Church History Lesson 22 (D&C 29; 34; 45; 88; 101; 133)
May 22-28

Early in the Church’s history, the Saints were intensely interested in the Second Coming of our Lord. With the restoration of the priesthood and priesthood keys, the organization of the Church again upon the earth, the glorious manifestations at the Kirtland Temple, and revelations pouring forth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, many Saints were convinced that the Second Coming was imminent. In response to this intense interest, the Lord provided much information about the day of His coming. This week’s lesson summarizes many of those revealed truths.

<strong>The Second Coming of Christ Is Imminent</strong> (D&amp;C 39:19–24).
The kingdom of heaven is at hand (v. 19). The long history of man on earth has now come down to the final few years. The servants of God are commanded to prepare the way for His coming by accelerating the work of the gathering and of preparation for the Millennial reign of Christ (v. 20).

●    We know that the Second Coming is near (D&amp;C 34:7, 12; 43:17; 110:16).

●    We know that the Lord will “come quickly” (D&amp;C 39:24), which means “suddenly.”

●    We know that those who receive the Holy Ghost will be looking for His coming and will know Him (v. 23).

●    But the specific day and hour of his coming no man knows (D&amp;C 39:21). Only God the Father knows when the Second Coming will occur (Matthew 24:36). No one else, not even the angels, knows the hour or the day (D&amp;C 49:7).

●    Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The Lord deliberately withholds from us the day and hour of his coming and of the tribulations which shall precede it—all as part of the testing and probationary experiences of mortality. He simply tells us to watch and be ready.”1

<strong>Observing the Signs</strong>
Because we are warned not to be gullible and to listen to every wild prediction concerning the Lord’s coming, we might conclude that it is inappropriate to study the signs of the last days. But D&amp;C 45:39–40 corrects this impression:

“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. And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.”

●    We are, therefore, invited to watch for the signs of the Second Coming. And the Second Coming of Christ is anticipated by the righteous  with great interest (D&amp;C 43:28–35).

●    The scriptures only provide a general outline of events, not a chronological list (D&amp;C 49:7). So when we see these signs listed in the revelations we should not assume that they will happen in the order that they are presented.

●    The Lord prophesied of signs for Jerusalem in the years that a followed the His earthly ministry (D&amp;C 45:16–24).

<strong>Signs of the Last Days</strong>
●    Positive signs
—    The fulness of the gospel will be restored (D&amp;C 45:9; 133:57–58).
—    The New Jerusalem will be built (D&amp;C 45:66-71). It will be a place of peace and safety for the righteous in the last days.
—    God’s kingdom will be established on the earth (D&amp;C 65:2-6).
—    Priesthood keys will be restored (D&amp;C 110:11-16).
—    The gospel will be preached throughout the world (D&amp;C 133:8-9, 36-39).

●    Negative signs
—    There will be great weeping, despair, and fear (D&amp;C 29:15; 88:91). Men’s hearts will fail them.
—    There will be famines, scourges, sickness, and desolation (D&amp;C 29:16; 45:31; 112:24).
—    There will be signs and wonders in the heavens and in the earth (D&amp;C 34:9; 45:40–42; 88:87).
—    There will be wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth will be in commotion (D&amp;C 45:26; 63:33).
—    The love of men will become cold, and iniquity will abound (D&amp;C 45:27).
—    There will be earthquakes, tempests, and great waves of the sea (D&amp;C 45:33; 88:89–90). Men will harden their hearts against God and fight each other.

●    <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Times of the Gentiles</span> (D&amp;C 45:25–60).  These are events of the last dispensation, our own day when the gospel is taken to the gentiles.  It will end when the gentiles refuse the gospel because of the precepts of men (vv. 28–29).

●    Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Jesus said the Jews would be scattered among all nations and Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24). The prophecy in [D&amp;C 45:24–29] regarding the Jews was literally fulfilled. Jerusalem, which was trodden down by the Gentiles, is no longer trodden down, but is made the home for the Jews. They are returning to Palestine, and by this we may know that the times of the Gentiles are near their close.”2

●    <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>A Gathering of Israel</span> (D&amp;C 45:25).  This is confirmed by D&amp;C 133, which explicitly states that the gospel should be taken first to the gentiles and then to the Jews (D&amp;C 133:8).

<strong>Great Turmoil and Calamities</strong>

●    Natural and man-made calamities will strike the earth (D&amp;C 29:14–21; 45:26–27).

●    These calamities will intensify as the Second Coming draws closer (D&amp;C 45:40–42; 88:87–94; 133:22–31).

●    The “sword of mine indignation” will fall upon the wicked (D&amp;C 101:10-12). The phrase “without measure” (v. 11) means the Lord’s wrath will not be limited or restrained but will come with great fury and intensity.

●    The Lord instructs the Saints to “stand in holy places” as we see these events occur (D&amp;C 45:30–33; 87:8; 101:22–23). President Ezra Taft Benson said, “You will live in the midst of economic, political, and spiritual instability. When you see these signs— unmistakable evidences that his coming is nigh—be not troubled, but, ‘stand . . . in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come’ (D&amp;C 87:8). Holy men and holy women stand in holy places, and these holy places include our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, ‘for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth’ (D&amp;C 115:6).”3

<strong>Words of Compassion for the Saints</strong>

●    The Lord instructs His Saints to “be not troubled” (D&amp;C 45:35). Elder Marion G. Romney said, “Now, the basis for the hope and courage that will keep us from being troubled does not lie in the expectation that enough people will accept and obey the restored gospel to turn aside the oncoming calamities. Nor does it depend upon any such contingency. As already indicated, it lies in the assurance that everyone who will accept and obey the restored gospel of Jesus Christ shall reap the promised rewards, and this regardless of what others do. And certain it is that those who receive the blessings will have to prevail against great opposition, for the world in general is not improving. It is ripening in iniquity.”4

●    How we can maintain hope and avoid feeling distressed when we are surrounded by the wickedness and turmoil of the last days (D&amp;C 38:30).

●    Though we have been less than perfect, the Lord will not cast us off and will be merciful “in the day of wrath” at His Second Coming (D&amp;C 101:9).

●    He will save, gather, and comfort His Saints (D&amp;C 101:11–15).

●    The righteous will hear the voice of the Lord and be gathered into the gospel. The wicked will be destroyed—burned up like dry stubble (D&amp;C 29:5–11).

<strong>Events at His Second Coming</strong>

●    Christ will come to earth in power and glory (D&amp;C 29:9-11;45:44; 133:41–51). The proud and the wicked will be burned, and there will be no more wickedness on earth.

●    All nations will tremble when the Savior comes (D&amp;C 34:8, 11; 63:34), but if we are faithful, His power and influence will be with us until He comes.

●    He will come to the Mount of Olives, and it will divide. The Jews will recognize their Savior and weep because they persecuted Him (D&amp;C 45: 47–53; Zech.14:2–5; 13:6).

●    The Savior will put all enemies under His feet (D&amp;C 49:6).

●    The Savior will come in red apparel (D&amp;C 133:46-53). His coming will be a time of vengeance upon the wicked and redemption for the righteous.
<strong>The First Resurrection</strong> (D&amp;C 19:11–13)

●    When the Savior comes again, the Saints who have died will be resurrected and come forth to meet Him (D&amp;C 45:45-54; 88:96–99). The Saints who are alive on the earth will be caught up to meet Him in the air—an event referred to frequently as “the rapture.”

●    Then those who received the gospel in spirit prison will be resurrected along with those who received the gospel on this earth.

●    The judgment that will be rendered to the wicked (D&amp;C 29:27–30).

<strong>The Millennium</strong>

●    “Christ will reign personally upon the earth,” and “the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory” (Article of Faith 10).

●    The Lord will dwell among men on earth (D&amp;C 45:59). He will be the king and lawgiver for the whole earth (D&amp;C 133:25). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Christ and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it. There will be wicked men on the earth during the thousand years. The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth.”5

●    Conditions during the Millennium:
—    Everyone will be able to see the Savior (D&amp;C 101:23).
—    All the wicked will be destroyed (D&amp;C 101:24).
—    The earth will become new (D&amp;C 101:25).
—    People and animals will live in peace (D&amp;C 101:26).
—    People will be granted what they righteously desire (D&amp;C 101:27).
—    Satan will be bound and will not have power to tempt anyone (D&amp;C 101:28; 45:55; 88:110).
—    There will be no sorrow or death (D&amp;C 101:29).
—    A person will grow old, then be changed suddenly from mortal to immortal life (D&amp;C 101:30-31).
—    The Lord will reveal all things about the earth and heaven, including how the earth was created and what will become of it (D&amp;C 101:32-34).
—    Children will grow up without sin (D&amp;C 45:58).

●    Sadly, toward the end of the Millennium, after 1,000 years of righteousness men will again begin to deny God and wickedness will return (D&amp;C 29:22; 4 Ne. 38).

<strong>Preparing for the Second Coming</strong>

●    The parable of the ten virgins applies to the last days—our day (D&amp;C 45:56–57).

●    President Wilford Woodruff said, “The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the Second Coming of the Son of man, the coming of the bridegroom to meet the bride, the church, the Lamb’s wife, in the last days; and I expect that the Savior was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the Church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; for when the Lord of heaven comes in power and great glory to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body, if he finds one half of those professing to be members of his Church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected, judging by the course that many are pursuing.”6

●    President Harold B. Lee said in his last general conference address, “Brothers and sisters, this is the day the Lord is speaking of. You see the signs are here. Be ye therefore ready. The Brethren have told you in this conference how to prepare to be ready. We have never had a conference where there has been so much direct instruction, so much admonition; when the problems have been defined and also the solution to the problem has been suggested. Let us not turn a deaf ear now, but listen to these as the words that have come from the Lord, inspired of him, and we will be safe on Zion’s hill, until all that the Lord has for his children shall have been accomplished.”7

●    The Lord counsels us to prepare by being righteous.
—    Be steadfast in righteousness (D&amp;C 27:15; 33:17).
—    Cry repentance and be repentant (D&amp;C 34:6; 39:19–20; 43:20–23).
—    Have the Holy Spirit as our guide (D&amp;C 45:56-57).

●    Gordon B. Hinckley said, “How do you prepare for the Second Coining? Well, you just do not worry about it. You just live the kind of life that if the Second Coming were to be tomorrow you would be ready. Nobody knows when it is going to happen…. Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves, to live worthy of the association of the Savior, to deport ourselves in such a way that we would not be embarrassed if He were to come among us. That is a challenge in this day and age.”8

●    There is still plenty of time to prepare ourselves. Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“Teenagers also sometimes think, ‘What’s the use? The world will soon be blown all apart and come to an end.’ That feeling comes from fear, not from faith. No one knows the hour or the day (D&amp;C 49:7), but the end cannot come until all of the purposes of the Lord are fulfilled. Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life.

“One day you will cope with teenage children of your own. That will serve you right. Later, you will spoil your grandchildren, and they in turn spoil theirs. If an earlier end should happen to come to one, that is more reason to do things right.”9

1.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1979, 132–33; or <em>Ensign</em>, May 1979, 93.
2.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 13, 15.
3.  “Prepare Yourselves for the Great Day of the Lord,” in <em>BYU 1981 Fireside and Devotional Speeches</em>, 68.
4.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1966, 53.
5.  <em>History of the Church</em>, 5:212.
6.  <em>The Discourses of President Wilford Woodruff</em>, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 254.
7.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 170.
8.  <em>Church News</em>, 2 Jan. 1999, 2.
9.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or <em>Ensign</em>, May 1989, 59.