To the Saints of the Utah Salt Lake Area

Published on Sep 23, 2016
An address given by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a broadcast to the 220 stakes in the Utah Salt Lake Area on September 11, 2016.

Last Days Events – What is Next? | LDS Insights

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Most of us members are looking forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when He comes in glory, right? And we have seen many lists that precede the event and observe how many items have been checked off. As members of His church there are only 2 major events left for us to really be concerned about though there will still be many items on the list. The one event is the building of the New Jerusalem. THAT will be a very significant event to never underestimate! The whole city will be sacred as a temple, even more so. The glory of God will rest there and the Savior will walk the streets. No unclean person will enter in, unlike what sometimes happens in the temples today. 

The other significant event takes place before the New Jerusalem is built and sets the stage for it. Coincidentally the event is prophesied of many times in the scriptures and is of great significance to us members, even greater than most of the items on the Last Days Events list, yet it is relatively unknown. Perhaps it is time to bring this event to light since we are nearing it very quickly. The event that I’m talking about is the cleansing of the church and the land of wickedness. Yes, the church too. We would like to think that we are pleasing Heavenly Father with all that we are doing, and many of those things do please Him, but the problem is that the focus and love for Him has been waning, as also the desire to repent, change, and truly come to Him with full purpose of heart. We are too caught up in Babylon and in partaking of that which Babylon offers to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. Rather than relying on the Lord for wisdom and understanding we rely on others and hope that they were inspired in the learning. Many of us don’t know how to correctly identify the Spirit and even lack the willpower to repent and change whatever needs changed so that the Spirit’s presence is always felt. As Elder Bednar put it in the April 2006 General Conference:

“Sometimes as Latter-Day Saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event.”

When that is the case the Gift of the Holy Ghost was never realized as commanded at the time of confirmation. Even having the Spirit as an occasional visitor, such as only felt when attending the temple or attending church, is a far cry from Heavenly Father’s expectation – and our covenant – to have the Spirit with us ALL THE TIME. It is also displeasing to Heavenly Father that after we have failed to strive to have the Spirit 24/7, contrary to our covenants, we then suppose that God’s expectation for us has been lowered since He continues to bless us when blessings are due. We fail to realize that the true blessings that awaited were cut short because we didn’t uphold on our end as expected and agreed. We are satisfied with the partial blessings and fa to realize what we missed out on. Instead we become satisfied that what we are receiving is all that God had to offer. 

The failure to have a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit is the weightiest issue that is the cause for the cleansing within the church. The cleansing isn’t going to be by another ‘ra, ra, ra’ feel-good revival. No, this one is going to be different. It will be strange. This one will be everything that we thought wouldn’t happen because we are His covenant people. Like the scripture says:

"For the Lord shall rise up[…], he shall be wroth […], that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” (Isaiah 28:21)

We would like to think that the verse is referring to ‘those wicked ones out there’ but it isn’t – the verse is referring to the covenant members of His church. The angel that took Nephi away in vision referred to the event as a “marvelous work” that will kick everyone off the fence so that they will have to choose whether they will be wicked or righteous:

"For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other-either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.” (1 Nephi 14:7)

Assuming that the verse is referring to the Book of Mormon coming forth lends to the reason why this upcoming event is largely unknown: because the scriptures are not understood by the Spirit but rather assumed. Witnesses and understanding are not being sought directly from God but rather through other sources. That is a witness that the person has not taken the Spirit as their guide and has not turned to God with full purpose of heart. That lends to the reason why God will fulfill that verse. 

So what will the cleansing consist of? It will consist of making conditions so rough that the people will not be able to remain on the fence. We’re not talking about another Great Depression, we’re talking about utter devastation. Jesus said that we will never have heard what will be done:

"And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.” (3 Nephi 21:21)

It will be so bad that it will be a vexation to only understand what is happening here:

"From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.” (Isaiah 28:19)

Members want to believe that God will protect them because they are of His covenant people but He already warned that He will clean His own house first:

"25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; 
26 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 112:25-26)

How do we know His name? By knowing the Spirit. How do we know the Spirit? By being diligent enough, repenting enough, and obedient enough to have His Spirit with us all the time. 

How do we blaspheme His name in the midst of His house? Remember the sacrament that is administered in His house? The covenant on the bread is the greater covenant. We covenant to take upon us His name. That means giving due diligence in repenting and striving to be like Him. If we do that then we will ALWAYS have His Spirit with us. If the Spirit is not always with us then it is a witness to us from God that we are not fulfilling our covenant. If we don’t take immediate actions to change then we have willfully broken the covenant. If we take the bread again come the next Sunday but failed to make a plan on how to keep the Spirit with us 24/7 then deep inside we know that we aren’t trying to fulfill the covenant and that is to blaspheme His name. Covenants are a VERY serious ordeal!

When the Lord proceeds to cleanse the church the land will also be cleansed in preparation for the New Jerusalem. We learn that the cleansing will consist of defined events where we will be hit with a 1-2-3-4 punch that will bring us to our knees or bring death:

"That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.” (Joel 1:4)

The first issue that will begin the chain of events will be a food issue wherein it will be costly to obtain food (Revelation 6:6). From there expect riots, even to the magnitude of civil war but where there is no defined sides. There will also be plagues and pestilence. Then there will be an invasion by foreign troops that will place us under bondage. Us? The Lord’s people? Yes. Nephi saw our day and was forbidden to write about it (1 Nephi 14:25). However Nephi wanted to warn us if what he saw so he painstakingly copied the most relevant Isaiah prophecies and urged us to ‘liken them to ourself’:

"And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men.” (2 Nephi 11:8)

In the prophecies we discover that the Lord’s covenant people – our church – turned wicked (2 Nephi 13-14) which resulted in being cleansed through desolation and war. The result for those that make it through will be holiness:

"And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem- ” (2 Nephi 14:3)

Just in case it hasn’t been remembered, the D&C designates the covenant people of this church as Zion. Yes, those verses that lead up to this one are referring to us. And in those verses the war is mentioned:

"Thy men shall fall by the sword and thy mighty in the war.” (2 Nephi 13:25)

Later on we read that the war will encompass a whole nation. That nation will be a “hypocritical nation”:

"5 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is their indignation. 
6 I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (2 Nephi 20:5-6)

The “Assyrian” is symbolic for a militarily powerful nation. Think of it as Russia combined with China. The “hypocritical nation” is none other than the nation that claims to trust God yet does the opposite: the USA. We further learn in that chapter that it is the nation where Zion is found and, again, that is the USA. To the faithful members God gives this advice:

"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God of Hosts: O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian; he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.” (2 Nephi 20:24)

This verse is peculiarly insightful in that we are told that the manner of the cleansing will be as it was with Egypt. So if we want to learn more about it we can read the Isaiah prophecies regarding Egypt to see what will happen to the USA. Isaiah 19 is very particular in that regard. In it we are told that the unity of America will fail (verse 1). And:

"And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)

Kingdom = state

That is civil war. We will be at war but unlike the civil war it won’t be north verses south but rather each person against the other. Chapter 19 tells is that it is after the civil war begins that the invasion takes place: 

"And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 19:4)

We read that all businesses will fail (verses 8-10) so plan on there being no employment and no stores to buy from. Those that are in the big cities will discover what it is meant to have a single woe:

“Wo unto them that join house to house, till there can be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!” (2 Nephi 15:8)

How will one survive that has no food stored up as counseled by church leaders for decades? Rely on the government? Little to no food there. Rely on the church? SURPRISE! That’s gone, too! Why? How? It’s also in prophecy. 

“Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.” (3 Nephi 21:11)

Notice that the Gentiles will be “cut off from among my people who are of the covenant”. Are not members of the covenant? Read your Patriarchal Blessing if you’re not sure. So there will be a separation but how will it take place? More reading in the chapter speaks of the destruction that will take place:

“14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots; 
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; 
16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; 
17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands; 
18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.” (3 Nephi 21:14-18)

The cities will be destroyed… why would the Lord leave the faithful members in the cities when they are destroyed? He won’t. He will remove the righteous out of the cities then the cities will be destroyed. Isn’t that how the Book of Mormon began? What is one clue that a person is righteous? They have obeyed the counsel to get a year supply and a 3 month supply of food storage. When they are removed from the cities they will need to rely on that food storage. As Jesus said:

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:28)
The Lord will seclude the righteous in the wilderness while the destruction takes place:

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” (Revelation 12:6)

How will one survive without food? Will it be supposed that God will send manna to reward the unfaithfulness? Having a food storage is one witness of faithfulness. 

At the end of the cleansing God will send a man for redemption purposes:

"And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.” (Isaiah 19:20)

Many will automatically jump to the conclusion that it will be the prophet of the church and in this they are witnessing that they are failing to look to God for understanding. That is failing to take the Spirit as one’s guide and why the cleansing is necessary. But as for that deliverer he is in prophecy many times and will be like a modern Enoch. 

It is immediately following the cleansing that construction on the New Jerusalem will begin. Then the second gathering takes place along with the conversion of the Jews. Then the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the clouds with glory will take place. But as for now, get ready for the cleansing because it is closing in on us


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