Another way is to study the scriptures about how the Lord works with the prophets to teach the people. Each of the standard works explains different aspects of this process.
An interesting example is D&C 77, online here. This is a series of questions and answers. I think of it as a model for how we can ask the Lord for understanding of the scriptures when we read them. It’s also an example of how prophetic leaders can help answer questions we may have as we listen to General Conference.
One verse in particular stands out.
6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
I looked up this verse in the scriptural index to General Conference and found the passage I highlighted in bold has never been quoted, but it was paraphrased three times.
Orson Pratt said, “We know that it was not six thousand years from the creation to the birth of Christ. How do we know this? God has told us in new revelation that this earth is destined to continue its temporal existence for seven thousand years, and that at the commencement of the seventh thousand, he will cause seven angels to sound their trumpets.”
Orson F. Whitney said, “But not only was John shown what should occur after the time in which he was living, but he was shown what had already taken place; not as the imperfect records of profane history have given it to us, but he saw it typified in its fullness. The events of the seven thousand years of the world’s temporal existence passed before him, like the scenes of a mighty panorama. If you will read the book which he left, you will there find portrayed symbolically each of the seven thousand years.”
Sterling W. Will said, “Then in programming the world’s mortal or temporal existence, God gave it a time allotment of 7,000 years (see D&C 77:6-7), 1,000 years to represent each of the seven days of creation. The first 4,000 years began at the fall of Adam and ended at the birth of Christ. To this have been added the 1967 years that have passed since that time, so that on the divine calendar we are now living in the year of the world 1967, which is the late Saturday evening of the world’s history. This divine time table as well as God’s signs of the times indicate that the earth’s Sabbath, which is the seventh 1,000-year period, is about to be ushered in.”
I’ll discuss this more in upcoming blog posts.
Source: Letter VII