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Saturday, November 27, 2021

When Do YOU Think Jesus Christ Will Return to Earth?

            I have been interested in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ since I was a child. I was taught that He would return, and I understood that it would be about the year 2000. I remember worrying that He would come before the year 2000 and wondering if I would have the opportunity to marry and have children before He came. As it happened, I did marry and have children, and now I am a grandmother with grandchildren old enough to marry and have their own children.

            The year 2000 came and went with nothing out of the ordinary happening. As I matured, my understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ grew, and I was no longer panicked about the Second Coming. However, I look at the signs all around me, and I continue to wonder how much more time will pass before He returns. I believe that the Second Coming is close, but I have no idea how close. It is definitely closer than it was when I was a child or even the year 2000.

            I recently purchased a book written by Gerald A. Lund. It is his second book about the return of Jesus Christ to earth. His first book was titled The Coming of the Lord and was published in 1971. It is only fitting that his second book is the titled The Second Coming of the Lord. The second book was published in 2020, nearly fifty years after the first one and contains more recent statements of the prophets and apostles.

I read a small portion of the book every day because I want to ponder and understand what I am reading. Today’s portion was in Chapter 6 “It is Nigh, even at the Door.” When Christ met with His disciples for the last time, they asked the question that people have been asking for the past 2000 years: When will Jesus Christ return?

Lund reminded his readers that the angel Moroni came to visit Joseph Smith in the fall of 1823. Moroni gave instructions concerning a record that was written on gold plates, and then he cited prophecies from the Bible. This is what Joseph Smith wrote in his history about the visit:

He quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, … He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come … but soon would come. He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in” (Joseph Smith-History 1:40-41).

            Moroni told Joseph Smith four times that the Second Coming was close but not yet. However, Moroni was not the only heavenly visitor to bring this message. After the Kirtland Temple was dedicated, Moses, Elias, and Elijah came to bring additional priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. While he was there, Elijah gave the following message: “By this [the coming of the three messengers] ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:16). The Lord said that His coming was near about fifteen times in the scriptures, according to Lund.

In the parable of the ten virgins, Christ taught that the bridegroom who represents Christ, comes “at midnight” (Matthew 25:6). In a revelation given in October 1830, the Lord declared that it was “the eleventh hour” [Doctrine and Covenants 33:3], a seeming reference to the parable. The Lord added that this would be the last time He called laborers into the vineyard [Doctrine and Covenants 33:3; see also Jacob 5:62-63; Doctrine and Covenants 24:19; 43:28; 95:4].

In the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells us that “the days speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth [Doctrine and Covenants 1:35]. The Savior personally declares in numerous places that “I come quickly” [Doctrine and Covenants 33:18; 34:12; 35:27; 39:24; 41:4; 49:28; and multiple others]. He also says, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” [Doctrine and Covenants 88:73). Early in the history of the Church the Lord said, “The day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am” [Doctrine and Covenants 38:8]. The phrase “soon cometh,” referring to His coming, is found in nine other places.

So it seems we have a dilemma. Over and over the Lord has indicated that the time of the end is near and that the day of His coming will be soon. And yet most of those scriptural passages are now almost two hundred years old, but we are still waiting for their fulfillment. So how are we to interpret words like “close,” “quickly,” “soon,” “hasten,” and “speedily”? …

            So, how do YOU interpret those words? It appears that Jesus Christ and His messengers have a different meaning for the words that mere mortals do. When someone tells me that they will be to my house soon, I expect them in a few minutes if they are locals, or in the near future if they are from out of state. I would not expect them to use the word soon if their visit would take place a few months later or years later.

            There is one thing that we know for sure. No one, not one single person on earth or in heaven – except Heavenly Father – knows when Jesus Christ will return to earth. This means that we should not listen to anyone who claims to know when He will come. President Russell M. Nelson made the following statement:

People often ask the Apostles, “When is the Second Coming going to be? “I’ve got the answer. “I don’t know.” It won’t be today or tomorrow, because there is much work that needs to be done before that can come. All I know for sure is that we are a day closer today than we were yesterday. (Teachings, 351)

            The current prophet of the Lord does not know when Jesus Christ will return. I expect that he will have more information prior to the coming of the Lord because “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). I have no idea how the prophet will know, but I believe that he will know at some point. It may be a simple announcement from the Lord, such as “The work is complete.” Right now, we know that there is much work to do before the Savior returns, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must work quickly to get it done. The world must be prepared for the Second Coming of the Lord.

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