The Generation of His Coming Identified- (The Second Comings of the Lord Larry E. Dahl)

Published on Mar 30, 2016
"There may be men that will know within a year-that will have revelation to say within one or two years when the Lord shall appear. I do not know that there is anything against this.

"But the great question is, brethren and sisters, Are we ready?-are we perfect enough for this day? Are we honest enough? and are we filled with integrity enough to be ready for the Saviour and his holy angels? Is there a sufficiency of union? Have we that firmness in our minds that we can stand in their presence-that we can look them in the eye and say that all is right?" (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 8: 49 - 50.)


The Second Comings of the Lord

Larry E. Dahl

Larry E. Dahl is professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

The Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price all testify that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the earth in power and glory at some future date: “Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (D&C 88:92).[1] His coming will cleanse the earth of telestial wickedness and usher in the Millennium, a thousand-year period of peace and righteousness. At that time, “the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory” (Articles of Faith 1:10). The destruction of the wicked at the beginning of the Millennium is called the “end of the world” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:4), as distinguished from the “end of the earth” (D&C 43:31), which will take place at the end of the Millennium, when the earth will be changed again, this time to a celestial glory (see D&C 43:30-33; 88:17-19, 25-26; 130:8-9). The Lord and his prophets have testified of his second coming, or, more accurately, second comings, as well as the events and conditions preceding that great event.
The Savior Answers Two Questions
Just a few days before Gethsemane and his crucifixion, the Savior stood with his disciples on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He told them that the temple would be destroyed, that “there shall not be left here, upon this temple, one stone upon another.” They also understood that he would “come again on the earth, after that he was glorified and crowned on the right hand of God” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:3, 1). A short time later, as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, “the disciples came unto him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews; and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world?” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:4).

We have three scriptural accounts of the Savior’s answers to those questions: Matthew 24 (King James Version of the Bible), Joseph Smith-Matthew (Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of Matthew 24, found in the Pearl of Great Price), and Doctrine and Covenants 45:15-59.

In Matthew 24, King James Version, the questions are addressed, but it is not clear which verses refer to the generation of a.d. 33-70 and which verses tell of events associated with the Lord’s second coming. Hence, it can be confusing trying to decide the meaning of this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (v. 34). Which generation? The generation of a.d. 33 or some later generation? Similarly, in which time period are there to be “wars and rumours of wars” and “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes”? (vv. 6-7). Also, who are those who will be betrayed, hated of all nations, and killed? (vv. 9-10). And why are false Christs mentioned twice? (vv. 4-5, 23-26).

Thankfully, both Joseph Smith-Matthew and Doctrine and Covenants 45 help sort things out. In each of those two accounts a transition verse tells us when the scene changes from the generation of a.d. 33-70 to a description of later generations, especially the generation that will be living immediately prior to the Lord’s second advent. In Joseph Smith-Matthew the transition is made in verse 21, which reads, Behold, these things I have spoken unto you concerning the Jews; and again, after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe him not.” In Doctrine and Covenants 45 the transition occurs in verse 24, which begins, “And this I have told you concerning Jerusalem.” The intent seems clear that what precedes the transition verses in both Joseph Smith-Matthew and Doctrine and Covenants 45 refers to the generation of a.d. 33-70 and what follows speaks of later times. Some conditions are unique to the meridian of time: the temple being destroyed, believers being betrayed and killed, and days being shortened. Other conditions are unique to the last days: the elect being gathered; wars and rumors of wars; famines, pestilences, earthquakes; the gospel being taught in all the world; the sun, moon, and stars phenomena; and the sign of the Son of Man. At least three items are common to both eras: false Christs and false prophets, love waxing cold because iniquity shall abound, and the abomination of desolation. Doctrine and Covenants 45 also contains information that is either not mentioned or not clearly explained in the other two accounts: the scattering of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem, the times of the Gentiles coming in and being fulfilled, disciples standing in holy places, and a believing remnant being gathered at Jerusalem looking for the coming of Christ.

Examining the three accounts of the Savior’s instruction to his disciples concerning his second coming, in light of other pertinent scriptures and prophetic commentary, can help us better understand and prepare for that great day. Let us consider some of the scriptural terms relating to the Second Coming.
The Abomination of Desolation
According to Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:12, 32, “the abomination of desolation” was to happen twice — once in the generation of Jews living in a.d. 33-70 and again in the generation living when the Savior comes in glory. Just what is “the abomination of desolation”?

A number of scriptural references use the words abomination and desolation in connection with each other, referring to the same principle or scenario. “Abomination of desolation” appears in Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; and Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:12, 32. “Desolation of abomination” appears in Doctrine and Covenants 84:117 and 88:85. Daniel adds a few words, rendering the phrase “for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate” (Daniel 9:27) and “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31). Considering all these references and adding other scriptures that speak of “abomination” and/or “desolation,” either by those words or other words that mean the same thing (“wickedness,” “iniquity,” etc., and “destruction,” “desolating scourge,” etc.), help us understand what is meant by the “abomination of desolation,” or the “desolation of abomination,” or the “abomination which maketh desolate.”[2] In clear and simple language these terms meanwickedness brings destruction, or devastation, or desolation.”

This principle is true for both individuals and nations. A Book of Mormon prophet said, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). And a modern prophet, referring to that statement, declared, “It is an absolute formula; your chances of reversing that are zero.”[3] It is true the Lord is patient, allowing time for learning and repentance. But to the ungodly and unrepentant the principle of restoration will be realized (see Alma 41). Sooner or later, “either in life or in death” (D&C 50:8), perhaps not until they are “fully ripe” (2 Nephi 28:16), wicked and rebellious souls will reap the inevitable and unhappy consequences of their willful disobedience. Vivid testimony of that truth is seen in the destruction of the Jews and Jerusalem in a.d. 70. And as the Lord affirmed in 1829 concerning the cleansing of the earth in the last days, Behold, I tell you these things, even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem; and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified (D&C 5:20).

The sense of the scriptural warnings about desolation coming because of abominations in the last days is captured in Doctrine and Covenants 97:22-24: “For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it? The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come; for the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works.”

The covenant people of this dispensation have been called to raise a warning voice by precept and example, inviting all to come unto Christ, setting forth clearly and understandingly the desolation of abomination in the last days (D&C 84:117; see also 88:77-82; Moroni 10:32). The object of that warning and invitation isthat their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come” (D&C 88:85).
The Times of the Gentiles
What is meant by “the times of the Gentiles”? What signals the “coming in” of those times, and when will the times of the Gentiles “be fulfilled”? What is the relationship of the “times of the Gentiles” and the “fulness of the Gentiles”? Because only a few scriptural verses use these terms, let us consider each verse in context and then draw some conclusions.

Joseph Smith Translation Luke 21:19-25, 32.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

Then let them who are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them who are in the midst of it, depart out; and let not them who are in the countries, return to enter into the city.

For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

But woe unto them who are with child, and to them who give suck, in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Now these things he spake unto them, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. And then his disciples asked him, saying, Master, tell us concerning thy coming?

And he answered them, and said, In the generation in which the times of the Gentilesshall be fulfilled, there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, like the sea and the waves roaring. The earth also shall be troubled, and the waters of the great deep. . . .

Verily I say unto you, this generation, the generation when the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,shall not pass away till all be fulfilled (italics added).
Doctrine and Covenants 45:24-31.
And this I have told you concerning Jerusalem; and when that day shall come, shall a remnant be scattered among all nations;

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;

But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.

And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles 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” (italics added).
Now let us consider the scriptural references to the fulness of the Gentiles”:
Romans 11:25. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (italics added).

1 Nephi 15:13. “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed” (italics added).

3 Nephi 16:4. “And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer” (italics added).

Joseph Smith-History 1:41. “He [Moroni] also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here” (italics added).
It seems clear from examining the phrases times of the Gentiles and fulness of the Gentiles in context that they mean the same thing. They are interchangeable. And they both refer to a particular period of time in earth’s history — the time between the restoration of the gospel and the second coming of the Lord. The times (fulness) of the Gentiles come in when a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel (D&C 45:28). Or, as Nephi explained,Then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed (1 Nephi 15:13). The coming forth of the fulness of the gospel began with Joseph Smith’s first vision, in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York, in the spring of 1820. That marked the beginning of the times (fulness) of the Gentiles. The times (fulnessof the Gentiles will be fulfilled in that generation that turns their hearts from [the Savior] because of the precepts of men (D&C 45:29-30), the same generation that shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land (D&C 45:31), which scourge shall not be stayed until the Lord come (D&C 97:23), the same generation that will see signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars (Luke 21:25), the same generation that shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (Luke 21:32). Clearly, that generation is the one that will be living on the earth when the Savior comes to usher in the Millennium.

What is the meaning of Gentile in all of this? “The word gentile means the nations, and eventually came to be used to mean all those not of the house of Israel. . . . As used throughout the scriptures it has a dual meaning, sometimes to designate peoples of non-Israelite lineage, and other times to designate nations that are without the gospel, even though there may be some Israelite blood therein. This latter usage is especially characteristic of the word as used in the Book of Mormon.”[4] Also, a common meaning of Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. This usage was applied in New Testament times, when a distinction was made between Jew and Gentile (Romans 2:10; 3:9), or Jew and Greek (Romans 1:16; Galatians 3:28). Perhaps Jew was used rather than Israel at that time because the Jews were the only Israelites in the Holy Land. The other tribes of Israel had been captured and taken away into the north countries centuries before.

What, then, is the meaning of Gentile in the terms “times of the Gentiles” and “fulness of the Gentiles”? And what does the title page of the Book of Mormon mean in saying that the record of the Nephites would be “hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile”? The Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel came through Joseph Smith. He was of the blood of Israel, a descendant of Joseph through the loins of Ephraim,[5] but he was a cultural-political Gentile because he lived in the United States of America, a nation referred to in the Book of Mormon as a gentile nation. Gentiles would scatter and afflict the descendants of Lehi, but also through them would come the fulness of the gospel, and they would serve as nursing fathers and mothers to the remnants of Lehi as well as other remnants of scattered Israel (see 1 Nephi 13:33-35; 21:15, 22-23; 22:1-12). Thus the gospel came in these last days “by way of the Gentile,” that is, through the Lord’s servants who were “identified with the Gentiles” (D&C 109:60) culturally and politically but whose lineage was of Israel.

During the period designated as the times of the Gentiles, the gospel is to be taken to all the Gentile nations of the earth. In those nations will be found those of the blood of Israel who have been scattered to the four corners of the earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ will ring true to many of them, as sheep recognize the voice of their Master. Also responding to the message of the restored gospel will be those who are not of the lineage of Israel but who become such through covenant adoption. The apostle Paul taught, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).

And what of the Jews during this time? Perhaps the phrases “begin to believe in Christ” and “begin to gather in” best describe their response during the times of the Gentiles. Nephi wrote: “And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people” (2 Nephi 30:7).

The context of that statement is the time just previous to the Millennium. That the Jews will wait until that time to be gathered into the gospel net is consistent with the prophetic declaration that in the last days, the last would be first and the first would be last. In the dispensation of the meridian of time, the gospel was first taken to the Jews. Then the gospel was preached also to the Gentiles, the story of Cornelius illustrating the shift in focus (Acts 10). As both Jew and Gentile converts fell into apostasy and the apostles were killed, the tares among the early Christians choked the wheat,” driving the Church into the wilderness (D&C 86:3). The world was plunged into relative spiritual darkness, which continued for nearly two thousand years.

Now, in the last days, the Church has been called out of the wilderness of darkness (D&C 109:73) to be spread throughout all the world. But that spreading is to take place in an orderly manner. In our day, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the Gentiles, including the blood of Israel scattered among the Gentile nations of the earth, will be afforded the first opportunity to hear and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then the message will be taken to the Jews (Romans 2:9-11; 1 Nephi 13:42; Ether 13:11-12; D&C 90:9; 107:33-35; 133:8). But even during the times of the Gentiles there will be Jews who will be drawn to the gospel. It appears that there will be a remnant of the Jews, believing Jews, gathered in Jerusalem, looking for the Savior to come in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels (D&C 45:44). And two prophets will be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days, at the time of the restoration, . . . to prophesy to the Jews after they are gathered and have built the city of Jerusalem in the land of their fathers (D&C 77:15; see also Revelation 11:1-13).[6]

Perhaps the great conversion of the Jews as a people to Christ and his gospel will await his appearance on the Mount of Olives, one of several appearances collectively referred to as his second coming. That event at the Mount of Olives will take place either during the times of the Gentiles or after that time is fulfilled. What a tender scene will there take place between the Savior and the Jews!
Then shall the Lord set his foot upon this mount, and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake. . . .

And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?

Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.

And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king (D&C 45:48-53).
False Christs And False Prophets Vs. The Very Elect
Through the years I have heard many times the notion that in the last days false Christs and false prophets would deceive the very elect. That is a troublesome idea — can even the very elect really be victimized by false Christs and false prophets? I have been heartened by a careful examination of the Savior’s words on this point. Three scriptural verses deal directly with the question:

Matthew 24:24 (KJV). “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (italics added).

Mark 13:22 (KJV). “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (italics added).

Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:22. “For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant” (italics added).

Joseph Smith-Matthew is Joseph Smith’s translation (JST) of Matthew 24:24 in the King James Version. Joseph Smith Translation Mark 13:25, the inspired version of Mark 13:22, is worded the same as Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:22.

In each case the qualifying phrase if possible or” if it were possible appears. That seems to say that it is not possible to deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:22). The real question, then, seems to be, How can we become one of the very elect? 

Consider the words of some latter-day prophets:

Joseph Smith: Woe, woe be to that man or set of men who lift up their hands against God and His witness in these last days: for they shall deceive almost the very chosen ones! . . .

“. . . False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones.”[7]

Brigham Young: Were your faith concentrated upon the proper object, your confidence unshaken, your lives pure and holy, every one fulfilling the duties of his or her calling . . . you would be filled with the Holy Ghost, and it would be as impossible for any man to deceive and lead you to destruction as for a feather to remain unconsumed in the midst of intense heat.[8]

Joseph F. Smith: “The faithful Latter-day Saint is given the right to know the truth, as God knows it; and no power beneath the celestial kingdom can lead him astray, darken his understanding, becloud his mind or dim his faith or his knowledge of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[9]

Those are reassuring words. We can indeed protect ourselves against being deceived by becoming the Lord’s elect people. And who are they? The Lord revealed thatmine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts (D&C 29:7). Further, he said, Whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods [Aaronic and Melchizedek] of which I have spoken, and the magnifying of their calling . . . become . . . the elect of God (D&C 84:33-34). The Lord promised Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, referring to the Joseph Smith Translation, The scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect; for they [mine own elect] will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, and shall abide the day of my coming; for they shall be purified, even as I am pure (D&C 35:20-21). It is the elect who will be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem (Moses 7:62; Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:27). And it is the elect who, by correctly reading the signs of the times, will “know that he is near, even at the doors (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:39).

These reassurances from the Lord and his prophets about the elect should not, however, cause us to become complacent. We must be constantly vigilant. Joseph Smith taught that “the nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.”[10] The Prophet also said, “The devil will use his greatest efforts to trap the Saints.”[11] To help the Saints avoid the adversary’s traps, the Lord has revealed some important guidelines. Four of them follow. In each case, the Lord himself said he was giving the instruction that his people might not be deceived.

1Treasure up the word of the Lord, the scriptures.
And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:37).

And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?

And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction (1 Nephi 15:23-24).

Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked — 

And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out (Helaman 3:29-30; see also 2 Timothy 3:12-17).
2. Follow the living prophet and apostles.
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his [Joseph Smith, as president of the Church] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory (D&C 21:4-6).

And this ye shall know assuredly — that there is none other [than Joseph Smith] appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me. . . .

And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me (D&C 43:3-6).
These revelations were given in 1830 and 1831, when there were no counselors in a Quorum of the First Presidency and no Quorum of Twelve Apostles to share with the prophet the keys of the kingdom of God. Today those quorums are in place and, always subject to the authority and direction of the president of the Church (see D&C 132:7), they are the channel through which the revelations of heaven, the mind and will of the Lord, are communicated to the Church (see D&C 81:2; 90:6-7; 112:30-32). The path of safety against deception lies in following their counsel and direction.[12]

3. Measure our teachers by gospel standards.
And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations — 

Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.

He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.

And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you.

And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me.

Wherefore, by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens (D&C 52:14-19).
The standard is not whether one prays, or appears contrite, or even uses language that is “meek and edifieth.” The standard is whether the one who teaches us — influences our thoughts and feelings — “obey[s] mine ordinances” and “brings forth fruits . . . according to the revelations and truths” which the Lord has given. Is the teacher living the gospel? Does he or she attend and serve in the Church, pay an honest tithing, attend the temple, live a chaste life, love and serve others, sustain the Lord’s appointed servants, honor marriage and family covenants, and so on? In this same spirit, Alma counseled, “And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments” (Mosiah 23:14).

How unfruitful it seems therefore for someone who has honest questions about the gospel or the Church, and who is concerned about being deceived, to seek answers from enemies of the Church or from dissident, disgruntled members or apostates or even from casual, inactive members. The “pattern” given by the Lord to measure our mentors by the standard of obedience to the Lord’s ordinances or commandments is an important one in a day when many divergent voices vie for our attention and allegiance.

4. Seek earnestly the best gifts.
But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given.

For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts” (D&C 46:7-9).
That ye may not be deceived, seek ye earnestly the best gifts.” The Prophet Joseph Smith said, The greatest, the best, the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer.[13] That standard seems to rule out miracles, tongues, prophecy, and other outwardly manifested gifts. It points to such quiet, inner gifts as testimony, faith, peace, love, and the gift of discerning truth from error, right from wrong, true prophets from false ones. Some specifics in earnestly seeking such gifts include asking God for direction from the Spirit, doing that which the Spirit prompts us to do, walking uprightly before God, considering the end of our salvation, and doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving.

Obviously, if we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we will not be deceived. But the Holy Ghost is not the only source of revelation. The devil and his agents can also reveal things to mortals. “We get our answers from the source of the power we list to obey,” said President Harold B. Lee. “If we’re following the ways of the devil, we’ll get answers from the devil. If we’re keeping the commandments of God, we’ll get our answers from God.”[14] Then, too, at times we may conclude that some notion that has sprung into our minds is revelation from God, when it is not. Hence the wisdom of the Lord’s giving us several guidelines that can act as checks upon one another, all of them together providing a secure foundation against being deceived by the misapplication of one or more of them.Surely, if the scriptures, the living prophets, a mentor who is obeying the ordinances of God, and the Spirit all agree, we are on solid gospel sod. If our lives are in harmony with those four sources, we could certainly be considered as among the Lord’s elect, even the very elect. And we will not be deceived.
As In the Days of Noah
But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man;

For it shall be with them, as it was in the days which were before the flood; for until the day that Noah entered into the ark they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage;

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:41-43).
It appears there are two points of similarity, in addition to the fact of their destruction, between the last generation living before Christ comes and the generation of Noah’s day: they do not expect what is about to happen to them, and they are extremely wicked. Those who do not expect the Second Coming fall into at least two different camps. There are those who are so captured by “surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life,” that they do not make the effort to find out about the Savior and his promised return. Hence, they are caught “unawares” (Luke 21:34). There are others who may know of his promise but do not believe it. They are the willingly ignorant scoffers of the last days who ask, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (2 Peter 3:3-5). Neither group will be prepared. To them the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10).

The second similarity, the level of wickedness, is truly a sad commentary upon both generations. The scriptural record reports that in the days of Noah the wickedness of men had become great in the earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually” (Moses 8:22). Viewing in vision the wickedness of men on the earth in Noah’s day, with the Lord standing beside him, Enoch beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced” (Moses 7:26). The Lord wept at their wickedness and consequent spiritual bondage. Enoch asked, How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity, and have innumerable creations? (Moses 7:29.) The Lord answered: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. . . .

Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren (Moses 7:32-36; italics added).
If mankind were that wicked in the days of Noah and will again be that wicked in the generation that is living when Christ comes, where are we today? Joseph Smith said that his generation of one hundred sixty years ago was as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here to-day, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death.”[15] A generation ago, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Our Savior promised that the days preceding his second coming will be typical of the days of the flood. . . . This comparison is not to be taken figuratively, but literally, as it is given.The world today is corrupt and filled with violence as it was at that earlier day, for now as then, all flesh has corrupted its way upon the earth.”[16]

President Spencer W. Kimball added his witness by quoting in general conference in 1975 a magazine writer’s assessment that “morality in public life has plunged to the lowest level, the lowest level in history.”[17] And what has happened since Joseph Smith’s day, or Joseph Fielding Smith’s, or Spencer W. Kimball’s? Even a casual look at our present world indicates that violence, evil imaginations, and general wickedness continue to escalate at ever-increasing rates. If we are not already there, the direction we are headed will soon drench the world in sin as it was in the days of Noah (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:41).

As the covenant people of the Lord, what are we to do? Is there a way to escape the judgments, that desolation which is the inevitable consequence of such abomination?
The Saints Shall Hardly Escape
When the desolations come in the form of social and political conflict,[18] famines and pestilences,[19] and extensive natural calamities,[20] what will happen to the people of the Lord? The answer to that question is both good news and bad news. The good news is that many of the Saints will be protected by the power of God through their faith and obedience. The bad news is that not all the Saints will be spared. Let us consider a few scriptures and some prophetic commentary on this point. In 1831 the Lord revealed:
I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.

I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;

And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Fatherand consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.

And behold, this is not yet, but by and by” (D&C 63:32-35; italics added).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
I explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape’; still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’[21]
Realizing that there is no absolute guarantee but that there is the promise of many Saints being protected, how can we make the most of the situation? First, we can gather with other Saints. The Savior told his disciples that as the end nears, his elect would be “gathered from the four quarters of the earth (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:27). First is a spiritual gathering from Babylon into the kingdom of God. Then, those thus gathered are instructed to gather geographically to “Zion” and “other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion” (D&C 101:21). The Lord commanded:
Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;

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” (D&C 101:22-23).
The time is soon coming,” said Joseph Smith, “when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes.”[22] Presumably, the stakes are also included as part of the “Zion” to which “every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety;” and it is to be hoped that the Saints in those stakes will be numbered among “the only people that shall not be at war one with another” (D&C 45:68-69).
Stand In Holy Places and Be Not Moved
Repeatedly the Lord has instructed his Saints to “stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” during the days of turmoil, when by the sword and by bloodshed . . . famine, and plague, and earthquake . . . shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations” (D&C 87:8, 6).

Where are the holy places? And what does it mean to stand”? The revelations and the Prophet Joseph Smith designate Zion and her stakes as holy places. [23]President Ezra Taft Benson added the following insight: “Holy places consist of our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, ‘for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth. (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6.)”[24]

To stand and to be not moved mean to be resolute and faithful, firmly grounded, solidly committed to the Lord and his commandments. In Paul’s words:Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18; italics added; see also D&C 27:15-18).

Living among covenant people of the Lord who wear the whole armor of God will do much to allay the social conflict and fear that will characterize the rest of the world. Keeping the Word of Wisdom and other health-related commandments will help the Saints avoid many sicknesses. Keeping the Lord’s law of chastity will keep the Saints from sexually transmitted diseases. Added to these measures is the Lord’s promise that his power and glory will attend his people who gather and are righteous. “Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” (D&C 87:8).
“Upon My House Shall It Begin”
It should be emphasized that there is no promise of protection in simply gathering with the Saints. In fact, gathering with the Saints, claiming loyalty to the kingdom of God while at the same time undermining it, may entail a serious liability. For those who profess the name of the Lord but who refuse to obey him, the Lord has reserved “the heaviest of all cursings” (D&C 41:1). And when it comes time to cleanse the earth in the last days, the Lord has said he will begin within the Church:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.

Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord” (D&C 112:23-26).
As we consider the conditions that will be in the world as the Savior’s return draws near, we need not fear “if [we] are prepared” (D&C 38:30). If we are among those of the Saints who are shielded from many of the judgments, praise the Lord. If, however, we get caught in the cross fire, so to speak, and fall prey to disease, or violence, or natural calamity, we can take courage in the Lord’s assurance that “blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation” (D&C 58:2-3).
The Sign of the Son of Man
Among the last of the signs of his coming, perhaps the very last sign is the sign of the Son of man (Matthew 24:30; see also Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:36; D&C 88:93). Of that sign, Joseph Smith said: Mr. Redding thinks that he has seen the sign of the Son of Man. But I shall use my right, and declare that, notwithstanding Mr. Redding may have seen a wonderful appearance in the clouds one morning about sunrise (which is nothing very uncommon in the winter seasonhe has not seen the sign of the Son of Man, as foretold by Jesus; neither has any man, nor will any man, until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood; for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign; and as the prophet saith, so it must be — ’ Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. (See Amos 3:7.) Therefore, hear this, O earth: The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843, nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready.”[25]

On another occasion the Prophet outlined some things that must happen in preparation for the coming of the Bridegroom:
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.”[26]
What is the sign of the Son of Man? Elder Bruce R. McConkie declared, We do not know.”[27]

What we do know is that it will be among the last of the signs before the Savior comes, that it will come out of the east, that it will be seen by all people together but not be understood by many. The Lord’s servants, however, will understand, for he promised, “Unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man” (D&C 68:11).
The Comings of the Lord
The plural word comings is used purposely, for what we generally refer to as the Lord’s second coming involves several appearances to various groups of people. The scriptures tell of his coming to three groups — the Saints, the Jews, and then the whole world. The sequence of events in these several comings is not always clear, and the same is true about how much time will elapse between some of the events. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:
It is not possible for us, in our present relatively low state of spiritual understanding, to specify the exact chronology of all the events that shall attend the Second Coming. Nearly all of the prophetic word relative to our Lord’s return links various events together without reference to the order of their occurrence. Indeed, the same scriptural language is often used to describe similar events that will take place at different times.[28]
The Lord’s Appearances to the Saints
To his covenant people of the last dispensation the Lord has appeared and will yet appear several times. The dispensation of the fulness of times burst open with the appearance of the Father and the Savior to the young Prophet Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 (Joseph Smith-History 1:7-20). In 1832, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon “saw” and “conversed” with the Savior in heavenly vision (D&C 76:14). Four years later, in 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery “saw the Lord” and heard his voice, “even the voice of Jehovah,” as he appeared in the Kirtland Temple to accept that holy edifice (D&C 110:1, 3). Promised future appearances include a grand council at Adam-ondi-Ahman and his coming to the city of Zion, the New Jerusalem, yet to be built in Independence, Missouri.
The Council at Adam-ondi-Ahman
We know of two special meetings at Adam-ondi-Ahman — one three years before the death of Adam, and another just prior to the second coming of the Lord.

Three years before his death, Adam called his righteous posterity to a special meeting at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman “and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.” The Lord appeared to those gathered, “administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them for-ever” (D&C 107:53, 55). By revelation, Joseph Smith identified Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri, as the location of Adam-ondi-Ahman. That revelation also says that “it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (D&C 116). Explaining something of that event, Joseph Smith taught:
Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.[29]
Interesting details of this second gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman are provided by President Joseph Fielding Smith:
Not many years hence there shall be another gathering of high priests and righteous souls in this same valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. At this gathering Adam, the Ancient of Days, will again be present. . . . There will stand before him those who have held the keys of all dispensations, who shall render up their stewardships to the first Patriarch of the race, who holds the keys of salvation . . .

. . . In this council Christ will take over the reigns of government, officially, on this earth. . . .
Until this grand council is held, Satan shall hold rule in the nations of the earth; but at that time thrones are to be cast down and man’s rule shall come to an end — for it is decreed that the Lord shall make an end of all nations. (D&C 87:6. ) . . .
This council in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman is to be of the greatest importance to this world. At that time there will be a transfer of authority from the usurper and impostor, Lucifer, to the rightful King, Jesus Christ. . . .

When this gathering is held, the world will not know of it; the members of the Church at large will not know of it, yet it shall be preparatory to the coming in the clouds of glory of our Savior Jesus Christ as the Prophet Joseph Smith has said. The world cannot know of it. The Saints cannot know of it — except those who officially shall be called into this council — for it shall precede the coming of Jesus Christ as a thief in the night, unbeknown to all the world.[30]
The Savior’s Appearance in Zion
As to the Savior’s appearance in Zion, the Lord promised that his presence would be in the temple there and “all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (D&C 97:16). Elder Charles W. Penrose, commenting on this promise, wrote: He will come to the Temple prepared for him, and his faithful people will behold his face, hear his voice, and gaze upon his glory. From his own lips they will receive further instructions for the development and beautifying of Zion and for the extension and sure stability of his kingdom.[31]

In more recent times, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the Lord’s appearing to his Saints in Zion:
But to an otherwise gloomy picture there is a bright side — the coming of our Lord in all his glory. His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain.

One appearance will be to the righteous Saints who have gathered to the New Jerusalem here in America. In this place of refuge they will be safe from the wrath of the Lord which will be poured out without measure on all nations[32]
The Savior’s Appearance to the Jews
Earlier in this chapter is the account of the Savior’s appearance to the Jews as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45:48-53. Zechariah 12:14 also makes reference to that event. It will come at a time when “all nations” are gathered “against Jerusalem.” The city is besieged and then taken. The Lord will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is just a few blocks east of the city of Jerusalem, through the Kidron Valley. The Mount of Olives will “cleave in the midst thereof . . . and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4). It is there that the Jews will see the Savior and query him concerning the wounds in his hands and feet. He will tell them that he is their Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, who was rejected and wounded in the house of his friends, their forefathers. “And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king” (D&C 45:53). A long-awaited reconciliation between the Savior and a loved but beleaguered portion of his ancient covenant people, the Jews, will be realized.
The Savior’s Appearance to the World
The Savior’s appearance to the whole world is what usually comes to mind when people speak of the Second Coming.” At that time he will come in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels (D&C 45:44). The curtain of heaven [shall] be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled” (D&C 88:95), “and all flesh shall see [him] together” (D&C 101:23). “The Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly. And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire” (D&C 45:49-50). “And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be . . . caught up to meet him” (D&C 88:96). These Saints will return to the earth with the Savior and “shall reign with [him] on earth” (D&C 43:29), as he ushers in the Millennium.
When Will He Come?
In response to the question of when he will come, the Lord told his disciples, “Of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:40). He also said, “In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:48). Paul wrote that his coming will be “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). It seems obvious that the precise time of his coming has been left deliberately and purposefully obscure (Matthew 24:42-51). Joseph Smith said: 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 would come; and all that say so are false teachers.[33]

The Prophet made that statement in March 1844. He could speak with some confidence because of his own experience with the question some time earlier, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130:14-17:
I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:

Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.

I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.

I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.
If the angels in heaven do not know, and the Prophet of the dispensation of the fulness of times could not find out, it is highly unlikely that any of the rest of us will successfully discover the time of the Lord’s coming. But we are not left totally without some guidelines in the matter. First, we are told that this earth has a temporal existence of seven thousand years, the last one thousand of which will be the Millennium (see D&C 77:6-7; 29:11, 22; 88:101). Further, we learn that the Lord will come “in the beginning of the seventh thousand years” (D&C 77:12). Joseph Smith taught that “the world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself.”[34] If we can rely upon biblical chronology and our calendar system, we are nearing the end of the sixth thousand years and thus approaching the seventh thousand-year period. That transition should take place sometime around the year a.d. 2000. What can we conclude from the statement that the Lord will come in the beginning of the seventh thousand years? Will he come right at the beginning? Not according to Doctrine and Covenants 77:13:
“Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?

A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ (italics added).
This passage assures us there will be a space of time after the opening of the seventh seal wherein the events spoken of in Revelation 9 will be accomplished. And those events will take place before the coming of Christ.” How long will those events take? We are not told. We do know that the events include wars, plagues, idolatry, murders, sexual sin, and thefts. It will be a time when a third part of men are slain, and those who are left refuse to repent (Revelation 9:1-21). We are left to wonder whether this period of time will span a generation, or two, or three. But we are also cautioned not to procrastinate our preparation, for, from the Lord’s perspective, his coming is “nigh at hand” (D&C 35:15), “near, even at the doors” (D&C 110:16).
The second coming of the Lord is a topic that captures the interest of many people, and rightly so, for in one way or another, it affects all of us. What should be our approach? I suggest that we prepare. We need not panic nor become obsessed with focusing upon the promised judgments. We do need to learn what the Lord and his servants have taught concerning it, and as covenant people of the Lord, we are to gather, to live the gospel and share it with others, to be a city on a hill, a candle on a candlestick, the salt of the earth, a royal priesthood, an holy nation. Those tasks should occupy our thoughts, our hearts, and our behavior. In that way we can effectively respond to the Lord’s invitation to “awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (D&C 133:10).

Robert L. Millet, Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Ch.6, Larry P. Dahl, The Second Comings of the Lord.

[1] See the Topical Guide in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, s.v. “Jesus Christ, Second Coming.” In the Pearl of Great Price, see Moses 7 and Articles of Faith 1:10.

[2] See, for example, D&C 1:13-17; 5:18-19; 45:31-33; 84:95-97; 86:4-7; 88:81-94; 112:23-26; 133:2, 10-15, 42-51, 62-74.

[3] L. Tom Perry, in Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 13 Nov. 1989, 3.

[4] LDS Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Gentile,” 679.

[5] See 2 Nephi 3:7; Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-86), 2:269.

[6] Note that the revelation says “to” the Jewish nation, indicating that the two prophets could come from outside the Jewish nation.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written of them: “Who will these witnesses be? We do not know, except that they will be followers of Joseph Smith; they will hold the holy Melchizedek Priesthood; they will be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is reasonable to suppose, knowing how the Lord has always dealt with his people in all ages, that they will be two members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church” (The Millennial Messiah [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982], 390).
At the very least we know that the two prophets will be “raised up” by God and will be authorized and commissioned by him to “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” and have “power to shut the heaven, that it rain not . . . power over the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (Revelation 11:3-6).

[7] Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 365; italics added.

[8] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 7:277.

[9] Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1970), 6.

[10] Joseph Smith, in Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945), 132.

[11] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 161.

[12] Passages of scripture affirming that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve share the keys of the kingdom include D&C 81:2; 90:6-7; 112:30-32.

[13] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 246.

[14] Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 138.

[15] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328.

[16] Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56), 3:20.

[17] Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 7.

[18] See Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:23, 30; D&C 45:26-27, 68-69; 63:33; 88:91.

[19] See D&C 29:15-20; 43:25; 45:31, 33.

[20] See D&C 43:25; 45:33; 87:6; 88:87-90.

[21] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 162-63.

[22] Ibid., 161.

[23] See D&C 101:17-23; Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 71, 161.

[24] Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 115-16.

[25] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 280.

[26] Ibid., 286-87.

[27] McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 418.

[28] Ibid., 635.

[29] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157.

[30] Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), 289-91.

[31] Charles W. Penrose, “The Second Advent,” The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 21, no. 37 (September 1859): 582-83.

[32] Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare Yourselves for the Great Day of the Lord,” BYU Fireside and Devotional Speeches, 1981 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1982), 67.

[33] Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 341.

[34] Ibid., 252.


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