Lesson 21: “Looking Forth for the Great Day of the Lord to Come”
1924: YLMIA, Senior Course of Study
Lesson 19: The Second Coming of Christ
The Transcendent Event. Among the many remarkable promises of God contained in the scriptures, the one event that transcends all others in its magnitude and splendor, is that of the Second Coming of the Lord and Savior to reign personally upon the earth. By the second advent of the Savior is meant, not His appearance to one or to a few individuals, such as his appearance to Sault of Tarsus [Acts 9.], to the boy prophet Joseph Smith in 1820, or to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in the Kirtland temple in 1836 [Doc. and Cov. 110:2-10.]; but the phrase is used to designate in a specific sense the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory, accompanied by an innumerable host of resurrected and glorified beings, to execute judgment upon the earth, and to inaugurate a reign of righteousness.
His Coming Assured. Will Christ really come to the earth again? This is the question that many people are asking today. Is it possible that in this practical age an event of such magnitude, so long promised, will really take place? The answer is, Yes! Whateve4r promises God has ever made to His children have been literally fulfilled, and it is therefore reasonable, as well as scriptural, to look forward with perfect assurance to the glorious consummation of this, the greatest of all events with which mankind shall ever have to do.
Not All Ready to Receive Him. It would be manifestly foolish, however, to suppose that all men will be prepared to accept Christ at His coming. As, at the time of His birth controversies arose and much unbelief, so it will be in regard to His second advent. And as the predictions foretelling that event were fulfilled even to minute detail, so will come to pass the prophecies concerning the Second Coming.
Signs of the Second Coming. The Savior emphasized over and over again, to his unperceiving apostles, the fact of his impending death and resurrection, and he went into great detail in elucidating the events that should immediately precede his second coming.
Matthew records in his 24th chapter wonderful events as foretold by the Savior which should take place in the latter days. These things were enumerated in answer to the direct question, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” That these events were not confined to his first advent, nor to any subsequent period short of his final coming is emphasized in the 30th verse. After reciting the events transpiring in the interim He says “and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven * * * and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The scriptures clearly foretell the apostasy from the true faith that should characterize the latter days. Peter, Paul, James, John, and others not only foretold of the great “falling away” that should take place, but the record shows that the apostasy from the faith had begun even during their ministry. The Savior, Himself, gave it as one of the signs of his Second Coming that as it was in the days of Noah, so should it be in the day of the coming of the Son of man.
These predictions clearly indicate that these wonderful events are not to come as a great cataclysm overwhelming men by their dynamic force and suddenness, but by such easy and graduated stages (except as to the great final events) as to leave men scarcely mindful of their presence. Only those who shall be watching and waiting with their lamps trimmed and oil available shall recognize their import and be ready to meet the Bridegroom at His coming.
Not only do the writings of the bible give promise of the great triumphal Second Coming of the Lord, but prophecies contained in other sacred writings as well as the more direct revelations of the Savior Himself in this day, give absolute assurance to the Latter-day Saints.
To Enoch’s inquiry, recorded in the Pearl of Great Price, “Wilt Thou come to earth again?” the Lord answers fully and completely, and with great definiteness enumerates again, the conditions and events that should immediately precede his final coming. [Moses 7:59-66.]
On March 7, 1831, at Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord gave a most remarkable revelation full of promise and encouragement to His people, wherein, among other things, speaking of the scattered remnants of the house of Israel, he says:
But they shall be gathered again, but they shall remain until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. and in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth His coming until the end of the earth. And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound; And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the Fulness of my Gospel. * * * And then they shall look for me, and behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory, with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. [Doc. and cov. 45:25-28, 44. See also Doc. and Cov. 49:22, 23.]
Is anyone so dull as to fail to see that none of these great occurrences took place at the time of Christ’s first coming? True, the Book of Mormon gives an account of the great cataclysm that shook the American continent at the time of His crucifixion, but the entire tenor of this revelation denotes a universal cataclysmic upheaval such as will change the contour and structure of the entire earth.
In order to make this great event still more specific the account continues:
But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed. [Doc. and Cov. 49:24, 25.]
This promise that “Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains,” was given at a time when the people were living in Kirtland, far removed from the mountains and with no thought of removing to the far-off Rockies.
How beautiful now to contemplate “the house of the Lord reared in the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the everlasting hills,” [Isa. 2:2, 3; Micah 4:1, 2.] while the “outcasts of Israel,” and the “dispersed of Judah” [Isa 11:12] come from the various nations of the earth to worship at its shrine in preparation for the coming of the Lord, in fulfillment of the prophecies!
To the Prophet Joseph Smith came the wonderful revelation of God Himself, together with his Son Jesus Christ followed by the bestowal of the holy priesthood by those holding the keys to the same, with all its gifts, powers, and blessings; with the late visitations of heavenly personages such as Elias, Moses, Elijah, and others, to transmit the keys of their various dispensations for the great final dispensation when “all things shall be gathered together in one.” To him was revealed anew the wonderful organization of the different orders of the Priesthood, each in its place and station; through him the Book of Mormon came forth with its account of the identity of the Lamanites who are shortly to become a delightsome people. Zion has been established in the tops of the mountains from whence the Gospel is being “preached in all the world for a witness.” Zion has become as the “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” (Dan. 2:34, 35.) shortly to roll forth and fill the whole earth.
Coming Nigh at Hand. Can any Latter-day Saint contemplate these remarkable events that have already taken place and are daily transpiring, together with the great calamities that are following each other in such rapid succession in the world, and doubt for one moment that the time of the coming of the Christ is night? Yea, even at the doors!
1. Give some specific evidences of the general indifference to religious matters today.
2. How do men and women really learn to know and appreciate the things of God?
3. Enumerate signs of the Second Coming. (matt. 24:3-30.)
4. Give one or more instances where prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ are being fulfilled.
5. What is meant by ‘Jacob shall flourish in the wilderne4ss?”
6. What attributes of character will be the most conspicuous in those who shall be ready to meet Christ at his coming?
7. Read parley P. Pratt’s hymn beginning “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” and give your personal interpretation of the same.
8. Distinguish between the Kingdom of God, on earth, and the Kingdom of Heaven. (See “Jesus the Christ,” page 788.)
9. What is the Millennium?
10. What does the coming of Christ mean to you?
11. Give five scriptural references to the apostasy from the faith that should precede Christ’s Second Coming.
1934: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 43: The Second Coming of the Lord – Section 133
I. Send Forth the Elders unto the Nations. Note I.
a. The Lord shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations. (Verses 1-3.)
b. The Lord’s people called on to sanctify themselves and come out of Babylon. (Verses 4-7.)
c. The elders to be sent to warn the nations – first the Gentiles and then the Jews. (Verses 8-9.)
d. The Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.
e. The Gentiles to flee to Zion, the Jews to Jerusalem. (Verses 12-15.)
f. The inhabitants of the earth commanded to heed the voice of the Lord. (Verse 16.)
g. The angel hath gone forth in the midst of heaven. (Verse 17.)
II. The Appearing of the Bridegroom. Note 2.
a. The hour of his coming is nigh. (Verse 17.)
b. Christ shall stand upon Mount Zion and on the Mount of Olives and speak from Zion and Jerusalem. (Verses 18-22.)
c. His voice shall break down the mountains. (Verse 22.)
d. The land of Zion and the land of Jerusalem shall be turned back into their own place and the sea be driven back to the north, and the earth be as it was before it was divided. (Verses 22-24.)
e. The Lord shall be in the midst of his people. (Verse 25.)
III. They Who Are in the North Countries Shall Come in Remembrance Before the Lord. Note 3.
a. The Prophecy of Moses in the Kirtland Temple to be fulfilled. (Sec. 110:11.)
b. “Lost” Israel will hear the voice of the Lord and shall no longer stay themselves. (Verses 260289.)
c. They shall bring their rich treasures to the children of Ephraim. (Verses 30-31.)
d. They shall be crowned by the children of Ephraim. (Verses 32-34.)
IV. The Tribe of Judah to Return and be Sanctified. Note 4.
a. Judah to be forgiven and find favor with the Lord. (Verse 35.) See Sec. 45:48-54; Zech. 12:10-13; 13:6-9; 14:3-9.)
b. The Gospel to be preached to every nation. (Verses 36-40.)
V. The Answer of the Lord to the Ungodly. Note 5.
a. The presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire. (Verses 41-44.)
b. Since the beginning of the world men have not heard or seen such great things. (Verses 45-46.)
c. The Lord shall be red in his apparel. (Verses 47-55.)
d. The graves of the Saints shall be opened. (Vers 56.)
e. The Lord sent the fulness of the Gospel by the hands of the weak who have confounded the wise, and the commandments have been given to all flesh. (Verses 57-61.)
f. All who hearken not shall be cut off from among the people. (Verses 62-63.)
g. The Lord’s answer to the ungodly. (Verses 64-74.)
1. Section 133, of the Doctrine and Covenants was received at the close of the conference of November 1, 1831, and two days after the Preface, or section one, was given. It was called “The appendix” because it was received after the revelation approving the selection of revelations to be published, and has occupied the position near the end of the volume in all editions and out of its chronological order. The tenor of this section is very similar to that of section One, in fact is largely a continuation of the same theme. The Lord calls upon the people of the Church to hearken to his word, and warns them that he will suddenly come to his temple and also down to judgment upon all the nations that forget God and upon all the ungodly in the Church. He promises to make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations and the ends of the earth shall see his salvation. Because of this the warning voice is raised calling on the Saints to prepare themselves by gathering upon the land of Zion and to sanctify themselves before the Lord. They are commanded to call their solemn assembly (See Sec. 88:70), and speak often one to another in the name of the Lord that they might be prepared for things to come. The Lord said to the Saints, “the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you; Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” At that time the converts to the Church had the privilege of fleeing to Zion, and this was the word of the Lord to them, and for many years they came with rejoicing. Today the action of the government of the United States has limited immigration, and converts are forced to remain in their own lands. They may, however, come out of Babylon, or the world, into the Church and in their native lands serve the Lord in righteousness and sanctify themselves as he has commanded.
The Elders were commanded that they were to go forth unto the nations and to the islands of the sea, and to send forth unto foreign lands calling upon the Gentiles to repent and receive the Gospel. After the Gospel had gone to the Gentiles it was to be taken to the Jews. The Gentiles and those of the tribes other than Judah were to flee to Zion for safety and the Jews were to flee to Jerusalem, or Palestine, according to the prophetic promises made by the Lord to Israel in ancient days. the inhabitants of the earth were also called upon to heed the warning, for the Lord would call upon them everywhere to repent for the hour of his coming is nigh. The Lord here also bears witness that the words revealed to John have been fulfilled for he has sent forth the angel crying through the midst of heaven saying: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight, for the hour of his coming is nigh.”
2. We are given a somewhat detailed statement of what shall take place when Christ shall come, which is in full harmony with the predictions of the ancient prophets and the Apostles. When the Lamb shall stand upon Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Rev. 14:1-8, 7:1-17). In that day the Redeemer 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 of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, which shall break down the mountains, and the valleys shall not be found. (Isaiah 2:1-5, 40:1-11).
When that day comes great changes shall take place upon the earth. We believe this is a day of restoration, and that the earth is to be renewed. (Tenth Article of Faith; lesson 40). In this renewal we are informed that the Lord “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.” (Gen. 10:25). the notion prevails quite generally that the dividing of the earth in the days of Peleg was a division politically among the people, but from this word of the Lord we gain the idea that the earth itself was divided and that when Christ comes it will again be brought back to the same conditions physically as prevailed before this division took place. The sea is to be driven back into the north. the land is to be brought back as it was originally and the lands of Zion (America) and Jerusalem 9palestine and all the land pertaining unto it) will be restored to their own place as they were in the beginning. The Savior will stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. We have discovered in our study that the wicked, or all things that are corruptible (Section 101:23-25_), will be consumed and therefore will not be permitted to be on the earth when this time comes.
3. They who are in the north countries shall come into remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks and the ice shall flow down at their presence. and an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep. Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, and in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.” In the scattering of Israel the descendants of Jacob were driven into all lands and climes and have mingled among all nations. there is, however, a body of these tribes hidden away, where they are we do not know, but the Lord says they shall come from the North. Isaiah has spoken of them (Ch. 43:15-21), and Jeremiah speaking of their return has said: “Therefore behold, the days come saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.” (Jeremiah 16:14). here the4 Lord says that these people have prophets among them, and Joseph Smith at a conference of the Church held in June, 1831, said: “John the Revelator was then among the ten tribes of Israel who had been led away by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion.” this is the mission given to John portrayed in the symbol of the little book which he was given to eat, in the tenth chapter of Revelation. (See Sec. 77:14).
When these Israelites come to Zion they will bring their rich treasures to the Children of Ephraim, and the children of ephraim will give unto them the blessings of the fulness of the Gospel. This also is according to the predictions. Ephraim received the birthright in Israel and in these last days he stands in his place at the head of the Tribes of Israel. It will be his duty, therefore, to crown the tribes of Israel when they come to Zion. We are also promised that their enemies will be a prey to them when the Lord brings them on their journey. An highway will be thrown up in the midst of the great deep. Barren deserts shall then become fruitful with springs of water, and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
4. The promise is also made to the Jews that they shall be gathered again, after their pain and suffering. They will gather as predicted by Zechariah and by the Lord in a former revelation (Sec. 45) in their unbelief. they will begin to believe in Christ but will not be ready to accept him in his full right as their Deliverer and as the Son of God. (Sed 2 Nephi 30:5-8). In this state they shall gather to Jerusalem and its vicinity. When their enemies come upon them and part of the city is taken, there shall come a great earthquake and the mount of Olives shall cleave in twain forming a valley into which the Jews shall flee for safety. At that time Christ shall appear to them and show them his hands and his feet, and they shall fall down and acknowledge him as their King and Redeemer. (See Lesson 19).
5. When Christ comes in his glory as conqueror and deliverer and to take vengeance upon the ungodly, he shall come as one who has trodden the wine-press alone. it shall be the time of vengeance which is in his heart and all nations shall tremble at his presence. In that day he who has sanctified himself shall be saved, but he who has not shall be cut off from among the people. then the words of Malachi (Ch. 3-4) shall be fulfilled. the wicked shall be as stubble and shall be consumed, but the righteous shall be spared, and their children grow up as “calves of the stall” without sin unto righteousness. The thousand years of peace shall be ushered in and Christ shall reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In that day when the unrighteous question his coming and the authority of his punishment the Lord shall answer them:
“Wherefore, this shall be the answer of the Lord unto them:
In that day when I came unto mine own, no man among you received me, and you were driven out.
When I called again there was none of you to answer; yet my arm was not shortened at all that I could not redeem, neither my power to deliver.
Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea. I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink, and die for thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering.
And this shall ye have of my hand – ye shall lie down in sorrow.
Behold, and lo, there are none to deliver you; for ye obeyed not my voice when I called to you out of the heavens; ye believed not my servants, and when they were sent unto you ye received them not.
Wherefore, they sealed up the testimony and bound up the law, and ye were delivered over unto darkness.
These shall go away unto outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Behold the Lord your God hath spoken it.” Amen. (Verses 65-74.)
1935: Melchizedek Priesthood Bulletin
Lesson 40: the Master’s Second Coming
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel:
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11).
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (matt. 16:27).
“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9;26).
“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the ten Tribes. That Zion will be built upon this continent. That Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” (Articles of Faith – 10).
Prophecies Concerning His Second Coming
The scriptural evidences of the second coming of the Master are so explicit, definite and numerous as to remove doubt concerning this glorious event from the minds of Christians. It is clear from these evidences that the Christ will return to earth in his resurrected immortalized body of flesh and bone.
The prophets who lived before the meridian of time said comparatively little concerning the second advent of the Master. A few, however, were permitted to see in vision the working of the divine plan to the end of time.
“And Enoch beheld the son of Man ascend up unto the Father: and he called unto the Lord, saying: Wilt thou not come again upon the earth? Forasmuch as thou art god, and I know thee, and thou hast sworn unto me, and commanded me that I should ask in the name of thine Only Begotten, thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not myself, but through thine own grace; wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth.
And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah. * * *
And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years.” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses, 7:59-60; 65).
Speaking to the three Nephites, Christ said:
“Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.
And ye shall never endure the pains of death, but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 28:7-8).
He is to come in a literal sense – to manifest himself in person in the last days. he is to dwell among his saints, to reign as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
The Time of His Coming
When shall he come? All speculation concerning the precise time of the Lord’s appearance was forestalled by his plain declaration: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt. 24:26).
“Like a thief in the night” will the coming of the day of the Lord be unto the wicked.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13).
Modern revelation teaches the same impressive lesson.
“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom:
“For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly. Even so. Amen.” (D. and C. 33:17-18).
The Prophet Joseph Smith referring to this said:
“I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, ‘My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.’ I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether he will make his appearance or I shall go where he is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written – the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. * * * The coming of the Son of Man never will be – never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out, which judgments are commenced, Paul says, ‘Ye are the children of light and not of darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night.’ It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to his servants the prophets.” (Joseph Smith’s Teachings, pp. 85-6).
“Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that he would come. Go and read the scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour he will come; and all that say so are false teachers.” (Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 87).
Signs of His Coming
While the specific time of his second advent has never been revealed the signs which were to precede his second coming were clearly revealed.
“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass: but the end is not by and by.
“Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
“And then shall they see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. * * *
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
“And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
“When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” * * *
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:9-10; 26-31; 36).
Modern revelation confirms all that is set forth in ancient scripture concerning the signs which were to precede his second coming and at the same time seeks to impress the world with the nearness of that glorious yet dreadful day.
“Ye look and behold the fig trees, and ye see them with your eyes, and ye say when they begin to shoot forth, and their leaves are yet tender, that summer is now nigh at hand;
“Even so it shall be in that day when they shall see all these things, then shall they know that the hour is nigh.
“And it shall come to pass that he who feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of man;
“And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath;
“And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke;
“And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven:
“And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place,
“And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory, with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off.” (D. and C. 45:37-44).
Questions and Problems
1. Discuss the Tenth article of Faith.
2. Explain why the prophets who lived before the Meridian of Time might have comparatively little to say concerning the second advent of the Master.
3. What promise was made concerning the Master’s second coming 91) to Enoch, (2) to the three Nephites?
4. What is said concerning the time of his coming?
5. Name some of the signs which are to precede his second coming.
6. What are the saints admonished to do in preparation of that day? (Luke 21:36).
7. Describe the manner of his coming. (D. and C. 45:44).
8. Name some of the evidences which you see about us that indicate the nearness of his coming.
1935: Melchizedek Priesthood Bulletin
Lesson 41: The Master’s Reign Upon the Earth
“But with righteousness shall he (Christ) judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
“And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
“And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:4-9).
His Reign Upon the Earth
The scriptures abound with declarations that the Lord will reign for 1000 years among his people. “In this prospective ministration among his gathered saints Christ is to be at once their God and their King. His government is to be that of a perfect theocracy: the law of righteousness will be the code, and the control shall be administered under one authority, undisputed because undisputable.” (Articles of Faith, p. 3874).
The coming of the Lord in the last days, accompanied by his holy angels, is to mark the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven upon the earth.
“The Kingdom of God is the Church established by divine authority upon the earth; this institution asserts no claim to temporal rule over nations; its sceptre of power is that of the Holy Priesthood, to be used in the preaching of the gospel and in administering its ordinances for the salvation of mankind, living and dead. The Kingdom of heaven is the divinely ordained system of government and dominion in all matters temporal and spiritual; this will be established on earth only when its rightful Head, the King of kings, Jesus the Christ, comes to reign. His administration will be one of order, operated through the agency of his commissioned representatives invested with the holy priesthood. When Christ appears in his glory, and not before, will be realized a complete fulfilment of the supplication: ‘thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’
“The Kingdom of God has been established among men to prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven which shall come; and in the blessed reign of Christ the King the two be made one.” (Jesus the Christ, Talmage, pp. 788-9).
Speaking of this period of a thousand years of peace when Christ shall reign personally upon the earth, the Lord declared through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.
“And every corruptible thing, both of man, or of the beasts of the field, or of the fowls of the heavens, or of the fish of the sea, that dwell upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed;
“And also that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth.
“And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face.
“And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him,
“And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man,
“And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.
“And in that day an infant shall not die until he is old, and his life shall be as the age of a tree,
“And when he dies he shall not sleep, (that is to say in the earth0 but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.
“Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things –
“Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew – things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof –
“Things most precious – things that are above, and things that are beneath – things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.” (D. and c. 101:23-34).
Conditions During the Millennium
Speaking of the Millennium Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“When Christ comes the saints who are on the earth will be quickened and caught up to meet him. This does not mean that those who are living in mortality at that time will be changed and pass through the resurrection, for mortals must remain on the earth until after the thousand years are ended. A change, nevertheless, will come over all who remain on the earth; they will be quickened so that they will not be subject unto death until they are old. Men shall die when they are one hundred years of age, and the change shall be made suddenly to the immortal state. Graves will not be made during this thousand years, and Satan shall have no power to tempt any man. Children shall grow up ‘as calves of the stall’ unto righteousness, that is, without sin or the temptations which are so prevalent today. Even the animal kingdom shall experience a great change, for the enmity of beasts shall disappear, as we have already stated, and ‘they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters covers the sea.’” (The Way to Perfection, p. 298).
The Earth to Be Cleansed
“When the Millennium is ushered it he earth is to pass through a cleansing. this will not be the final cleansing when the earth shall be consumed and pass away to be renewed again a celestial globe, but it will be the end of righteousness. All who have lived the telestial law – that is those who are unclean, ‘they who are liars, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie’ and who suffer the wrath of God on earth and ‘suffer the vengeance of eternal fire’ – shall be swept off the face of the earth. All of these will be cast down to hell where they shall remain until Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected hsi work. During the thousand years all of these will be in this torment of mind, having ample time to reflect over their misdeeds and receive training in obedience to law, so that they may be prepared to come forth in the resurrection at the end of the world.”
During this period of a thousand years of peace and righteousness there will be two capitals on earth – the New Jerusalem on this continent and the Old Jerusalem in Palestine.
Not all people will belong to the Church but they will be subservient to the government of God. Resurrected beings will mingle with mortals. Death will be a peaceful transition.
Questions and Problems
1. What is the meaning of Isaiah 11:9?
2. Give the meaning of the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven.
3. Make a brief analysis of D. and c. 101:23-34.
4. Indicate some of the changes which will come to those whoa re living in mortality during the Millennium. (The Way to Perfection, p. 298).
5. Contrast the conditions that will prevail with those who belong to the telestial and the celestial glories during the Millennium.
6. We are told that during the Millennium there will be two capitals on the earth – the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem. Why will this be necessary?
1947: Good Tidings to All People, by Carl F. Eyring
Lesson 40: Prepared and Trustworthy
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13.)
Ominous clouds were hanging heavy; even the apostles could feel the coming of the storm. The opposition of the scribes and Pharisees was mounting; in a few days it would break in fury, and Jesus would be crucified. He had mourned over the holy city, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (matt. 23:37.) He had predicted the destruction of the temple: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matt. 24:2.) he had forecast false prophets, wars, famines, sorrow, and persecution. He had told of His second coming: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ (matt. 24:30.) He had urged His apostles to be watchful, and to read the signs of the times: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; So likewise ye, when he shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (matt. 24:32, 33.) he had warned them against setting a definite date for his coming: “But of that day and hour knowest no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt. 24:36.) And now He gave them the parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, to help them remember His last great admonition, “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13.)
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids. “then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” (Matt. 25:1-13.) It was a Jewish wedding. The matrimonial procedure, in Jesus’ time, involved three phases: the engagement, the betrothal, and finally the wedding ceremony.
The engagement, often a love match but oftener an agreement between parents, was carried out by the fathers of the couple.
The betrothal – in early days it served also as the wedding – was a mutual promise made before witnesses, and the event took place in the house of the woman’s parents. The future son-in-law agreed to make a certain settlement, money, land, or goods, to the woman’s father. He also presented a gift to his future wife, and he received one form his future father-in-law. The betrothal was so binding that something akin to a divorcement was required to annul it; and if the man died, the woman would be considered a widow. The betrothal lasted a year, and then ended in the ceremony described in the parable.
At the close of the year, on some fixed date, the bridegroom, accompanied by close friends, went to the bride’s home to bring her to his own or to his father’s house, where the marriage feast was to be held. The bridegroom and bride, his friends and her bridesmaids and friends formed the bridal procession – the official bringing home of the bride. At the bridegroom’s house all was in readiness, and as soon as word was received that the procession was near, all went out to greet the bridegroom and his bride.
These events always took place in the evening. Lamps were carried in the procession and also by members of the bridegroom’s household, as they sallied forth to meet the bridal party. These lamps, perhaps lighted wicks in a small cup of oil placed on the end of a staff, contained little oil and would soon burn out if not replenished from oil vessels carried by each possessor of a lamp.
In the parable it seems that ten virgins had been selected from among the bridegroom’s household and friends of the family. It was their duty to go forth with lighted lamps to meet the bridegroom. The bride’s homecoming should be impressive; these bridesmaids must not fail in their important assignment!
It was dark; the lamps were lighted; and the bridal procession could be expected any minute. But for some reason the bridal party was delayed, and the ten virgins and others of the bridegroom’s household had long to wait. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and had extra oil, but five were foolish and had none. they had assumed that the event was at hand and that the small amount of oil already in their lamps would last through the ceremony.
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” all of the lamps burned out. At midnight the cry rang out, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye to meet him.” The five wise bridesmaids hurriedly filled their lamps, but the five foolish ones had no oil. they called to their wise companions, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps have gone out.” the wise five, recognizing their responsibility to the bridegroom and fearing that if they shared their oil none might have enough for a good showing, said, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom came, and they that were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast. The door was closed, and a guard was set to keep out the uninvited ones who followed the procession. When the foolish virgins arrived late, they found it impossible to pass the guard. They had missed the feast because they had not been prepared. Jesus closes the parable with the admonition: “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh.”
The Parable Interpreted. “the Bridegroom is the Lord Jesus; the marriage feast symbolizes His coming in glory, to receive unto Himself the Church on earth as His bride. the virgins typify those who profess a belief in Christ (members of our church) and who, therefore, confidently expect to be included among the blessed participants at the feast. The lighted lamp, which each of the maidens carried, is the outward profession of Christian belief and practise; and in the oil reserves of the wiser ones we may see the spiritual strength and abundance which diligence and devotion in God’s service alone can insure. … The application of the parable and its wealth of splendid suggestion are summarized in a masterly manner by the Lord’s impressive adjuration: “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” [Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 578, 579.
A Modern Statement Concerning the Parable. In 1831 Jesus again spoke, but through the mouth of the Prophet Joseph, as follows: “And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived – verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. And the earth shall be given unto them for their inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver.” [Doctrine and Covenants, 45:56-59.]
More than Idle Waiting. Clearly the watching for the coming of the Lord is to be more than idle waiting. Our lamps must be trimmed, and the supply of oil must be adequate – we must be prepared. We should busy ourselves developing the Christlike character up to the very hour of His arrival, neither expecting as we work that His coming will be delayed, nor hoping that His coming will be speeded up as we lose courage to go forward with the difficult tasks which we think the Lord is bound soon to do with miraculous power.
The field for doing good is ripe, ready for a harvest. No one need sit idly by waiting for a better day. Jesus expects us to be watchful and diligent in His kingdom, striving for a better world without discouragement until He comes to reign on earth. Even then He will appreciate our help.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we have the grave responsibility of establishing a nucleus of persons ready for the coming of the Lord. before he comes in person, he must come in spirit in the lives of many; otherwise, He would not find members fit for His kingdom with a Christ-like character. We follow the spirit of the teachings of Jesus best when we busy ourselves with the living of the gospel and the teaching of it to others, rather than with idle speculation and debate on the time of His coming. for after all, the uncertainty of Christ’s coming has been, and will continue to be, one of the potent forces of Christianity in stimulating good living.
Therefore, instead of idly waiting, let us be about our Father’s business. Let us help to build a heaven on earth, a kingdom worthy of our Lord. In such a kingdom men will be treated as persons rather than as animals or machines; service will be rendered rather than required; justice given rather than demanded; obedience extended rather than enforced; gifts offered rather than exacted – in short, love, not might, will reign on the earth. Religious life, then, is more than idle waiting of defeated souls for a better day when Jesus shall come; it is an active life of personal righteousness and service – which, if extended to include the whole of mankind, would surely hasten the millennial reign.
Parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids: Matthew 25:1-13.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
THE LORD’S SECOND COMING (Section 88, verses 62 to 126)
The last part of Section 88 (verses 62-126) outlines again the Lord’s promise of his second coming and gives a detailed picture of the conditions and events which will take place at that time. This section f the revelation begins with advice to us, his people, to call upon him while he is near, and promises us that if we will seek him, we shall find him, and if we will knock, our prayers will be answered, for “whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.” (Verse 64.) We are also reminded to remember the great and last promise which he gave unto his disciples that in the last days he would return to his people. Therefore, “Cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” (Verse 69.)
The elders f this last dispensation are told that they are the first laborers in the last kingdom and that they must continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth, teaching one another the doctrine of the kingdom. (Verses 70, 76, 77.)
In these last days the Lord has set his hand again to redeem his people and has sent out his disciples “to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” (Verse 81.) The time is not far off when Jesus will return to reign over his kingdom, for “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.” (Verse 87.) In verse 88, the Lord tells us that after we have borne our testimonies of the restoration of the gospel to the world, and after all have had an opportunity of hearing and receiving the light, then will come the testimony of earthquakes and thunderings and pestilence and tempests and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. In these verses the Lord outlines the terrible conditions that will exist during the last days when “men’s hearts shall fail them and fear shall come upon all the people.” (Verse 91.) But he promises when all would seem to be destroyed an angel shall fly through the midst of heaven crying unto the inhabitants to prepare themselves for God’s judgment and to prepare themselves to meet Jesus when he comes, “and immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven and all people shall see it together.” (Verse 93.)
With clear detail, the revelation goes on to describe how the Lord will come, how the Saints shall be caught up to meet him, and how those who sleep in their graves, Christ’s first fruits, shall be brought to him in the midst of a pillar of heaven. In verses 99-102, the second and third resurrections are described and the Lord outlines what will happen to the sons of perdition, “those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.” (Verse 102.)
This section of the revelation explains more clearly the meaning of the description given in the gospel of St. John regarding the last days and the Lord’s second coming, and adds particularly to our information regarding how the secret acts of men, the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty works of God shall be revealed. (Verse 109.) (For a still clearer understanding of the events of these times, see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 77, which is a revelation given to Joseph Smith as an explanation of part of the revelation of St. John.)
This revelation also gives us considerable light regarding conditions which will exist during the Millennium when mortals and immortals will mingle on the earth and those who have been resurrected will instruct and direct those still in mortal life so that the Lord’s great work for the dead may be accomplished. During this period, Satan shall be bound and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years. (Verse 110.) But, as we know, after this period, he shall be loosed for a little season and he will gather his armies and the final great struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil will take place. Satan and his hosts will be destroyed forever “that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all.” (Verse 114.)
All these wonderful instructions are given to the members of the Church in these last days to strengthen their faith and their testimonies and t reassure them that the Lord rules his kingdom and surely his great works shall come to pass. Those who are inclined to be weak are warned to seek the counsel of those who are strong and to teach one another words of wisdom, to seek out of the best books words of wisdom, and to seek learning even by study and also by faith. (Verse 118.) All of us are warned to “cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early that ye may not be weary … that your bodies and minds may be invigorated.” Above all things, we must clothe ourselves with a bond of charity and pray always that we may not faint until the Lord comes. (Verses 124-126.) Thes4e are truly words of wisdom, and if we will follow them diligently and conscientiously, we will be prepared to meet our Lord and Saviour when he comes, for as he has promised, he will come quickly and receive his children unto himself. (Verse 126.)
One of the most important ways outlined by the Lord whereby his people could be uplifted in their testimonies and prepared for his coming was through the establishment of a school of the prophets. In verses 127 to the end of the revelation the Prophet is given specific instruction son how this school should be set up and operated. During the early history of the church, this school, which was established by the brethren in accordance with the Lord’s instructions, played an important part in the training for leadership in the Church and in the preparation of missionaries who went forth to preach the gospel.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
THE MILLENNIUM (Section 101)
The History of the Church records the following: “December 12. – an express arrived at Liberty, from Van Buren county, with information that those families, which had fled from Jackson County, and located there, were about to be driven from that county, after building their houses and carting their winter’s store of provisions, grain, etc., forty or fifty miles. Several families are already fleeing from thence. The contaminating influence of the Jackson county mob, is predominant in this new county of Van Buren, the whole population of which is estimated at about thirty or forty families. The destruction of crops, household furniture, and clothing, is very great, and much of their stock is lost. The main body of the Church is now in Clay county, where the people are as kind and accommodating as could reasonably be expected. The continued threats of death to individuals of the Church, if they make their appearance in Jackson county, prevent the most of them, even at this day, from returning to that county, to secure personal property, which they were obliged to leave in their flight.” (DHC, Vol. I, pp. 456, 457.)
December 16, 1833, the Prophet Joseph received the following revelation in Kirtland, Ohio. (D&C 101.) There are 101 verses in this section but this lesson is based upon a study of verses 22 to 80. Verses 22 to 40 are compact with meaning and shed so much light upon the Second Coming of the Savior, the resurrection, and the Millennium that they should be read and pondered with care. No other scripture states more clearly what will take place then and the conditions which will obtain during those glorious events than does this revelation. We can only know these things as our heavenly Father reveals them to us.
Christ’s Second Coming
Verses 22 to 25 refer to the second coming of the Son of Man. The Saints were admonished to gather together and to establish themselves in holy places so that they would be prepared for his appearance. The tenth Article of Faith reads: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” Many things have already transpired which seem to impress one with the fact that the coming of the Lord is near. The gospel has been restored, the church organized, the priesthood conferred upon man, the keys and authorities of the various dispensations have been restored, and the gospel is being preached in all the world as a witness. Temples have been built and ordinance work for the dead and for the living has been performed. All of these things are indicative of the coming of our Lord. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:42-44.)
The coming of the Son of Man marks the beginning of the Millennium. In this revelation we are told of certain wonderful features that will characterize that period. (1) The enmity between man and beasts shall cease as well as enmity between men. (2) Prayers will be heard and answered. (3) Satan will have no power to tempt men. (4) There will be no sorrow because there is no death. (5) The light of revelation will shine in its fulness, and (6) The martyrs will partake of this glory.
Joseph Fielding Smith speaks with clearness upon this subject: “When Christ comes the saints who are on the earth will be quickened and caught up to meet him. This does not mean that those who are living in mortality at that time will be changed and pass through the resurrection, for mortals must remain on the earth until after the thousand years are ended. A change, nevertheless, will come over all who remain on the earth; they will be quickened so that they will not be subject unto death until they are old. Men shall die when they are one hundred years of age, and the change shall be made suddenly to the immortal state. Graves will not be made during this thousand years, and Satan shall have no power to tempt any man. Children shall grow up as ‘calves of the stall’ unto righteousness, that is, without sin or the temptations which are so prevalent today. Even the animal kingdom shall experience a great change, for the enmity of beasts shall disappear, as we have already stated, and ‘they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’ – Isaiah 11:9.” (WP, p. 298.)
Quoting verses 28-31: “And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; and when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.”
“At the time of His glorious advent, Christ will be accompanied by the hosts of righteous ones who have already passed from earth; and saints who are still alive on earth are to be quickened and caught up to meet Him, then to descend with Him as partakers of His glory. With Him too will come Enoch and his band of the pure in heart; and a union will be effected with the kingdom of God, or that part of the kingdom of heaven previously established as the Church of Jesus Christ on earth; and the Kingdom on earth will be one with that in heaven. Then will be realized a fulfilment of the Lord’s own prayer, given as a pattern to all who pray: ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’” (AF, p. 367.)
“For I will reveal Myself from heaven with power and glory, with all the hosts thereof that dwell in righteousness, with men on earth for a thousand years and the wicked shall not stand.”
Work for the Dead
“During the millennial period conditions will be propitious for righteousness; Satan’s power will be restrained; and men, relieved to some degree from temptation, will be mostly zealous in the service of their reigning Lord. Nevertheless, sin will not be wholly abolished, nor will death be banished; though children will live to reach maturity in the flesh, and then may be changed to a condition of immortality in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’ Both mortal and immortal beings will tenant the earth, and communion with heavenly powers will be common. The Latter-day Saints believe that during the millennial era they will be privileged to continue the vicarious work for the dead, which constitutes so important and so characteristic a feature of their duty, and that the facilities for direct communication with the heavens will enable them to carry on their labor of love without hindrance. When the thousand years have passed Satan will again be permitted to assert his power, and those who are not then numbered among the pure in heart will yield to his influence. But the liberty thus recovered by ‘the prince of the power of the air’ will be of short duration; his final doom will speedily follow, and with him will go to the punishment that is everlasting, all who are his. Then the earth will pass to its celestial condition and become a fit abode for the glorified sons and daughters of our God.” (AF, pp. 370, 371.)
“Among the most ancient revelations regarding the Millennium is that given to Enoch: ‘And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years.’ (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:65.)
“It is evident, then, that in speaking of the Millennium we have to consider a definite period with important events marking its beginning and its close, and conditions of unusual blessedness extending throughout. It will be a sabbatical era – a thousand years of peace. … concerning the state of peace, prosperity, and duration of human life, characteristic of that period, we read [in Isaiah 65:20-25]: “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” (AF, pp. 369, 370.)
Let us assemble some of the revealed facts concerning the Millennium:
1. The gathering of Israel and the establishment of an earthly Zion are to be preparatory to His coming.
2. His advent to be marked by a destruction of the wicked.
3. By the inauguration of an era of peace.
4. During this period Christ, with the souls of martyrs and other righteous men, shall reign, but not dwell upon the earth.
5. Satan will be bound.
6. Certain of the dead shall not live again until a thousand years.
7. Enmity between man and beast shall cease.
8. Love shall rule.
9. Work for the dead shall be greatly accelerated.
10. Mortal people will do the work for the dead by the assistance of resurrected persons who will furnish them the information.
It Is Not Right That Any Man Should Be in Bondage to Another
Those who had been scattered and robbed by their enemies were instructed to seek redress for the wrongs they had suffered, to proceed in a lawful manner to secure their constitutional rights and to maintain these just and holy principles through which all men may exercise their moral agency – “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” “It is not right,” declares the Almighty, “that any man should be in bondage one to another.” (Verses 78 and 79.)
Then follows that divine declaration which must place Joseph Smith, the instrument through which it was declared, among the great statesmen and patriots of America. It reads: “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (Verse 80.)
Following this is a recital of events most dreadful which shall precede His coming and the resurrection. Who will have part in this resurrection? We quote page 389, Articles of Faith: “And the company of the righteous will include all who have lived faithfully according to the laws of God as made known to them; children who have died in their innocence; and even the just among the heathen nations who have lived in comparative darkness while groping for light, and who have died in ignorance. This doctrine is made plain by modern revelation: ‘And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection.’ The Millennium then is to be inaugurated by a glorious deliverance of the just from the power of death; and of this company of the redeemed it is written: ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the fist resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.’”
The vision of the final scene is thus described by John: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12, 13.) This stage marks the completion of the work of the resurrection. Scriptures clearly indicate that the resurrection will be universal. The dead will come forth in order, each one as he is prepared for either the first or for the final stage, yet everyone who has tabernacled in the flesh will again receive his body and be judged.
1950: The Gospel Message, by William E. Berrett
Lessons 41-42: The Second Coming of Christ
The Latter-day Saints are firm believers in the scriptures and accept literally the prophecies concerning the personal reign of Christ upon the earth in the latter days. The Church point of view is well expressed by James E. Talmage.
First and Second Advents
“The facts of our Lord’s birth in the flesh, of His thirty and three years of life among mortals, of His ministry, suffering and death, are accepted as attested history. Not alone do the records regarded distinctively by the Christian world as sacred and inspired bear testimony concerning these facts, but the history written by man, and in contrast called profane, is in general harmony with the biblical account. Even those who reject the doctrine of Christ’s divinity and refuse to accept Him as their Redeemer admit the historical facts of His marvelous life and acknowledge the incalculable effect of His precepts and example upon the human family.
“In the ‘meridian of time’ Christ was born to earth, amid humble surroundings – in obscurity, indeed, to all except the faithful few who had been watching for the promised event. His coming had been heralded through the previous centuries, even from the dawn of human existence; prophets of God had borne record of the great events that were to characterize His advent. Every important incident connected with His birth, life, death, triumphal resurrection, and ultimate glory as King, Lord, and God, had been predicted, and even circumstantial details were given with exactness. Judah and Israel had been told to prepare for the coming of the Anointed One, yet when he came to His own they received Him not. Persecuted and despised, he trod the thorny path of duty, ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’;p and, finally, condemned by His people, who clamored to an alien power for authority to execute their own unjust sentence upon their Lord. he went to death by the torturing crucifixion prescribed for malefactors.
“To human judgment it may have appeared that the mission of Jesus Christ had been nullified, that His work had failed, and that the powers of darkness had triumphed. Blind, deaf, and hard of heart were those who refused to see, hear, and comprehend the purport of the Savior’s mission. Similarly benighted are they who reject the prophetic evidence of His second coming, and who fail to read the signs of the times, which declare the event, at once glorious and terrible, to be near at hand. Both before and after his death Christ prophesied of His appointed return to earth; and his faithful followers are today waiting and watching for the signs of the great fulfilment. The heavens are flaming with those signals, and the burden of inspired teaching is again heard – Repent, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Talmage, Articles of Faith, 1924 Edition, pp. 356, 357.)
Christ’s Second Coming Predicted
The Old Testament contains relatively little concerning the second coming of Christ as compared with the numerous prophecies of His first coming, but the passages found indicate an early knowledge that there were to be two comings. In the Book of Job, we read:
“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25.)
The Psalmist sang:
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” (Psalms 50:3.)
“Say to them that are of a fearful heart: Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.” (Isa. 35:4. Read also 35:5-10.)
“Behold the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” (Ibid., 40:10.)
Many passages indicate a knowledge that the messiah to come was to be a ruler, a King of Kings. Such passages as the following occur:
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.
“Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalms 24:7-8.)
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, the Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
“But the Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jeremiah 23:5-8.)
The above passages are easily interpreted in the light of latter-day revelation on the subject. They are not uniformly interpreted by the world. The Jews of the time of Christ failed to distinguish between the prophecies of Christ’s first coming in the flesh, and that of the second coming in His glory to reign over His people. Consequently Jesus did not appear to them to answer the requirements of the Messiah, for He refused the political leadership offered Him, and far from restoring either Judah or Israel, permitted his enemies to seize Him and bring Him to a violent death. Even Matthew’s gospel, designed to convince the Jews that Jesus was the expected messiah by pointing out the fulfilment of many predictions, did not convince the more orthodox Jews, who had merged the prophecies of the first and the second coming into one.
Those who followed Jesus came to believe in a Second Coming because of His words to them. In the words of James E. Talmage:
“Jesus taught the disciples that His mission in the flesh was to be of short duration, and that he would come again to earth, for we find them inquiring in this wise: “tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ (Matt. 24:3. See Talmage, Jesus the Christ, chap. 32.)
In reply, our Lord detailed many of the signs of the latter times, the last and greatest of which He thus stated: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’ (Matt. 24:14.)
With great clearness, Jesus spoke of the worldliness in which the children of men had continued to indulge, even to the eve of the deluge, and on the day of the fiery destruction which befell the Cities of the Plains, and added: “Even thus shall it be in the day when the son of Man is revealed.’ (Luke 17:26-30; see also Talmage, Jesus the Christ, chap. 32. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 358-359.
Later in the account of the Master, we read:
“And they [the disciples] asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? And what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
“And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: Go ye not therefore after them.
“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified; for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
“Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
“And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefor in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
“For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. …
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
“And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:7-28; see also Mark 13:14-26; rev. 6:12-17; Pearl of Great Price, pp. 43-45. For more detailed treatment see Talmage, Jesus the Christ, chap. 32.)
At the time of the ascension of the Master, the apostles watched Him ascend into the heavens. And as they watched they became aware of the presence of two visitors dressed in white, who addressed them thus:
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11. See I Thess. 4:16.)
Because of such passages as the above, Christians believe in a second coming of Jesus. However, as centuries have passed and his appearance as a ruler has not occurred, there has developed a growing belief in many Christian circles that His second coming is merely figurative; that he will not come in the flesh, but only His teaching will be revived in the hearts of men. (An allusion to the parable of the Ten Virgins: see Matt. 25:1-13.)
The Latter-day Saints do not share in that point of view but look confidently forward to an actual appearance in the flesh of the Lord and Master. Nor is the appearance of Christ to Joseph Smith in 1820 or the appearance to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1836, considered a fulfilment of the event, but the event is yet future, although declared near at hand. the latter-day Saint point of view is the result of many revelations to this people upon the subject. Concerning such modern revelation James E. Talmage writes:
“The world of modern revelation is no less sure regarding the appointed advent of the Redeemer. To servants, specially commissioned, instructions were given to this effect: ‘Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom – For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly.” (Doc. and Cov. 33:17-18.) And further: ‘Cry repentance unto a crooked and perverse generation, preparing the way of the Lord for his second coming. for behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, the time is soon at hand that I shall come in a cloud with power and great glory.’ (Ibid., 34:6, 7.)
“In a revelation to the people of the Church, March 7, 1831, the Lord speaks of the signs of His coming, and counsels diligence: ‘Ye look and behold the fig-trees, and ye see them with your eyes, and ye say when they begin to shoot forth, and their leaves are yet tender, that summer is now nigh at hand; Even so it shall be in that day when they shall see all these things, then shall they know that the hour is nigh. And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath. And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke. And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven. And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place; and then … they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory, with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. (Ibid., 45:37-44; see also paragraphs 74-75.)
“A distinctive characteristic of the revelations given in the present dispensation, regarding the second coming of our Lord, is the emphatic and oft-repeated declaration that the event is near at hand. (See the numerous references in connection with Doc. and Cov. 1:12; see jesus the Christ, chapter 42.) The call is, ‘Prepare ye, prepare ye, for that which is to come; for the Lord is nigh.’ instead of the cry of one man in the wilderness of Judea, the voice of thousands is heard authoritatively warning the nations and inviting them to repent and flee to Zion for safety. The fig tree is rapidly putting forth its leaves; the signs in heaven and earth are increasing; the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near.
“The precise time of Christ’s coming has not been made known to man. By learning to comprehend the signs of the times, by watching the development of the work of God among the nations, and by noting the rapid fulfilment of significant prophecies, we may perceive the progressive evidence of the approaching even: ‘But the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes. (Doc. and Cov. 49:7.) His coming will be a surprise to those who have ignored His warnings, and who have failed to watch. ‘As a thief in the night (II Peter 3:10; I Thess. 5:2.) will be the coming of the day of the Lord unto the wicked.’Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.’ (Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 361-363. Matt. 25:13; see also 24:42, 44; Mark 13:33, 35; Luke 12:40; see Jesus the Christ, chapter 42.)
The period of Christ’s personal reign upon the earth will be the millennium spoken of in scripture, a period when the purpose of the present earth shall reach fruition. (The student is referred to the following for information upon the millennium; talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 368-371; Jesus the Christ, chapter 42. For information concerning the changes that will occur after the Millennium, read Joseph Fielding Smith,The Way to Perfection, pp. 348-355.)
1971-72: Relief Society Spiritual Living Lessons
Lesson 14: Last Things
Reading assignment: Pearl of Great Price, Writings of Joseph Smith 1
To assist the Latter-day Saint woman to appreciate the fact that the prophets have given sufficient information about the future so that preparation may be made for those prophesied events.
Prophets saw the time when the Lord’s work for man would culminate in a period of righteousness, when war would end, sorrow would vanish, and they with all the redeemed might enjoy the eternities with their Savior and God. Enoch was blessed with a panoramic vision of the world from Adam to the coming of Jesus Christ in great glory to dwell with the righteous for a thousand years. (Moses 7:65-067.)
The disciples of Christ in the meridian dispensation sought to understand these pertinent events: (1) the destruction of the temple about which the Savior had spoken (Joseph Smith, 1:2); (2) the scattering of the Jews; and (3) the signs of Jesus’ second coming and the destruction of the wicked. (Joseph Smith 1:1-4.)
Uppermost in the disciples’ minds was the question, When shall these events occur? Information available to them has come to us in the words of the Savior spoken on the Mount of Olives, and found in the Pearl of Great Price. (Joseph Smith 1.) In addition, a modern revelation gives information relative to the Savior’s teachings to his disciples of old; in fact, this revelation clarifies and extends the Savior’s teachings about the last days. (D&C 45:15-75.)
Summary of the Mount of Olives Teachings
A major difference between the New Testament and modern accounts of the sermon is the demarcation between the dispensation of the apostles and the dispensation of the fulness of times. the disciples were anxious to learn of the destruction of the Jews, as well as of the imminence of the coming of the Savior. Following the prediction of troubled times for the people of Jerusalem, the Lord mentioned a time” after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem,” indicating the future period of the last days. (Joseph Smith 1:21.) There followed a recital of events characterizing the signs that would herald his second coming. Among the prominent signs were: (1) the rise of false teachers, (2) wickedness, (3) wars and natural calamities, (4) the gathering of Israel, (5) the gospel preached in all the world, and (6) the sign of the Son of Man.
The Dispensation of the Meridian of Time
Of this dispensation calamitous times were prophesied. that period (the meridian of time) was spoken of by Daniel the prophet as the abomination of desolation or the destruction of Jerusalem. (Dan. 9;25-27; Joseph Smith 1:12.) When that period arrived, the faithful members of the church were to flee from Jerusalem so that they might be saved from destruction. Luke reports that the savior told his disciples that when they saw Jerusalem encompassed by armies they should know that the desolation was nigh and that they should flee (Luke 21:20-23.) The Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem and for some unknown reason this permitted the saints to flee as earlier commanded. Upon the return of the Roman army the desolation predicted was fulfilled in the destruction of the temple and the misery and death of more than a million and a half Jews. (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, pp. 259-61.)
What lesson may be learned from the warning and fulfillment of the prophecy regarding the destruction of the Jews in Jerusalem?
The Second Coming of Christ
The Savior taught his disciples that many would follow false christs and false prophets, being deceived though they were the covenant people. (Joseph Smith 1:21-22.) Two of the erroneous teachings today are that there will not be a Second Coming, and that if there is, the Lord will delay his coming until the world becomes righteous. Though some “Christians” accept these false teachings, latter-day Saints, with their restored knowledge of the second coming of Christ, have no reason to fall into such beliefs.
Latter-day Saints realize that the second coming of the Savior consists of three general appearances, and since the first appearance is in progress, the reality of the other two appearances is assured. His first appearance was to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. he appeared again to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple on April 3, 186. (D&C 110:1-10.) Other visits to certain Saints since that day are a matter of record. (The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants2:382-84.) It is to be expected that this phase of the second coming of Christ will continue until his coming in power and glory, one of these times being the great convocation prophesied at Adam-ondi-Ahman. (D&C 116; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157.)
The second appearance of the Savior will be to the Jewish people assembled in the Holy Land when they are besieged by many nations. Two witnesses will be raised up unto the Jewish nation to assist the Jews. A great earthquake dividing the Mount of Olives will provide some safety for the beleaguered people. They shall then be rescued by the Savior, and their redemption will follow. (Zech. 14:1-9; Rev. 11:1-13; D&C 77:15.)
The final appearance of the Christ will be in great power and glory when the wicked will be consumed. (D&C 101:23, 24; 133-63, 64; 48:74, 75.)
The Savior’s recorded teachings concerning the last days under study in this lesson do not specify the specific false teachings except false christs or saviors. When judged by the doctrine in the Pearl of Great Price, the following teachings in the world are false: (1) additional scripture to the Bible is unnecessary; therefore, man should not expect new revelation; (2) the three members of the godhead are not separate, and God is only a spirit; (3) all things, including man, animal, and plant, did not have a premortal existence; 94) the gospel of Jesus Christ was not known to Adam and his posterity because it had its origin during Jesus’ ministry; (5) Satan is not a personal spirit being, and the Old Testament people accepted belief in Satan only a few hundred years before Christ; (67) the fall of Adam and the atonement of Jesus Christ were not preordained events in the plan of salvation, and Adam was a mythological character; therefore, Jesus Christ was a teacher but not the Savior; and (7) the first principles – faith and repentance – and ordinances – baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost – do not have a relationship to the atonement of Jesus Christ, and therefore are not necessary. (See lessons 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8, Relief Society Magazine, July-Dec. 1970.)
From the beginning the violation of God’s commandments was widespread. (Moses 5:51-57.) Since then Satan has had a firm hold upon the inhabitants of the earth. There have been, among some people, periods when righteousness has prevailed. (Moses 7:17-21; 4 Ne. 10-35.) Good and honorable people have graced the earth, but wickedness – the breaking of the commandments – has also been present. 9Moses 8:20-30.) One evaluation of the present world was given by he First Presidency, Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay, as follows:
These days through which we are now passing present many problems which are new to all of us but are particularly strange to the younger generation – those who have little background of experience and whose knowledge is limited and immature. Infidelity, atheism, unchastity, intemperance, civil corruption, greed, avarice, ambition – personal, political, national – are more powerful today than at any other time in the lives of us now living. They are pulling and thrusting to almost at will into new fields of action, new lines of thought. They are shaking the faith, undermining the morals, polluting the lives of the people. they have thrown many so far off balance in all of their activities, economic, social, political, and religious, that they stand in real danger of falling. Satan is making war against all the wisdom that has come to men through their ages of experience. … Without their knowing it, the people are being urged down paths that lead only to destruction. Satan never before had so firm a grip on this generation as he has now. (Conference Report, October 1942, p. 13.)
The First Presidency gave the foregoing evaluation thirty years ago. How have conditions changed since then?
Rumors of Wars and Natural Calamities
Conflicts, hate, envy, greed, and power-seeking have always existed. There are two facts existent today that verify the truth that wars and rumors of wars characterize this generation: (1) increased hostility compared with the period before the American Civil War, the beginning of modern wars, and (2) communication facilities that bring these events to the public immediately.
Inasmuch as the Lord revealed that peace would be taken from the earth (D&C 1:35), how do you feel about conditions in the world today and the fulfillment of Doctrine and Covenants 87:6?
Again, the world is cognizant of famine, pestilence, and earthquakes because of the current communication systems. The Savior referred to these conditions in our dispensation in his sermon to his disciples of old, and he has repeated these predictions in this dispensation. (Joseph Smith 1:29; D&C 29:14-20; 88:87-91.) It is estimated that if all earthquakes could be detected, the number would be between one and ten million each year. (See John H. Hodgson, Earthquakes and Earth Structure [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964], p. 110.)
The Gathering of Israel
We have learned that unto Abraham and his posterity through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) the Lord gave custody of the priesthood and the gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days. 9Lesson 9.)
It was planned that the Lord would gather his chosen Israel together in the last dispensation. Unto Ephraim would be given the responsibility to direct the work of gathering in our day. (D&C 34; 35:25, 26; 86:8-10; 133:30.) A responsibility of the Latter-day Saints (the descendants of Joseph – Ephraim and Manasseh) is to become saviors to Israel and lights unto the gentiles. (D&C 86:11.)
The growth of The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a witness that a part of Israel is being gathered. The return of the Jewish people to Israel is another evidence that the predictions of the prophets are being fulfilled. The acceptance of the gospel by the Lamanites is still another testimony of fulfilled prophecy. One of the remaining segments of Israel to receive the fulness of blessings is the lost tribes. Their return from the land of the north is best described in a modern revelation. (D&C 133:20-26.)
What evidence exists that Latter-day Saints are of the house of Israel?
The Gospel Preached
A proper understanding of the prophecy that the gospel will be preached in all the world before the end comes is found in the Pearl of Great price. The end referred to is the destruction of the wicked, and not the end of the world. (Joseph Smith 1:4, 31; see also Matt. 24:3, 14.) The Latter-day Saint missionary system, radio, television, and the printed word are ways in which the gospel is being preached to the world.
The Sign of the Son of Man
Reference is made by the Savior to the sign of the Son of Man, which will precede his second coming. (Matt. 24:30; Joseph Smith 1:36.) In a modern revelation he has also referred to the signs of the coming of the Son of Man as wonders in the heavens. (D&C 45:39, 40.) it was the Prophet Joseph Smith who gave us information about this great sign in the heavens. In reference to one who claimed that the sign had been shown, he said that it would not be given until after the sun was darkened and the moon bathed in blood, and that people will refer to it as a planet or comet. (HC 5:337.)
Ancient prophets saw the last days when the culmination of God’s work for man would be completed. Latter-day Scriptures affirm these earlier predictions. Not only is this true, but a clarification of events preceding the second coming of Christ is known. The Lord expects Latter-day Saints, his covenant people, to prepare for these future events so that they may not be overtaken by them in the day of desolation. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” is only one of the admonitions given for this generation of Saints. (D&C 38:30.) As in the days before the fall of Jerusalem, sufficient warning is also given today to the Saints that they may escape the desolation.
Preparatory to the second coming of Christ will be many calamities, one of which is war and turmoil among the nations. One may declare with assurance that peace has been taken from the earth, and it will not be restored until the Savior comes and destroys the wicked. The wicked who die in these calamitous times will go to the spirit prison to repent and await the resurrection. As it was in the time of warning in the days of Enoch and of Noah, so it shall be in these days. (Moses 6:29; 7:38.)
The day will come when the times of the gentiles are fulfilled in that the gospel will be taken from them, and the following prophetic statements now in process will be fulfilled:
And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
But my disciples shall stand in holy places; and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.
And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.
And now, when I the Lord had spoken these words unto my disciples, they were troubled. (D&C 45:31-34.)
It is because of these and other prophesied events for our day that President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
Read what is written in our scriptures. Read what he [the Lord] himself has said. When he comes, he will cleanse this earth from all its wickedness, and speaking of the Church, he has said that he would send his angels and they would gather out of his kingdom, which is the Church, all things that offend. Then we are going to have a new earth, a new heaven. The earth will be renewed for a thousand years, and there shall be peace, and Christ, whose right it is, shall reign. AFte4rwards will come the death of the earth, its resurrection, its glorification, as the abode of the righteous or they who belong to the celestial kingdom, and they only shall dwell upon the face of it. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Take Heed to Yourselves! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], p. 167.)