Revelation 1-22

We finished the book of Revelation yesterday, and all I can say is that three weeks is TOO DANG LONG for this content.  Ignore the pacing guide and spend an extra week in the epistles.  The problem with Revelation is that there isn’t much revealed information to help you answer kids’ really hard questions.  You can find multiple theories on every single item within the book, but if you are like me, you want to stay as far away from speculation as possible. 

If you are keeping all your students together in the reading like I am, the last three weeks will be very painful.  If your kids have read it or are racing through it at the end of the year, it’d be easier — you can just gloss over or ignore the awkward parts.  Not so in our class.  I warned the kids that they would have questions I could not answer about the book of Revelation, and I told them I would not make up answers.  I spent a fair amount of time making them a study guide for my students that answered a lot of questions and linked to as much revelation as I could find on topics in John’s apocalypse.

Here are links to the study guides:

Overall, the last few weeks have been painful when coupled with my aunt’s recent stroke and the influx of family coming in from out of state.  Somehow we have made it through, but it was not without a few days that I felt were less than stellar.  I think my students would tell you that they learned a lot, but I would so much rather teach doctrine.  I did do a couple of things that I think helped us in our study (in addition to the above study guides) and I’ll pass those along below.

Introduction to Revelation

A teacher at inservice gave me this idea, and I used it to help students understand how we’d be looking at the book of Revelation.

I showed students a series of three pictures, one a closeup of a facial feature, another a portion of a group of images, and another the full group of pictures.  I told students that we can focus in on small details in the book of Revelation and really think deeply about a given topic.  We can step out and start to see how those little details make a bigger picture, and then step all the way back and see the fullness of the history of the earth and plan of salvation.

Closeup – the kids guessed it was me just based on this.

Mid level – students weren’t able to identify the second picture as being of the letter ‘L’, so it made the next step out particularly effective.  If we get bogged down in the details, we can totally miss the big picture.

Here’s the overall view of the picture — it has hung at my aunt’s farmhouse for around 25 years now.  Yeah, that’s me in the ‘L’ with my siblings.  These images worked out really well as an illustration.

The book of Revelation can be difficult to understand, but it’s okay. I invited students to not get too worried about understanding all of the details in the book of Revelation.  The most important thing to take away is bad times are coming. but God has a plan and He will save the righteous.

We read  Ether 4:15-16 to learn when we’d gain total understanding of the book.

This turned out to be a particularly effective lesson.  It helped greatly later when I had to answer questions with I don’t know, or there’s no revelation on that, or no GA has spoken on that topic.  Students understood why I couldn’t answer all the questions, and I think they really grasped that I was doing all I could, but that there are just some things that haven’t been revealed yet.

I pointed out the word “shortly” in Revelation 1:1, because those events in Revelation 1-3 occur shortly after John’s writing.  in Rev 4:1 we switch to “hereafter”, and nearly all of the rest of the book occurs long after John’s vision occurred.

Revelation 2-3

This was another idea I got from inservice. 

I told the class that God loves and knows them. He knew the churches in Asia Minor just likes He knows them and gave them proof of His love with promised blessings.I had students make a list of the seven church names.  Then they should look over the two chapters and list things He says that show God knows His people.  I told them they didn’t have to list everything, just a general idea.

After that activity I had them list the “to him that overcometh” promises for each of the seven churches.

Church Name What God knows about them “To him that overcometh”
     

After that activity, we read v 22 “what did the spirit say to the churches?”  What did they learn?  What did you learn?  What do you think “overcometh means”  Does this mean you are supposed to be perfect?  No, for example, read Revelation 2:20-21.  We are all given a time to repent.  See also Alma 42:1-4 and Alma 34:30-35.  We are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to overcome and repent.  He loves us and knows our trials and challenges.  I wrapped up with Revelation 3:20.

We spent a few more minutes with information from the study guide I made answering questions about the text, especially the story about Balaak and Ballam.

Revelation 4-5

Here the vistion starts.  John gets a very brief reivew of the past with lots of information about the future, especially events immediately proceeding the second coming of Christ.  I opened the class to questions.  This was easy, and I used the study guide to answer most of the questions.  I imagined that angel like a cheerleader with a megaphone sneaking up behind John.  No wonder he was scared.  I pointed out that no one could open the seals but Christ.  Why did John weep?

This was a pretty easy student-led discussion.

In case you’re wondering, most of the quotes came from the Institute or Seminary manuals for New Testament, and the quotes came by referencing the book of Revelation at http://scriptures.byu.edu/.  If you haven’t used that site, you should.  It’s a great tangible reference to use in class when you need to show that there just isn’t revelation on a topic, or if you need to answer a student or personal question.  I could show lots of different citations for certain scriptures, where some of the books just weren’t referenced at all.  For example, the mark of the beast: nothing.  All there was is three or four references that refer to a popular theory of the time made in the 1880s, and even then church leaders say they don’t know what it means.  Since then, it’s not been mentioned in any official capacity in over 100 years.

Revelation 6-7

This day I let student questions direct the lesson, too, while we read over the quotes and such from the study guide. I pointed out that Christ is in control over the earth and temporal events.  Sealed in foreheads, cross-reference to Exodus 28:36-38.

One of my students passed off her 25th scripture mastery passage on this day.

Revelation 8-9

On this day I had students draw pictures of the events from the seven trumps on the board while we read information from the study guide.  My big point was the quote from Wilford Woodruff “Our trust is in God”.  These events are scary, but we are in the hands of God and have nothing to fear.

Revelation 10-11

There is almost nothing by way of GA quotes on this section.  So frustrating. We read Revelation 10:1-3, 8-11 aloud, and I displayed some images I found of

  • Family
  • Missionary
  • Bag of candy

How can each of these things be both sweet and bitter?

Then we read D&C 77:14 and D&C 7:1-2

What was Johns mission? Why do you think was it both sweet and bitter to him?

What can we do when faced with something sweet and bitter?

We spent any extra time with a scripture sort/scripture mastery.

Revelation 12-14

One of my students mentioned the day before this lesson that there were a couple of verses from chapter 12 in his patriarchal blessing.  I spent a good bit of time finding quotes to relate to it for him.  My study guide was long, so I had  kids read silently over the text on study guide. After a few minutes, we filled in ideas they had on how to defeat Satan on the board. 

Then I gave them a writing prompt: “how could knowing what you did then help you now?”  A few students shared what they wrote, and we wrapped up.  This was pretty great.  Everyone likes to know they can beat Satan, I guess.

Revelation 15-16

By this time, I was getting tired of reading the study guide.  So instead, I covered a few topics from the study guide and showed students some artwork from the internet about these topics.  The one website with the illustrated manuscripts was a fun way to review the material we had covered in a non-threatening way.   Highly recommend that to anyone.

I started out showing this image of plasma in glass.  What does this remind you of from the text?  For me, it reminded me of the globe like a sea of glass where angels live.

Above is an illustration of the angels delivering the vials, often rendered bowls in many Bible translations.  I like that the containers look like giant gold woks in this picture.

The blog Gilt Pleasures has a fun article title “Apocalypse Wow” that I used at the end of class to review the entirety of Revelation.  This was fun, and a nice release of frustration for me. :)  All of the images she used can be found at http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=7743&CollID=16&NStart=150402  Here’s one I particularly liked:

This is supposed to be the angel showing John the locusts.  If you are not freaked out by this, you may not have a soul.  Awesome, huh?

Revelation 17-19

I set the timer for three minutes and had students look over the study guide and read anything interesting to them.I actually ended up giving them more time, because most students were reading the whole thing.  Good for them.

Then I gave all students paper and crayons.  They got 10 minutes to draw and label women in Revelation 17:3-18 and Revelation 12:1-3,5 JST Compare and show work. Nephi had a similar vision. We read 1 Nephi 14:9-12 together.
 

  • How are the two women represented by Nephi? (The church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil.)
  • Where will you find these two churches? (Upon all the face of the earth.)
  • How many belong to each church?

Continue with 1 Nephi 14:13–17.  I didn’t use the questions from the manual, but I summed up the text here.
 I’d like you to look at your drawings and think for a minute about which group you’d like to be a part of as I read this quote: “There is a lie—a vicious lie—circulating among the Latter-day Saints and taking its toll among the young. And it is that a ‘balanced man’ is one who deliberately guards against becoming too righteous. This lie would have you believe that it is possible to live successfully and happily as a ‘double-minded man’ with one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion.” Carlos E Asay

  • Why is it impossible to bat for both teams?
  • What will you be giving up if you choose the woman on the Scarlet beast’s team?

Let us all do whatever it takes to be on the Lord’s team.

Revelation 20-22

On board I wrote ________________ is the first law of heaven. ~ Joseph Smith
 These last few chapters have John seeing the ultimate destiny of the earth and its inhabitants. Tell me what you remember from your reading. We listed what they rememebered on the board.  Here’s waht I listed in my notes:

  • Satan bound
  • Battle of gog and Magog
  • Satan defeated again
  • New heaven, new earth
  • City of God comes down

Remind class of yesterday’s lesson to come out of Babylon. We are able to enter the celestial kingdom through obedience to God’s laws.

Fill in blank with word “obedience”.

Look at the study guide. With your red pencil, let’s work together to mark how we can be obedient under the Come out of Babylon Section for chapter 18.

I asked a student to read the story below:

“Early in our married life when Sister Nelson and I lived in Minneapolis, we decided to enjoy a free afternoon with our two-year-old daughter. We went to one of Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes and rented a small boat. After rowing far from shore, we stopped to relax and enjoy the tranquil scene. Suddenly, our little toddler lifted one leg out of the boat and started “Early in our married life when Sister Nelson and I lived in Minneapolis, we decided to enjoy a free afternoon with our two-year-old daughter. We went to one of Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes and rented a small boat. After rowing far from shore, we stopped to relax and enjoy the tranquil scene. Suddenly, our little toddler lifted one leg out of the boat and started to go overboard, exclaiming, ‘Time to get out, Daddy!’

”Quickly we caught her and explained, ‘No, dear, it’s not time to get out; we must stay in the boat until it brings us safely back to land.’ Only with considerable “Early in our married life when Sister Nelson and I lived in Minneapolis, we decided to enjoy a free afternoon with our two-year-old daughter. We went to one of Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes and rented a small boat. After rowing far from shore, we stopped to relax and enjoy the tranquil scene. Suddenly, our little toddler lifted one leg out of the boat and started to go overboard, exclaiming, ‘Time to get out, Daddy!’

”Quickly we caught her and explained, ‘No, dear, it’s not time to get out; we must stay in the boat until it brings us safely back to land.’ Only with considerable persuasion did we succeed in convincing her that leaving the boat early would have  led to disaster. …

“Similarly, we as children of our Heavenly Father may foolishly want to get ‘out of the boat’ before we arrive at destinations He would like us to reach. …

“Blessings bestowpled by God are always predicated upon obedience to law [see D&C 130:20–21]. Applied to my analogy, we are first to get ‘on the boat’ with Him. Then we are to stay with Him. And if we don’t get ‘out of the boat’ before we should, we shall reach His kingdom, wher-e we will be lifted up to eternal life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 96; or Ensign, May 1997, 70). did we succeed in convincing her that leaving the boat early would have led to disaster. …

“Similarly, we as children of our Heavenly Father may foolishly want to get ‘out of the boat’ before we arrive at destinations He would like us to reach. …

“Blessings bestowed by God are always predicated upon obedience to law [see D&C 130:20–21]. Applied to my analogy, we are first to get ‘on the boat’ with Him. Then we are to stay with Him. And if we don’t get ‘out of the boat’ before we should, we shall reach His kingdom, where we will be lifted up to eternal life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 96; or Ensign, May 1997, 70). go overboard, exclaiming, ‘Time to get out, Daddy!’

 

”Quickly we caught her and explained, ‘No, dear, it’s not time to get out; we must stay in the boat until it brings us safely back to land.’ Only with considerable persuasion did we succeed in convincing her that leaving the boat early would have led to disaster. …

 

“Similarly, we as children of our Heavenly Father may foolishly want to get ‘out of the boat’ before we arrive at destinations He would like us to reach. …

 

“Blessings bestowed by God are always predicated upon obedience to law [see D&C 130:20–21]. Applied to my analogy, we are first to get ‘on the boat’ with Him. Then we are to stay with Him. And if we don’t get ‘out of the boat’ before we should, we shall reach His kingdom, where we will be lifted up to eternal life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 96; or Ensign, May 1997, 70).

 

You made the decision to get in the boat when you were baptized. You’re staying in the boat by being obedient. Each of us can stay aboard and reach our final celestial destination by keeping our minds focused on making choices that will lead us to the temple.

 

I closed the lesson with Revelation 22:17. That we will ask seek to have our thirst quenched by Him who offers living water is my prayer.

Then I told the class “I’ve spent a lot of time during the last few weeks telling you what I don’t know. Let me take this opportunity to tell you some of the things I do know.” and I bore my testimony like a blubbering baby starting each bit with “I know”. I am not really a crying person, but end of the year and all — it got to me and I wept.  The kids know I’m not generally that way unless laughing too hard, so I think it kind of got to them, too.

This was a pretty powerful lesson — more so than I thought it would be when I planned it.  I’m glad we ended with a strong finish although I really felt I was floundering here at the end with Revelation.

After my testimony I asked students to write letter to the bishop explaining what they learned in Seminary this year.  Our ward historian sends these to Salt Lake with our ward history, and I explain that to the class.  We get pretty good responses because they know it’s going to be part of our ward history.  Kids wrote diligently to the end of class.  The letters were great.  It was so nice to read what the kids felt they learned from Seminary and to hear they feel their testimonies have grown.  I’ll quote one of my students: “Seminary is a good place.”