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Saturday, May 1, 2021

What Are the Signs of the Times and Why Were They Given?

             My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week came from Doctrine and Covenants 45. This revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 7, 1831, at Kirtland, Ohio. Many new converts were gathering to the Kirtland area, and they were met with increasing opposition.

            Early members of the Church of Jesus Christ were troubled by the perilous times in which they lived. In prefacing the record of this revelation, Joseph Smith’s history notes that there were “many false reports … and foolish stories” that were being “published … and circulated, … to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith. … But to the joy of the Saints, … I received the following.”

            We live in perilous times with many troubling events, just as the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ experienced troubling times. The disciples of Jesus “were troubled” when they heard the Savior speak about our day (Doctrine and Covenants 45:34).

            The Lord’s response to the latter-day Saints was the same as to His disciples in Jerusalem: “be not troubled” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:35). This counsel is good for us today. It is true that we live in perilous times, but it is also true that we live in the last days before the Savior returns. Ancient prophets saw our day and longed to be here for them. We have the privilege of living in these exciting times. There is evidence that He is hastening His work. Even though perils will precede the Second Coming, the Lord told us what they would be. They are not just warnings of danger, but they are signs that God is about to fulfill His promises.

            The signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ can be compared to highway signs. As we drive along a highway, there are signs that warn of steep hill or sharp curves. There are other signs that tell us the distance to our destination. The signs of the Second Coming have a similar purpose. They serve as warnings, but they also indicate our location along the journey.

            The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) is a parable about the last days. Five of the virgins were wise and took extra oil for their lamps, but five of the virgins were foolish and did not take extra oil. The Bridegroom delayed His coming until the darkest part of the night, and the virgins slumbered. When the shout went out that the Bridegroom was coming, the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. The wise virgins added oil to their lamps, but they did not have enough oil to fill the lamps of the foolish virgins. The foolish virgins went to buy more oil for their lamps, but they found the doors to the wedding hall closed and locked when they returned.

            Modern prophets have told us that we add oil to our lamps by living righteously. We add a drop of oil every time we kneel in sincere prayer. We add another drop every time that we study the scriptures, attend sacrament meeting, and do temple work. We add oil to our lamps when we serve others. A wise man once asked a similar question to this one, “How do we share the oil of a testimony, the experience of serving a mission, or the joy of doing family history work?

            After listing numerous signs of the times, the Lord said, “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:32).

            The holy places in which we are to stand are our homes, chapels, and temples – as well as other places where we can bask in the Spirit. Sister Ann M. Dibb, a former member of the Young Women General Presidency, taught that the instruction to stand in holy places and be not moved “explains how we can receive protection, strength, and peace in unsettling times.” After noting that these holy places could include our temples, chapels, and homes, she said that “we can each find many more places.” She continued:

We might first consider the word place as a physical environment or a geographic location. However, a place can be “a distinct condition, position, or state of mind” [ Dictionary, “place,”]. This means holy places can also include moments in time – moments when the Holy Ghost testifies to us, moments when we feel Heavenly Father’s love, or moments when we receive an answer to our prayers. Even more, I believe any time you have the courage to stand for what is right, especially in situations where no one else is willing to do so, you are creating a holy place” (“Your Holy Places,” Ensign, May 2013, 115).

            It is good to stand in holy places where we will have protection, safety, and peace. It is also good to “be not troubled” as the Savior said. He gave us the signs of the times to help us prepare for His Second Coming, not to frighten us. As we watch the signs appear before our eyes, we will know how close we are to the end of our journey.

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