INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this lesson is to give some instruction in recognizing the signs of Christ's coming, and to give encouragement about being prepared when it happens, for, as Elder Maxwell said,
If you sense that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, why not do so now? For in the coming of that collective confession, it will mean much less to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up! (Neal A. Maxwell, “Why Not Now?” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 13)
If we learn to kneel now, if will be much easier and more enjoyable then.
1. THE SAVIOR WILL RETURN TO THE EARTH IN POWER AND GREAT GLORY.
Powerful men and women have walked the earth, people who have, by the domination of their personalities and sometimes by the strength of their armies, changed the way the planet functions. You know many of the names: Isaiah and Jeremiah and Moses and Hitler and Genghis Kahn. Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Eve. But there has never been a being on this planet who will change the way this planet is operated like the Being who will appear at the Second Coming. Consider some of the scriptural descriptions of his coming and his impact on the affairs of this world that are given in the Doctrine and Covenants:
• The proud and wicked will be as stubble (D&C 29:9)
• Christ will be revealed with power and great glory (D&C 29:11)
• All the earth shall quake (D&C 29:13)
• The righteous dead will come forth (D&C 29:13)
• The righteous will abide the day and be purified (D&C 35:21)
• People will see Christ and know that he is (D&C 38:8)
• The saints will come forth and meet Christ in the cloud (D&C 45:45)
• The arm of the Lord will fall upon the nations (D&C 45:47)
• The Jews will recognize Christ as their Messiah (D&C 45:51-53)
• The heathen nations will be redeemed and have part in the first resurrection (D&C 45:51)
• Christ will bring the just with him when he comes to reign (D&C 76:63)
• There will be a great sign in heaven and all people will see it together (D&C 88:93Bsee also Matthew 24:30)
• Every knee will bow, every tongue confess (D&C 88:104)
• All things will become new (D&C 101:26)
• The enmity of all flesh will cease (D&C 101:26)
2. THE MILLENNIUM WILL BE A TIME OF JOY AND PEACE
There is an insight in D&C 133 about the Second Coming that we must not miss. It is a precious morsel of truth that has caused me wonder and awe for many years. My attention was drawn to it by Elder Maxwell:
What will we and those who witness these marvelous events speak of, then and later? Not the solar display with falling stars! Instead, we will speak of Jesus' “loving kindness.” For how long will we so exclaim? “Forever and ever” (D&C 133:52). The more we come to know of Jesus and the Atonement, the more we shall praise and adore Him “forever and ever.” (Neal A. Maxwell, That Ye May Believe)
Think of the significance of this prophecy.Those who abide the day of his coming will have witnessed cataclysmic events the likes of which this world has never seen. But when Christ comes in his glory and power, we will not meet to discuss the destruction of the wicked or the great earthquakes and “solar displays.” We will not dwell on the consumption of corruptible things or on the resurrection of the righteous. Survivors will talk about his love:
The loving kindness of their Lord, and all that he has bestowed upon them according to his goodness, and according to his loving kindness, forever and ever.
In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old . . . (D&C 133:52,53)
Consider some of the following passages. As you read and ponder, ask yourself this question: What sacrifice am I willing to make so that I can live in such a world?
• Wickedness will disappear from the earth (D&C 29:9)
• We will live by Christ’s laws when he comes (D&C 38:22)
• Children will grow up without sin to salvation (D&C 45:58)
• The Son of Man will come down from heaven to meet the Kingdom of God on the earth (D&C 65:5)
• The dead will rise and receive an inheritance in the holy city (D&C 63:49)
• Living saints will be caught up to meet Christ (D&C 88:96)
• The Saints will be glorified and receive their inheritance with Christ and be made equal with him (D&C 88:107)
• Whatever anyone asks will be given him (D&C 101:27)
• Satan will not have power to tempt any man (D&C 101:28)
Remember all those old Westerns? You knew before the shows began how they would end. The Lone Ranger would not be killed by the outlaws. The Cisco Kid would capture the bandits. John Wayne would come out on top regardless of the opposition of his enemies.
We also know how the world will end. There is no mystery about the outcome. In the end, the good guys win. There may be some times when it looks, even when it feels, like the bad guys are having things their own way all the time. But when the show is over, when the seventh seal is opened and the Creator comes to dwell on his creation, the righteous people will abide the day and rejoice in his companionship. The only mystery is an intensely personal one: where will we be when it happens?
3. WE MUST PREPARE FOR THE SECOND COMING
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-7 (and also in D&C 88:97), Paul wrote of our reunion with Christ:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:16,17)
If you are standing in the park one day with your family, and suddenly they begin to float upward, and you’re still stuck to the ground, grab someone’s leg and hold on! The great lesson is of course that we must not wait till he comes to get to know him and to follow him. We must do it now. If you want to live a Christ-like life of love and joy and peace and righteousness during the Millennium, don’t wait till he comes to get started. Preparation for the Second Coming will require effort and devotion. We have been given frequent scriptural and prophetic instructions about how to prepare.
First, we must watch. “Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready” (D&C 50:46).
“Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not” (D&C 61:38). “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour” (D&C 133:11).
But what are we watching for? The predicted signs: “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” (D&C 45:39).
Under the heading Jesus Christ, Second Coming of in the Topical Guide and the Index to the Triple Combination, you will find scriptural references for many of the signs that will precede the Second Coming. It is imperative that we are familiar with those signs and that we understand their significance. Joseph Smith warned that there will be those so spiritually insensitive that they will be unable to discern the most dramatic of signs announcing the arrival of the Lord.
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. (D. H. C. April 6, 1843. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 286 7)
We must also stand in holy places. In D&C 18:6, the Lord warns that “the world is ripening in iniquity.” Listen to the language of his many warnings:
• Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt. 26:41)
• Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (1 Cor. 16:13)
• Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (I Thess. 5:6)
• Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him. (3 Nephi 18:15)
• Therefore, what I say unto one I say unto all: Watch, for the adversary spreadeth his dominions, and darkness reigneth . . . (D&C 82:5)
Where are the holy places in which we must stand? 2 Nephi 14: 5-6 suggests three of them: (1) our dwelling places. If our homes are not holy places, we must do something about it. (2) The assemblies of Zion: any places where the saints gather together to enjoy the fellowship of the righteous. (3) The temples (tabernacles), which shall provide shade from the heat (the fiery darts of the adversary: 1 Nephi 15:24), a place of refuge, and a covering from the storms of life.
And when we must depart from the holy places to interact with the world (all of us must do this almost daily) then we must take the Holy Spirit as our guide, to stand with us.
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 (D&C 45:56-7).
I am confident that if our lives pass frequently through the holy places, and if the Holy Spirit accompanies us to other places, then our ability to be prepared will be enhanced.
CONCLUSION: Christ will come again. The descriptions above of the events associated with that coming suggest in fact that he may not be very happy with the world in general. But if we are prepared and waiting and watching, he will be happy with us. The following comes from the dedicatory prayer of the Ogden Temple:
And it is our desire to be instruments in thy hands to prepare a people for the coming of thy Son; for the day when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; for the day when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and he shall stand again on earth; for the day when thy saints shall be redeemed, and “shall mention the loving kindness of their Lord, and all that he has bestowed upon them according to his goodness, and according to his loving kindness, forever and ever.”
O, our Father, we long for the day when the Prince of Peace shall come, when the earth shall rest and righteousness be found again upon her face; and it is our prayer, spoken out of humble and contrite hearts, that we shall abide the day and be found worthy to live with him whom thou hast appointed to stand as King of kings and Lord of lords, to whom be glory and honor and power and might both now and forever. (Ensign, Mar. 1972, p. 11)