Are we seeing signs of the last days before the return of Jesus Christ to earth? The Apostles of Jesus Christ desired to know “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (See Matthew 24:3.) Christ listed several signs for the discerning believers to know when His coming was near: the gathering of the “elect” (v. 27), wars and rumors of wars (v. 28), famines, pestilences, and earthquakes
(v. 29), great iniquity and love waxing cold (v. 30), the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world (v. 31), and the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, [will] be fulfilled” (v. 32). Immediately following this tribulation the sun and moon will be darkened and the stars will fall from the sky (v. 33). Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and He will return to earth “with power and great glory” (v. 36).
The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described fifty-one signs of the times in his book Mormon Doctrine. Before doing so, he explained why the Lord sends signs: “In every age the Lord sends forth clearly discernible signs and warnings so that those who are spiritually inclined can know of his hand-dealings with men. In the meridian of time, when Jewish tempters, members of `a wicked and adulterous generation,’ came desiring that `he would shew them a sign from heaven,’ he rebuked and derided them by asking, `Can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ (Matthew 16:1-4.) To the faithful elders carrying the message of salvation to the world in this dispensation, the Lord has given this promise: `Unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 68:11.)
“As used in these scriptures, signs are the recognizable events or occurrences which identify present and which portend future events. They are omens, prodigies, wonders, and marvels of abnormal occurrence. Times means the age, era, period, or dispensation involved. Thus the signs of the times for our age or dispensation are the marvelous events – differing in kind, extent, or magnitude from events of past times – which identify the dispensation of the fulness of times and presage the Second Advent of our Lord. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Signs of the Times; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 19-37.)
“By the power of the Holy Ghost the faithful saints are able to discern the signs of the times, signs preparatory to and part of this final great dispensation….”
Elder McConkie then began his list with descriptions of fifty-one signs, many of which have already occurred or are in the process. His list includes the following: 1) Spirit to be poured out on all flesh; 2) Discovery and use of printing; 3) Protestant Reformation and Age of Renaissance; 4) Discovery and colonization of America; 5) Establishment of the American nation; 6) Translation and printing of the Bible; 7) Establishment of the U.S. Constitution; 8) Latter-day revelation; 9) Coming forth of the Book of Mormon; 10) Opposition to the Book of Mormon;
11) Restoration of keys and priesthood; 12) Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ; 13) Messenger to precede the Second Coming (“Both John the Baptist and the Prophet Joseph Smith have ministered in our day in fulfilment of this ancient prediction.”); 14) Church and Kingdom set up again (“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth.”) 15) Growth of the Church (now with 15 million members); 16) Gathering of Israel (“The drawing power of the Church from all nations is one of the marvels of the ages.”) 17) Ten Tribes to return; 18) Times of Gentiles being fulfilled; 19) Return of Judah to Jerusalem; 20) Jews begin to believe in Christ (“Much of the old Jewish bitterness against Christ has ceased; many now accept him as a great Rabbi, though not the Son of God. A few have accepted him in the full sense, coming into the true Church…. But the great conversion of the Jews, their return to the truth as a nation, is destined to follow the Second Coming of their Messiah….”)
21) Building of latter-day temples; 22) Lord to come suddenly to temple (“Malachi preserved for us the promise that the Lord would suddenly come to his temple in the last days prior to the great and dreadful day of the Lord, an event which actually took place … on the 3rd of April in 1836. [Malachi 3:1; Doctrine and Covenants 110:1-10.] This is one of those prophetic utterances destined for dual fulfillment, however, and the Lord yet again shall come suddenly to others of his temples, including the great temple to be erected in Jackson County.”) 22) Spirit of Elijah and genealogical research; 24) Persecution of the Saints (“Where the gospel is, there will be opposition and persecution, for Lucifer will not stand idly by while the work of God rolls forward….” 25) Persecution of the Jews; 26) True gospel to be preached in all the world; 27) Worldly knowledge to increase; 28) Scientific and inventive progress; 29) Disease, plague, pestilence to sweep earth; 30) Elements in commotion;
31) Disasters and calamities to abound; 32) Strikes, anarchy, violence to increase; 33) Latter-day wickedness; 34) Spirit ceasing to strive with wicked; 35) Peace taken from the earth; 36) Angels now reaping the earth; 37) Wars and rumors of wars; 38) Famines, depressions, and economic turmoil; 39) Apostate darkness covers the earth; 40) Many false churches in latter-days;
41) Refusal of men to believe signs of times; 42) Signs on earth in heavens; 43) Lamanites to blossom as the rose; 44) The gathering at Adam-ondi-ahman. 45) Final great war to attend second coming; 46) Sorrow and fear precede and accompany second coming; 47) Fall of the great and abominable church; 48) Special mission in Jerusalem of two latter-day prophets; 49) Wicked to be burned as stubble; 50) Final restitution of all things to be completed; 51) Christ to reign personally upon the earth. (See Mormon Doctrine, pp. 715-734).
Today I am pondering several of these signs. Even though much of the commotion does not make the news, sign #30, elements in commotion, is definitely being fulfilled. Under the date of December 1, 2013, this site has a chart of thirty-three volcanoes currently erupting. Combine that knowledge with the fact that only a few weeks ago the most powerful typhoon ever recorded destroyed parts of the Philippines. Haiyan brought devastation that was catastrophic and flattened homes, schools, and hospitals. It left thousands of people dead and millions without shelter.
This author blames this typhoon and other meteorological phenomenon on climate change: “If the Philippines typhoon was an isolated incident, it would be a meteorological phenomenon, but the real worry is that far from being isolated, these events are both frequent and increasingly severe. This typhoon comes on top of other extraordinary meteorological events that have occurred recently; unprecedented floods caused by a cyclone in Sardinia last week; unprecedented typhoons [tornadoes?] in the United States a few weeks ago; unprecedented rains that caused the Pakistan floods in August and last year.”
This site has a chart of recent natural disasters and then gives further information. These are the natural disasters of the past two weeks:
Sunday, December 1, 2013: Flooding and landslides in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island killed at least nine people. Flooding in Havana, Cuba, killed two people. A 5.6 earthquake near Iran’s nuclear plant claimed the lives of at least eight people, injured more than two hundred, and destroyed more than two hundred homes.
Friday, November 29, 2013: At least 45 sinkholes in Nepal have displaced more than 50 families in a week and swallowed several houses.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013: A landslide at an open pit coal mine in China claimed three lives and buried four people.
Sunday, November 24, 2013: A winter storm killed 13 people in Oklahoma, Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Flooding in Thailand killed at least three people and displaced tens of thousands. An avalanche in Japan claimed the lives of at least seven people.
Saturday, November 23, 2013: Heavy storm in Greece claimed the lives of at least two people and left another person missing.
Friday, November 22, 2013: Cyclone Helen hit India and claimed the lives of ate least seven people; it left 20 fishermen missing and severe damage in the flood zone.
Thursday, November 21, 2013: Flooding in Baghdad, Iraq, claimed the lives of at least 11 people and sent 50 families to shelter at a tourist resort.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013: A landslide at a goldmine in Guinea claimed at least 12 lives and left 11 other people missing.
These are the recent weather conditions or elements in commotion that claimed lives. There are many other weather-related disasters that did not claim lives or make the list. I think that we can agree that the elements of nature are in commotion. Does all this commotion constitute a “sign of the times”?