earlier than John’s time, then you know they misinterpreted the Book of Revelation. Here are some meaningful quotes.

Joseph Smith

None of the things John saw had any allusion to the scenes of the days of Adam or of Enoch or of Abraham or Jesus, only as far as is plainly represented by John and clearly set forth. (points to JST Rev 12) John only saw that which was “shortly to come to pass” and that which was yet in futurity. (He read Rev. ch. 1 v. 1)

The Revelation of John, a servant of God, which was given unto him of Jesus Christ, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, that he sent and signified by his angel unto his servant John. (Revelation 1:1)”


Now I make this declaration, that those things Which John saw in heaven, had no allusion to any thing that had been on the earth, because John says “he saw what was shortly to come to pass” and not what had already transpired…The revelations do not give us to understand any thing of the past in relation to the Kingdom of God.


It is great stuffing, to stuff all nations into 4 beasts & 24 Elders. Things which he [John/Revelation] saw had no allusions to what had been—but what must shortly come to pass.


Also, read Revelation 4:1 – notice the word “hereafter.”

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4:1)

Heaven or Earth?

The beast John sees in the Book of Revelation is not representative or symbolic of anything on Earth. I’ve heard several interpretations of the beast meaning something on Earth – but the beasts are not a symbol of anything earthly.

Here are several statements made by Joseph in three different sermons in April of 1943:

What John saw and speaks of were things which were in heaven, what the prophets (Daniel and others) saw and speak of where things pertaining to the earth.

“…but I could not keep laughing at the idea of God making use of the figure of a beast to represent the Kingdom of God on the earth, when he could as well have used a far more noble and consistent figure.”

“There is no revelation any where to show that the beasts meant any thing but beasts.”

“John saw curious looking beasts in heaven, he saw every creature that was in heaven…the beasts were intelligent beings and were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God.”

Takeaway

Joseph also cautioned against speculating and admonished the brethren to stay on point with the critical, fundamental gospel truths. He said, “O ye Elders of Israel hearken to my voice & when ye are sent into the world to preach, tell those things you are sent to tell. declare the first principles, & let mysteries alone lest you be overthrown.—”

He also said, “Dont be afraid of being damned for not knowing the meaning of a vision or figure where God has not given a revelation or interpretation on the subject.”

May I suggest you save your money for gospel resources that are more meaningful than those who claim to interpret the Book of Revelation? Especially if they fail these two simple tests – time and place.

Author’s Notes

The Joseph Smith Series comes from, in part, a book called “The Words of Joseph Smith.”

Note: usually, the book costs a small fortune ($150-$250) because it is out of print. But I found it for free at the BYU Religious Studies Center. (Thank you, BYU)

(P.S. I receive no compensation for any recommendations – I like sharing.)

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2 Comments

  1. Paul Christensen

    Very good. Spot on!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thanks.

      Reply

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