One thing that always fascinated me about the show was the way people would drive around in their space cars. They could stop on a dime if they needed to, which they often did because floating out in space were all these traffic signs. Some would turn red or green just like stoplights today; others advertised products.
The signs found in this chapter are similar to the signs in the The Jetsons. They don't sit out in space and tell us whether to stop or go, but they give us information that will keep us safe as we travel toward the Second Coming. Remember that one of the purposes of signs is to show us that Christ's coming is near and that we should be looking forward to it. So let's start with the signs in heaven. What kind of signs are we talking about?
Think for a moment about the days of the prophet Joshua. He was the prophet after Moses was taken into heaven. Joshua did some incredible things. He conquered Jericho and did all kinds of cool stuff. One of the coolest was when he commanded the sun and the moon to stand still (Joshua 10:12-14). That's the kind of sign we're talking about--the universe around us doing interesting and unusual things.
"The episode of Joshua commanding the sun and moon to stand still was insignificant compared to the stellar upsets that will accompany the second advent of the Savior, when stars will be hurled from their places," Elder Mark E. Peterson wrote. "Some power will darken the sun and make the moon refuse to give its light" (Joshua: Man of Faith, 58-59).
God is so powerful that he can cause many great things to happen. If he wants to hold the earth still, he can do so. If he wants to turn the moon blood red or stop the sun from shining on the earth, he can do that too. He can even cause stars to fall from their places. It's all a wonderful display of his cosmic power, for he is the creator of the universe.
The scriptures tell us that before Christ comes we will see such wonders in the heavens and on the earth. We will behold "blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke." The sun "shall be darkened," the moon will "be turned into blood," and the stars will "fall from heaven" (D&C 45:41-42).
Here are some other interesting thoughts about the signs in the heavens. President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
One wonders if we are not now seeing some of the signs in heaven-- not all, for undoubtedly some of them will be among the heavenly bodies, such as the moon and the sun, the meteors and comets, but in speaking of the heavens, reference is made to that part which surrounds the earth and which belongs to it. It is in the atmosphere where many of the signs are to be given. Do we not see airships of various kinds traveling through the heavens daily? Have we not had signs in the earth and through the earth with the radio, railroad trains, automobiles, submarines, and satellites, and in many other ways? There are yet to be great signs: the heavens are to be shaken, the sign of the Son of Man is to be given, and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn." (In Conference Report, April 1966, 13, 15)To you and me some of these things, such as airplanes, seem commonplace. But they are signs that we are getting closer to the coming of Christ. No other age in the history of the world has had what we have, and we should see technological wonders as signs and as prophecies being fulfilled.
What about signs in the earth? Whenever I think of these kinds of signs, I see other miracles that we view as normal things. Cars, televisions,computers, and all kinds of other ordinary things are miracles. All of these signs are proof that the Second Coming is closer than we think.
One of the greatest resources we have regarding signs on the earth is found in the Book of Mormon. Shortly before Jesus visited the Nephites, many things occurred that are a type of the events that will happen before he returns. These include thunderings and lightnings. The Book of Mormon says the thunder was so loud that it seemed as if the earth was going to crack in half. Cool! In fact the earth did tremble and shake, and the land was broken up. After the destruction had ended, the people didn't even recognize much of the land because it had changed so much.
The storms and the tornadoes, or what the Book of Mormon calls "whirlwinds," were incredible. The people had never seen or heard of anything like them before. Mountains were laid low, valleys were raised, and cities were sunk. It was the ultimate thrill ride! Highways were broken up, and there was no way to get around. That would be interesting to experience today! We might just find out how interesting.
"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" (D&C 88:87).
The Lord's presence will be so great that "the sun shall hide his face in shame, and the moon shall withhold its light, and the stars shall be hurled from their places" (D&C 133:49). Concerning these prophecies, President Wilford Woodruff said: "These things are about to come to pass upon the heads of the present generation, notwithstanding they are not looking for it, neither do they believe it. Yet their unbelief will not make the truth of God of none effect. The signs are appearing in the heavens and on the earth, and all things indicate the fulfillment of the Prophets. . . . Why should not God reveal His secrets unto His servants the Prophets, that the Saints might be led in paths of safety, and escape those evils which are about to engulf a whole generation in ruin?" (History of the Church, 6:27).
President Gordon B. Hinckley has added that the vision of Joel is being fulfilled in which he declared, "And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" ("Living in the Fulness of Times," Ensign, November 2001, 4; Joel 2:30-31).
May we look for the signs all around us that testify that Christ lives and that his coming is near.