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RS/MP Lesson 21: “The Second Coming and the Millennium” (Joseph Smith Manual)

Posted by joespencer on November 2, 2008

I will begin with a confession: so soon as I saw that this lesson addresses the Second Coming and the Millennium, I began to feel both nervous and excited. Nervous: I find that so much of what we as Latter-day Saints have to say about these two subjects borders on the fanatical, seldom taking the shape of rigorous, careful reading of the scriptures, etc. Excited: I trusted that Joseph would be able to set the record straight it many ways. Having worked through the lesson in some details, I remain nervous and excited. Nervous: Joseph—at least as he has been portrayed in the cut-and-paste work of the committee that put the manual together—is seldom unambiguous, and so I imagine that this lesson will generally be used as a confirmation of everything we think we already know about the Second Coming and the Millennium. Excited: Joseph’s way of dealing with these subjects nonetheless does open up some real possibilities for thinking carefully about what the Second Coming and the Millennium are all about. I hope that the notes that follow, then, will make those reading excited, and not nervous.

From the Life of Joseph Smith

Following right along with the chronologically biographical approach of the introductions to the lessons, this lesson’s “From the Life of Joseph Smith” section draws on the juxtaposition of two of Joseph’s revelations at the end of 1832: sections 87 and 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The connection is not without textual warrant. From the penultimate verse of section 87: “[The destruction of the nations will come so] that the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.” From the second verse of section 88: “Behold, this [your assembling together in prayer] is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world.”

Tying these two revelations together is this phrase, “come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth,” though the phrase would appear to have two remarkably different senses in each revelation. Section 87 is, as the section heading explains, a “revelation and prophecy on war.” Section 88, immediately thereafter, is, again in the language of the section heading, “the Lord’s message of peace to us.” War and peace: the Second Coming and the Millennium. Interestingly, the phrase that ties together this pair of opposites—this “come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth” business—fits quite nicely: sabaoth is the Hebrew word generally translated “hosts” in the Isaianic phrase “Lord of Hosts,” and it there has an important double meaning. On the one hand, the hosts are the armies of heaven, the angels gathered in military array. On the other hand, the hosts are those who make up the creative council, the angels gathered in deliberative council. The ears of the Lord of Sabaoth are the ears of Him who both leads His heavenly band into battle and counsels in righteousness to establish peace on the earth.

In a word, then: I think the juxtaposition the lesson employs is quite apt.

I especially, however, find the emphasis on section 87 helpful in thinking about the curious relationship between prophecy (ancient or modern) and the event of the Second Coming or the status of the Millennium. This calls for a bit of explanation. The prophecy on war that makes up section 87 is justly famous: it is Joseph’s prophecy of, as we say, the civil war. But though we as Latter-day Saints often bandy this revelation about as convincing evidence of Joseph Smith’s prophetic ability, we ought to be aware that those less than convinced of Joseph’s divine calling often cite this same revelation as convincing evidence that Joseph’s prophecies failed! How? They point to the fact that there were disturbances in South Carolina in 1832 when the prophecy was first made, and the newspapers were themselves giving predictions of a major conflict occurring.

Lest I be taken as raising inappropriate doubts, let me point out that the manual itself is suggestive in this direction: “The Prophet spent part of this day at home, deep in contemplation about the serious problems facing the nations of the world at that time. ‘Appearance of troubles among the nations became more visible this season than they had previously been since the Church began her journey out of the wilderness,’ the Prophet said. Events in the United States were leading toward civil war, and outbreaks of deadly diseases were widespread throughout the world” (p. 249). Important also is the fact that the lesson never makes mention of this prophecy’s being actually fulfilled during the Civil War itself.

Now, let me not be misunderstood: I entirely believe that this prophecy WAS fulfilled with the outbreak of the Civil War. I am not suggesting that it wasn’t. Rather, I am pointing out that the prophecy’s fulfillment came in an unexpected way, that it wasn’t fulfilled as anyone living in 1832 might have guessed. After things settled down in South Carolina in 1833, the Saints were wont to shelve Joseph’s “failed” prophecy, and it was only brought out of the vault again (by the Saints) in 1861, when it was fulfilled in the unexpected way it actually was fulfilled.

What all of this points to, I think, is a kind of model of prophecy that is a bit different from the one we tend to employ in our discussion of the scriptures. I don’t know that Joseph understood in 1832 what his revelation on war really amounted to. And it could only have seemed to his disciples that it had, somehow, failed. It was only with the prophecy’s fulfillment thirty years after it was given and a decade and a half after Joseph’s death that the material words of the prophecy were recognized as having the genuine force that they should have had all along. This is something Joseph Smith himself recognized, I believe. Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants records a few words of Joseph’s 1843 reflections on this prophecy on war, long after things had settled down in South Carolina and the prophecy had “failed”: “I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832″ (D&C 130:12-13). Though all evidence suggested that his prophecy had failed, Joseph, eleven years later, was willing to maintain the truth of the prophecy, even “in the name of the Lord God,” though there now appeared to be little or no reason for anyone to see the possibility of its being fulfilled literally. Joseph seems to have recognized that there was a material truth in the material letters of his prophecy, though its fulfillment might come completely as a surprise.

Now, why bother to unearth all of this in a lesson that is not particularly about the materiality of the prophetic word? Because I think it is necessary, if we are to make sense of what the canonized prophetic words of scripture have to say about the Second Coming and the Millennium, to come to grips with this unexpectedness of the fulfillment of prophecy, this postponement and hence recontextualization of the prophetic word, and this nonetheless literal fulfillment of the genuine prophecy. If we take the words of the prophets without recognition of (1) the immediate circumstances that drew out the prophecy, (2) the unchangeable materiality of the prophecy’s words, (3) the unexpected postponement of the fulfillment of that prophecy, (4) the consequently necessary recontextualization of the unchanged material words of prophecy, (5) the fact that true prophecy nonetheless is fulfilled to the letter, and (6) that the fulfillment makes us reread and reinterpret that literally fulfilled letter in a drastically different way—if we take the words of the prophets with this six-fold recognition, then I think we can begin to see how we ought to read what the prophets have said about the Second Coming and Millennium. If we, however, take up the words of the prophets in an unthinkingly traditional way, demanding that the words of Isaiah or Zechariah or Ezekiel or what have you absolutely must be interpreted in this or that way because these prophets saw events portrayed through the use of a kind of divine film projector, then I think we can never really begin to grapple with what the prophets are really trying to communicate in their written prophecies.

So, at any rate, it seems to me.

With that major caveat, then: on to the actual subject matter at hand!

The signs of the Savior’s coming are being fulfilled; the faithful will recognize these signs and have peace in perilous times.

As the section’s title makes clear, most of the teachings gathered in this section deal with the “signs of the times.” The section itself is more than two pages long, and so it is difficult to summarize. Instead, I’ll offer thoughts on each paragraph in turn.

P. 251, paragraph 1—This short teaching makes a nice introduction: the signs of the times are explicitly connected here (as in scripture) to the thief-like coming of the Savior (cf. Matthew 24). It seems to me that this has a sort of double implication. On the one hand, if one is “waiting” to prepare for the Second Coming, the signs of the times function as a kind of constant (and ever more constant?) reminder that the event is on the horizon, a kind of constant reminder to repent and prepare oneself for the judgment. On the other hand, if one gives oneself to the gospel without reserve, living in grace or consecration, then neither the signs nor the horrors of the great and terrible day have much purchase. In short, the close association of the signs with the judgment aspect of the Second Coming means that there is a kind of “terrestrial” purpose in any following of the signs of the times.

P. 251, paragraph 2—In light of the first, this second teaching makes it clear that those who are waiting for the Second Coming in fearful anticipation should already be making ready: the signs “are already commenced.” Again, the emphasis here is on “looking forth,” though there are still two ways of doing so: we can look forward in anticipation (the “celestial” way), or we can look forward with apprehension (the “terrestrial” way). But the heaviest emphasis here is on the nearness of the event: “the coming of the Son of Man is nigh, even at your doors.” Also worth mentioning from this teaching is the strange list of several ways one looks forth to the coming: we look forward with “our souls” as well as “our bodies”; and we are to look forth even “after we are dead.” The Second Coming is apparently to orient us through and through, in every way. But again, there are always two shapes that such orientation can take place, a celestial and a terrestrial orientation. (I should mention that there is, of course, a telestial orientation as well, though this third might best be labeled a non-orientation, a dismissal of the Second Coming.)

P. 251, paragraphs 3 and 4—Here, interestingly, Joseph privileges two signs in particular, two signs that are privileged, moreover, by Matthew 24 (on a careful reading): the darkening of the son and the turning blood of the moon. Why these two? I find it fascinating that these two “luminaries” are associated with the celestial and terrestrial glories, but I doubt that is the best explanation. What might this emphasis suggest about the relationship between the creation and Second Coming?

P. 251, paragraph 5, and p. 252, paragraph 1—This teaching lays emphasis on “the prophecies of all the holy prophets,” which it mentions twice. (Indeed, this emphasis draws out of the many other teachings in this section a kind of underlying motif: “as was testified of” in 251, paragraph 3; “The scripture” in 252, paragraph 2; “the word” in 252, paragraph 3, etc.) It also introduces the theme of the “short work,” a phrase that will appear in the third paragraph on p. 252 as well. Most importantly, though, it emphasizes that the Second Coming and the signs associated with it need not take a terrestrial tone, but can also be taken in a celestial way: “The day is fast hastening on when the restoration of all things shall be fulfilled,” etc. And so it is that we should “be not discouraged when [they] tell [us] of perilous times,” etc. One could say that there is a sharp turn with this particular two-paragraph teaching from the terrestrial to the celestial interpretation of the signs-coming connection.

P. 252, paragraph 2—There seems little point to having this paragraph here but make quite clear that there is an emphasis on scripture, on this whole affair being a question of texts.

P. 252, paragraph 3—Again with the “word” being “fulfilled,” and again with the theme of the “short work.” Notice also that Joseph quotes Matthew 24 explicitly here. That chapter, carefully read, is perhaps the key to much thinking about the Second Coming.

P. 252, paragraph 4—Now we get on to some really odd and perhaps therefore interesting material. This is Joseph’s relatively famous statement about the rainbow and the Second Coming. The way it is usually explained or summarized is this: There will be no rainbows in the year before the Second Coming. But the teaching is less straightforward than that. First of all, it is worth pointing out that the whole teaching is grounded in an otherwise unrecorded revelation: “I have asked of the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said….” The remainder of the teaching claims to be a direct quotation of the Lord! This should not be overlooked.

Moreover, it should be noticed that the rainbow business is tied specifically to the events surrounding the flood, and that—especially in light of the discussion later in the lesson of Enoch (see below)—it cannot be disentangled from the entire Enoch-Noah complex, especially as this is articulated in the two OT manuscripts of the JST project. The question, then, is this: What is the bow all about? Why was it taken as a sign, or what did it signify? Given the way that the creation and subsequent events are described and discussed in Genesis, I take it that the bow was a sign of the restoration of the creation as described in Genesis 1. That is, if one reads Genesis 1 carefully, it describes the world as being created in a kind of womb, or as what I have called in my seminary classes an “inverted snowglobe”: it is a kind of globe with all the water on the outside. The earth, on the model of Genesis 1 (and a number of the psalms, and Isaiah, etc.), sits as a kind of circular disc under a massive dome that holds out the waters of chaos. The flood story describe the flood as a rupturing of that dome: the seals that keep the water out below are broken, and the windows are opened that shut out the water above, and the entire snowglobe is suddenly inundated. The flood, in other words, is a kind of letting into the world of complete, watery chaos. For God to place the bow in the sky is to mark that the dome that protects the earth has been put back in place: by looking at the sky and seeing the bow, one sees that the dome is back in place (a rainbow gives one the distinct impression that the sky above is a kind of dome shaped roof). The bow thus serves as a sign that the creation of Genesis 1 has been put back in place.

That said, the removal of the bow (Joseph’s word: withdrawal) amounts to a marking of the withdrawal of protection, of the imminent danger of chaos’s return. Notice that in the words Joseph attributes to the Lord, it is not that the bow will be removed as a sign of the Second Coming, but that its presence is a promise of the orderliness of creation: “in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year.” Again, the withdrawal of the bow means that chaos is about to rain: “but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant.” That the Lord employs the word “whenever” in the phrase “whenever you see the bow withdrawn” would seem to suggest that this is not a singular sign, a once-in-history sort of thing: the bow can be withdrawn in any given year as a token that famine and other destructions are coming, that chaos is being released to some degree. And like any other “sign of the times,” it does not point to a particular hour of the Savior’s coming but serves to remind that “the coming of the Messiah is not far distant.”

I hope that these comments demystify Joseph’s teaching on this point a bit.

P. 252, paragraph 5—Here Joseph provides a rather brief list of the signs of the times, almost as if he wants to pass over them in a relatively hurried fashion so as to get to the one he wants to emphasize: “one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” I find this fascinating: it is almost as if Joseph wants to say that the other signs are of relatively little importance, and one ought to get on to the greatest, most convincing sign. And yet, Joseph goes on immediately to say: “But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc.” The point of this entire paragraph, then, it seems to me, is that all of the signs are slippery, that none of them can convince anyone of the Second Coming. The signs are only reminders of judgment for the terrestrial and confirmation of the faith of the celestial—they must not be taken as definitively evidential in any sense. In a word, all signs—even those of the Second Coming—are mere signs.

P. 253, paragraph 1—This last teaching in this first section simply debunks the idea that the righteous will be unharmed by the deleterious effects of the catastrophes during the Second Coming. The point seems to be that the events that lead up to the eschaton are not to be understood as a destruction of the wicked, but the undifferentiated release of chaos. And so, as Joseph explains, “it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death.” This is an important thing for us to recognize.

The Lord will not come until all things are fulfilled in preparation for His coming.

The three, relatively brief teachings that make up this section are, it seems to me, more or less straightforward. They assert that, though “Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come,” yet “it is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.”

Now there is, of course, a kind of tension here. On the one hand, the fact that there was no revelation about the precise time that Christ would come would seem to suggest that the Father was hoping to catch the people of the world unawares, so as to destroy all who might, if they knew when the end would be, repent in order to escape punishment. On the other hand, Joseph asserts (twice!) in the name of Amos that God will reveal the Second Coming to the prophets. What is behind this tension?

It seems to me that Joseph believed that the prophets would indeed know the time of Christ’s coming (whether with precision or not, I have no idea). His claim that Christ never did reveal the time seems only to be speaking of what is found in scripture: “Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the Scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers.”

The point, then, seems to be that the scriptures are not enough, so far as knowing the hour of the Second Coming: the signs of the times are only so many indications, and then only for the faithful. There must be, if one is to know anything about when the Second Coming will take place, a prophet who receives revelation. Joseph was obviously responding in these teachings, at least in part, to the teachings of William Miller, a man who had derived from the scriptures the belief that the Second Coming would happen in 1843 and had built up a rather large following (a faction of which would become the Seventh-day Adventists). Joseph is suggesting, in essence, that all such attempts to calculate the hour of the Second Coming by analyzing scripture are just another manifestation of the spiritualization of scripture, of the refusal to look for modern revelation.

The faithful, Joseph seems to be teaching here, will know of the Second Coming, since they are, as Paul says in the 1 Thessalonians passage Joseph quotes, “the children of light.” But, given what has already been taught in the first section of the lesson, this would seem to need to be qualified: only those who are fully faithful (and not merely obeying for fear of punishment or for desire of reward) will receive the revelation.

Those who are wise and faithful will be prepared when the Lord comes again

This section has, really, two parts. The first four paragraphs (making up all of p. 254 and the first paragraph of p. 255) are individual teachings, drawn from a number of different sources; and the remainder of the section (making up the rest of p. 255 and most of p. 256) is drawn from a single letter Joseph wrote the saints in Colesville in December 1830 (quite early!). The first three of the four teachings that make up the first half of this section deserve, I think, individual attention. I will take them in turn. Then I will take up the whole second half of this section.

P. 254, paragraph 1—What strikes me in this first teaching is the use of the word “rapidity”: “When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man advances . . . .” The remainder of the paragraph follows quite naturally from this sentiment, and so I will leave it aside in order to look at what this first phrase itself has to teach us. Rapidity: the day of the coming of the Son of Man is coming rapidly. Now, in some sense, this is a strange thing to say: any day appointed for any purpose in the future should, strictly speaking, be coming to us at exactly the same speed at all times. That is, it seems, in all rigor, to be nonsensical to say that any already appointed day is approaching with rapidity, since it will always be approaching with exactly the same speed: time does not speed up or slow down.

One way of dealing with Joseph’s words here, then, is to suggest that there is no particular day that has already been appointed, that the day or hour of the Second Coming has not been revealed because there is no set time for it to happen. Instead, it might be that the hour is moved on whatever absolute timeline exists according to the righteousness of the saints: that the hour comes with rapidity means that the work is going forward with rapidity. The other explanation, of course, is that time suddenly seems to be going faster because we are getting quite close. Given the way that things have played out since Joseph’s time, however, I think I will settle for the former explanation: the Second Coming in some sense depends on us.

P. 254, paragraph 2—The idea expressed, on my reading, in the preceding paragraph is fleshed out in this one: the Second Coming is here attached to the event of Adam-ondi-Ahman, an event that definitely cannot be disconnected from the progress of the saints. This will be clarified further in the letter to the Colesville saints, so I will leave it at this for now.

P. 254, paragraph 3—Joseph here expresses the marvelous idea that the Second Coming, and all that is associated with it, is “generic.” That is, it is indifferent to the differences that human beings find so important to society: it has the very same effect on “the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble” that is has on “the poor and the needy”; it equally demands righteousness and consecration of “the bond and the free, both black and white,” etc. All are to execute justice and judgment upon the earth in righteousness, because the coming of Christ will distract even the distinction between “the quick [that is, the living] and the dead”! The approaching hour will obliterate the distinctions and ways of ordering things that we now think so important (theist vs. atheist, Republican vs. Democrat, rich vs. poor, educated vs. uneducated, etc., etc., etc.).

The Letter to Colesville—The timing of this letter makes all the difference: it was written in December of 1830, very early in the history of the Church. It is thus written when the Church was still in New York. The first converts in Kirtland had only just been baptized, and two of them (Edward Partridge and Sidney Rigdon) had only just come out to visit Joseph for the first time. The prophecies of Enoch in the Book of Moses had just barely been translated, and the two revelations commanding the saints to move to Ohio the next year had just been received. The Book of Mormon was still what defined the nature of Mormonism: everyone looked to that book of scripture as what made all the difference between Mormonism and other religions (it was not yet a question of “doctrinal” differences).

What we have, then, in this letter is a manifestation of how Latter-day Saints understood the Second Coming from the very beginning—specifically of how Joseph understood it. Three points seem vital before turning to a detailed exposition of how all of this bears on the Adam-ondi-Ahman business mentioned before.

First, it should be noticed how biblical the teachings in this letter are: Joseph quotes the Bible over and over again, and there is little that he says that cannot be traced immediately back to passage in the Bible that were understood in Joseph’s day by the broader Christian world to say more or less what Joseph says they say. Second, however, one should also note that the picture presented by the then-current interpretation of the Bible is nonetheless inflected by the Book of Mormon understanding of the last days, a vision that is less concerned with the Second Coming (which is, on my reading, never mentioned in the Book of Mormon at all!) than it is with the gathering of Israel and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Abrahamic Covenant if they will repent, etc. Third, one should notice that all of this is thus connected with the then-already-formulating doctrine of gathering: “The time is soon at hand that we shall have to flee withersoever the Lord will, for safety.” Persecutions in New York had already begun to make this obvious, and the recent revelations about moving to Kirtland obviously are reflected here, but it should also be pointed out that Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, and a few others were at the very time this letter was written already in Jackson County, Missouri, exploring what would be revealed shortly thereafter to be the place for the New Jerusalem. Mormonism from the very beginning had an undeniably unique take on the Second Coming, one that was much like that of the broader Christian world, but that was inflected by the Book of Mormon’s emphasis on the gathering and the early revelations’ emphasis on a gathering place.

All of that said, Adam-ondi-Ahman deserves a bit of attention. The focus on the New Jerusalem or on Zion was relatively new for the saints in December of 1830 because it was tied to the then barely just received prophecies of Enoch. Importantly, Joseph cites them in the last paragraph on p. 255: “Yea, even Enoch, the seventh from Adam, beheld our day and rejoiced,” etc. Enoch, of course, was present at the first Adam-ondi-Ahman event (described latter in the D&C), where he functioned as scribe. And Enoch then had the marvelous vision of Moses 7 in which he seems to have seen things not seen at all before his time. Note how Joseph describes things: “Enoch . . . beheld our day and rejoiced, and the prophets from that day forth have prophesied of the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior,” and the Millennium (see the continuation of the quotation onto p. 256). It would seem, from Joseph’s wording, that Enoch was the first to have prophesied of a Second Coming and the Millennium: Adam knew of the first and prophesied of it, but Enoch added something new when he spoke of his own visions.

This is, I think, quite significant. Biblical scholars point out that a millennial era is never mentioned anywhere in the Bible except in Revelation. And scholars who deal with the text of the Apocalypse itself point out that this idea of an era of peace is something the author of Revelation drew from apocryphal sources. One source in particular seems to have been of primary importance: the apocryphal Book of Enoch: there scholars find the earliest mention of a millennium.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the Millennium in the Book of Mormon—there are descriptions of an era of peace (especially in the Isaiah quotations, for example), but there is no talk of a thousand years, etc. The D&C does, of course, speak of the Millennium, but it is important, I think, that it does so only in revelations that were received after the translation of the prophecies of Enoch: the first latter-day word on the Millennium, like the first ancient word on the Millennium, seems to have come from Enoch.

It would seem, then, that Adam prophesied of the First Coming, and Enoch of the Second Coming and Millennium. All of this, because of the two roles of Adam and Enoch in the first Adam-ondi-Ahman, cannot be disconnected from the coming event of Adam-ondi-Ahman, which seems to be profoundly connected to (if not identical with!) the Second Coming. How is all of this to be understood?

I have, of course, a few of my own answers, but Joseph provides us (at least, after the editorial work of the creators of the manual) with very little to sort through on the subject here. He only points in the direction of thinking more carefully about the relationship between Adam and Enoch and between Adam-ondi-Ahman and the Second Coming and Millennium. I think I will leave these questions open for purposes of this lesson: let us get to work thinking about how all of these things are connected.

The Millennium will be a time of peace when the Savior will reign over the earth.

and

After the Millennium, the earth will be changed into a sanctified, celestial state.

The last, relatively short two sections of the lesson are, I think, a bit easier to follow than what precedes them. In fact, the first of the two is mostly made up of an excerpt from an editorial that was not, I believe, actually written by Joseph. Only the tenth article of faith (on p. 256) and the last paragraph of the section (the second paragraph on p. 258) are, I believe, genuinely the words of Joseph Smith. The former seems straightforward enough. The latter is perhaps a bit less familiar to Latter-day Saints, but its point seems relatively clear: Jesus will not simply reside on the earth during the Millennium, but will reign over them, coming down to instruct them, etc. It sounds, then, like things will be more or less like they were in, say, 4 Nephi: Christ will visit and instruct the saints often, but He will not take up His abode here.

The last section of the lesson deals, for the most part, with two connected ideas. First, the “earth will be rolled back into the presence of God” after the Millennium: there it will be “crowned with celestial glory.” Second, that celestializing of the earth will make it a “great urim and thummim,” through which “things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest.” These are, I think, relatively familiar ideas for the saints, and they need little clarification in this lesson.

14 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 21: “The Second Coming and the Millennium” (Joseph Smith Manual)”

  1. [...] RS/MP Lesson 21: “The Second Coming and the Millennium” (Joseph … [...]

  2. Robert C. said

    Joe, this is truly fascinating (and I’ve only read through the first section)! I esp. like your intro, thoughts on the rainbow, and thoughts about signs vs. evidence.

    (Since I’ll probably be getting back to this only via internet, w/o my book handy, the online link to the lesson is: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=da135f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=8cc720596a845110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1&contentLocale=0.)

  3. Confutus said

    Regarding whether the Book of Mormon mentions the
    Second Coming of Jesus Christ at all, see 3 Ne. 28:7-8.

  4. JennyW said

    Joe, thanks for this—lots of good things to think about. I like how you’ve drawn out the issue of our own orientation towards the Second Coming. There seems to be a pattern at times of desiring God and the accomplishment of His will in spite of the acknowledged (personal) pain inherent in that position (the atonement, of course, but also the lives of Joseph Smith, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph in Egypt, Mary, etc.) It’s easy to project this pattern onto “great” gospel figures and thus excuse ourselves from the work at hand, but as I read this lesson I was struck how distinctly Joseph calls for our conscious alignment with this celestial pattern/orientation. It seems the only way to do this is to effectively set aside concern for one’s self in favor of concern for the Father’s will … which, of course, flies in the face of all our instinctual tendencies for self preservation.

  5. Robert C. said

    Regarding “rapidity,” Charles Taylor has a rather fascinating discussion of higher/religious time vs. secular time in his A Secular Age. According to a higher/religious/typological understanding of time, which he argues pervaded pre-modern civilization, time is not unvarying as we tend to think of it today (e.g., a second measures the same length of time now as it did 1000 years ago…). Rather, according to a higher time measure, when I partake of the sacrament I am “closer” to event of Christ suffering in the Garden than I am to putting my kids to bad later that evening.

    I’m not sure this is quite what Joseph is getting at, but I’ve been thinking a lot about time with an altered understanding. More specifically, this makes me wonder about the meaning of the term “quickened” in scripture. I’m inclined to think about these relations as follows: Anytime we read scripture, pray, or participate in a religious act or ritual, we are typologically bringing to life the symbolic meaning of that act. In this sense we are being quickened by these types. And, reciprocally, we might think of our religious acts as quickening these meanings. So, by Joseph’s praying in the Sacred Grove, and by our faithfulness to that restorational event, he and we are effectively quickening the 2nd coming.

    (Also Joe, if you find time, I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on “the relationship between Adam and Enoch and between Adam-ondi-Ahman and the Second Coming and Millennium.” I am much more comfortable—as I think are most Church members in this day and age—with the “ethical” teachings in the scriptures, topics which can more readily be applied to our everyday lives, helping us be better neighbors, citizens, family members, etc., than I am with these eschatological kinds of topics. But the scriptures are chock-full of such passages, and I can’t help but feel they are a stumbling block to me and many others….)

  6. joespencer said

    I hope to get back to these comments soon (I posted and then haven’t checked back in on things until tonight!).

    Just briefly, though, a response to Confutus. Thanks, I happened to have run across that reference last night reading to my daughter from the Book of Mormon. I’ve actually now located three references in the Book of Mormon to the Second Coming: 3 Nephi 26:3; 28:7-8; 29:2.

    I find it interesting that they all appear together in the last chapters of 3 Nephi, and I want to reflect at further length on their collective meaning, since they make up a rather meager trio of references, concerning how traditionally the Book of Mormon has been tied to the advent of the Savior in the last days. There is much to think about.

    The Millennium, of course, shows up nowhere in the Book of Mormon (as a millennium, that is).

  7. Julie M. Smith said

    Joe, this is very helpful.

    One question for you or anyone else who can answer it: the book has this quote:

    “That Jesus will be a resident on the earth a thousand [years] with the Saints is not the case, but will reign over the Saints and come down and instruct, as he did the five hundred brethren [see 1 Corinthians 15:6], and those of the first resurrection will also reign with him over the Saints.”

    with this footnote:

    Quoted by William P. McIntire, reporting a discourse given by Joseph Smith in early 1841 in Nauvoo, Illinois; William Patterson McIntire, Notebook 1840–45, Church Archives.

    I’m wondering what the original source has instead of [years]. Perhaps this is a failure of my imagination, but I can’t think of anything that could fit in that blank. And I can’t find the source online.

  8. joespencer said

    Julie, I just looked this up in Cook and Ehat’s Words of Joseph Smith and found that the original just had “…on the earth a thousand with the Saints….” Bro. McIntire seems simply to have left out the word “years” when he was transcribing the discourse. If you want to take a look at the original source, see Words, p. 65.

  9. joespencer said

    Getting back to things here…

    Jenny, I entirely agree. I find the principle you articulate laid out for us in lesson 22, the very last quotation in the lesson, where Joseph says that there is nothing that will be revealed to him that will not be revealed to us if we are faithful. I imagine that extends to: there is nothing that he will have experienced that we will not experience, etc.

  10. joespencer said

    Robert, I very much like the way you are playing with the word “quicken” here. I find it very helpful. And I appreciate that you employ the term “symbolic” in your description. Might we say that resurrected/quickened/rapiditified time is symbolic time, whereas our commonly experienced (vulgar) time is imaginary time, is time given to or commanded by images (or idols)?

    Regarding your parenthetical request…. I probably ought to write up a full post on such a subject, as I’m not entirely sure what to say in response. But I do think that framing the question in terms of ethics or ethical orientation is very helpful. Especially since I have made a kind of “return to Kierkegaard” lately, whose “ethical” stage, in relation to the “aesthetic” and “religious” stages, deserves much attention.

  11. Mary-Anne said

    I have found this particular lesson in context to, as you described, “cut and paste” style very challenging. It is tempting to bring in other resources in preparing to teach this lesson, but I have to keep reminding myself it is the teachings OF Joseph Smith, not others. Your thoughts helped alot. Thank you for some interesting insights… phew!

  12. Sarah C said

    Joe,
    I am forever grateful to you for the time, effort and research put into this post. I taught this lesson today and without your words and insight I would have been doomed to teach a watered down version of the subject.
    Thank you for the background and history, they were invaluable in opening up discussion.
    All in all, my lesson went well because of your work.
    Thank you!
    ~S

  13. Jo said

    I read an article in the Wall Street Journal recently that caused me to try to find some of the prophecies Joseph Smith gave concerning the last days – ones that may not be in the Doctrine and Covenants. I came across this commentary. Great discussion. I thought you might be interested in the article so I’ve included the link.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

  14. gwoods said

    this is a paper on THE Sign of the 2nd coming. i think you’ll enjoy it.

    “THE SIGN” of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

    The scriptures speak of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the signs that will precede and accompany His arrival. These prophecies strike dread in the hearts of the wicked, promise hope for the saints and in the calm before the coming storm, generates feelings that range from anxiety to shear terror for everyone. How important are the signs of the times to those of us that live in the Last Days? Why did the Lord, even through His Old Testament prophets, provide lists of latter-day events and conditions as signs of His impending return? Are we to study these signs as part of the restored gospel? These modern day scriptures provide the answer.
    D&C 45:38-39 Even so it shall be in that day when they shall see all these things, then shall they know that the hour is nigh. 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.
    44 And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off.

    Some signs refer to the restoration of the Lord’s church but most speak of frightful calamities that will affect the whole world. Some even focus on events that will drastically disrupt the lives of members of the Lord’s church here in the Rocky Mountains. Signs of the Second Coming started a long time ago and are fast becoming current events. The following are quotes from early church leaders, including the prophet Joseph Smith, and scriptures, both ancient and modern, about the signs that the world will witness as the great day of the Lord draws nearer. First, a short review of the “last days” judgments pronounced upon this nation, included to set the stage for the main focus expressed in the title of this study. To set this stage I begin with words of the prophet Joseph Smith: “I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced. One pestilence will desolate after another. We shall soon have war and bloodshed. The moon will be turned into blood. I testify of these things, and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh, even at your doors. …The time is soon coming when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her Stakes.”

    Mosiah Hancock recorded a prophetic statement made by Joseph Smith, 8 days before his martyrdom: “There will be two great political parties in this country. One will be called the Republican, and the other the Democrat party. These two parties will go to war and out of these tow parties will spring another party which will be the Independent American Party. The United States will spend her strength and means warring in foreign lands until other nations will say, “let’s divide up the lands of the United States…”And another related statement by the prophet: “…the land will be literally left without a supreme government and every species of wickedness will run rampant. Father will be against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother. The most terrible scenes of murder and blood-shed and rapine that ever been looked upon will take place.”

    President Woodruff speaking of a time, still in our future, when all order in this nation will cease and mobs will begin to rule. The federal and state governments will literally cease to function.
    “The judgments of God will now begin to rest more fully upon this nation and will be increased upon it, year by year. Calamities will come speedily upon it and it will be visited with thunder, lightning, storms, whirlwinds, floods, pestilence, plagues, war and devouring fire; the wicked will slay the wicked until the wicked are wasted away.”
    “Can you tell me where the people are who will be shielded and protected from these great calamities and judgments which are even now at our doors? I’ll tell you. The priesthood of God who honor their priesthood and who are worthy of their blessings are the only ones who shall have this safety and protection. They are the only mortal beings. No other people have a right to be shielded from these judgments. They are at our doors; not even this people will escape them entirely.”

    President George Q. Cannon said: “You will see the day, and it is not far distant, when these mountains will be the stronghold of a free people, and when men will come here because the principles of the Constitution will be maintained here; and they will be protected in their political and religious rights.” There will be no law and order; there will be confusion everywhere except here in the Rocky Mountains where the Church is headquartered. At first order will be maintained by the priesthood; there will be peace and security here while the rest of the nation destroys itself in anarchy. Because of this lawlessness, members of the church will not be the only ones that come to the Rocky Mountains seeking safety. George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, and Joseph Smith spoke to this fact.

    Just prior to this time the call will go out for all Saints world wide to gather to the Rocky Mountains. Their instruction contained in D&C 133 will be “Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion …unto the mountains of the Lord’s house. Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon. But verily, thus saith the Lord, let not your flight be in haste, but let all things be prepared before you; and he that goeth, let him not look back lest sudden destruction shall come upon him.” The Prophet Joseph Smith, speaking of the Saints that are called to gather to the Rocky Mountains gave this warning; “I prophecy, that that man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going, will be afflicted by the devil. Wars are at hand; we must not delay; but are not required to sacrifice. We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion. The cry is to make haste. …They will follow the Saints of God from city to city.”

    Orson Pratt, speaking of the future of this nation, said: “it will be a war of neighborhood against neighborhood, city against city, town against town, county against county, state against state, and they will go forth, destroying and being destroyed and manufacturing will, in a great measure, cease, for a time among the American nation. Why? Because in these terrible wars, they will not be privileged to manufacture, there will be too much blood shed, too much mobocracy, too much going forth in bands and destroying and pillaging the land to suffer people to pursue any local vocation with any degree of safety. What will become of millions of the farmers upon that land? They will leave their farms and they will remain uncultivated, and they will flee before the ravages armies from place to place; and thus will they go forth burning and pillaging the whole country; and the great and powerful nation, now consisting of some forty millions of people, will be wasted away, unless they repent.”

    Brigham Young, speaking of this future gathering, to the Rocky Mountains, said; “An inland empire will be established in these valleys of the mountains, which will be a place of refuge for millions of people to gather to, when the great day of the judgments of God comes upon the earth, and the righteous come here for safety. Our people will go East, West, North, and South, but the day will come, when they will be glad to come back. We will be shut out from the rest of the world.”

    Another description of conditions in the United States is recorded in a vision attributed to Wilford Woodruff: “as I passed along upon my way east, I saw the road full of people, mostly women, with just what they could carry in bundles on their backs traveling to the mountains on foot. I wondered how they could get through with such a small pack on their back. It was remarkable to me that there were so few men among them. It did not seem to me as though the cars were running. The rails looked rusty and abandoned.” Joseph Smith said: “You will be so numerous that you will be in danger of famine, but not for want of seed time and harvest, but because of so many to be fed. Many will come with bundles under their arms to escape the calamities, and there will be no escape except by fleeing to Zion.”

    With the Lord’s church; the Kingdom of God was restored to the earth and has continued to grow within the church’s organizational structure. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Kingdom of God is be a separate organization from the Church of God and will in the last days emerge as the presiding world government; the political arm of God on earth and will, eventually grow to hold worldwide dominion. Eventually, after the Kingdom has been established the church will turn its attention to reclaiming Zion and the return to Missouri for the building of the New Jerusalem.

    Joseph F. Smith describes the journey in these words. “When God leads the people back to Jackson County, how will he do it? Let me picture to you how some of us may be gathered and led to Jackson County. I think I see two or three hundred thousand people wending their way across the great plains enduring the nameless hardships of the journey, herding and guarding their cattle by day and by night, and defending themselves and little ones from foes on the right hand and on the left, as when they came here. Note: the Law of Consecration (the United Order) will be established for this journey and for settling in Missouri.

    The scriptures lists the numerous glorious and yet horrific calamities that will precede the second coming of Jesus Christ, but there is one all important sign referred to as THE sign of the Son of Man. Our understanding of what this sign will be, its symbolic meaning and how it will effect the world is key to seeing all other signs of the Second Coming from a correct perspective. The questions this study will address are: what will it be and when will we see it?

    THE Sign:

    The New Testament apostle; Matthew describes the appearance of THE sign as an event that will cause “all” to mourn:
    “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
    Latter-day scripture teaches that everyone will see THE sign together:
    “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.”

    Joseph Smith said that Jerusalem and her temple must be built and the waters of the Dead Sea healed before the Lord returns and then spoke of THE sign: …”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.”
    “For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”

    The symbol that is THE sign of the Second Coming will be something that “all people shall see …together”, and that will cause the people of the world to “say it is a planet”.

    A planet in our solar system, close enough for everyone to see together, or did these prophets mean something else; Parley P. Pratt, with information obviously received from the prophet, said: We are nowhere given to understand that all the stars will fall or even many of them: but only “as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken with a mighty wind. The stars which will fall to the earth are fragments, which have been broken off from the earth from time to time, in the mighty convulsions of nature. Some in the days of Enoch, some perhaps in the days of Peleg, some with the ten tribes, and some at the crucifixion of the Messiah. These all must be restored again at the “times of restitution of all things.” This will restore the ten tribes of Israel; and also bring again Zion, even Enoch’s city. It will bring back the tree of life which is the midst of the paradise of God: that you and I may partake of it. When these fragments, (some of which are vastly larger than the present earth) are brought back and joined to this earth, it will cause a convulsion of all nature: the graves of the saints will be opened, and they rise from the dead; while the mountains will flow down, the vallies rise, the sea retire to it’s own place, the islands and continents ill be removed, and earth be rolled together like a scroll. The earth will be many times larger than it is now. (Millennial Star, Vol. 1)

    A similar statement, by Wilford Woodruff, also originating with Joseph Smith, reads: “Joseph also said that when the city of Enoch fled and was translated, it was where the Gulf of Mexico now is; it left that gulf a body of water.”

    Section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants says: “And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above… if THE sign is to be a planet, what will be this heavenly wonders affect upon the earth, its gravity, its oceans?
    D&C 133: 23 “He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land; …and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.” foot note: Gen 10: 25 “…Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided;”

    Orson Pratt makes reference to the division of the earth in the days of Peleg, a division that will be reversed with the restitution of all things: “Many changes were made upon the earth in the days of Enoch; and no doubt the flood occasioned still greater; but we must look to the days of Peleg for the division of the earth into continents and islands, and the letting in of the waters upon the equatorial regions,” (The Seer, vol. II)

    “Letting in the waters”, brings to mind the question: from where? The only force that could possibly drive and then hold earth’s oceans at the North Pole, both in the day of Peleg and again at a future date, is gravity. Remember this will be part of the “times of restitution of all things” and that it will require gravity generated by a planet of sufficient size and that is relatively close to the earth. Peleg; a grandson of Shem; Noah’s son lived on the earth at the time that the world’s oceans long held at the north pole were released, causing what had to have been a flood second only to the flood of Noah. “like it was before it was divided” means that the earth as we know it will change drastically with the restoration of this sign to its place above the earth. Does “the earth divided” mean that half of it separated itself and moved to another location? Bathsheba W. Smith, wife of President George A. Smith wrote in her ” Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith”: “I heard him say; Peradventure, the Ten Tribes were not on this globe, but a portion of this earth cleaved off with them, went flying into space, and when the earth reels to and fro like a drunken man, and the stars from heaven fall, it would join on again.” (Juvenile Instructor Vol. 27 – June 1892}

    Oceans “driven back into the north countries” and then held at the North Pole, may be the cause of what John Taylor saw in a vision: “I seemed to be standing on the west bank of the Missouri River opposite the City of Independence, but I saw no city. I saw the whole states of Missouri and Illinois and part of Iowa were a complete wilderness with no living human being in them” If it is gravity that pulls “the great deep …back into the north countries,” the water presently filling the Gulf of Mexico would move northward, as the object generating the gravitation pull moves closer and closer. This would literally sweep Missouri and its neighboring states clean of all inhabitants.
    Heber C. Kimball: “Missouri will be swept so clean of it’s inhabitants that, as President Young tells us, when we return to that place, ‘there will not be left so much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.’ “

    We have, from a list of scriptures and inspired teachings, established that the whole world will see “one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven”, that it will appear to be “a planet”, that it will be one the “fragments, which have been broken off from the earth” some time in the distant past, that “the great deep”; the oceans, “shall be driven back into the north countries”, and that “the whole states of Missouri and Illinois”: will consequently have “no living human being in them.”

    The vision painted here is mind-boggling, but it lends understanding to several scriptures like this one in Revelation 6. These verses describe a scene so terrifying that it will cause “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man” to hide “in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains” and to wish they could call for “the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” In the preceding verses we learn that this fear follows “a great earthquake” of such immense magnitude that it will cause “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” In a catastrophe of this magnitude people would be busy rescuing the injured, clearing the rubble, and rebuilding damaged structures. There would be many survival concerns, but the scripture speaks of hiding. Will this sign that has drawn the oceans to the North Pole, swept the population off the mid American states, and caused an earthquake to end all earthquakes still be ominously perched overhead? Will this scene be taken to be, “the face of him that sitteth on the throne;” the Lord?

    Another example worth considering is: the motive of the builders of the tower of Babel. Remember we’re speaking of restoring to the earth portions that were removed anciently. First read Genesis 11:4, look into the sky, and ask yourself: would anyone really convince themselves that they could “build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” without being able to see their destination. Now, picture the sky with THE sign near enough for its gravitational pull to hold the oceans at the North Pole and ask your self the same question. Orson F. Whitney in 1889 said: “This sounds, indeed, like a fairy tale …intelligent enough to build a great tower of which the world has not since seen the counterpart, …could cherish the idea that they could actually reach the sun, moon, or one of the stars, simply by piling brick upon brick and stone upon stone. But the Prophet Joseph Smith, whose mission it was to shed light upon the darkness of this generation, is said to have declared that it was not their intention to reach heaven, but to reach Zion, which was then suspended in mid-air, between heaven and earth, or at such a height as to render the project feasible”.

    Elder Joseph Young of the First Council of the Seventy and the brother of Brigham Young, claimed to have learned the following from Joseph Smith himself: “…Enoch and his people, with the city which they occupied, and the foundations on which it stood, with a large piece of earth immediately connected with the foundations and the city, had assumed an aerial position within the limits of our solar system…” Another student of the prophet, Orson Pratt noted: “The descendants of Noah not having faith sufficient to be caught up into Zion, concluded to build a tower sufficiently high to get there without being under the necessity of receiving a translation. From this it appears that the early descendants of Noah had an idea that Zion was located somewhere near the earth.” (The Seer, Vol. II)

    To generate a picture of this scene in our mind we have to consider the moon’s size, it’s proximity to the earth, and it’s minimal tidal influence upon earth’s oceans. Then try to imagine a globe of sufficient size and position to lift and hold all the earth’s sea-water at the North Pole. This scene will also help us understand why a scroll was used as a scriptural symbol of the restitution of the earth to its pre-flood paradisiacal condition. We can easily picture, in our minds eye, another planet and the earth as they roll toward each other across the immensity of space and envision a scroll, seen from the end, being rolled together.
    Isaiah 34:4 …the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll
    Revelation 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
    3 Nephi 26:3 …the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll
    Mormon 5:23 …at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll
    Mormon 9:2 …that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll

    According to the prophet Joseph Smith THE sign of the second coming of Jesus Christ will be the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel returning to the earth and Orson Pratt, of another similar event, wrote: “This city will, most probably, not rest upon the earth but hover over it… This proves that there will be a glorified place above the surface of the earth… The Zion of Enoch, therefore, will probably be very near the earth, located over the American continent where it was anciently built; and most likely, will partake of the diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth, so as not to change it’s relative position in regard to the western hemisphere of our planet.”
    In a statement above, the Apostle Parley P. Pratt spoke about “fragments… broken off from the earth” returning during the restitution of all things. He spoke not just about the City “of Enoch” but also of the lost “ten tribes.” In an article published in the March 1892 Young Woman’s Journal, O. B. Huntington, an intimate associate of the Prophet Joseph Smith and a Patriarch in Springville, Utah mentioned that the earth had two wings and drew them as semi-circles giving the earth the appearance of having polar elongations. Another friend, and onetime bodyguard of the Prophet, Philo Dibble is said to have received a diagram from the Prophet in 1842, which indicated the arrangement of this earth as a triple planet, at the time when the Ten Tribes were directed to the northern sphere.

    The scene we are considering lends understanding to and makes it easier to picture the ten tribes traveling from the northern axis of the earth to the American continent. D&C 133 is describing a melting ice cap, is it melting because it will be covered by “the great deep”?
    Verse 26: And they who are in the north countries shall come… …and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. 27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.

    A “restitution of all things” would, of course, return the earth to its pre-flood condition. Something, not here now, will transform the climate and environment of the earth into a terrarium-like condition.
    Genesis 2 …the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

    These are just a few examples, there are others that when considered under the light of the vision suggested above become clearer, easier to picture in our mind.
    Revelation 8 …a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; …and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, …and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

    In this study we have established that THE sign of the second coming of Jesus Christ will be a now hidden planet moving into a position very close to the earth. The next question we will address is: when will all the earth see THE sign.

    Several scriptures link the common elements of the appearance of THE sign to one frightful event in the future; the battle of Armageddon. Near the end of a three and half year siege upon the city of Jerusalem the Savior, even Jesus the Christ, will come to the rescue of the Jews. According to Zechariah: “the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” The Old Testament prophet then outlines a couple of things about the day of the rescue that tie this scripture to other prophesies about this event: “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

    Though not emphasized as such, to consider the breaking of the Mount of Olives down the middle with the opposing halves moving away from each other, creating “a very great valley,” to be just another earthquake is probably a bit of an understatement. The book of Revelation, again speaking of “a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” describes the magnitude of the earthquake, along with “voices, and thunders and lightening,” as a “great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty and earthquake, and so great” and concludes with “every island fled away and the mountains were not found.” This earthquake to end all earthquakes will be caused by the same gravitation pull that will drive the seas of the world back to the “north countries.” It will, by lifting and then releasing the rotating earth’s upper crust; similar to the moon’s tidal influence on the oceans of the world, level every mountain range on the planet, thus returning the surface of the earth to its original mountain-less condition. Genesis 7 says that the flood waters were just fifteen cubits; less than 25 foot deep: “and the mountains were covered.” Ezekiel 38 described in specific detail the destruction to be caused by the earthquake resulting from the appearance of THE sign: “at the same time, when “Gog shall come against the land of Israel, …there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”

    Zechariah continues with a second element unique to this prophesied event: “…And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” Modern day scripture, section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, weaves the prophesied elements of the great battle Armageddon and the appearance of the Savior on the Mount of Olives into the appearance of THE sign of His Coming and the associated earthquake in these words: “For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; …earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. …And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. …And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
    With a picture of THE sign in your mind read: Isaiah. 60:19-20; The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
    Will THE sign be self-luminous or perhaps reflective like a moon, will it partially obscure the light of the sun and moon?
    Zech. 14:7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. 8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

    Section 88 describes what will happen following the appearance of THE “great sign in heaven” that “all people shall see …together” “And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled; And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him …They are Christ’s, the first fruits,”
    This is of course, speaking of the Coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory and the morning of the first resurrection when the saints, both the living and the resurrected dead will be caught up to meet him and then descend with Him. This appearance however, will not occur when Christ comes to Jerusalem to rescue the Jews. Section 88’s “…half an hour” sounds like the Second Coming of the Savior will happen a short time after He makes His appearance upon the Mount of Olive until we remember: “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Half an hour of a thousand year day is about twenty one years which will allow ample time, after the battle, for the chores prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel to be performed.
    Ezek. 39:8-21 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord God. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamon-gog. And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. …And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.

    Taking a chronological step backward: before Christ makes His appearance at the climactic conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, Gog; the modern day Russia, from “out of the north parts”, will mount a siege; the abomination of desolation, upon the city of Jerusalem that will last three and a half years:
    Dan. 12 …and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time (battle of Armageddon): and at that time thy people shall be delivered (by Jesus Christ upon the Mount of Olives), …And one said …How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, …it shall be for a time, times, and an half (3 ½ years); and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people (Israel), all these things shall be finished.
    Dan. 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days (3 ½ years).
    special note: verse 12 tells when the Savior will make His appearance: Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. (3 ½ years plus 45 days)
    Rev. 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months (3 ½ years).
    Rev. 13:4-5 And they (people of the world) worshipped the dragon (the devil) which gave power unto the beast (McConkie – government): and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months (3 ½ years)

    “Gog” with “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya …will think an evil thought;” and “in the latter years …come into the land …against the mountain of Israel, …to the land of unwalled villiages; …to carry away silver and gold.” This assault will turn into a 1,290 day; 42 month; three and a half year campaign; the “abomination of desolation” and will conclude 45 days later with the appearance of the Savior Jesus Christ in Jerusalem at which time an earthquake will literally level every mountain range on the earth and all men worldwide will witness the appearance of THE sign of the His Second Coming. This milestone event will be followed by a twenty one year “half an hour,” then and only then will the world witness the long awaited second coming of Jesus Christ to reign upon the earth for a thousand years.

    In conclusion, referencing again the restitution of all things before the Second Coming: in an interview of Homer Brown of the Forest Dale ward, Granite Stake: “Brother Brown, can you give us some light and explanation of the fifth verse …which speaks of the Ten Tribes of Israel on part of the earth which now forms another planet, according to the composer, Eliza R. Snow?”
    Eliza R. Snow a wife of the prophet wrote this poem:

    “And when the Lord saw fit to hide
    The ten lost tribes away,
    Thou, earth, was severed to provide
    The orb on which they stay.”

    And thus, from time to time, thy size
    Has been diminished til
    Thou seemest the law of sacrifice
    Created to fulfill.

    A “restitution” yet must come,
    That will to thee restore,
    By that grand law of worlds, thy sum
    Of matter heretofore.

    “Yes, sir, I think I can–I think I can answer that question. Sister Eliza R. Snow, when visiting my grand parents, was asked by my grandmother: “Eliza, where did you get your idea about the Ten Lost Tribes being taken as you explained in your hymn on page 386 of the Hymn Book?” She answered as follows, “Why, my husband, the Prophet Joseph told me about it.”
    gordon woodsgwoods@idahoiron.com

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