My Favorite Scripture
(Upated from an original post made in 2014)
I have a number of favorite ‘books’ of scripture. Picking just one from each volume of the scriptures (minus the Doctrine and Covenants since it’s really just one ‘book’, and including a Gospel, because they are a category unto themselves) those that top my list are (in no particular order):
- The Book of Isaiah
- The Gospel of St. John
- The Book of Mormon (the book within the book)
- The Book of Moses
- The Book of Revelations
It’s a bit of an ecclectic mix, though I doubt many people would dispute their quality. But why do these particular works make my list? Because they speak to my soul.
Through their literary style as much as their doctrinal content, within them I find some of the sweetest verses of scripture in all of the holy canon. However among all the wonderful words which I have found in them, my favorite scripture of all lies tucked away in an often forgotten chapter at the end of the Book of Revelations.
What generally comes to mind when people think of the Book of Revelations are images of death and destruction. They see it as a book which expounds only the dark judgments which will come upon the wicked in the last days; and they overlook the message of hope which is its central theme. It’s true that there is also pain which is contained therein, and a terribly prophesy of dark days to come, but isn’t that where we all find ourselves at one time in our lives or another? Pain, death, and sadness are all a part of this mortal experience. But in the face of all this darkness, Christ shines forth as a light.
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world.” (Ether 12:4)
I had read the Book of Revelations when I was younger, but the first time that I ever truly studied it came when I was about 1 year into my mission. I had a copy of the the Church’s institute manual and for some reason I cannot now recall I decided to dedicate a fair amount of my personal study time to a deep dive into that daunting book at the end of the New Testament.
As I read I found that it did in fact talk at length about calamities and suffering, both passed and to come. But the Book of Revelations is fundamentally not about all of that. That is not the soul of “The Revelation”. Indeed the message it shared did have much which would frighten and astound, but it was addressed to a people who already knew a great deal about that. For the early Christian church was no stranger to days of trial and tribulation. So while John’s Revelation is indeed filled with frightening imagery and a bleak description of either passed, current, or future events, I have to wonder how frightening the message must have actually been to a people who had alredy lived through the persecutions of a series of Roman emperors and had seen most of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles martyred for their faith, along with many, many, others. Perhaps when reading the dark imagery of Revelations the early Saints saw their own day reflected more than some far off catastophe they had yet to await.
My own day, though filled with its own trials, does not seem nearly dark enough to see it reflected in the pages of those early chapters of Revelations. But as I said, those are not the central message of the book. Because Revelations is primarily a book of hope. Hope for all mankind, regardless of their circumstances and no matter how hard their trials may seem or in fact be.
That is what I found in Revelations. A beacon of hope. The promises of the Savior echoing across the pages to me and telling me what my soul dearly longed to hear. Comfort like only a parent can offer a child. A child far from home and struggling with their own challenges. Ocasionally feeling, so very alone. To one missionary, barely into the decade of his 20s, the words of Revelations 21:4-7 fell upon his heart with the weight of eternity and filled him with peace:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
To this day I turn to those verses whenever I am in need of comfort. Those words came to a people on the brink of distruction and apostasy at the end of the first century A.D., and I can only imagine how profound that message of hope must have sounded to their ears.
But what I can tell you is how sweet those words sounded to one young missionary trying his best to go about his father’s business. And how sweet they still sound to me whenever I need to hear my Father tell me that I will eventually be able to return home and feel His embrace.
And because of [Our Savior] and the restored gospel and the work of living prophets … there is for each of us individually and for all of us collectively, if we stay fixed and faithful in our purpose, a great final moment somewhere when we will stand with the angels “in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for [our] glory are manifest, past, present, and future” (“The Bitter Cup and the Bloody Baptism”, Elder Jeffery R. Holland)
And I echo Elder Holland’s following words and make them my own:
“That is a day for which I dearly long”.
To know through the revelations of God, that no matter what trials and tribulations surround us; no matter how dark the road may seem, “there will be an answer”. For those who endure it well, however imperfectly, the Lord has prepared a great reward, and there will be a place to rest our weary heads when this brief journey comes to an end.