Rev. 6:1-8 The First Four Seals
The first four seals should be considered as a group. They are different in content from the others and share several common elements. All four are brief and describe a rider or riders on horseback. Each is announced by one of the four beasts in heaven (Rev. 4:6). Each uses imagery suggestive of the war between good and evil as waged during the first four millennia of the earth's temporal existence (D&C 77:6-7).
Source of Power
||Goes forth to conquer with a bow and a crown
||Takes peace from the earth holding a sword
||Holds a pair of balances
||Two riders, Death and Hell, have power to kill a fourth of the earth's inhabitants
Rev. 6:1-2 The First Seal
The Fall of Adam is estimated to have occurred about 4000 BC. Certainly, we have little information about the history of the earth from 4000 to 3000 BC. The brief description of the first seal doesn't help.
A book sealed with seven seals must surely have had more information about the first 5-6 seals than are contained in Revelation. Had the beast described everything recorded in the first seal, it would certainly have been several pages, or even volumes, of written text. We are not given more information because John's mission was to reveal events attendant to the Second Coming-not because the book only contained a one-verse description of a thousand years of human history. In fact, this history will be given in greater detail when the first angel sounds "his trump in the ears of all living, and [reveals] the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God in the first thousand years." (D&C 88:108)
Rev. 6:2 a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown
"During his millennial rule, Adam must have exercised his dominion and authority by means of wise laws and regulations, some being in the form of civil laws, for the guidance of all his children, good and bad; some were probably in the shape of carnal commandments, higher than the civil law in their spirit and aim, calculated for those only who, having embraced the first principles of the gospel, yet were not prepared to receive the highest principles, the celestial laws according to which the people of the city of Enoch lived. But all these laws must have borne a certain amount of similarity to each other, coming as they did from one common source. There were the rights and privileges of all classes of people defined, protected, and Father Adam saw to it that every one of his sons and daughters bowed down to the authority of the law, transgression being visited with swift punishment, as the bow in his hand would indicate." (Hammurabi's Code of Laws. by A.a. Ramseyer., Improvement Era, 1905, Vol. Viii. January, 1905. No. 3.)
Adam was the greatest priesthood leader of the first Millennium. The white horse represents his righteousness and premiere position as a member of God's cavalry in the fight against the powers of Satan. He is a type for the Savior who was also seen on a white horse:
And that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war...
...on his head were many crowns...
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean...
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Rev. 19:11-19)
We remember that it was the archangel Michael who led the armies of God in the war in heaven (Rev. 11:7). The main figures on each side of this conflict remain the same, either before or after the Fall. If Michael led the fight against the dragon in the pre-mortal sphere, he continued this fight in mortality, and will again assume a premiere position when the powers of Satan are destroyed at the end of the world.
The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Genesis 1:26, 27, 28. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood... These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven... The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157)
Rev. 6:3-4 The Second Seal
The first seal describes a righteous angel. The second, by contrast, describes an evil rider who takes peace from the earth. To what does this have reference? One of the most obvious examples is the time of the Flood. If 4000 BC is used as the time of the Fall, then the chronology of Genesis 5 and Gen. 9:28-29 places the Flood about the year 2344 BC, near the middle of the second millennium. The second thousand years was a time of great righteousness and great wickedness. Noah and his sons walked with God, but most of humanity had turned to corruption and violence. "The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And God said to Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence." (Moses 8:28-29)
Why had the earth become such a violent place? In part, it was because the rider of the blood red horse described in Revelation was given power "to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another." Again, the identity of the rider is not clear. We will find out who he is, when the second angel sounds his trump and reveals "the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty works of God in the second thousand years." (D&C 88:109) For now, what is clear is that he was a soldier in Satan's army whose mission it was to encourage violence and murder among the children of men. His mission was so successful that all but eight souls were worthy of death by the Flood.
Rev. 6:4 power was given to him that sat theron
It is not a coincidence that the wicked riders described in the second and fourth seals have power given to them. Of the righteous messengers of the first and third seals, no mention is made of their source of power. The reason is that the righteous angels mentioned have priesthood power of an eternal nature. By contrast, the wicked riders serve Satan and hold no priesthood of their own. They perform their work through Satan's power, but their power is temporary. Neither Satan's priesthood, nor their power, is permanent. Because of the Fall, the Father allows Satan and his hosts to afflict and torment man. Satan may boast, "Now is the great day of my power," but that day will shortly come to an end.
The temporary power of Satan is contrasted with the eternal nature of the priesthood, which is "without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity." (Alma 13:7) The angels of the first and third millennia are not "given power" for a season because their power and keys are eternal and inherent to the priesthood of God.
Rev. 6:5-6 The Third Seal
The rider carrying a pair of balances would seem to be out of place in the battle between the forces of good and evil. At first glance, we may not know which side of the conflict he belongs. But this angel represents the judgment of God upon the inhabitants of the earth. His power comes not from Satan. His marching orders are of the Lord.
"The time represented by the third seal was an era of great famine. John sees a black horse, black being the color of extreme hunger and famine (Lam. 4:8-9). In the hand of the rider he sees a pair of balances, which are used to measure the food during the famine, a practice known from earlier times (Lev. 26:26). For instance, on one occasion the Lord prophesied through Ezekiel that he would cause a famine by 'break[ing] the staff of bread in Jerusalem'; the Jerusalemites, he explained, would 'eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure' (Ezek. 4:16).
During this thousand-year time span, Abraham records, 'a famine prevailed throughout all the land of Chaldea, and my father was sorely tormented because of the famine. . . . Now the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran, my brother, died' (Abr. 1:30; 2:1). As Abraham and Sarai traveled through the land, he stopped and 'built an altar in the land of Jershon, and made an offering unto the Lord, and prayed that the famine might be turned away from my father's house, that they might not perish. . . . And I, Abraham, concluded to go down into Egypt, to sojourn there, for the famine became very grievous' (Abr. 2:17, 21)
We recall that Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, interpreted Pharaoh's dream of a famine that would last seven years and would 'consume the land' (Gen. 41:30). The famine existed in Egypt as well as other lands. Gen. 41 relates: 'And the famine was over all the face of the face of the earth . . . and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands' (Gen. 41:56-57). Jacob, Joseph's father, also experienced the famine while dwelling in Canaan, and he sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy corn (Gen. 42:1-5)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 81.)
Rev. 6:6 see thou hurt not the oil and the wine
"A measure of wheat for a penny/three measures of barley for a penny. A measure (approximately one quart) represents the daily food ration of one adult, and a penny (Matt. 20:2Matt. 20:2) was one day's pay. Barley, the food of the destitute, cost a third as much as wheat. The measurement of small quantities of food speaks of a time of famine.
"Hurt not the oil and the wine. 'The warning against hurting the oil and wine sets limits to the destruction about to be carried out by the horseman. Since the roots of the olive and vine go deeper [than the roots of barley and wheat], they would not be affected by a limited drought that would all but destroy the grain.' (Mounce, Book of Revelation, 144.)" (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 81.)
Rev. 6:7-8 The Fourth Seal
The fourth horse has two riders. Death and Hell, the twin enemies, are represented by these soldiers of Satan. When hell is understood to mean spiritual death, we see that these riders carried both physical death and spiritual death. The second is worse than the first. We are reminded of the warning of the Master, "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28) These riders are to be feared.
"Surely no period before this saw more vicious generals and armies. It was the time when some of the world's greatest empires rose and fell: Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and Macedonia among them. As armies marched, men died in droves, and Hell gaped open wide its jaws to receive them.
"Caught up in all this strife were the people of Jehovah. Palestine was often a hotly contested area. Pulled by the forces of the day, its political leaders tried to play power politics to their shame and destruction. The great prophets, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and later Jeremiah and Lehi, tried to warn them of their folly. They would not heed. Too caught up in idolatry to repent, too licentious to reform, too hard-hearted to feel, they warred among themselves and weakened their nation. As a consequence, they left Jehovah and life eternal. Hell was truly their reward." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 67.)
Rev. 6:8 a pale horse
The lifeless corpse has an unforgettable color-or lack thereof. The pale horse represents the appearance of the face of the dead. The spiritually dead are pale because their countenance lacks any of the Light of Christ. In the Book of Mormon, Seantum had murdered his brother, the chief judge. When examiners find blood on his clothing, he knew he was caught. Nephi prophesied, "then shall he tremble, and shall look pale, even as if death had come upon him. And then shall ye say: Because of this fear and this paleness which has come upon your face, behold we know that thou art guilty." (Hel. 9:33-34) The wicked, in death and hell, have this pale look of guilt.
Rev. 6:9-11 The Fifth Seal
The fifth millennium began approximately at the time of the Savior's birth, probably a bit before. Certainly, his life and mission occurred during the fifth seal of time. However, the focus is not on the Master, but on his followers. No more riders on horseback, he now sees "the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held." John's friend Peter and his brother James must have flooded into his mind. Stephen, Paul, and all the other apostles who had suffered violent deaths must have come into view. John, alive and alone, must have felt strong emotions as the events of his day were represented in heaven. We imagine his soul yearning to join the heavenly chorus, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
George Q. Cannon
It seems as though the adversary has been determined that if he could not stop the progress of this work in any other way he would drown it in blood. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 25: 279.)
Rev. 6:10 How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood
George Q. Cannon
In the days of John the Revelator, one of the apostles of the Lord, in the visions which he saw it was made manifest that there were yet more lives to be offered up for the cause of truth before the blood that had been shed could be avenged upon those that dwelt upon earth. It doubtless seemed strange to the inhabitants of Jerusalem when Jesus said unto them that all the righteous blood that had been shed in past generations from the blood of righteous Abel to Zacharias, son of Barachias, should be required of that generation. There were reasons for this which he well understood. There are reasons existing now and that will continue to exist and operate, why the blood of those who have been slain for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus in ancient days, should be avenged upon some generation in the future, from the time that John spake and wrote the revelation he had received. Jesus said when he was upon the earth: "And this is the condemnation; that light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light." They were held to a strict accountability after light was revealed. The generation in which he lived were held to a stricter accountability than any preceding generation, because he himself, the Son of God, was in their midst, performing mighty works, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom in its purity and in its power, and communicating unto them the mind and will of heaven.
Every generation who have the privilege of hearing the pure Gospel of Jesus preached in its fulness are held to a similar accountability. Their position is different to that of the generations who do not have that privilege... When God communicates his mind and will unto his children by the medium of angels, by the medium of prophets, by the medium of holy men whom he has raised up, those who hear that testimony, those unto whom that message is communicated, are held to a strict accountability to obey the same or be held in great condemnation for their rejection of it. If you will read the history of God's ways of dealing with the children of men throughout all ages, you will find that it is invariably the case that judgments and calamities, the fiery indignation of the Almighty always follow the rejection of his truth, when that truth is proclaimed by his authorized servants, such as are apostles and prophets. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 246 - 247.)
Rev. 6:11 rest...until their fellowservants also... be killed as they were
Matthias F. Cowley
Joseph Smith, the great Prophet of the last days, and his martyred brother, the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, were among these fellow servants who were to be slain. They have fulfilled this last requirement of their earthly existence. Their testimony is true, attested by every evidence that man could give or the world require. That testimony is binding upon all the world. The Gospel has been restored to man, through Joseph Smith, in all its fullness. Will men obey the divine message? A proper answer by every individual is of the greatest importance. (Cowley's Talks on Doctrine [Chattanooga: Ben. E. Rich, 1902], 44.)
On my arrival [in Boston] I received a letter which had been sent from Nauvoo, giving us an account of the killing of the prophets. I was the only man in Boston of the quorum of the Twelve.
I had very strange feelings, as, I have no doubt, all the Saints had. I attended a meeting on the following day in Boydston's Hall, where a vast number of the inhabitants of Boston and some three hundred Latter-day Saints had assembled. Hundreds of men came to that meeting to see what the "Mormons" were going to do now that their prophets were dead. I felt braced up; every nerve, bone, and sinew within me seemed as though made of steel. I did not shed a tear. I went into that hall, though I knew not what I was going to say to that vast audience. I opened the Bible promiscuously and opened to the words of St. John where he saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and heard them cry, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, doest thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" The Lord informed them that they must wait a little season, until their brethren were slain as they were. I spoke on those words.
Next day I met Brigham Young in the streets of Boston, he having just returned, opposite to Sister Voce's house. We reached out our hands, but neither of us was able to speak a word. We walked into Sister Voce's house. We each took a seat and veiled our faces. We were overwhelmed with grief and our faces were soon bathed in a flood of tears. I felt then that I could talk, though I could not do so before-that is, to Brother Brigham. After we had done weeping we began to converse together concerning the death of the prophets. In the course of the conversation, he smote his hand upon his thigh and said, "Thank God, the keys of the kingdom are here." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], Vol. 1, Wilford Woodruff, June 2, 1889)
James E. Faust
The Doctrine and Covenants counsels us:
Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again.
And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple. (D&C 103:27-28)
...In the early days of the Church in Mexico, two faithful leaders who were disciples of Christ became martyrs because of their belief. The two whose lives were taken were Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales.
During the Mexican Revolution, Rafael Monroy was the president of the small San Marcos Mexico Branch, and Vicente Morales was his first counselor. On July 17, 1915, they were apprehended by the Zapatistas. They were told they would be spared if they would give up their weapons and renounce their strange religion. Brother Monroy told his captors that he did not have any weapons and simply drew from his pocket his Bible and Book of Mormon. He said, "Gentlemen, these are the only arms I ever carry; they are the arms of truth against error."
When no arms were found, the brethren were cruelly tortured to make them divulge where arms were hidden. But there were no arms. They were then taken under guard to the outskirts of the little town, where their captors stood them up by a large ash tree in front of a firing squad. The officer in charge offered them freedom if they would forsake their religion and join the Zapatistas, but Brother Monroy replied, "My religion is dearer to me than my life, and I cannot forsake it."
They were then told that they were to be shot and asked if they had any request to make. Brother Rafael requested that he be permitted to pray before he was executed. There, in the presence of his executioners, he kneeled down and, in a voice that all could hear, prayed that God would bless and protect his loved ones and care for the little struggling branch that would be left without a leader. As he finished his prayer, he used the words of the Savior when He hung upon the cross and prayed for his executioners: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." With that the firing squad shot both Brother Monroy and Brother Morales.
Some years ago I went to Mexico to reorganize a stake presidency. As I conducted the interviews, I was privileged to become acquainted with one of the descendants of Rafael Monroy. I was very impressed with the depth of this man's testimony and his commitment to the gospel. When I asked him what had happened to the rest of Brother Monroy's descendants, he said that many of them have been on missions and continue faithful in the Church.
In the early days of the Church, other disciples in addition to Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith also laid down their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithfulness of Edward Partridge, the first bishop of the Church, is noted in the Doctrine and Covenants. On July 20, 1833, Edward was sitting at home with his frail wife, who had just given birth. Three mobsters burst in and dragged him into the bedlam of the street and then into the square, where they had already taken Charles Allen. A mob of about 300 demanded through their spokesman that Edward and Charles either renounce their faith in the Book of Mormon or leave the county. Edward Partridge responded: "If I must suffer for my religion, it is no more than others have done before me. I am not conscious of having injured anyone in the county and therefore will not consent to leave. I have done nothing to offend anyone. If you abuse me, you are injuring an innocent man." The mob then daubed Edward and Charles from head to foot with hot tar containing pearl ash, a flesh-eating acid, and then they threw feathers that stuck to the burning tar.
The Prophet Joseph Smith characterized Edward's death a few years later at age 46 in these words: "He lost his life in consequence of the Missouri persecutions, and he is one of that number whose blood will be required at their hands." Edward Partridge left a legacy that lives on in a large and righteous posterity.
For most of us, however, what is required is not to die for the Church but to live for it. For many, living a Christlike life every day may be even more difficult than laying down one's life. ("Discipleship," Ensign, Nov 2006, 20-23)
How many other of the servants of God may be called to seal their testimony with their blood before the coming of Christ is not for me to say. (Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 5 (June 1844-May 1845), No. 8. January, 1845. Vol. V. 135.)
Rev. 6:12-17 The Sixth Seal
We finally get to the meat of John's foreordained mission-to reveal the events of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Finally, we get to those events which Nephi saw but was forbidden to write:
I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb...
And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth...
And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe.
And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea and also many things which have been...
But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the lamb of God that he should write them. (1 Ne. 14:14-25)
As of this writing, in the beginning of the 21st century, the events of the sixth seal have not all been fulfilled. John's prophecies deal with events in the very last of the sixth seal, but they have not all occurred. These apocalyptic events will be as dramatic as John's text implies. We should not imagine otherwise. Clear back in 1833, the saints realized these events had not yet occurred, "who... will say, that [these events have already] been?-Events of this magnitude would have been noticed and recorded by previous historians, and we should now read them with wonder and amazement. And that they are [yet] to transpire, the veracity of the sacred scripture stands pledged for the truth of their performance. (Signs in the Heavens., Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2 (June 1833-September 1834), Vol. Ii. December, 1833. No. 15. 116.)
Bruce R. McConkie
We are now living in the Saturday night of time; the millennial morning will soon dawn. This is the end of the sixth seal, and the seventh seal will soon be opened. Our modern revelation tells us plainly that Christ will come sometime after the opening of seventh seal; it will be during the seventh thousand years and after the events listed in the eighth chapter of John's writings. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 381.)
Rev. 6:12 a great earthquake
"By use of the earthquake, the Lord shows his incredible power as he begins to warn the nations. Such power will be sufficiently terrifying to drive men to wish for death rather than face vengeance. John's forceful symbols dramatically convey the great natural disasters that bring the sixth millennium to a close and act as forerunners to the final catastrophes." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 72.)
The following is a list of some of the more deadly earthquakes of the sixth seal (source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/world_deaths.php)
||Haiyuan, Ningxia (Ning-hsia), China
||Kanto (Kwanto), Japan
||Ashgabat (Ashkhabad), Turkmenistan (Turkmeniya, USSR)
||Eastern Sichuan, China
While some of the most deadly earthquakes are listed above, there are smaller earthquakes all the time which sometimes slip past our attention. For a list of earthquakes worldwide in a span of less than two years, see page on 6th seal earthquakes.
Rev. 6:12-13 the sun became black...the moon became as blood... the stars of heaven fell unto the earth
Of all the signs of the Second Coming of Christ, none takes preeminence over this one. The light of the sun will be withheld, the color of the moon will be blood red and the stars shall fall more impressively than any meteor shower any astronomer has ever seen.
Not uncommonly, someone will declare that this prophecy has already been fulfilled. They usually reference solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and meteor showers. While this prophecy probably will have multiple fulfillments, we can't help but think that a very dramatic and unequivocal sign still awaits us. Think of what happened in the New World at the Savior's birth-36 hours of daylight. What happened at his death-three days of utter darkness. Should we think that the sign of his Second Coming would be any less dramatic?
The scriptures speak of many signs in the heaven and on the earth, but this particular sign is different. That the sun should be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heavens is a sign that is repeated over and over in the scriptures (see Ezek. 32:7, Joel 2:31; 3:15, Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24-25, Lu. 21:25, Acts 2:20, Rev. 6:12; 8:12, DC 29:14; 34:9; 45:42; 88:87; 133:49). How many other signs or doctrines are repeated in 14 different places? Certainly, the fulfillment of this scripture will be as dramatic as anything we have ever seen, for when it occurs, 'the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man' (DC 88:87).
"In taking to task the scurrilous writings of one newspaper of his day, the Prophet Joseph Smith commented on the newspaper's report of a claim that a Mr. Hyrum Redding of Ogle County, Illinois, had already 'seen the sign of the Son of Man.' The Prophet noted that the Lord would reveal such an event to His earthly prophet and that no man had yet seen such a sign, 'nor will any man, until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood.' (HC, 5:290-91.)" (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 183 - 184.)
Bruce R. McConkie
There may be more than one occasion when the light of the sun and the moon shall be withheld from men, and when it will seem as though the very stars in the firmament are being hurled from their places. What is here recited could mean that the light of the sun is blotted out by smoke and weather conditions, which would also make the moon appear "as blood." This falling of the stars "unto the earth" could be meteoric showers, as distinguished from the stars, on another occasion, appearing to fall because the earth itself reels to and fro. Perhaps the passage has reference to both types of falling stars. The latter-day revelation that seems to parallel John's words has come to us in this language: "Not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree." ("D&C 88:87D&C 88:87.) (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 380.)
Rev. 6:14 every mountain and island were moved out of their places
Joseph Fielding Smith
I know it is customary to spiritualize these passages and to place upon them a figurative interpretation, but in our modern scriptures, as well as in the Bible, the literal meaning is clearly stated. I will give you a few references from the Doctrine and Covenants:
Wherefore, be not deceived, but continue in steadfastness, looking forth for the heavens to be shaken, and the earth to tremble and to reel to and fro as a drunken man, and for the valleys to be exalted, and for the mountains to be made low, and for the rough places to become smooth-and all this when the angel shall sound his trumpet. (D&C 49:23)
And he shall utter his voice out of Zion, and he shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice shall be heard among all people; And it shall be a voice as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, which shall break down the mountains, and the valleys shall not be found.
He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land; And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided. (D&C 133:21-24)
...These scriptural references teach us definitely that the day will come when the mountains will be debased and naturally the valleys will be exalted. This is part of the great restoration. The sea is to be driven back into the north, so it must have been there once before. The land surface of the earth will again be united, and the islands brought back to the main land, as it was in the beginning.
Now why bring back the condition which was in the beginning? Because in the beginning the Lord pronounced the earth good. Then after the fall a curse was placed upon it, and many changes came. In this time of restoration all things are to be brought back to their primitive condition. (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 318.)
Bruce R. McConkie
Knowing as we do from latter-day revelation that the islands and continents were once joined in one landmass and will yet again be joined, we find new meaning in allusions and comments found in the ancient scriptures. As part of a description of the Second Coming, John tells us: "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (Rev. 6:14.) In connection with the greatest earthquake of the ages, John says: "And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." (Rev. 16:20.) Also in a Second Coming setting John speaks of the voice of the Lord "as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder." (Rev. 14:2.) This is the identical language used by the Lord in telling Joseph Smith that the mountains and valleys shall not be found, that the great deep (apparently the Atlantic Ocean) will be driven back into the north countries, "and the islands shall become one land." (D&C 133:22-23.) The voice of many waters and of a great thunder could well be the thunderous surging of a whole ocean moving half an earth's distance from where it now is. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 623.)
Rev. 6:15 the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men
"The Seer notes seven consequences to the wickedness of mankind: (1) the earthquake, (2) the darkened sun, (3) the reddening of the moon, (4) the stars falling, (5) the heavens rolling up, (6) the mountains and islands moving out of their places, and (7) the universal consternation of mankind. Further, he notes seven classes of men who will be affected: (1) kings, (2) great men, (3) rich men, (4) chief captains, (5) mighty men, (6) bondmen, and (7) free men. Such numbering seems deliberate on his part. It emphasizes the idea of completeness: no enemy of God, no matter how high or low born, will escape the wrath of the Lamb. He will move in his fury when patience ceases to be a virtue: 'It shall come to pass, because of the wickedness of the world, that I will take vengeance upon the wicked, for they will not repent; for the cup of mine indignation is full; for behold, my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not' (D&C 29:17). (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 72.)
Rev. 6:16 hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne
Neal A. Maxwell
The judgment day is one of the things that really will be. The "future shock" of that judgment and the events to precede it will be without parallel. The dramatic day described so powerfully by Alma will be a highly compressed and collective moment of truth. This will be the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus is the Christ. (Philippians 2:10-11.) No mortals will be standing that day. Those who were cruelly used by the adversary will see that awful reality. Nephi said the unrepentant guilty would "remember [their] awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty-but I know my guilt; I transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am a prey to his awful misery." (2 Nephi 9:46.) Jesus, who purchased us and who owns us, will require this owning up. They who transgressed divine law will openly admit that their transgressions are their own and cannot be laid at someone else's door.
In writing of this event that really will be, the apostle John described how "the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men . . . hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." (Revelation 6:15-16.) This is high drama. This is a final confrontation with the ultimate reality, the living God.
On that dramatic day there can be no saving swagger-no panache. On that day there can be no grievance with God that can be advanced at all... The promised day of judgment will come, and all men will be left "without excuse." (D&C 101:93; Romans 1:20.) (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 111-112.)
The Lord has begun to vex the nations, beginning with our own nation; he is vexing it and will vex other nations, and his judgments will go forth and all the wicked nations of the world will feel the avenging hand of God, and he will continue to overthrow nation after nation until He whose right it is will take the government into his own hand, and he will continue to increase and progress until every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them shall be heard to say, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, and might, and majesty, and dominion be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Shall we be found among that number who will thus magnify the name of God, crying, "Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth"?
I pray God this may be the case, that we may not be compelled to call for rocks to fall upon us and mountains to hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 120.)
Rev. 6:17 the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our doors? I'll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood, and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our very doors; not even this people will escape them entirely. They will come down like the judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah. And none but the priesthood will be safe from their fury. (Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary: A Selection From the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, 313-314)