The chapter is one of the great “apocalyptic” revelations given to certain prophets in history. An apocalyptic revelation is by definition “an opening of the veil” (from Greek apokalypsis) that uncovers the Lord’s plan for his children. Prophets who receive apocalyptic revelations see the end from the beginning. They see the universe that God has created. They see the grand family council in heaven that opened the way for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. They see the central role of the Savior. In short, an apocalyptic revelation is instruction in the purposes of life. We can each experience something like it in the temple.
Like Abraham, other prophets have recorded apocalyptic visions, including Enoch, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John, whose book of Revelation is known in most languages as “the Apocalypse.”1 (Intriguingly, many other “apocalypses” are found in apocryphal sources, such as the Apocalypses of Adam, Noah, Peter, Paul, and Mark. An ancient and little-known Apocalypse of Abraham bears interesting resemblances to the Book of Abraham.2) To Joseph Smith came the apocalyptic revelation in D&C 76. D&C 138 might also be termed an apocalyptic revelation given to President Joseph F. Smith.