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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Signs of the Second Coming

                    The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth has been foretold for hundreds and thousands of years.  No person besides Heavenly Father knows when the Savior will come back to the earth to rule and reign, but God has revealed through His prophets how we can know when the coming of the Savior is near.  The Savior likened His return to the earth to a pregnancy.  Women recognize the signs that foretell the birth of their babies, but they do not know - unless surgery is scheduled - the exact day, hour, or minute that their babies will be born.  The key in any of these situations is to watch for the signs.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He will return to earth to rule and reign for one thousand years.  I believe that His Second Coming is near and may even occur during my lifetime.  I look forward to this event with great excitement and wonder.

The Savior told Joseph Smith, “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory … and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:11). Jesus has also given numerous signs and events that will warn us when the time of His coming is near.

Followers of Jesus Christ look forward to His coming again and have done so for thousands of years.  We expect it to be a time of peace and joy and yet understand that we will experience great trials and calamities before He returns.  Heavenly Father has forewarned us about these difficult times because He wants us to be prepared to survive them.  He also expects us to prepare ourselves spiritually in order to be ready when the Savior comes in His glory.  This is the reason He has revealed these signs to His prophets throughout the ages.  He said that all of the Savior’s faithful followers will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:39).  Studying the scriptures will help us to know the signs and to be obedient and faithful.

Some of the signs of the Savior’s Second Coming have already been fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled.  The rest will be fulfilled in the future.  These signs are always revealed through the prophets, and many of them will be dreadful and terrifying.  We have been warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering.  The prophet Daniel said that the time before Christ comes again will be a time of trouble such as the earth has never previously known (see Daniel 12:1).

The Lord said, “The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:27).  “And all things shall be in commotion; and … fear shall come upon all people” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91).  We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightning, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; Doctrine and Covenants 88:90).  Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:16).

When the disciples of Jesus Christ asked Him about His Second Coming, the Lord told them, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars….  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7).  The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilences are approaching.  There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Smith [2007], 252).

Many of these signs are currently in the process of being fulfilled.  Wickedness is everywhere – in every city, state and nation of the world.  At any given time, two or more nations are at war.  Earthquakes and other calamities are occurring regularly.  Millions of people are now suffering from terrible storms, drought, hunger, and diseases.  These calamities will certainly become more severe before the Lord comes.

Some of the events of the Second Coming bring joy to the world.  Some of the joyful events are:  the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached in the entire world, the coming of Elijah, the Lamanites becoming righteous and respected, and the building of the New Jerusalem.

The Lord explained, “Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fullness of my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:28).  Prophets of old foretold the Restoration of the gospel, and the Apostle John saw in vision that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6-7).  The angel Moroni and other heavenly beings brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and fulfilled this prophecy.

When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites, He gave them another sign of His coming:  the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21).  The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4-18; Ezekiel 37:16-20).  These prophecies are being fulfilled in our day.  The Book of Mormon was brought forth and is currently being taken to the entire world.

Jesus Christ told His disciples that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14; see also Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:31).  He has also revealed that all people will hear the fullness of the gospel in their own language (see Doctrine and Covenants 90:11).  Ever since the Restoration of the Church, missionaries have been preaching the gospel, and tens of thousands of missionaries are now preaching the gospel in many countries of the world in many different languages.  Before Christ returns to earth and during the Millennium, the truth will be taken to all nations.

The prophet Elijah held the sealing power during his life on earth, and the prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would bring that power back to earth before the Savior comes:  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Elijah the prophet came to Joseph Smith in April 1836.  Soon after his visit, people began to take greater interest in genealogy and family history.  Sealing ordinances are performed in the temples for both the living and the dead.

The Lord said, “Before the great day of the lord shall come, … the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:24)  He meant that the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people when His coming was near.  There are great numbers of the descendants of Lehi who are receiving the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As the coming of Jesus Christ draws near, faithful Saints will build the New Jerusalem – a righteous city of God where Jesus Christ Himself will rule.  (See 3 Nephi 21:23-25; Moses 7:62-64; Articles of Faith 1:10.)  In the latter-days, the Lord revealed that the city would be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3).

There are many signs given in the scriptures for the Second Coming, and these are just a few of them.  I encourage you to go to the scriptures and find other signs.

The exact time of the Second Coming has not been revealed.  The Lord said, “The hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:7).  Christ taught this principle when He gave the parable of the fig tree.  He explained to His disciples that when we see leaves coming out on a fig tree, we can know that summer is near.  He then explained that we can know that His coming is near when we see the signs described in the scriptures.  (See Matthew 24:32-33.)

I believe that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and wants us to be prepared.  Because we know these signs, we can put our lives in order and prepare for those times yet to come.  We know that we must be prepared spiritually in order to survive the calamities of the great and dreadful day, but we can also look forward with joy to the coming of the Savior.  The Lord said, “Be not troubled, for, when all these things [the signs] shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:35).  He said that those who are righteous when He comes will not be destroyed “but shall abide the day.  And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; … and their children shall grow up without sin….  For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57-59).

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